11 Sep 2010

US moves to block sales of spy memoir

2:40 pm on 11 September 2010

The Pentagon has raised security objections to a former US intelligence officer's memoir of his experiences in Afghanistan.

Officials said the publisher had held back its 10,000-copy first edition printing of Operation Dark Heart by Anthony Shaffer, a lieutenant colonel in the army reserve and former Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA) officer.

Colonel David Lapan, a Pentagon spokesperson, said the Defence Department has raised concerns about classified information in the manuscript.

He said it had been working with the publisher, Lieutenant Colonel Shaffer and his lawyers to address "any potential issues involving classified information" but that no decisions have been made to buy or destry the manuscript.

The New York Times describes the book as a first person account of the author's five-month stint as a DIA officer in Afghanistan in 2003.

Anthony Shaffer's lawyer said the book had been reviewed and approved for publication by army reserve officials.

The Pentagon maintains the review did not fully comply with Defence Department regulations, which require that any other agency mentioned in the manuscript approve it too.

This is not the first time that Antony Shaffer has figured in controversy.

In 2005 and 2006, the House Intelligence Committee held hearings into his claim that a DIA data mining programme called Able Danger had identified Mohammed Atta, the lead hijacker in the September 11, 2001 attacks, a year before the attacks in New York and Washington.

The DIA revoked his security clearance in 2004 and effectively fired him from the agency in 2006 because of it.