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Pentagon Makes Good On Plan To Destroy Critical Book 306

Posted by timothy
from the in-soviet-union-books-burn-you dept.
mykos writes "Remember when the Pentagon said they were arranging a taxpayer-funded, government-sponsored book burning a couple weeks ago? Well, they made good on that threat, purchasing 9,500 copies of the book to be destroyed. The publisher, St. Martin's Press, has redacted anything the Pentagon told them to redact in the upcoming second run of the book. They Department of Defense has not yet paid for the burned books, but says they are 'in the process.' Pentagon spokeswoman Lt. Col. April Cunningham gave this statement: 'DoD decided to purchase copies of the first printing because they contained information which could cause damage to national security.' Whew, looks like we're safe now."
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Pentagon Makes Good On Plan To Destroy Critical Book

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  • by fictionpuss (1136565) on Sunday September 26, 2010 @09:21AM (#33702666)

    ..and the Streisand effect they are now creating ensures that the redacted information is rapidly identified and disseminated?

  • by Hatta (162192) on Sunday September 26, 2010 @09:23AM (#33702682) Journal

    What makes you think a book publisher cares about getting information out?

  • by Devout_IPUite (1284636) on Sunday September 26, 2010 @09:29AM (#33702700)
    The Pentagon didn't really 'buy' the books. They paid for them. There's a difference.

    Some body at the pentagon "Oh, shit, this has classified intel in it. Call up the publisher"

    Some body at the publisher "We'd love to help protect national security, but we don't want to take a multi thousand dollar hit to costs"

    Some body at the pentagon "Yes, we can compensate American citizens for damages incurred by helping us protect national security"

    Some body in the press "OMG THE PENTAGON IS BURNING BOOKS!"

    Captain Picard *headpalm*

    The question we should be asking is not "Should the pentagon be burning books?", it's "Should the pentagon have (so much) classified information?"
  • by Andy Smith (55346) on Sunday September 26, 2010 @09:30AM (#33702716) Homepage

    ...because I'm not sure what point to make. Or even if any point needs to be made at all. But I feel compelled to post a link.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fahrenheit_451 [wikipedia.org]

  • by Seth024 (1241160) on Sunday September 26, 2010 @09:31AM (#33702728)
    They were always willing to cooperate but they already made the first run. It's just the DoD paying for the damages of forgetting to censor something in the book beforehand.
  • Come on bittorrent (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mr_bubb (1171001) on Sunday September 26, 2010 @09:31AM (#33702730)
    Bittorrent will have to become the only media that counts anymore. Once upon a time, the NYT and Washington Post would risk everything to publish the Pentagon Papers or the works of WoodStein. Now, in our burgeoning police state, we're reliant on WikiLeaks and bittorrent to speak truth to power. It's heartbreaking.
  • by Americano (920576) on Sunday September 26, 2010 @09:43AM (#33702806)

    Considering the author and the publisher are cooperating, let's guess never?

  • by erroneus (253617) on Sunday September 26, 2010 @09:48AM (#33702838) Homepage

    As much as I would like to cry "wasted taxpayer money" or "censorship" I can't see where this is either.

    As far as censorship goes, the people wishing to express themselves or to share information are not being violated. On the contrary, they are as interested in limiting the information as is the pentagon.

    As far as "wasted tax money" goes? Well, yeah... okay, I will concede that there is an element of waste here, but it is not enough to get angry over. You want to get angry? Ask the government to explain why so much "foreign aid" is being sent to Israel. They are far from helpless and hopeless. They are not starving. They aren't suffering at the hands of an oppressive nation. So why? And how much of our money is going there? You don't want to know. *THAT* is wasted tax money.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 26, 2010 @10:02AM (#33702904)

    How the hell is that +1 insightful? "Paid for" covers production cost. "Buy" is retail price. There is most certainly a difference.

  • Re:Full text? (Score:0, Insightful)

    by Kristopeit, Michael (1892492) on Sunday September 26, 2010 @10:08AM (#33702944)
    1997 slashdot could have helped you. 2010 slashdot makes CNN seem useful.
  • As much as I would like to cry "wasted taxpayer money" or "censorship" I can't see where this is either.

