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Operation Dark Heart': Pentagon Seeks to Block Book on Afghan War

The U.S. Defense Department is trying to stop the distribution of a controversial new memoir written by a former intelligence officer.

Lieutenant Colonel Anthony Shaffer has worked in intelligence operations and led special forces black-ops in the war to prevent a Taliban resurgence in Afghanistan.  Now that he's back stateside, however, he's engaged in a different kind of battle.  Shaffer is currently engaged in a legal battle with the Pentagon over the rights to publish a book -- a story he claims is about what went on (and what went wrong) behind the scenes in Afghanistan.  

On the eve of 9/11's ninth anniversary, the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) is attempting to block publication of Shaffer's book, titled "Operation Dark Heart: Spycraft and Special Ops on the Frontlines of Afghanistan -- and the Path to Victory." In a letter obtained by Fox News, the DIA claims that publishing Shaffer's book in its current form would represent a breach in national security.  The DIA is also contesting Shaffer's accounts of "Able Danger" and is attempting to block key portions of the book that claim the mission successfully identified alleged 9/11 hijacker and ringleader Mohammed Atta as a potential threat before Sept. 11, 2001.

In his book, Shaffer, now a senior fellow at the Center for Advanced Defense Studies in Washington, claims that a number of covert operations had been planned and aborted, including cross-border surveillance using advanced eavesdropping technology. These operations would have focused on high-level known al-Qaeda operatives camped in the tribal areas of Pakistan. However, the operation was shut down by military officials concerned about offending Pakistan, Shaffer claims.

Shaffer and the Pentagon appear to have agreed on the contents of the book's second printing, but are debating what to do with 10,000 copies already published. In what Shaffer characterizes as a "highly unusual" move, the DIA is locked into negotiations with Shaffer's publisher, St. Martin's Press, to purchase all 10,000 copies of the book's first printing in order to keep it off bookstore shelves.  Even though the U.S. Army signed off on the book's release, the DIA insists references to American intelligence personnel and a meeting between Shaffer and Dr. Philip Zelikow, the executive director of the 9/11 Commission, should be removed.  It's in this meeting that Shaffer alleges the commission was told about "Able Danger" and Atta, but the final 9/11 Commission report makes no mention it.

According to Shaffer, Zelikow approached him at the meeting and stressed that the "Able Danger" revelations were "very important," and asked Shaffer to contact him when he returned from his deployment.  When Shaffer returned to the U.S., he says he contacted the commission but that they were no longer interested in his intelligence.  An inspector general report by the Department of Defense concluded there was "no evidence" to support Shaffer's claims.  But, according to Fox, an unredacted copy of the IG report contained names of witnesses who backed up Shaffer's story when contacted for comment.

In a statement, the Pentagon said the "manuscript did not undergo a pre-publication information security review as required by DoD regulation. This became known to the Department only recently, and after the manuscript was printed by the publisher. DoD has been working closely and cooperatively with the publisher, LTC Shaffer and his counsel to address the problem and any potential issues involving classified information."

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