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07 June 2012

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Jane

Sanger's position is more along the lines that although the government has a right to keep the horse in the barn, once the horse is out of the barn you can talk about it.

Secret endeavors are a problem because voters in a democracy need to know what the people they are voting for are doing.

Yes, idealistic and unobtainable but the closer we get the better the chance at reasonable decisions.

Eadwacer

The real problem is the decades-long violation of trust by the USG. How many times have politicians, or program managers in the Pentagon, revealed classified information because it would support their positions? How many times has information been classified because it was politically or bureaucratically embarassing? How many times have bona-fide whistleblowers been prosecuted because the leaked information was evidence of incompetence in high places? Whatever the pros and cons of a specific case, it's this underlying dry rot that has made it possible.

gorgon stare

This is all just set up for Cyber Terror funding. Blowback is a feature for these people.

William R. Cumming

It would be of interest to know whether the mandatory classification guides exist for either the drone programs or the cyber warfare attack programs. Arguably with no such guides the classification fails at inception. And see E.O. 12333 and progeny.

Long long ago I tried to get DoJ to take on the revision of the Espionage Act of 1917 and definition of sabotage. No chance of that happening then or now.

You shall reap what you sow?

ex-PFC Chuck

The Obama administration has doubled down on the attacks on whistle blowers in comparison to all previous DC regimes. Here's a video clip of Jessica Radack on the subject; she was targeted by the Bush 43 administration for doing her Justice Department job according to the law in the John Walker Lindh case.
http://bit.ly/NTK0sp

Marcus

Julius Caesar talking before the Senate about the punishment for the Catiline Conspirators:

"All bad precedents have originated in cases which were good; but when the control of the government falls into the hands of men who are incompetent or bad, your new precedent is transferred from those who well deserve and merit such punishment to the undeserving and blameless." http://www.bartleby.com/268/2/19.html

Warrantless wiretapping, retroactive immunity for the telecoms, secret disappearance and torture regime, secret assassination lists (Americans not excluded), no recourse for innocent victims of government violations because of "national security", I'd says the pendulum has swung a bit too far toward federal security and I don't consider Obama the "bad men" mentioned above, that is yet to come.

We're not one step away from totalitarianism.


Allen Thomson

There are a couple of interesting anecdotes about the reporting of leaked secrets concerning spysats at the end of http://www.americaspace.org/?p=20825 .

JohnH

Isn't Sanger taking the same defense as Julian Assange? Only Assange (intentionally) revealed no covert programs.

Sanger is simply revealing another longstanding Washington double standard--the elite press gets to skirt the law while other whistle blowers have the law stretched and distorted to cover their supposed misdeeds.

different clue

I find myself suspecting Senator McCain may be onto something. As ferociously as the Obama Administration is persecuting some alleged leakers, why have stories about this cyber-effort (for example) been aired without any expression of displeasure from the White House at all? Could it be that Obama is exposing any secret he pleases in building his campaign image as a tough smart do-something National Security President? I suppose that is not quite as base a motive as the Bush Administration's motive of pure personal revenge
in betraying Agent Plame and her CIA operation . . . but it still doesn't seem good.

The Twisted Genius

I don't find fault with Sanger or even Assange. They never took an oath or signed up to protect classified information. Governments routinely use terms like national security, stare secret and classified to hide their questionable actions and seedy motives from the citizenry. I'm glad people like Sanger, Assange, Woodward and Bernstien are there to shine a light on governments and other powerful people.

I do find fault in governments that over-classify information. It cheapens the entire classification process and fails to protect information that should be protected. I find most fault with those of us who have taken an oath and signed up to keep classified information secret and willingly disclose that information, especially if that disclosure puts someone at risk. We may not always agree with the decision to classify a particular piece of information, but we are not in a position to pick and choose. The only exception to this is the bonafide whistleblower who exposes classified information to right a wrong. However, the righteous whistleblower must be willing to accept the consequences of his act.

Jake

Bill Cumming..

Seems we are on the same page. But the question I have is with reference to E.O. 12333. Does E.O 12958 apply or superceed? Whats ISOO's position on this?

Harper

What I find objectionable is that classified leaks are being used in this case to boost the President's reelection by trying to make him look tough on national security by putting spun material out to Sanger and the NYT. This same administration is the first ever to use the Espionage Act to go after reporters and intelligence officers who leaked embarrassing things. The double standard here shows a level of hypocricy that I find horrible and disgusting. The intelligence agencies who were the targets of the leaks are obviously doing damage assessments. I just heard Feinstein and Rogers on Meet the Press this morning and Rogers said his staff met with eight case officers who provided a preliminary indication of how many ongoing legitimate operations were jeopardized by the leaks. And why is David Axelrod sitting in on the "Terror Tuesday" kill list sessions? Obama said no one at the White House was in on the leaking, but he didn't say anything about his reelection campaign, including Axelrod.

William R. Cumming

Jake! You make a good point about what the relationship is between EO 12333 and EO 12958! EO 12958 definitely controls what may be classified and how? But not necessarily by who or whom!
Extract from Eo 12958:

Sec. 1.5. Classification Categories.

Information may not be considered for classification unless it concerns:

(a) military plans, weapons systems, or operations;

(b) foreign government information;

(c) intelligence activities (including special activities), intelligence sources or methods, or cryptology;

(d) foreign relations or foreign activities of the United States, including confidential sources;

(e) scientific, technological, or economic matters relating to the national security;

(f) United States Government programs for safeguarding nuclear materials or facilities; or

(g) vulnerabilities or capabilities of systems, installations, projects or plans relating to the national security.

I long argued that these two Executive Orders were in need of a compatibility review and perhaps merger. What EO 12958 implies is that the classifiers have authority and have in fact made formal determinations of what information fits the need for classification.

My point is simple: What persons or organizations decided that the cyber offensive against Iran was classifiable or even better classified and is there documentation [perhaps classified} to that effect.

I listened to Sanger over the weekend on TV and it is clear he expected a major problem with the leak controllers but apparently also had specific advice from his attorneys and NY Times and even from those leaking. Takes two to leak, or at least two.

Glad this is being a big issue because cyber security was one reason DHS was created and its has utterly failed on that portfolio. But since this cyber offensive now made public assume many nation-states and sub-state individuals about to gear up and test USA defenses.

I have some expertise in physical targeting and not much in the cyber areana but clearly anyone operating in an industry or business where SCADA systems are important had better spend a lot of time, money and effort on defense. The cost of a "free" market now increased multifold by the national security types IMO.

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