    We can't know without the work in question, which our government has censored so that we can't see it. It's censorship when it's done by the government, for good or ill.

    As far as "wasted tax money" goes? Well, yeah... okay, I will concede that there is an element of waste here, but it is not enough to get angry over.

    I am angry over every unnecessary expenditure.

    You want to get angry? Ask the government to explain why so much "foreign aid" is being sent to Israel. They are far from helpless and hopeless. They are not starving. They aren't suffering at the hands of an oppressive nation. So why?

    The UN created the nation of Israel to keep the middle east fighting one another for the foreseeable future, and as the nominal leader of the UN (that is to say, the most puissant nation in the UN Security Council, the only nations who actually have a say in the UN) the USA is funding the status quo. It's not very complicated.

  • by EdZ (755139) on Sunday September 26, 2010 @10:14AM (#33702984)
    Basically:
    1) Publisher contacted Pentagon, said "we have this book, can you check nothing classified has been inadvertantly included"
    2) Pentagon: "Sure, everything is fine, go ahead"
    3) Publisher prints book
    4) Pentagon: "Oh shit, we missed (thing that is still classified), you can't sell this!"
    5) Publisher: "Couldn't you have told us that before we spent all this money on an unsellable book?!"
    6) Pentagon: "Our bad, we'll 'buy' the existing copies, destroy them, and you can print a second run with free publicity"
    7) Publisher: "Sure thing"
  • by HungryHobo (1314109) on Sunday September 26, 2010 @10:25AM (#33703064)

    from my reading of it the last time this was on slashdot the author is quite happy with the arrangement.
    The publisher is quite happy with the arrangement.
    And the pentagon is quite happy with the arrangement.

    Unless the author or publisher is being threatened in some way this doesn't strike me as like the government trying to shut down a newspaper or silence a reporter.
    I don't even see what all the fuss is about.

  • by Grimbleton (1034446) on Sunday September 26, 2010 @10:26AM (#33703066)

    Writers != Publishers

  • by DoofusOfDeath (636671) on Sunday September 26, 2010 @10:31AM (#33703108)

    I think a legitimate tension exists regarding govermental secrecy:


    • We citizens don't want our goverments to be secretive, because that can be used to pull a fast one on us and/or to establish autocracy. And it can be used to hide the funneling of money to private interests and friends of those in power, without scrutiny. And besides, if the government's authority flows from us, maybe we just don't feel like letting it be secretive. It's the government's obligation to suck it up and exert no more power over us than we collectively authorize.

    • During wartime, and to some extent during peace time, we need to government to keep secret in general, so that our adversaries don't know certain things (force levels, where our nuclear subs are located, etc.)

    The problem with perpetual war is that it makes the second point above be more legitimately compelling than during peace time. But that reduces our abilities to keep our government in check, which is always risky for the citizenry.

    This is one good reason to not pursue forgeign policies that have us constantly in a state of low-level war around the world. It reduces the legitimate reasons for giving those in power an environment in which they can screw over the rest of us.

  • by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Sunday September 26, 2010 @10:33AM (#33703120) Homepage Journal

    I have no sympathy for anyone who gives away national secrets. Prosecute them to the fullest extent of the law.

    So just to be clear, if some illegal act done in the name of the people of the USA has been classed as a national secret, then if someone should bring this to light so that we can see what is being done in our name they are a criminal? No, they are a patriot.

  • by Antisyzygy (1495469) on Sunday September 26, 2010 @10:44AM (#33703194)
    The problem is "National Secret" sometimes means "Embarrassing things we don't want the people to know about to give them more reasons to want us out of power." Go read about the AEC and Manhattan Project sponsored plutonium injections, and radioactive iron experiments on pregnant women. Also go see how the military exposed infantry and pilots to radioactive fallout intentionally to see what would happen. The only way to guarantee the government and military not get out of hand is to have some transparency. Im not saying we should send a list of all out sub locations to the Chinese, Im saying it is too easy to classify information that should be known about as early as possible to limit unethical things happening. Or do you think its okay to let soldiers wait in trenches near ground zero of a nuclear explosion and also let pilots fly through the resulting mushroom cloud?
  • by Darkness404 (1287218) on Sunday September 26, 2010 @10:47AM (#33703210)
    We also would save a ton of money in taxes. What a lot of people don't seem to understand is that we have military bases in almost every country in the world. Why? It doesn't make us safer if we have a large ground force in stable areas like Germany but it wastes a lot of money.

