CIA censors ex-FBI agent’s 9/11 book
The CIA will not allow the full publication of a memoir by Ali H. Soufan, the former FBI agent that spent years near the center of the battle against al-Qaeda, The New York Times reported on August 25.
Soufan argues in the book that the CIA missed a chance to derail the 2001 incident by withholding from the FBI information about two 9/11 hijackers living in San Diego, the report says.
He also gives a detailed, firsthand account of the US spy agency’s move toward brutal treatment of detainees in its interrogations, saying the harsh methods were unnecessary and counterproductive.
Soufan, a counterterrorism agent that played a central role in most major terrorism investigations between 1997 and 2005, has told colleagues he believes the censored portions of his book are intended not to protect national security, but to prevent him from recounting episodes that reflect badly on the CIA.
In a letter sent on August 19 to the FBI’s general counsel, Valerie E. Caproni, a lawyer for Soufan, David N. Kelley, wrote that “credible sources have told Mr. Soufan that the agency has made a decision that this book should not be published because it will prove embarrassing to the agency.”
Soufan has called the CIA’s cuts to and editing of his book “ridiculous,” but said he thought he would prevail in getting them restored for a later edition.
He said he believed that counterterrorism officers have an obligation to face squarely “where we made mistakes and let the American people down.”
The book, entitled The Black Banners: The Inside Story of 9/11 and the War Against Al Qaeda has been written with the assistance of Daniel Freedman, a colleague at Soufan’s New York security company, and is scheduled to go on sale on September 12.
US government employees who hold security clearances are required to have their books vetted for classified information before publication. However, since decisions on what should be classified can be highly subjective, the prepublication review process often becomes a battle.
Several former US spies have gone to court to fight redactions to their books, and the Defense Department spent nearly $50,000 last year to buy and destroy the entire first printing of an intelligence officer’s book, which it said contained secrets, the report adds.