Pentagon moves to block memoir over intelligence secrets

The DoD wants to stop distribution of a book by an ex-US intel officer.

Washington: A former Army intelligence officer`s attorney is questioning whether a new Defence Department security review of his client`s memoir on the Afghanistan war is a retaliatory move that has forced a delay in the book`s publication.

Anthony A Shaffer`s book `Operation Dark Heart: Spycraft and Special Ops on the Frontlines of Afghanistan and the Path to Victory` was to be released by St Martin`s Press on August 31.

Shaffer`s lawyer, Mark Zaid, says the Army Reserve cleared the manuscript for publication before it went to press.

However, Zaid says the Defence Department rescinded the approval shortly before publication, claiming the text contained classified information. About 9,000 copies of the book now sit in a warehouse.

A cleared version is back on press with sections blacked out by defence officials. Its publication date is unclear.

The New York Times reported on its website on Thursday night that the Pentagon is seeking to buy and destroy all copies of the book`s first printing.

The newspaper had obtained a copy of the book, which it described as "a breezily written, first-person account of Colonel Shaffer`s five months in Afghanistan in 2003”.

Shaffer was a civilian Defence Intelligence Agency officer based near Kabul, the paper reported. But he ran afoul of the DIA in 2003 when he claimed that one of his assignments uncovered that Mohammed Atta was a potential terrorist threat before the September 11, 2001, attacks.

Atta was the lead hijacker of one of the planes that crashed into New York`s World Trade Centre.