CAVEAT: US DOD Burns Memoir – Every US Soldier a Potential Imbedded Reporter

Posted on September 26, 2010

The Department of Defense, alerted by intelligence sources, recently bought up and burned the memoir of a US soldier in Afghanistan.  The officer, Army Reserve Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer’s memoir, Operation Dark Heart, is alleged to have contained information sensitive to US security.  The DOD claims he should have had clearance for publication above his reserve unit officer.

Here we go again with a familiar scenario of government incompetence:

  • It is to be hoped that debriefing covers such instances.
  • The US government discovers something amiss with its horse after it has left the barn.
  • DOD and intelligence agencies overly publicize the situation.
  • Copies of the book’s first printing appear on eBay at inflated prices.
  • Most citizens knew about the location of US bases in Afghanistan.  Context here may have been the big issue – pulling all the known information together.  It may well turn out much of the information published that is so-called sensitive could have appeared in print elsewhere.
  • Pirated copies of the book could appear on websites.
  • Redacted second edition will only be effective to a point.  It is often easy to discern what information has been redacted by the context.

Government book burning is not a good thing per se but government incompetence is far worse. This is an old and familiar lesson.  Remember it.  Class dismissed.