The US Defense Intelligence Agency has attempted to block a book about the tipping point in Afghanistan and a controversial pre-9/11 data colletion project called "Able Danger," Fox News reported on Friday.
Meanwhile, The New York Times reported that 12 American soldiers have been charged with a series of serious crimes in Afghanistan including the murder of civilians. The Pentagon said that the crimes have caused serious damage to the United States' international image.
According to the Fox News report, the DIA tried to block key portions of the book "Operation Dark Heart" and prevent its publication in its current form, citing possible breach of national security. The book claims that operation "Able Danger" successfully identified hijacker Mohammed Atta as a threat to the US prior to the September 11 terror attacks.
The report says that in a highly unusual move, the Department of Defense is negotiating with the book's publisher to buy all 10,000 copies of the first printing of the book to keep it off shelves - even after the US Army had cleared the book for release.
One of the parts the Pentagon is trying to prevent from being published pertains to a meeting between Lt. Col. Tony Shaffer, the book's author, and the executive director of the 9/11 Commission, Philip Zelikow.
During the meeting Shaffer claimed that the commission had been informed about operation "Able Danger" and the identification of Atta before the attacks. According to Shaffer, Zelikow fell silent with shock at the news. Nevertheless, the commission's final report does not mention the meeting.
September 11 attack on Twin Towers (Archive Photo: AP)
"Dr. Philip Zelikow approached me in the corner of the room. 'What you said today is very important. I need you to get in touch with me as soon as you return from your deployment here in Afghanistan'," Shaffer said. He added that once back in the US, he contacted the commission, which was no longer interested.
Fox News further reported that a report by the Department of Defense concluded there was no evidence to support the claims of Shaffer and others. However, Fox News claims it is in possession of an unedited copy of the report containing the names of witnesses, who backed up Shaffer's story when contacted for comment.
US soldiers charged with murder
Meanwhile, the New York Times reported about a separate affair involving 12 American soldiers charged with serious crimes in Afghanistan, including murdering civilians and keeping victims' organ as war loot.
The soldiers, who were stationed at the Kandahar region, are being accused of committing the crimes between January and March 2010. A spokesman on behalf of the Pentagon, Geoff Morrell, said that the charges were very serious and noted they gravely damage the US's international image, even if they later prove to be false.
Last June, five of the 12 soldiers were charged with the murder of three civilians in the Kandahar region. According to the new report, a cover-up of the affair involved seven additional soldiers who tried to protect their friends.
Four of the soldiers are accused of keeping fingers, toes, a tooth and even a skull belonging to the victims.
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