Pentagon Censorship: Public Book Burning (in Debates)

Ankou September 26 2010 12:40 PM EDT

"Washington (CNN) -- The Department of Defense recently purchased and destroyed thousands of copies of an Army Reserve officer's memoir in an effort to safeguard state secrets, a spokeswoman said Saturday."

What is everyone's thoughts on this?


Violation of Freedom of speech?

EDITED IN BY ADMIN (Consolidating other post into this one)

A Proper debate thread for my post regarding the Pentagon buying and burning all of a first print of book to prevent information from getting out.

The topics at hand:
Was what they did legal?
Was what the did warranted?
Was what they did a proper use of tax payer money?

I, personally, would like to know what exactly the government did not like about his book. Did it tell too much about the way we do things? Did it tell about secret places we are still working in? I'm not a big fan of any military action, so I have a tendency to believe that the government decided to cut some things out to hide it from us rather than our enemies.

Your thoughts, continued...

Invader Sye September 26 2010 12:53 PM EDT

Saying we have freedom of speech is one thing, obtaining freedom of speech is another.

SuiteStuff [C and S Forgery Lmtd.] September 26 2010 2:12 PM EDT

Being in the Army myself, there are certain things you don't go around telling others to protect this country...I say the officer was in wrong to go and write about those things, that can put this nations assets at risk...I support the government on this, and not cuz im an employee to them lol...He made changes in a revised version that the government apparently wont buy out so hes happy and they are happy, and he should of advised someone before he published what he wrote to see if he violates any national security right off the back...last thing, for those of us who do serve, you sign away your freedoms so everyone else can get theirs....that includes the freedom of speech.

Admindudemus [jabberwocky] September 26 2010 2:17 PM EDT

i don't have time to follow the link, but was taxpayer's money used to purchase these books?

AdminTitan [The Sky Forge] September 26 2010 2:28 PM EDT

Doesn't say dudemus, but I believe it's not. It seems to be a for profit memoir released by Anthony Shaffer and his publisher.

Ankou September 26 2010 2:31 PM EDT

The article does not state where the funds to do so came from, but 9500 copies @ about $20 a shot is still a lot of money.

For the record, he was not happy about the forced censorship.

"When you look at what they took out (in the 2nd edition), it's lunacy," Shaffer said.

QBBast [Hidden Agenda] September 26 2010 2:36 PM EDT

His Freedom to Publish has not been violated, neither has my Freedom to Purchase. If they had thrown him in prison without paper and pencil, that would indeed have been a violation of the former. If they had condemned and closed-down every bookstore in the country, on spurious charges, that would have been a violation of the latter.

It seems beyond absurd that they couldn't quash his book legally, if in fact national security is compromised. Or, if unable to prevent him publishing, then charge-&-convict him of something and seize his work-product to be destroyed on the same grounds.

Actually paying him for his product and then doing with it what they will is impressively "non-violational" of his rights. If I had secrets to sell and knew my book would be an instant "sold-out" bestseller, I'd write more!

As for later commentary on what rights are ceded when you sign the forms, what you do while active and what you do apres-active are two different things. Even felons recoup some rights when they are released from prison. (interestingly, this is a non-issue since his work was approved prior to publishing)

In closing, if he is compromising National Security take it to the courts. If the DoD just doesn't like what he has to say, then I'm very impressed they bought it all up. Since they didn't make a legal issue of it, those 1st Edition prints that "got away" are worth a mint!

Admindudemus [jabberwocky] September 26 2010 2:50 PM EDT

i agree with bast pretty much spot on. the only problem i would have is if it was done with taxpayer money, then again though what other funding does the dod have?

Lochnivar September 26 2010 3:05 PM EDT

then again though what other funding does the dod have?

Poppy fields?

AdminQBnovice [Cult of the Valaraukar] September 26 2010 3:15 PM EDT

According to the article the book had been reviewed prior to publishing. Just not by some intelligence agencies.

QBBast [Hidden Agenda] September 26 2010 3:31 PM EDT

Some intelligence is disagreeable.

Admiralkiller [Cult of the Valaraukar] September 27 2010 9:35 AM EDT

Military intelligence is an oxymoron.

Lord Bob September 27 2010 10:44 AM EDT

Actually paying him for his product and then doing with it what they will is impressively "non-violational" of his rights. If I had secrets to sell and knew my book would be an instant "sold-out" bestseller, I'd write more!
Exactly what I was thinking.

AdminQBVerifex September 27 2010 1:26 PM EDT

Ankou, you should post this in Debates as this is more of a political thingy.

QBBast [Hidden Agenda] September 27 2010 3:11 PM EDT

But he didn't take a position.

Ankou September 27 2010 4:16 PM EDT

I did not take a position, but may others did and I was expecting that result, I will re-post in debates.


AdminNemesia [Demonic Serenity] September 27 2010 4:28 PM EDT

You don't need to worry about that. An admin can move this whole thread over to debates.

