This ACLU Blog of Rights post
(6/5/09) elaborates on “the long-overdue State Secret Protection Act of 2009 (H.R. 984).” To quote further:
. . . now the tide is finally turning. In April, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals overturned a lower court’s ruling on the Jeppesen case, noting, in Mr. Wizner’s words, that “the state secrets privilege should be applied to discrete pieces of evidence instead of entire cases.” And at yesterday’s hearing, most of the members and witnesses agreed with Mr. Nadler’s statement that “the Executive cannot be its own judge.”
. . . We fully agree with witness Asa Hutchinson’s assertion that the executive branch should “not be immune to checks and balances,” as well as Hon. Patricia Wald’s statement that this “legislation is long overdue.” The three branches of government are supposed to be co-equal, and Congress is completely justified in creating legislation that balances the Executive’s power.
President Jimmy Carter “disagrees with President Obama’s decision to block the release of photographs that depict U.S. use of torture and other harsh interrogation methods under the Bush administration.” The story is from the ACLU Blog of Rights (6/2/09).
The Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties subcommittee of the House Judiciary committee, chaired by Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY), held a hearing Thursday “to examine how to curb abuse of the privilege, while protecting true state secrets. . . Testifying at Nadler’s hearings will be Patricia Wald, a retired federal judge; Asa Hutchinson, the former GOP congressman from Arkansas; Ben Wizner of the ACLU; and Andrew Grossman of the Heritage Foundation.” The report comes from TPM Muckraker (6/1/09).
“President Obama ordered a review of government secrecy,” according to CQ Politics (5/28/09). To quote:
President Obama has ordered two reviews of government secrecy, one examining whether too much information is classified and another examining whether the system for protecting
other sensitive information needs to be streamlined.
He set a deadline of 90 days to complete the recommendations. National security adviser James L. Jones would lead the review of classified information, which would consider ideas such as establishing a center to conduct classification reviews and restoring the “presumption against classification” that was suspended by President George W. Bush .
The reviews would include recommendations on building a National Declassification Center, a
proposal Obama made on the campaign trail. Obama’s memo, released Wednesday, said the reviews are a reflection of an administration that “is committed to operating with an unprecedented level of openness.”
“Controlled unclassified info” policy is on the way. This post is by Steven Aftergood at Secrecy News (5/13/09). To quote:
A new government-wide policy on “controlled unclassified information”(CUI) is still more than a year away from implementation, but not because of any lack of attention or interest. To the contrary, it is the subject of rather intensive policy deliberation, officials say, and is not “languishing” as Secrecy News stated on May 11.
CUI refers generally to information that is restricted in some way other than by national security classification. Because such restrictions have taken many different forms and names — such as sensitive but unclassified, official use only, limited official use, and more than a hundred others — they have also become a disruptive barrier to communication and a source of confusion inside and outside of government.
Court rebuffs FBI censorship of manuscript, is by Steven Aftergood at Secrecy News (5/11/09). To quote:
A federal court last week rejected most of the objections raised by the Federal Bureau of Investigation to publication of a 500-page manuscript critical of the FBI counterterrorism program that was written by retired FBI Special Agent Robert G. Wright. The manuscript had been submitted for pre-publication review in October 2001.
“Republicans press for greater disclosure,” is by Steven Aftergood from Secrecy News (5/7/09). To quote:
“Questions of secrecy and disclosure are increasingly prominent in congressional interactions with the executive branch, particularly on the part of Republican members of Congress.
House Republicans wrote (pdf) to Defense Secretary Gates this week to complain about what they called “a disturbing trend of restricting budget and inspection information within the Department of Defense.”
Various Resources is by Steven Aftergood at Secrecy News (3/26/09). He reports that,
A survey of the “most wanted” government documents that should be publicly available but are not was recently conducted by OpenTheGovernment.org and the Center for Democracy and Technology. They reported their findings in “Show Us the Data: Most Wanted Federal Documents” (pdf), March 2009.
“Where once we [the United States] were seen as the world’s leader in intellectual discourse and debate, we are now viewed as withdrawn and unconcerned with any views other than our own,” wrote Senator Richard Lugar in the introduction to a new Senate Foreign Relations
Committee report that advocates renewed engagement in public diplomacy and outreach to foreign audiences. See “U.S. Public Diplomacy — Time to Get Back in the Game” (pdf), February 13, 2009.