Home » Posts tagged 'national security'

Tag Archives: national security

Our mission

Free Government Information (FGI) is a place for initiating dialogue and building consensus among the various players (libraries, government agencies, non-profit organizations, researchers, journalists, etc.) who have a stake in the preservation of and perpetual free access to government information. FGI promotes free government information through collaboration, education, advocacy and research.

White House finally responds to Snowden petition. People’s voice brushed off

167,954 people who signed the White House petition to immediately give Edward Snowden a “full, free, and absolute pardon for any crimes he has committed or may have committed related to blowing the whistle on secret NSA surveillance programs” have just received the following response from the White House. Not only did it take over 2 years for the White House to respond, but they responded with a completely fact-free and inappropriate hard line non-answer. Dan Froomkin at the Intercept sums it up nicely.

A Response to Your Petition on Edward Snowden

Thanks for signing a petition about Edward Snowden. This is an issue that many Americans feel strongly about. Because his actions have had serious consequences for our national security, we took this matter to Lisa Monaco, the President’s Advisor on Homeland Security and Counterterrorism. Here’s what she had to say:

“Since taking office, President Obama has worked with Congress to secure appropriate reforms that balance the protection of civil liberties with the ability of national security professionals to secure information vital to keep Americans safe.

As the President said in announcing recent intelligence reforms, “We have to make some important decisions about how to protect ourselves and sustain our leadership in the world, while upholding the civil liberties and privacy protections that our ideals and our Constitution require.”

Instead of constructively addressing these issues, Mr. Snowden’s dangerous decision to steal and disclose classified information had severe consequences for the security of our country and the people who work day in and day out to protect it.

If he felt his actions were consistent with civil disobedience, then he should do what those who have taken issue with their own government do: Challenge it, speak out, engage in a constructive act of protest, and — importantly — accept the consequences of his actions. He should come home to the United States, and be judged by a jury of his peers — not hide behind the cover of an authoritarian regime. Right now, he’s running away from the consequences of his actions.

We live in a dangerous world. We continue to face grave security threats like terrorism, cyber-attacks, and nuclear proliferation that our intelligence community must have all the lawful tools it needs to address. The balance between our security and the civil liberties that our ideals and our Constitution require deserves robust debate and those who are willing to engage in it here at home.”

via Pardon Edward Snowden | We the People: Your Voice in Our Government.

ALA off target in giving Madison Award to Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technologies

I’m in 2 minds about this year’s James Madison Award given annually by the American Library Association to “honor individuals or groups who have championed, protected and promoted public access to government information and the public’s right to know at the national level.” Last year’s award was given to computer programer and internet activist [[Aaron Swartz]], “an outspoken advocate for public participation in government and unrestricted access to peer-reviewed scholarly articles.” It was announced yesterday that the Obama administration’s Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technologies had received the award.

While I can appreciate that the Obama administration would set up this group to look into US security and surveillance programs, I believe it premature to give this group the Madison award before any of their suggested reforms have been put in place or analyzed for their efficacy at protecting the public’s privacy and 4th amendment rights. Additionally, I find it highly questionable to honor the Obama administration after it has been repeatedly shown to be hypocritical in terms of surveillance, privacy, and government transparency in general [update 2:45PM: case in point, this recent AP news article “Obama Administration Cites ‘National Security’ More Than Ever To Censor, Deny Records”].

Instead, this year’s award ought to have gone to whistleblower Edward Snowden who’s leaks of NSA documents brought to light the NSA’s systematic and unconstitutional surveillance programs and forced the Obama administration to set up the Review Group in the first place — lipstick on a pig?! — if for nothing else to have some positive PR. ALA was already on record in support of needs for reforms of US intelligence community with its Resolution on the Need for Reforms for the Intelligence Community to Support Privacy, Open Government, Government Transparency, and Accountability (Council Document 20.4) — which ironically replaced the Resolution in Support of Whistleblower Edward Snowden a day after that resolution passed and was then rescinded by ALA Council! — so they should have taken this opportunity to do the right thing and honor Mr Snowden with the Madison award.

Today, the American Library Association awarded President Barack Obama’s Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technologies the 2014 James Madison Award during the 16th Annual Freedom of Information Day in Washington, D.C. The Presidential Review Group received the award for calling for dozens of urgent and practical reforms to the National Security Agency’s unlawful surveillance programs.

Calling on the government to enhance public trust, the President’s Review Group produced a thoughtful report (PDF) with a blueprint showing how the government can reaffirm its commitment to privacy and civil liberties—all without compromising national security. In the report, the Review Group emphasized the need for transparency and effective oversight, and made recommendations intended to protect U.S. national security and advance foreign policy. Additionally, the Review Group asked the U.S. government to demonstrate the validity of claims that secrecy is necessary.

Members of the Review Group include Richard Clarke, former national security official under presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush; Michael Morell, former deputy director of the Central Intelligence Agency; Geoffrey Stone, law professor at the University of Chicago Law School; Cass Sunstein, professor at Harvard University and Peter Swire, professor at the Georgia Institute of Technology.

via NSA oversight group receives American Library Association award.

EFF: 2011 is the year secrecy jumped the shark

The Electronic Frontier Foundation, in their year in review, summed up 2011 as the year that secrecy [w:jumped the shark]. A sad state of affairs for the Obama Administration, which was supposed to be the most transparent ever.

