Did We Know About Mohamed Atta?
Why would the Pentagon buy and destroy copies of a book by a former Army intelligence officer? Could it be perhaps because it contained information on how the 9/11 attacks might have been prevented?
The impulse to dismiss this as just another conspiracy theory is overwhelming. Yet the fact is that the Pentagon bought and destroyed 10,000 copies of a book, "Operation Dark Heart," written by Lt. Col. Tony Shaffer, a Bronze Star recipient and career Army intelligence officer, that contained a chapter on a pre-9/11 intelligence operation, Able Danger.
In a statement, the Pentagon said it "decided to purchase copies of the first printing because they contained information which could cause damage to national security." The books were destroyed on Sept. 20.
The book, critical of operations in Afghanistan, had been cleared by Shaffer's superiors at U.S. Army Reserve Command, but was seized after objections by Pentagon intelligence officials. It also comments on the departure of Gen. Stanley McChrystal, whose resignation was prompted by statements he made in a Rolling Stone interview.
Granted, Pentagon and administration sensitivity to criticism is high after that episode and after publication of Bob Woodward's latest book, "Obama's Wars."
But book burning? Lt. Col. Shaffer has since agreed to a redacted version of the book, but where are the champions of the public's right to know?
Shaffer went public in August 2005 with details about a secret military intelligence unit called Able Danger in which he was involved. The unit, using a technique known as data mining, determined a year before 9/11 that four of the future hijackers were al-Qaida operatives, including 9/11 ringleader Mohamed Atta.
After his revelation, Shaffer was stripped of his security clearance and cast into military limbo. In October 2006, Rep. Christopher Shays, who was chairman of the Subcommittee on National Security, Emergency Threats and International Relations, wrote to Shaffer's superior, Maj. Gen. Elbert Perkins, about the reasons for the clearance revocation and whether it was a retaliatory move.
Shays wrote that an "investigation of security clearance retaliation" showed that "the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) used the security clearance system in an improper manner against LTC Shaffer" and that Shaffer's alleged misuse of a government cell phone and travel voucher was a matter of administrative, not punitive, action under the uniformed code of military justice.
Was this an attempt to silence Shaffer and discredit and bury information about Able Danger?