What if you found out that one of your ex-friends was writing a tell-all book about all your secrets? Would you start a damage control campaign, getting your side of the story out to the press? Would you beg and plead with them to reconsider? Would you hire lawyers? These are the sorts of tactics open to poor individuals, but what if the “you” here was the Defense Intelligence Agency, the shadowy spy shop beloved by Rumsfeld and Cheney because the CIA wasn’t evil enough for them, and your “ex-friend” was an officer in your ranks who said that probably you knew about Mohammed Atta’s plotting before 9/11? You’d probably launch a shadowy disinformation campaign to discredit him, or maybe have him killed in a suspicious-looking “accident.” Or — and here’s where it gets really clever — you’d whine about his mean secret-leaking ways, and then offer to pay good money to buy up copies of the book, after all the secrety secrets have leaked out!
The book is called Operation Dark Heart, though it’s not clear if that’s because this was the actual name of an operation that some mid-level DIA spook/frustrated romance novelist came up with, or because Lt. Col. Tony Shaffer, who wrote it, has a dark heart, because of all the terrible things he’s learned/seen/done. But now the DIA is trying to make sure that you won’t be discussing it with your book club over glasses of red wine.
In a letter obtained by Fox News, the DIA says national security could be breached if Operation Dark Heart is published in its current form. The agency also attempted to block key portions of the book that claim [mysterious data-mining project] “Able Danger” successfully identified hijacker Mohammed Atta as a threat to the United States before the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks.
Specifically, the DIA wanted references to a meeting between Lt. Col. Tony Shaffer, the book’s author, and the executive director of the 9/11 Commission, Philip Zelikow, removed. In that meeting, which took place in Afghanistan, Shaffer alleges the commission was told about “Able Danger” and the identification of Atta before the attacks. No mention of this was made in the final 9/11 report.
In a highly unusual move, the DIA is now negotiating with the publisher, St. Martin’s Press, to buy all 10,000 copies of the first printing of the book to keep it off shelves — even after the U.S. Army had cleared the book for release.
While just buying up all copies of the book sounds like a pretty wimpy move for one of America’s most sinister shadow organizations, consider the fact that the DIA probably has some freakishly large budget, and buying 10,000 hardcover books is probably still cheaper than hiring someone to strangle a dude with piano wire. But now that the whole reason they were wanted to keep the books off the shelves has been leaked to Fox News, maybe they can save the money and buy some new ergonomic office chairs instead.