  • Government report concludes the government classified 77 million documents in 2010, a 40% increase on the year before. The number of people with security clearances exceeded 4.2. million, more people than the city of Los Angeles.
  • Government tells Air Force families, including their kids, it’s illegal to read WikiLeaks. The month before, the Air Force barred its service members fighting abroad from reading the New York Times—the country’s Paper of Record.
  • Lawyers for Guantanamo detainees were barred from reading the WikiLeaks Guantanamo files, despite their contents being plastered on the front page of the New York Times.
  • President Obama refuses to say the words “drone” or “C.I.A” despite the C.I.A. drone program being on the front pages of the nation’s newspapers every day.
  • CIA refuses to release even a single passage from its center studying global warming, claiming it would damage national security. As Secrecy News’ Steven Aftergood said, “That’s a familiar song, and it became tiresome long ago.”
  • The CIA demands former FBI agent Ali Soufan censor his book criticizing the CIA’s post 9/11 interrogation tactics of terrorism suspects. Much of the material, according to the New York Times, “has previously been disclosed in open Congressional hearings, the report of the national commission on 9/11 and even the 2007 memoir of George J. Tenet, the former C.I.A. director.”
  • Department of Homeland Security has become so bloated with secrecy that even the “office’s budget, including how many employees and contractors it has, is classified,” according to the Center for Investigative reporting. Yet their intelligence reports “produce almost nothing you can’t find on Google,” said a former undersecretary.
  • Headline from the Wall Street Journal in September: “Anonymous US officials push open government.”
  • NSA declassified a 200 year old report which they said demonstrated its “commitment to meeting the requirements” of President Obama’s transparency agenda. Unfortunately, the document “had not met the government’s own standards for classification in the first place,” according to J. William Leonard, former classification czar.
  • Government finally declassifies the Pentagon Papers 40 years after they appeared on the front page of the New York Times and were published by the House’s Armed Services Committee.
  • Secrecy expert Steve Aftergood concludes after two years “An Obama Administration initiative to curb overclassification of national security information… has produced no known results to date.”
  • President Obama accepts a transparency award…behind closed doors.
  • Government attorneys insist in court they can censor a book which was already published and freely available online.
  • Department of Justice refuses to release its interpretation of section 215 of the Patriot Act, a public law.
  • U.S. refuses to release its legal justification for killing an American citizen abroad without a trial, despite announcing the killing in a press conference.
  • U.S. won’t declassify legal opinion on 2001’s illegal warrantless wiretapping program.
  • National Archive announced it was working on declassifying “a backlog of nearly 400 million pages of material that should have been declassified a long time ago.”
  • The CIA refused to declassify Open Source Works, “which is the CIA’s in-house open source analysis component, is devoted to intelligence analysis of unclassified, open source information” according to Steve Aftergood.
  • Twenty-three year State Department veteran gets his security clearance revoked for linking to a WikiLeaks document on his blog.
  • The ACLU sued asking the State Department to declassify 23 cables out of the more than 250,000 released by WikiLeaks. After more than a year, the government withheld 12 in their entirety. You can see the other 11, heavily redacted, next to the unredacted copies on the ACLU website.
  • The ACLU said it sued the State Department in part to show the “absurdity of the US secrecy regime.” Mission accomplished.

[HT to Glen Greenwald]

Wikileaks Afghan War Diary, 2004-2010

Anyone who hasn’t heard of the new wikileaks release of the Afghan Afghan War Diary, 2004-2010 — over 91,000 reports written by soldiers and intelligence officers covering the war in Afghanistan from 2004 to 2010 — must be living under a rock. It’s been all over the international news and is being compared to the [w:Pentagon Papers] released in 1971 by [w:Daniel Ellsberg]. In particular, the NY Times, Guardian UK, and Der Spiegel newspapers have all published detailed analyses of the document dump. In addition, BoingBoing has a Q&A with wikileaks volunteer Jacob Appelbaum and NYU’s Jay Rosen has written some interesting and thought-provoking thoughts over at PressThink. This is BIG folks!

New blog: National Security Archive

The National Security Archive at George Washington University announced its new blog today: Unredacted: The National Security Archive, Unedited and Uncensored. The announcement says:

The National Security Archive is pleased to open its virtual doors with a new behind-the-scenes blog, “Unredacted: The National Security Archive, Unedited and Uncensored,”. The Archive’s own experience with thousands of Freedom of Information Act and Mandatory Declassification Review requests provides a wealth of data and fundamental lessons that we hope to share with you.

“Unredacted” will highlight never before publicly seen government documents as part of our regular “Document Friday” series. The blog will feature commentary and analysis from our experts on current news stories, events, ongoing litigation and advocacy efforts, newly-released documents, and other hot topics. We will regularly highlight some of our top document collections — including unpublished collections donated by top journalists and authors — that are available to researchers and the public.

The new blog will also tell you more about the Archive’s global activities, including reports from the field as Archive staff travel to document archives around the world, assist international courts and tribunals with human rights cases, support efforts to enact and implement freedom of information laws in other nations, and attend meetings and conferences with other NGO representatives and high-level government officials.