February 6, 2020

“C” is for “Censorship”; CIA deploys iron-fisted approval process: sycophants only, please!


The pending publication of moustachioed former national security adviser John Bolton’s book The Room Where It Happened has run into snags during the process of being vetted by the Central Intelligence Agency, the Washington Post reported last week. And a letter to the editor written by a former CIA analyst blasted the agency’s biased policies, which he said amounted to censorship of any publication critical of “the Company.”

As a result of the CIA’s policy, wrote Melvin B. Goodman, “the public is deprived of relevant information on many national security issues that require discussion and debate.” The policy “violates the First Amendment rights of government officials.” We agree! Where are our friends at PEN? This is their hour! Should they not be sliding down the brass pole in their headquarters, and running out the door? (Sorry. We were thinking just now of the NYFD, not PEN. It’s a common mistake.)

Returning to the topic at hand: “The whole pre-publication review system is a mess,” said Oona Hathaway, a professor at Yale Law School who previously served in the Defense Department. “There’s a rationale behind the system, but it’s badly managed, it’s not well organized, it’s not centralized, there are no clear rules, and it is very much open to abuse.” Geez! Sounds to us like a description of BookExpo!

Surely someone associated with the Moustachioed One’s book will stand up to this outrage? Well, maybe not: “A representative of Simon and Schuster, which is scheduled to publish the manuscript, declined to comment,” said the Post.

To us, though, the real scandal is Bolton’s decision to save his secrets for his book, rather than releasing them to Congress. It surprises no one, we suppose, that a politician—particularly one belonging to this administration—would put financial gain above duty, but still … some public servant he is! As an antidote, might we recommend viewing Scott Z. Burns’s movie The Report, which documents courageous Senate investigator Daniel Jones’s quest to reveal the truth about US torture post-9/11? If you like, you could even read the report itself in a handsome tie-in edition, with an exclusive foreword by Adam Driver Daniel Jones himself! Just sayin’!



Michael Lindgren is the Managing Editor at Melville House.