AdminQBVerifex September 27 2010 4:32 PM EDT

Moved over here, and consolidated post into this one.

AdminQBVerifex September 27 2010 4:34 PM EDT

I think they took a pretty heavy handed approach. I think one of the biggest problems we have to worry about now is the truth being hidden. As soon as governments start destroying information, there is probably something wrong. Too much information has never been a problem in the past, that's why we have such advanced search engines as Google.

Ankou September 27 2010 4:43 PM EDT

Thanks for sorting things out Fex.

I believe that as long as the government tells us that they did it to protect national security, that they did it to keep the information from our enemies, that they may be telling a partial truth. They may in fact be lying by omission. What if some of the information they hid was so we, the people, wouldn't be able to find out exactly what goes on over there? 'Cause if we find out from a respected, published, first hand account how immoral, illegal, or otherwise wrong things can get in current warfare, we might try and stop it.

QBOddBird September 27 2010 6:38 PM EDT

Personally, I believe if they said it contained state secrets, then it is fine by me. They purchased the books, so it's not like he lost out on anything, and I find it completely appropriate for the government to use their funding to keep state secrets, state secrets. There are a lot of things that do not need to be public knowledge, and they aren't always obvious that they should remain secret.

I don't buy into the mindset that "if the government is keeping something secret about what they do, then we probably ought to know about it!" After all, for example, what if he mentioned how during his experience certain anti-aircraft measures were just a huge pain in the butt because they were more effective against our aircraft? What if he mentioned that certain guns knocked his men down better than others? That's information our enemies can use to better fight against us, even though just saying "man I hated those (whatever)" doesn't seem like it releases controversial information.

I have a tendency to believe that the government decided to cut some things out to hide it from us rather than our enemies.

I think that's a tinfoil hat mindset. OMG CONSPIRACYYYY

A tl;dr would be: I find it more important to protect national security than to indulge the curiosities of the general public.

AdminQBnovice [Cult of the Valaraukar] September 27 2010 6:40 PM EDT

So anti-wikileaks then OB?

horseguy001 [Blender 2021] September 29 2010 10:55 AM EDT

The problem is with political correctness running rampant in the media and general population, combined with North America's terrible 'mightier then thou' attitude, the government can't afford to let the general population know about what goes on over there.

Can you imagine if the media and belief systems we have today persisted in WW2? We'd all be speaking German and I don't think Russia would have had the might to march ALL the way west past Berlin. I'm not saying I agree with the war now (I don't), but the brave and hard working troops of our generation are dieing because they are not allowed to return fire on combatant's because they are women and children.

Not being allowed to fire on combatants is a really easy way to lose a war. Problem is, most people would be enraged if a soldier (especially an American soldier) 'murdered' a woman or child. It's outrageous.

If these memoirs contained any information about combat, contained the names of soldiers, or contained casualty reports then I fully support what the government did in this case. The general population can't handle that kind of truth.

AdminQBnovice [Cult of the Valaraukar] September 29 2010 11:36 AM EDT

Women and children? Care to backup that claim with something?

AdminNemesia [Demonic Serenity] September 29 2010 11:39 AM EDT

Sadly that's true that a lot of the combat situations occur with women and children.

Admindudemus [jabberwocky] September 29 2010 11:41 AM EDT

the dod using taxpayer money to protect state secrets is fine & necessary. the author went through the proper channels though and evidently the system was flawed.

i am even okay with the dod using taxpayer funds to cover their ass, once. now the system needs to be fixed so that this doesn't become a habit! i would also like to see some heads roll for not foreseeing this.

what i really would like to see is an explanation to me as a taxpayer as to why this was neccessary, what steps have been taken to fix it and whose fault it is that it occurred in the first place. i don't need to know the secrets, but i would like some transparency into the system.

Ankou September 29 2010 11:52 AM EDT

I agree. But, I will not let go of my 'tinfoil hat' mindset that they are hiding things they don't want US to know they are doing.

VsCountStrum [Black Watch] September 29 2010 12:00 PM EDT

The US Government and every other government in the world, as well as any large organization, is and has been hiding information from the public throughout history. It is nothing new.

I have no idea what is in the book that the government what to keep secret, but it should not be a surprise that they do it.

I am not a conspiracy person, it is just the nature of any organization.

AdminNightStrike October 1 2010 7:57 AM EDT

So anti-wikileaks then OB?

Wikileaks is absolute garbage. I posted a very thorough description of why not too long ago.

As for the "secrets", you can easily google around for a pdf that compares the blacked out version side by side with the original.

Most people with security clearances know that the clearance system is highly flawed. Things that should be protected are not, and things that need not be are. That is the exception, though, and not the rule. In general, the process works well enough to keep things under wraps.

And as far as women and children go.... that's one of the many reasons we have contractors. "American soldiers" have to do less of the ugly work that looks bad in the news if we hire mercenaries to do the bulk of it.
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