View Full Version : Anthony A. Shaffer's “Operation Dark Heart”

09-11-2010, 03:21 AM
Ever read about the lengths some people went to keeping secrets during WWII?

WASHINGTON — Defense Department officials are negotiating to buy and destroy all 10,000 copies of the first printing of an Afghan war memoir they say contains intelligence secrets, according to two people familiar with the dispute.

The publication of “Operation Dark Heart,” by Anthony A. Shaffer, a former Defense Intelligence Agency officer and a lieutenant colonel in the Army Reserve, has divided military security reviewers and highlighted the uncertainty about what information poses a genuine threat to security.


A redacted edition of Shaffer's book is scheduled to be released in late September. It's not clear exactly what parts of the original text the government considers too sensitive for publication, but experts say the effort to suppress the book is only likely to raise the profile of those secrets.


Bob's World
09-11-2010, 12:42 PM
I suspect this is more about protecting reputations than it is about protecting secrets. Tony goes into the decision point where Lieutenant General Barno changed the course of the operations in Afghanistan in 2003 to set them on the course to where we are today.

Originally DoD approved the book for release, but it has been the subject of renewed scrutiny in recent months.

Interestingly, LTG Barno joined CNAS as a senior advisor and senior fellow earlier this year. Not saying that the two are related, but it is interesting.

09-11-2010, 03:57 PM
True, A-stan circa 2003 was a different world than 2010, but one would think his lawyer Zaid would just let the January 2010 written approval speak for itself.

He did get it in writing, yes?

Meanwhile, back at the drama farm - bad Colonel, no donut.

09-11-2010, 05:29 PM
So let me get something straight here, if someone has some background in these sort of issues.

Let's say an actively serving servicemember wants to write a short story - fiction based on fact that relates to the current fight in Afghanistan. Enough facts are different that all the names are changed, and the area the story takes place in is widely different from where the author served. The general themes behind many of the characters are based on real-life individuals.

Does this sort of concept need to be vetted by DoD channels? What is the right channel to submit such a vetting through in the first place?

12-17-2010, 11:37 PM
The Private War of Anthony Shaffer (http://www.oss.net/dynamaster/file_archive/101216/0f36ced1ee4d4adf70133f36176642f7/Private%20War%20Anthony%20Shaffer-cut.pdf), by Peter Lance. Playboy, January 2011. (PDF)

“On their face, these DIA cuts come as ham-handed throwbacks to the Cold War,” Shaffer tells me during our first interview for this piece. “But now that I’ve had a few months to assess, it appears they were much more worried about what the book has come to represent concerning the way the Afghan war has been fought.”

Since 9/11 there has been a running battle—for the most part far from the public eye—between desk jockeys who would conceal mistakes made during the war on terror and field operatives who seek to reveal the truth in hope of fixing a broken intelligence system. For a few extraordinary weeks this struggle finally burst onto the main stage, even if the reasons for the book’s butchering were obscured by the blundering desperation of the DIA. Now, thanks to my relationship with Shaffer, we are—for the first time—able to show exactly what had the DIA running scared.

Shaffer’s book rips the lid off several stories the bureaucrats wanted to suppress: the role of a program named Able Danger in yielding information that could have uncovered the 9/11 plot; Operation Dark Heart, which could have nabbed Al Qaeda’s number two leader; and early indications that Pakistan’s spy agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence, or ISI, actively supported the Taliban. These are the incendiary bombs the censors tried to defuse. And this is the real story of Tony Shaffer’s book.
Note: SFW - the PDF is without advertisements and adult content.

12-18-2010, 12:13 AM
I read the kindle version of this book. I think some of the points he makes about the Afghanistan war and our intelligence system are valid. However, he goes on a bit about how his data-mining project uncovered the 9/11 guys before 9/11, but having read this book and the 9/11 commission it seems to be there were other, better sources of intel warning about the 9/11 guys that were ignored as well.

Alot of the DoD "blacking out" is downright silly--it doesn't take half a brain to figure out what the single blacked out word in a sentence is provided the context of surrounding paragraphs.

06-15-2011, 01:33 AM
I just finished a redacted version of this book. It was interesting but would have made a better long magazine article than a book. Recounting amorous encounters just got in the way.

The redacted parts did not detract from the broad important points the book made. According to the book, we had a very useful and reliable human intel resources available in 2003. What struck me about the book is some of the important things it mentions: various intel agencies fighting over turf and not sharing info, disregarding the importance of local knowledge, over relying on the magic eye in the sky without humans confirming things resulting many innocent people getting killed, the Pakistanis being up to their necks in this-none of these things seem to have changed. Eight years later and we're at it the same way.

LTG Barno comes out as a man with iron clad preconceptions who would not be swayed by the evidence presented to him. He insisted that info on AQ locations in Wana be given to the Pak Army/ISI despite the protestations of the people who acquired the info. When the Pak Army got around to acting on info everybody was gone. That doesn't seem to have changed in 8 years either.

The CIA doesn't do too well in the book either.