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Frontline documentary: United States of Secrets

In case you missed it, PBS now has both parts of the Frontline Documentary “United States of Secrets” online.

  • United States of Secrets. PBS. 2014. Part One – “The Program: How did the government come to spy on millions of Americans?” Part Two – “Privacy Lost: How Silicon Valley feeds the NSA’s global dragnet.”

Spy Chief James Clapper Wins Rosemary Award

What’s the opposite of “prestigious?” The National Security Archive today named DNI James Clapper as this year’s Rosemary Award winner. The award — named for Rosemary Woods, Richard Nixon’s secretary who erased 18 1/2 minutes of audio tape key to the Watergate investigation — is awarded each year for worst open government performance. The National Security Archive noted that this year’s award was a team effort as the National Security Agency, Justice Department National Security Division, FBI, and White House were all “awarded” for misleading the public, Congress, the Supreme Court, the wiretap court, and even each other.

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper has won the infamous Rosemary Award for worst open government performance in 2013, according to the citation published today by the National Security Archive at www.nsarchive.org. Despite heavy competition, Clapper’s “No, sir” lie to Senator Ron Wyden’s question: “Does the NSA collect any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans?” sealed his receipt of the dubious achievement award, which cites the vastly excessive secrecy of the entire U.S. surveillance establishment.

The Rosemary Award citation leads with what Clapper later called the “least untruthful” answer possible to congressional questions about the secret bulk collection of Americans’ phone call data. It further cites other Clapper claims later proved false, such as his 2012 statement that “we don’t hold data on U.S. citizens.” But the Award also recognizes Clapper’s fellow secrecy fetishists and enablers

via Spy Chief James Clapper Wins Rosemary Award.

UK colonial files are still secret

Robert Gildea, Professor of Modern History at University of Oxford, has this comment about the movement to get the UK’s Foreign Office to release a massive archive of public documents in The Conversation, an independent source of news and views from the academic and research community.

  • Public interest demands the release of hidden colonial files, Robert Gildea, The Conversation (27 January 2014).

    There is a sharp contradiction when GCHQ operations tell us that the government will stop at nothing to unearth information about its own and other people, while people’s right to call their government to account for past actions is stone-walled.

Secrecy Report 2013 from OpenTheGoverment.org

The 2013 edition of the Secrecy Report from OpenTheGoverment.org is now available.

  • Secrecy Report 2013 –The Tip of the Iceberg (announcement) OpenTheGoverment.org (October 1, 2013)

    Today’s release of the 2013 Secrecy Report, the 9th annual review and analysis of indicators of secrecy in the federal government by OpenTheGovernment.org, comes amid shocking revelations that cast doubt on the accuracy and the meaningfulness of the government’s statistics about surveillance…. [T]he government’s insistence on keeping interpretations of the law secret and a lack of oversight by Congress and the Judicial Branch helped set the stage for a surveillance program that is much broader than previously believed.

  • Secrecy Report 2013: Indicators of Secrecy in the Federal Government. by Patrice McDermott, Amy Bennett, Abby Paulson, and Shannon Alexander, OpenTheGoverment.org. (2013)

    As a result of the disclosures [by Edward Snowden through the Guardian and the Washington Post], the intelligence community has been forced to declassify and release documents that, until recently, they (and the FISA Court) averred could not and should not be declassified. The misdirection in which our government has engaged and the use of secret law are, for us, as disturbing as the activities they have hidden.

  • The Must Read 2013 Secrecy Report is Out, by Nate Jones, Unredacted: The National Security Archive (October 7, 2013).

    [T]he Report presents the best chronology I have seen of the efforts various government agencies used to obscure the methods of intelligence collection they utilized.

Presidential Policy Directives not on White House Website

Steven Aftergood describes Presidential Policy Directives and discusses how and why they are not usually posted to the White House website — even when they are not classified and are available elsewhere.

  • Presidential Directives Mostly Withheld by White House, by Steven Aftergood, Secrecy News (July 12, 2013).

    The Obama Administration has issued more than 20 Presidential Policy Directives (PPDs), many of which are collected or listed on the Federation of American Scientists web site.

    But with few exceptions (PPD 14, PPD 19) most of these cannot be obtained from the White House.