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    Posted September 4, 2012 by
    advocate1999
    Location
    Cheyenne, Wyoming
    Assignment
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    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    Sound off

    CENSORSHIP AT THE MILITARY EXCHANGE

     
    Hello CNN - Today, I was shopping at the Army Air Force Exchange (AAFES) at F.E. Warren Air Force Base in Cheyenne, Wyoming. I was in search of a copy of the much anticipated book "No Easy Day" by Mark Owen. To my surprise instead of shelves lined with copy ready to go, what I found was a printed sign on the shelf explaining that AAFES was delaying release of the book "pending further guidance". Other shoppers looking for the book had the same dumbfounded reaction that I had when they read the dismissive note (please see attached photo from my iphone).

    I ended up picking up a copy of Mark's book at Barnes and Noble later in the afternoon. But by that time I was becoming fixated on why AAFES delayed the book's release. I can only speculate as to why AAFES chose not to release Owen's book. My curiosity took me to view the AAFES Corporate webpage (http://odin.aafes.com/employment/profile.asp) and found that AAFES is a for-profit organization but all (net) profits are returned to service members worldwide through support organizations and other activities.

    Understanding that AAFES does not receive federal tax dollars and returns its profits to service members, I can not see why AAFES would involve itself in any act of censorship of Mr. Owen's book and/or violations of the 1st Amendment's right to free speech. Regardless of whether Mr. Owen has breached any non-disclosure agreement with the DOD (such issue has yet to be determined), AAFES is (in my opinion) committing censorship of his material, as they would otherwise have released his book just as many other for-profit businesses such as Walmart and Barnes and Noble have done without delay. What seems to be the greater insult here is this while AAFES exists to provide for the needs of service members and their families, they have instead substituted their own judgment as to what is appropriate reading material for military exchange patrons.

    As Marine Corps veteran, I am not only shocked by this behavior but also disappointed that AAFES would involve itself in such controversy. Of course, service members from all branches will seek out this book and want to hear Owen's point of view as a SEAL operator. I can think of no better reader than today's military professionals. The bottom line here is...AAFES has taken sides prematurely. By choosing to "DELAY" their release of Owen's book, AAFES not only penalizes the service members who shop the military exchanges, but they also show the contempt they have for the rightf to free speech by Mark Owen and every military reader who might have picked up a copy of No Easy Day at the BX. AAFES - You have NO RIGHT to decide for me or any other service member who defends the United States, what is appropriate reading material. Do you plan to pull all copies of the Bill of Rights from your shelves too?

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