    The problem with our foreign policy is it is based on this mythical idea that somehow we can keep information from everyone all the time. That if we restrict access to -insert "hostile" country here- they will never gain -insert military technology here- and the world will maintain its status quo. Rather than a foreign policy that makes sure that hostile countries aren't hostile to us.
  • by Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) on Sunday September 26, 2010 @10:56AM (#33703266) Journal

    A publisher, who knows what's in the book, could see the listed items as being a threat to troops and whatnot, while seeing the info itself as not particularly important.

    I think you live in a fantasy world of Standin' Up To Da Man, where you release info, even if it's hurtful to what your nation's engaged in, on principle.

    Why does the idea of a publisher, who relies on freedom of speech, keep in mind, being a good citizen make you suspect ulterior motives or threats?

  • by cgenman (325138) on Sunday September 26, 2010 @11:03AM (#33703296) Homepage

    The UN created the nation of Israel to keep the middle east fighting one another for the foreseeable future, and as the nominal leader of the UN (that is to say, the most puissant nation in the UN Security Council, the only nations who actually have a say in the UN) the USA is funding the status quo. It's not very complicated.

    The UN created the nation of Israel at the end of World War 2 because it needed a grand anti-axis gesture, and had learned nothing about the dangers of displacing existing people for societal engineering reasons. That it has kept the middle east in turmoil is probably legitimately an accidental side effect, rather than an intentional one.

  • by YrWrstNtmr (564987) on Sunday September 26, 2010 @11:05AM (#33703310)
    The only way to guarantee the government and military not get out of hand is to have some transparency.

    The problem is 'some transparency' = "We (the Pentagon) get to say what is transparent and what isn't".
    Exactly the situation we have now.
  • by bistromath007 (1253428) on Sunday September 26, 2010 @11:21AM (#33703412)
    There has to be one person at the bitch with a conscience. Why hasn't that person heard of BitTorrent?
  • by whereiswaldo (459052) on Sunday September 26, 2010 @11:38AM (#33703508) Journal

    I've never heard that in daily conversation. Ever hear the expression "bought and paid for"? Or "what did you (pay|buy it for) - wholesale or retail?"

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 26, 2010 @11:45AM (#33703548)

    You don't get drafted into this kind of work. It is something you have to work hard for and vetting for a clearance is extremely rigorous. The agreements that you sign entail many restrictions and if you don't want to be bound by them, don't sign them. If you have some kind of moral or ethical problem with that, stay out of the business.

    As somebody else who has a TS/SCI clearance and makes regular trips to Ft. Meade, I have to disagree with you. It's not hard to get a clearance; get a job with a government contractor, get on a project that you need a clearance for, and they'll put in the paperwork. They do a background check (just to ensure there's no obvious reason you'd betray the US), then you have to pass a polygraph test (which is pure snake oil and anybody can do it), and then you have a clearance. The vetting isn't nearly as rigorous as the government wants people to think it is.

    To be fair, the vast majority of TS/SCI classified information is only classified so because it has been mentioned in association with something else which is TS/SCI (and that information itself is undoubtedly only classified because it's associated with something else that's classified). There are very few things that actually should be kept secret; most of them are secret only because the government likes keeping secrets.

    Don't get me wrong, I don't go around leaking secrets -- but that's only because I value my job, not because I feel like the government deserves to keep them.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 26, 2010 @11:57AM (#33703600)

    "The govt gave the OK for the book"
     
      That statement is kind of the problem right there...

  • by creat3d (1489345) on Sunday September 26, 2010 @12:05PM (#33703652) Homepage
    I think you live in a fantasy world in which there really is a threat to national security whenever Da Man says so...
  • by commodore64_love (1445365) on Sunday September 26, 2010 @12:40PM (#33703842) Journal

    >>>even if it's hurtful to what your nation's engaged in

    It is not wrong to desire an end to Killing (both innocent men/women/children and our own soldiers). THAT is what my government (not nation) is currently engaged in and frankly I don't care if my actions "harm" the government if the final result if peace instead of death.

