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Author Fights Pentagon Censorship Of Book On Afghanistan War

11:00 AM, Dec 30, 2010   |    comments
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SPRINGFIELD, Va. (WUSA) -- Anthony Shaffer thinks the war in Afghanistan went off track in 2003 and wrote about it in his book Operation Dark Heart. Shaffer was a senior operations officer for the Defense Intelligence Agency when he served in Afghanistan, winning a Bronze Star for operations there.

Unhappy with policy choices, Shaffer is critical of them in his book. He says he sought clearance for the publication of Operation Dark Heart and has the letter granting it.

The Pentagon counters that he followed improper procedure when getting that clearance, and the Defense Department then spent about $50,000 to buy the first printing of the book, 9500 copies, which it destroyed in order to prevent some disclosures from becoming public.

It then forced him to redact information in later editions.

Shaffer has sued on First Amendment grounds.

"There is a great deal of effort that's been made, I believe, to editorialize the war.One of the reasons I did my book was to explore and present to the American Public the rest of the story about why the war went off track and, frankly, much of the Pentagon's concerns, I believe, were not security related. They had more to do with embarrassment and trying to dodge accountability for some very bad decisions made in 2003 and 2004," Shaffer told 9News Now.

"This is not about censorship; this is about protecting classified information.

"The bottom line is that OPERATION DARK HEART was not referred to the original classification authorities for a proper information security review before the manuscript was provided to the publisher.

"The Department of Defense is looking into this matter and reviewing its policies and procedures to assess what corrective actions need to be taken to prevent this from happening again," said a Defense Department spokesman in an e-mail to 9News Now.

"Let me reassure you and your audience we did everything we could to make sure anything addressed in the book was somehow already in the public domain. That is to say that it's already been found somewhere else, so that there is no new information which would give the adversary, the enemy, any heads up or any or ability to better understand what we were doing doing against them," Shaffer said.

"My book, Operation Dark Heart, is about the tipping point in the Afghan War.

"The American public knows clearly from all the news of the era, 2001, 2002, we won. And then something happened, something took the war off the rails and put it into the ditch it's in right now.

"This book talks about the exact moment in time, almost to the briefing, where this happened, and essentially paints the picture in very clear, factual colors of what exactly went wrong and, frankly, the last chapter talks about how to fix things, the path to victory," Shaffer said.

"I argue that much of the war that we're currently engaged in in Afghanistan could have been done better and, as a matter of fact, we are currently not on a path to victory.This is something any patriot should understand and appreciate.

"I'm not trying to bad mouth the current administration and I'm not trying to bad mouth the previous administration. I believe that the overall policy used by the previous administration was wrong. I believe the policy used by the current administration is wrong," Shaffer said.

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