How (not) to exterminate a book.


15 Responses to “How (not) to exterminate a book.”

  1. 2k says:

    My German sucks so had to read the translations…

    Perhaps it is more important to be seen to be flexing than to actually posses might.

    “While I do not agree with the edits in many ways,” Colonel Shaffer wrote, “the Defense Department redactions enhance the reader’s understanding by drawing attention to the flawed results created by a disorganized and heavy handed military intelligence bureaucracy.”

    I lol’d

  2. Wolfrick says:

    Slight hijack: Does anyone have a link to the unredacted text of Operation Dark Heart, or can anyone point me to where I can find it?

  3. -3- says:

    “Someone buying 10,000 books to suppress a story in this digital age is ludicrous.”

    Just exactly so. That statement is so true, it’s led many of us to wonder whether this was another bogus campaign to give credibility to some false information in the book. The government these days operates so much by political theatre, it’s very hard to guess the extent of their day-to-day lies.

    Such is life under government by comicbook villains…

  4. Anonymous says:

    I don’t know about that “not guilty of a crime” either, depending on the point of view and who writes and enforces the laws in question. US government/institutions these days go as far as trying even to criminalize and load with repercussions the release of classified or sensitive data by non-US citizens outside the US. Case in point, I’d say it’s pretty clear that anyone involved with the Wikileaks project is in serious danger of getting detained (surely only for some friendly harmless questioning…) once they enter the US, even when they aren’t US citizens and did not strictly break US law within US borders. (I know this is debateable, but that is so because in the digital age, things work differently not only as far as virtual book burning goes, see above.)

  5. DWittSF says:

    #1 Scratchee is engaging in a classic fallacy – making a general argument that ignores the actual facts of the situation: the book was actually cleared by the Army censors, and then the DoD stepped in after the fact and started redacting information that was not, in fact, classified:

    The National Security Agency, headquarters for the government’s eavesdroppers and code breakers, has been located at Fort Meade, Md., for half a century. Its nickname, the Fort, has been familiar for decades to neighbors and government workers alike. Yet that nickname is one of hundreds of supposed secrets Pentagon reviewers blacked out in the new, censored edition of an intelligence officer’s Afghan war memoir.

    RTFL, please.

  6. Anonymous says:

    why won’t someone that has a copy of the original book send the contents to WikiLeaks for all to enjoy?

  7. saru says:

    I am going to request a suspension of Godwin’s law for the time that you read this piece as the unintentional but unavoidable comparison to the Nazis cannot be hidden.

    Sorry to leave a comment with the sole purpose of pedantry, but Godwin’s law is not, “Mentioning Nazis or Hitler is sufficient to end the discussion.”
    I have no idea when or why this interpretation became so common. Even XKCD engaged in it:

    Godwin’s law is simply that as the length of a discussion on the internet increases, the probability of a comparison to Hitler or Nazis approaches one.
    Obviously, if the discussion is on World War II, the probability starts much higher than if it were, say, about bunny raising methodology. The law also has nothing to say about what to do about such a comparison.

  8. krake says:

    There is a very interesting and good book named “Das Buch der verbrannten Bücher” (The book of the burned books) with stories about the authors of many of the books burned by the Nazis in 1933 and later.

    The author argues that many of the texts actually almost didn’t survive and that many of the authors were subsequently forgotten. He acknowledges that sometimes this is due to the lack of quality in their writing, but also argues how frightening and how efficient the book burnings in Germany actually were.

    They might not have succeeded in burning every single copy but it did end many careers and silenced many authors for years or for the rest of their lives.

    So buying and destroying all 10 000 copies of a book is not just ridiculous. It is dangerous. It’s not about a single book surviving, but it’s about silencing the wider distribution of ideas. And that works quite well.

  9. acb says:

    So the way to effectively suppress a work is not to eliminate all copies of it but to flood the market with junk copies, making it impossible to find the real thing? Weren’t the RIAA doing this with MP3s of unreleased albums a while ago?

  10. Anonymous says:

    What the Nazis did was evil.
    What the US government did was stupid.

    Trying to equate the two is simply going WAY overboard to make your point, and it ends up damaging the credibility of anyone who has legitimate concerns about the criteria the US government is using to determine what should be classified and what shouldn’t be.

    • Anonymous says:

      What the Nazis did was stupid for an evil purpose.
      What the US did was stupid. Maybe in some cases you can compare the means without equating the motives?

  11. Anonymous says:

    The way I see it, unless the published item is divulging sensitive information that would hurt government operations if made public, there shouldn’t be a problem.

  12. acb says:

    So the way to effectively suppress a work is not to eliminate all copies of it but to flood the market with junk copies, making it impossible to find the real thing? Weren’t the RIAA doing this with MP3s of unreleased albums a while ago?

  13. robcat2075 says:

    My reaction upon reading his poetry: “Sprockets”

  14. kmoser says:

    …people without lawful access, such as newspaper reporters or publishers, are not guilty of a crime for passing along the information

    I don’t know about that. The Fed could make the case that not only did the publishers know it was classified info (thereby making the publishers guilty of possessing and disseminating state secrets), but the printed books are a threat to national security and can thus be confiscated without compensation.

    Either way, I wouldn’t want to be on the receiving end of that subpoena.

Leave a Reply