October 1, 2010  

Questionable Intelligence

TO THE DEFENSE INTELLIGENCE AGENCY AND THE PENTAGON for their clumsy handling of a new book on the war in Afghanistan. The Pentagon tried to keep Army Reserve officer and former DIA agent Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer’s “Operation Dark Heart” from the public’s eyes by using taxpayer funds to purchase and destroy the book’s entire 10,000-volume print run after DIA belatedly said it contained classified — in some cases top-secret — information. Yet the Army had cleared the book for publication. By the time the DIA decided “Operation Dark Heart” was a danger to national security, preview copies had been widely distributed to reviewers and some copies had reached retailers. So the Pentagon’s panic merely generated massive, free publicity and made Shaffer’s book a “must-read.” The Pentagon’s second stab at containment — clearing a version in which the classified sections are literally blacked out — adds a touch of lunacy to the silliness. With the unblacked version already distributed, DoD has now pointed readers precisely to its alleged secrets.