Operation Dark Heart: Spycraft and Special Ops on the Frontlines of Afghanistan by Lt Col Anthony Shaffer was published on Sept 24 2010 and it has been reported that the US government has burned 9600 copies of the first print citing security concerns. Here is the BBC news report on the destruction of the book which is alleged to contain sensitive intelligence information.
Based on the concerns raised by the Department of Defense, some part of the book have been edited and republished in the second print. The exact term used is ‘redact’.( I am extremely happy that I learned a new word) This is what is given under the product information in the Amazon website “Based on Department of Defense security concerns, sections of Operation Dark Heart have been redacted in the published edition. The newly revised book keeps our national interests secure, but this highly qualified warrior’s story is still intact. Shaffer’s assessment of successes and failures in Afghanistan remains dramatic, shocking, and crucial reading for anyone concerned about the outcome of the war”.
Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer is a lieutenant colonel in the U. S. Army Reserve and a recipient of the Bronze Star Medal. He is a CIA-trained senior intelligence operations officer with more than 22 years of experience in intelligence operations. In Operation Dark Heart which is his war memoir, he tells what went wrong in Afghanistan during the Bush administration. He had obtained clearance for the book from his army superiors, but his publishers were contacted few weeks back by the DoD raising security concerns. As per he publisher, some changes has been made such that the book doesn’t give any sensitive intelligence information and the original story is intact even in the second print.
I am not in any position to comment on the right or wrong about this act by the US government, if this step was taken to protect the national security or the personal interests of the people involved. But I should say that this is one of the best things that has happened to a book that was published in the modern times.
US government has very much succeeded in drawing the attention of the whole world towards this book. The result is that this book is currently in the 4th position in the Amazon Best Seller list. Moreover people are auctioning the so called first-print on ebay for well over $1000 when the actual list price is $14.02.
Can we call this action as a Big Brother act ? Or was this done because there was a genuine concern over national security? There are questions that are still unanswered…