Ex-National Security Officials Sue to Limit Censorship of Their Books

The plaintiffs include Timothy H. Edgar and Richard H. Immerman, former employees of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence; Melvin A. Goodman, a former C.I.A. employee; Anuradha Bhagwati, a former Marine; and Mark Fallon, a former counterterrorism agent at the Naval Criminal Investigative Service.

Mr. Fallon, who retired in 2010, said that he had trouble getting the manuscript for his book, “Unjustifiable Means: The Inside Story of How the C.I.A., Pentagon, and U.S. Government Conspired to Torture,” cleared for publication.

His plan, he said, had been to publish it at the start of the Trump administration. But the government farmed out his book to numerous agencies, and the review process delayed publication more than eight months, to the fall of 2017, disrupting promotional plans.

When the manuscript was finally returned to him, he said, censors demanded the removal of 113 passages, many of which cited names and events that had been discussed in congressional hearings or newspaper articles. He said he reluctantly consented rather than delay further.

“There are names redacted in my book that are part of the Congressional Record,” Mr. Fallon said. “There are names that are redacted in parts of my book that weren’t redacted in other parts of my book, which shows how ludicrous the process was.”

He also maintained that books by former officials and contractors who defended the C.I.A.’s interrogation program were treated better, including George Tenet, its former director; John Rizzo, its former acting general counsel; Jose Rodriguez, the former head of its Counterterrorism Center; and psychologist James Mitchell, who helped design its program.

That critique dovetails with another recently filed lawsuit related to the prepublication censorship in 2011 of a book by Ali Soufan, a former F.B.I. counterterrorism agent who had clashed with the C.I.A. over the agency’s use of torture after the Sept. 11 attacks.