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Apparently the Pentagon decided to commemorate Banned Books Week early, and last Monday burned 9,500 copies of Operation Dark Heart: Spycraft and Special Ops on the Frontlines of Afghanistan by Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer.  The Pentagon spent $47,000 buying every copy of the first printing directly from the publisher, St. Martin's Press, and then destroyed all the books because "they contained information which could cause damage to national security", according to Pentagon spokesperson Lt. Col. April Cunningham.  The memoir details Lt. Col. Shaffer's time as leader of a black-ops unit in Afghanistan during the Bush administration.  In the book, Shaffer is said to detail intelligence operations against the Taliban, and critique the Bush administration for it's lack of understanding of Afghan culture as well as "bureaucratic bungling." In a Defense Intelligence Agency memo from August 6, Lt. Gen. Robert Burgess claims that the DIA had been trying to get its hands on the manuscript for two months because the department determined that it contained classified information.  It was at this point that the Pentagon contacted St. Martin's Press and made an agreement about the first and subsequent printings.  A second printing of the book has been released and incorporates changes the government requested, including redacting information the Pentagon considered classified.  Shaffer had submitted the book to the Army Reserve Command before it went to the press, and it was given the green light.  The Department of Defense acknowledges this, but says that failing to clear the book with the larger Army and the DOD means Shaffer "did not meet the requirements under Department of Defense regulations for security review."  Of the redacted material in the second edition, Shaffer says, "When you look at what they took out, it's lunacy." Clearly the Pentagon's hope was to prevent people from reading Lt. Col. Shaffer's memoir, but this highly publicized buying and burning of the first printing undoubtedly is only generating more interest in the book.  As the US Financial Post points out, the original 10,000 copy print run indicates that the publisher did not expect much interest in the memoir to begin with, but the Pentagon's action practically guarantees a greater demand for the second printing. There is at least one seller on Ebay claiming to be in possession of a copy of the first printing, and is asking for almost $2,000. Thoughts on the Pentagon's actions?

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