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Book Censorship by US Security

Book censorship over military operations


Update: US book censors...

Mainstream bookshops are fighting Louisiana anti-porn law because the overbroad wording applies suffocating censorship measures to mainstream books

Link Here7th November 2015
Two mainstream bookstores in New Orleans have filed suit against Attorney General James D. Caldwell and more than 40 district attorneys over House Bill (HB) 153. Primarily an anti-pornography measure, the Louisiana law requires anyone who publishes material harmful to minors on the Internet to verify web-surfers' dates of birth before allowing them access. But for independent bookstores like the plaintiffs, HB 153 poses a unique threat : deny minors access to their entire web catalog or face a $10,000 fine.

According to a Shelf Awareness report, HB 153 requires this of booksellers:

[To] either place an age confirmation button in front of their entire website, thereby restricting access to materials that may be appropriate for all ages, or attempt to review all of the books ... available at their website and place an age confirmation button in front of each individual page that might be inappropriate for any minor.

HB 153 considers material harmful to minors if :

  • (a) The material incites or appeals to or is designed to incite or appeal to the prurient, shameful, or morbid interest of minors.
  • (b) The material is offensive to the average adult applying contemporary community standards with respect to what is suitable for minors.
  • (c) The material taken as a whole lacks serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value for minors

Owner Britton Trice notes that the Garden District Bookshop cannot possibly review the 1 million-plus titles on our website, and would therefore be forced to ban all minors from browsing the collection. But even bookseller sites that cater exclusively to older generations would be required to put age verification walls in place, because the $10,000 fine applies to any retailer that does not verify visitors' ages, regardless of whether any minors come to the website or not.

The Media Coalition, the ACLU, and the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund are named plaintiffs in the challenge, alongside the Garden District Bookshop and Octavia Books.


4th September

 Offsite: Black Banners...

Recent book censorship by US security services

See article from


16th December

Update: Operation Dark Heart...

Author sues military censors in the hope of an uncut paperback release

Anthony A. Shaffer has filed suit against the Pentagon for what he feels is uncalled for censorship of his book, Operation Dark Heart .

Shaffer's book details his time in Afghanistan and the war being fought there. In September of this year, the Pentagon purchased the entire first print run, spending $47,300 for the copies and then destroying them, stating that Shaffer had listed classified information in the text.

The book became an instant bestseller after publisher quickly reprinted a redacted version.

Shaffer's suit claims that very little, if any, of the redacted material was actually classified and that the Pentagon is unfairly censoring his work.

Shaffer's lawyer, Mark S. Zaid, said that while his client agreed to allow publication of the hardback with the government's redactions, we reserved the right to come back and challenge the decision in court.

A paperback edition is scheduled for publication next year, and Shaffer is asking the court to order the Pentagon not to require the redactions in the new edition and not to pursue civil or criminal penalties against him for releasing it.

Update: Permission to Sue

25th November 2012. See  article from

A former intelligence officer with the US Department of Defense has been given the go-ahead by a federal judge to sue the Pentagon and the CIA for censoring his best-selling account of the war in Afghanistan * .

Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer can follow through with his plans to take his former employers to court, US District Judge Rosemary Collyer decided this week, ruling against the government's arguments that the author of Operation Dark Heart: Spycraft and Special Ops on the Frontlines of Afghanistan and the Path to Victory had no standing to sue.


26th September

Updated: Operation Dark Heart...

Military operation to prevent the sales of a book

Operation Dark Heart is the new book by former Defense Intelligence Agency officer and retired army reservist Anthony Shaffer

It sounds like an interesting read with the tagline: spycraft and special ops on the frontlines of Afghanistan and the path to victory but now the Pentagon does want to let people get a look at what's inside.

The book was originally cleared by army reviewers, who vetted the manuscript to ensure it didn't reveal national security secrets. It went to press, was sent to reviewers, and was even available for a short time online.

But now the Pentagon is now negotiating with Shaffer's publisher to purchase all 10,000 copies of the first print run with the intention of destroying them. It turns out the book may indeed contain a significant amount of senstive material. Once the DIA looked over the book, and shared it with other intelligence agencies, 200 passages suspected of containing classified information were discovered setting off a scramble by Pentagon officials to stop the book's distribution, according to the Times.

The classified portions of Shaffer's book, according to the Times, include the names of American intelligence officers who served with Colonel Shaffer and his accounts of clandestine operations, including N.S.A. eavesdropping operations.

Fox is reporting that intelligence officials are also trying to deep-six portions of the book concerning a classified data mining program known as Able Danger.

Update: Nameless Censorship

18th September 2010.

A publisher has agreed to remove US intelligence details from a memoir by a former army officer in Afghanistan after the Pentagon raised last-minute objections, officials said.

The book, Operation Dark Heart , had been printed and prepared for release in August but St. Martin's Press will now issue a revised version of the spy memoir after negotiations with the Pentagon, US and company officials said.

In an unusual step, the Defense Department has agreed to reimburse the company for the cost of the first printing, spokesman Colonel Dave Lapan told AFP. The original manuscript contained classified information which had not been properly reviewed by the military and US spy agencies, he said.

St. Martin's press will destroy copies from the first printing with Pentagon representatives observing to ensure it's done in accordance with our standards, Lapan said.

The second, revised edition would be ready by the end of next week, said the author's lawyer, Mark Zaid.

Update: Books Burnt

26th September 2010. Based on article from

In a statement to CNN, Pentagon spokeswoman Lt. Col. April Cunningham said defense officials observed the September 20 destruction of about 9,500 copies of Army Reserve Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer's new memoir Operation Dark Heart.

Shaffer says he was notified Friday about the Pentagon's purchase: The whole premise smacks of retaliation, Shaffer told CNN on Saturday. Someone buying 10,000 books to suppress a story in this digital age is ludicrous.

Shaffer's publisher, St. Martin's Press, released a second printing of the book that it said had incorporated some changes the government had sought while redacting other text he (Shaffer) was told was classified.

From single words and names to entire paragraphs, blacked out lines appear throughout the book's 299 pages.

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