posts about or somewhat related to ‘secrecy’

Why the WikiLeaks Grand Jury is So Dangerous: Members of Congress Now Want to Prosecute New York Times Journalists Too →

Via the Electronic Frontier Foundation:

For more than a year now, EFF has encouraged mainstream press publications like the New York Times to aggressively defend WikiLeaks’ First Amendment right to publish classified information in the public interest and denounce the ongoing grand jury investigating WikiLeaks as a threat to press freedom.

Well, we are now seeing why that is so important: at a House Judiciary subcommittee hearing on July 11th, some members of Congress made it clear they also want New York Times journalists charged under the Espionage Act for their recent stories on President Obama’s ‘Kill List’ and secret US cyberattacks against Iran. During the hearing, House Republicans “pressed legal experts Wednesday on whether it was possible to prosecute reporters for publishing classified information,” according to the Los Angeles Times.

In addition, the Washingtonian’s Shane Harris reported a month ago that a “senior” Justice Department official “made it clear that reporters who talked to sources about classified information were putting themselves at risk of prosecution.”

Leaks big and small have been happening for decades—even centuries—and the most recent are comparable to several others. No journalist has ever been prosecuted under the Espionage Act and it has generally been accepted, even by Congress’s own research arm, that the publication of government secrets by the press is protected speech under the First Amendment. Yet the government is actively investigating WikiLeaks and now threatening others for just that.

The mainstream media may see little in common with Assange’s digital publication methods or his general demeanor, but what he is accused of is virtually indistinguishable from what other reporters and newspapers do every day: poke, prod, and cajole sources within the government to give up classified information that newspapers then publish to inform the public of the government’s activities.

FJP: All so true. Read on.

Nine Groups File Amicus Briefs to Support ACLU FOIA Request on US Drone Program →

The CIA recently rejected an ACLU Freedom of Information Act request for documents that disclose the US government’s guidelines for targeting US citizens and foreign nationals with drone attacks.

In its response to the ACLU request, the CIA wrote that “it can neither confirm nor deny the existence or nonexistence of records responsive to this request without compromising national security concerns.”

Take it away, Glenn Greenwald:

Numerous Obama officials — including the President himself and the CIA Director — have repeatedly boasted in public about this very program. Obama recently hailed the CIA drone program by claiming that “we are very careful in terms of how it’s been applied,” and added that it is “a targeted, focused effort at people who are on a list of active terrorists, who are trying to go in and harm Americans, hit American facilities, American bases and so on.” Obama has told playful jokes about the same drone program. Former CIA Director and current Defense Secretary Leon Panetta also likes to tell cute little jokes about CIA Predator drones, and then proclaimed in December that the drone program has “been very effective at undermining al Qaeda and their ability to plan those kinds of attacks.” Just two weeks ago, Attorney General Eric Holder gave a speech purporting to legally justify these same drone attacks…

… Everyone in the world knows the CIA has a drone program. It is openly discussed everywhere, certainly including the multiple Muslim countries where the drones routinely create piles of corpses, and by top U.S. Government officials themselves.

But then when it comes time to test the accuracy of their public claims by requesting the most basic information about what is done and how execution targets are selected, and when it comes time to ask courts to adjudicate its legality, then suddenly National Security imperatives prevent the government even from confirming or denying the existence of the program: the very same program they’ve been publicly boasting and joking about. As the ACLU’s Jameel Jaffer put it after Obama publicly defended the program: “At this point, the only consequence of pretending that it’s a secret program is that the courts don’t play a role in overseeing it” – that, and ensuring that any facts that contradict these public claims remain concealed.

Nine organization have now filed an Amicus — or friends of the court — brief to support an ACLU appeal against the CIA’s refusal to disclose documents that explain “when, where and against whom drone strikes can be authorized, and how the United States ensures compliance with international laws relating to extrajudicial killing.”

The organizations signing the brief are:

The brief was written by the National Security Clinic at the University of Texas at Austin School of Law.

The Rapporteur believes that even if one is in favour of transparency, military and intelligence operations simply cannot be planned and consulted with the public. Transparency cannot exist without control. The government, and especially its security agencies, must have the right to limit access to information in order to govern and to protect. This is based on the premise that states and corporations have the right to privacy as much as individuals do and that secrecy is required for efficient management of the state institutions and organizations.

Lord Michael Jopling, Rapporteur for NATO, 2011 Information and National Security Survey.

Via Ars Technica, NATO: Anonymous will be “infiltrated” and “persecuted”

Note that in May the US released its International Strategy for Cyberspace that basically declared that digital hacking can be met with a forcefull, asymmetric, analog response (read: bombing).

US Intelligence Imagery to be Released →

Secrecy News is reporting that the US National Geospatial Intelligence Agency is looking for a contractor to digitize and release “approximately 4 million linear feet of film up to approximately 7 inches in width.”

The film contains historical intelligence satellite imagery.

For those counting, four million feet is about 757 miles.

The Role of Secrecy in Journalism

Bill Keller, Executive Editor of the New York Times, speaks at a Nieman Lab event about the organization’s relationship to state secrets in light of WikiLeaks.

Important is his discussion of what — and what not — the Times decides to publish, its relationship with the government, and the role of whistle blowing in a democratic society.

Bill Keller Keynote Address

Bill Keller, Q&A

Click to listen, right click to download.

For instant response to the talk, follow #Niemanleaks. Nieman Lab can be followed on Twitter and, of course, their Web site.