Friday, November 11, 2005

The government has been yanking Gary Bernsten's chain, so he's going let the public see the results of the chain-yanking. PublishersLunch reports:

In late October (after a second Federal Court filing earlier in the month), former CIA field commander Gary Bernsten and publisher Crown finalized clearances from the CIA's Publications Review Board to issue JAWBREAKER on December 27, two months after originally scheduled.

Crown executive editor Rick Horgan says, "We are going to publish the book with the redactions preserved," with blacked-out text throughout the book where CIA approval was not granted, to make transparent to readers "all of the violence done to the manuscript." (In the interest of readibility, places where multiple pages were redacted by the CIA will be indicated in notes from the author rather than a run of completely black pages.) ...

Bernsten has argued, and Horgan confirms, that "some of the redactions involved deleting material that was already part of the public record." So the author and publisher decided to publish the approvable manuscript rather than continue to submit to the CIA's "shrewd delaying process."...

So what's all the fuss about? Perhaps you recall this Newsweek story from August: a forthcoming book, the CIA field commander for the agency's Jawbreaker team at Tora Bora, Gary Berntsen, says he and other U.S. commanders did know that bin Laden was among the hundreds of fleeing Qaeda and Taliban members. Berntsen says he had definitive intelligence that bin Laden was holed up at Tora Bora - intelligence operatives had tracked him - and could have been caught. "He was there," Berntsen tells NEWSWEEK. Asked to comment on Berntsen's remarks, National Security Council spokesman Frederick Jones passed on 2004 statements from former CENTCOM commander Gen. Tommy Franks. "We don't know to this day whether Mr. bin Laden was at Tora Bora in December 2001," Franks wrote in an Oct. 19 New York Times op-ed. "Bin Laden was never within our grasp." Berntsen says Franks is "a great American. But he was not on the ground out there. I was."

In his book - titled "Jawbreaker" - the decorated career CIA officer criticizes Donald Rumsfeld's Defense Department for not providing enough support to the CIA and the Pentagon's own Special Forces teams in the final hours of Tora Bora, says Berntsen's lawyer, Roy Krieger....

A July AP story described Berntsen as "a Republican and avid Bush supporter," and "the recipient of two of the CIA's three highest medals, one for preventing Islamic extremists from assassinating the Indian prime minister in 1996." Nevertheless, he's pissed, and his story's coming out.

Here's the Amazon page for Jawbreaker.

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