The CIA's action also echoes the recent censoring of a former Army intelligence officer who published a book about the war in Afghanistan. In that case, the Department of Defense purchased and destroyed 10,000 copies -- the entire first run -- before a new, redacted version was printed. The book, "Operation Dark Heart," by Lt. Col Anthony Shaffer, began selling briskly and is currently number seven on the New York Times bestseller list. Shaffer and his publisher, St. Martin's Press, credit the publicity stemming from the Pentagon's efforts to censor the book for the sales.
Jones' book details his 20-year career as an NOC, and describes a bloated organization plagued by fraud, waste and bureaucratic lethargy. But the book never reveals the countries Jones lived or worked in, or the names of other agents or co-workers.
A spokeswoman for the CIA said that despite the potential to boost sales for the book, the CIA had to take a stand against Jones. "There's principle involved here. Intelligence officers need to understand their solemn obligation to protect our nation's secrets. People can make judgments about the quality of the book -- or lack thereof -- themselves."
Oddly, if the agency were to win its suit and the book continued to sell, the CIA would be given the profits.
Jones and other former CIA officers have complained in the past that the CIA's publication review consistently favors former spies who tell stories flattering to the agency. Jones suggested that the antipathy towards the book focused on his message, a sharp critique of the CIA.
In the book's forward about why he chose to publish before getting the CIA's approval, Jones claimed that two recent books by high ranking CIA officials, including one by former director George Tenet, revealed "startling amount[s] of classified information."
"These books criticize the President, however, and not the organization."