Former military intelligence officer Anthony Shaffer is suing the Pentagon and the CIA over their extraordinary attempts to censor Operation Dark Heart, the book he wrote recounting his days as a military spy in Afghanistan and elsewhere. One problem he's run into: The government has the original unredacted manuscript he wrote. And it won't give him a copy. Because it's classified.

Operation Dark Heart was actually published in September, after the Pentagon's classification review board—which signs off on books written by staffers with high security clearances—initially gave Shaffer the OK. But at the last minute, the CIA, Defense Intelligence Agency, and other intelligence agencies freaked out and withdrew permission, citing more than 200 passages revealing allegedly classified information (among them, for some reason, a reference to Ned Beatty). But by that time, the book had already been printed, and dozens of review copies sent out. So the Pentagon took the extraordinary step of buying all 10,000 copies of the book directly from the publisher and destroying them. Shaffer's publisher then released a redacted version.

Of course, that didn't prevent copies of the original, unredacted book from leaking out. The Federation of American Scientists published excerpts, and a complete copy is for sale on eBay. But when Shaffer sued the Pentagon and the CIA, claiming that the censorship violated his First Amendment rights, the government resolutely refused to hand over its copy of the manuscript that Shaffer initially submitted for review—which he needs in order to write a declaration for the court explaining why none of it is actually classified—because Shaffer no longer had a security clearance.

To review: The guy can't have the book he wrote, which is available online, because he can't be trusted to read the contents of his own mind.

[via Secrecy News]