Simon Maddox in his Beyond Q Bookshop in Curtin, with some of the military doctrine training pamphlets. Photo: Graham Tidy
Canberra's Beyond Q Bookshop is bracing itself for another military police raid since taking possession of more old training manuals that the Australian Defence Force regards as classified.
In April 2011 police confiscated 21 military doctrine training pamphlets - simply called "pams" by Defence - after being alerted by an ADF employee that the shop had them on its bookshelves for sale.
One was returned the next day because it was an essay about the American Civil War, but the rest have remained with Defence even though it promised to return them if they had been declassified.
Some of the military doctrine training pamphlets. Photo: Graham Tidy
The booklets dated as far back as 1937, leaving Beyond Q owner Simon Maddox dumbfounded as to how they could possibly still be classified material.
News of the raid on the Curtin bookstore went global after Fairfax Media first reported it, particularly since most of the pams can be easily bought on the internet or found in the Australian War Memorial library.
Last week, a retired major-general from interstate handed the bookshop about 80 pams dating as far back as 1914.
Mr Maddox put them straight on his shelves and has already sold some.
"I don't know if this means we will be raided again, but if the military police could ring us first this time so we can have all the cameras here, that would be helpful," he said.
"The retired officer said he was outraged that the other pams were taken from us and that there was nothing in the old books that could possibly be relevant to today's military tactics."
Mr Maddox said the most offensive thing about the 2011 raid was that he had been told that the ADF employee who dobbed in the bookshop actually wanted to photocopy one of the pams at Defence headquarters instead of paying for it.
He was subsequently told the employee was prevented from photocopying the booklet.
The bookshop owner wrote twice to the ADF in 2011 asking if the confiscated booklets had been declassified and, if so, could they be returned as promised. "I expected, at least, the courtesy of a reply but we never received one," he said.
In response to questioning by Fairfax Media last week, Defence confirmed that the pams remained with the ADF almost two years after they were confiscated.
"Publications and documents voluntarily surrendered to Military Police by an ACT bookstore in April 2011 remain in Defence possession," an ADF spokeswoman said.
"In line with government and Defence policy, classified Defence material must be appropriately declassified before it can be released into the public domain.
"As the current classification status of the publications and documents remains unclear, the documents will be held by Defence until they can be appropriately declassified or until appropriate disposal action can be determined."
The pams received by Beyond Q last week include an infantry training manual from 1914, a small arms manual from 1931, and a training and war manual from 1939.