    The government is also engaged in spying on its own citizens, holding them without trial, entering homes without warrant, and this information should be revealed, not locked up in a safe in the Pentagon, Congress, or White House buildings. Darkness is for the Oligarchs to hide their deeds. Exposure benefits the People, and liberty as a whole.

  • by commodore64_love (1445365) on Sunday September 26, 2010 @12:44PM (#33703866) Journal

    >>>the author has changed his mind from last time, going on CNN

    Oh good. Got the video available on youtube or some other site? If true it reminds me of how Tom Clancy faced a mini-interrogation after he published Red Storm Rising. They accused him of knowing too much about US weapons and their capabilities, and had considered banning the book, until Mr. Clancy proved that all of his information came from public sources (like Janes).

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 26, 2010 @12:45PM (#33703874)

    ... frankly I don't care if my actions "harm" the government if the final result if peace instead of death.

    but what if the results is *more* death (of both soldiers and innocents) ?

    And how do you know if the result will be better or worse?

  • by pooh666 (624584) on Sunday September 26, 2010 @12:57PM (#33703936)
    These are not the droids you are looking for.. YES SIR!! btw Sir, who are we calling terrorists today?
  • It's a cover up. (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 26, 2010 @12:59PM (#33703948)

    Our military is full of low-grade scum. They keep dropping the standards to get bodies for these optional "wars" and what is the result? Scumbag rapists, murderers, mutilators, child molesters and torturers in our military.

    Gov't has to cover this up. They know that a ton of the bottom-rungers in our society have stars in their eyes over the military and that it can do no wrong. This fact is often used for political gain. Can't have people doubting the quality of our soldiers, can we?

    Of course, it's also possible that some really evil shit done by the last admin will surface and the people will go crazy...

  • by Entropius (188861) on Sunday September 26, 2010 @12:59PM (#33703950)

    Because it's a general principle throughout history that people knowing more generally results in better, not worse, outcomes.

  • Wrong (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 26, 2010 @01:05PM (#33703988)

    Paying your fair share of taxes while our nation is engaged in two wars which supposedly are an existential threat to our way of life... well, that's fucking communism.

    That's not communism. Communism [wikipedia.org] is a stateless, egalitarian society, which generally lacks the notion of private property and resources such as the workplace and associated are shared (e.g. communal) throughout the community to enforce this sort of egalitarianism. The only way this comes even remotely close to communism is that the government is (arguably) forcibly taking control of private property, but given that they are doing so with compensation to the publishers, that doesn't really fit. What you've got here is closer to fascism (merged effort/cooperation between the state and private sector), authoritarianism (state which is absolutely intolerant of any opposition), and possibly a little bit of martial law as a cover-up for corruption, incompetence, and generally bad decisions being made behind closed doors because to keep those mistakes behind closed doors, all because of a representative "democracy" gone bad.

    Please do not misuse labels like that. Using communism in this context not only makes communism look worse than it actually is, but makes our government look better than it is. I can understand that in America very few people have any clue what various political ideologies consist of, due in part to privately-owned media spewing nothing but commercial (advertisements) and political (news/commentary) propaganda, but this is Slashdot, and a certain degree of accuracy is expected of you. Posted anonymously so people don't suddenly start calling me "commie" or whatever because I'm not blindly misapplying labels and shooting down anything given such labels.

  • Re:Public Money (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Myopic (18616) on Sunday September 26, 2010 @01:32PM (#33704154)

    Stupid. Do you also try to claim one of the bricks in the Hoover Dam? one square inch of the National Mall? two annual trips on Air Force One?

    Give me a fucking break. It's hard to believe a human being would actually type that out and post it on the internet. (Actually, I guess that's not hard to believe.)

  • by Darkness404 (1287218) on Sunday September 26, 2010 @01:45PM (#33704220)
    But if you look at -why- Germany went to extreme nationalism, you only need to look at what Germany's neighbors did to them via the treaty of Versailles.
  • by sco08y (615665) on Sunday September 26, 2010 @02:53PM (#33704632)

    Had the Pentagon shrugged and allowed the book to be published nobody would've cared beyond the media exclaiming "Secrets! In this book!" completely avoiding any issues meant to be brought to light by Mr. Shaffer's memoir.

    Those secrets would've remained hidden in plain sight. Everyone would continue to not care about Afghanistan and the status quo would have remained without burning books.

    While there are people in the DOD who certainly do handle PR, there are other people who handle intelligence, others who handle counter-intelligence, etc.

    Most people in the DOD don't care in the slightest what's on TV. To them, that's someone else's job. The intel folks, who are probably calling the shots, want stuff redacted because they've got ongoing military and intelligence operations that can be disrupted if the enemy gets that information.

    The operations that this guy was a part of probably didn't stop when he got out. Other people are probably there. They still have sources and agents in the field. Even if no one is killed, they could lose years of progress. It may be hard to understand, but keep in mind that the enemy is already intimately familiar since this is his area of operations. He could use small details from this book to figure out where the operators had been, and he can actually go to those sites and mine them for more information, and check it against other intelligence efforts, until he could find our current operations.

    It's silly for the DOD to always invoke "national security" every time anything is leaked, but there is a real potential for damage. Considering that the total cost of these books is less than one truck, vs the millions for setting up an operation, it makes perfect sense what they're doing. The only real criticism I have is that they didn't work better with the publisher to handle this in a competent manner, and I think someone ought to lose their job over it.

  • by rubycodez (864176) on Sunday September 26, 2010 @03:41PM (#33704914)

    I'm saying our soldiers should be brought home

    Our soldiers are not fighting those who attacked america. but rather every disgruntled afghan. disgusted with foreign invaders, who takes up a rifle is being labeled as "Taliban". We create new enemies and kill them along with civilian bystanders and claim it is part of the "war on terror".

    Funny your first linked article talks about NATO forces mowing down citizens as part of the death toll. funny like a heart attack. maybe you should have read it before linking.

    You also used the phrase "imposing democracy". yes indeed, not by those people's choice but us ramming our murderous justice and way and approved leaders down their throats by use of force and mayhem.

    Instead of a known enemy, we are fighting those who did not attack us, and creating new enemies. Our elite line their pockets with wealth and gain power from this fight. That's all this "war" is about.

    But enough americans believe the lie, such as you, that this is somehow about bringing democracy, fighting terrorism, ensuring our freedom...blah, blah,blah.

  • by justin12345 (846440) on Sunday September 26, 2010 @04:12PM (#33705094)
    No other asshole has said this so I might as well be the one.

    You are going to die, your parents are going to die, your friends are going to die, your children are going to die. The troops are going to die.

    They will die of cancer, they will die in car accidents, they will die of heart disease, they will die of more exotic ailments. They will die of IUDs or bullets or RPGs. Everyone dies.

    The United State of America will eventually die. It's a young and influential country, but it still has a shelf life.

    What doesn't necessarily die are principles and ideals. You are right that it is a fantasy, but fantasies of years past become the realities of tomorrows to come. The United States has always been far from perfect. You could even make the case its contributed little to society as a whole. But to the extent that it can hold up those principals and ideals (a free press, not burning books, distribution of fact), is the measure that it will be judged by. Not by our children, or our children's children, but by thousands of generations to come, long after the institution of the United States has morphed into something else.
  • by commodore64_love (1445365) on Sunday September 26, 2010 @05:47PM (#33705614) Journal

    >>>I can't recall a single time where the population at large was involved in determining national security

    Probably why we're in the current mess.

    If the People knew what their leaders were doing behind closed doors (ACTA anyone?), they would no longer be our leaders.

  • by adolf (21054) <flodadolf@gmail.com> on Monday September 27, 2010 @04:52AM (#33709018) Journal

    Or, perhaps:

    First, he wrote the book.
    Then, things happen.
    After that, he's threatened by the Pentagon.
    He decides to play along.
    Sometime later, he's had more time to think and then decides doesn't like the game he's been forced into.

    Presumably, the author is human, and is capable of changing his mind.

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