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A New Take on "Transparency"

A New Take on "Transparency"

By Dennis Loo (4/25/14)

Obama likes to talk about how his administration is the "most transparent" in US history. Here's the latest version of that “transparency,” as reported by Steven Aftergood at Secrecy News on April 21, 2014:

The Director of National Intelligence has forbidden most intelligence community employees from discussing “intelligence-related information” with a reporter unless they have specific authorization to do so, according to an Intelligence Community Directive that was issued last month.

“IC employees… must obtain authorization for contacts with the media” on intelligence-related matters, and “must also report… unplanned or unintentional contact with the media on covered matters,” the Directive stated.

Significantly, the Directive does not distinguish between classified and unclassified information. It includes anything as “covered matters” that are “related” to intelligence, no matter what its classification status. Here’s how the Directive defines “covered matters”:

2. This Directive is limited to contact with the media about intelligence-related information, including intelligence sources, methods, activities, and judgments (hereafter, "covered matters").

Information, sources, methods, activities, and judgments – I’d say that about covers everything.

Furthermore, contact with the “media” is defined this way, as described by Aftergood:

It is not necessary to be a credentialed reporter for an established news organization. It is sufficient to be “any person… engaged in the collection, production, or dissemination to the public of information in any form related to topics of national security….”

Here is how the relevant section reads in the March 20 Intelligence Community Directive 119 itself:

4. For purposes of this Directive, media is any person, organization, or entity (other than Federal, State, local, tribal and territorial governments):

a. primarily engaged in the collection, production, or dissemination to the public of information in any form, which includes print, broadcast, film and Internet; or

b. otherwise engaged in the collection, production, or dissemination to the public of information in any form related to topics of national security, which includes print, broadcast, film and Internet.

In other words, if you collect, produce, or disseminate to the public information related to national security, whether it is your primary activity or you are “otherwise engaged in” it, you are “media.” This means that if you recounted in summary or verbatim form anything someone who works in intelligence said to you by posting a blog entry or writing a letter to the editor or if you were a public official and you related any aspect of a comment from someone in intelligence in a Meet the Press interview, you are “media” and the intelligence official who told you this could be punished or fired.

And you thought that you had to get a media credential to be “media.”

This directive is intended to prevent whistleblowing and it’s designed to make any releases of information to the public to be “authorized news.”

You know what “authorized news” is? It’s better known as propaganda.

Obama has also claimed that his administration protects whistleblowers and recognizes the importance of whistleblowers. That must be why he’s prosecuted twice as many whistleblowers as all administrations combined before him. I wonder why his predecessor, the big bad Bush, didn’t think to issue this Directive when he was in charge?

As Andrew Kreig notes:

[Government Accountability Project's] Homeland Security and Human Rights Director Jesselyn Radack, a well-credential ethics advisor in 2001 at the Bush Department of Justice [said] “Obama … has brought more prosecutions against whistleblowers under the Espionage Act than any previous president and all presidents combined.”

Here is how the lead off section of the White House’s Transparency position reads:

Transparency and Open Government

Memorandum for the Heads of Executive Departments and Agencies

SUBJECT:      Transparency and Open Government

My Administration is committed to creating an unprecedented level of openness in Government.  We will work together to ensure the public trust and establish a system of transparency, public participation, and collaboration. Openness will strengthen our democracy and promote efficiency and effectiveness in Government.

Government should be transparent.  Transparency promotes accountability and provides information for citizens about what their Government is doing.  Information maintained by the Federal Government is a national asset. My Administration will take appropriate action, consistent with law and policy, to disclose information rapidly in forms that the public can readily find and use. Executive departments and agencies should harness new technologies to put information about their operations and decisions online and readily available to the public. Executive departments and agencies should also solicit public feedback to identify information of greatest use to the public.

Evidently, “an unprecedented level of openness in Government” means prosecuting more whistleblowers than anyone before you and banning unapproved contacts between intelligence personnel and anyone who might convey that information, classified or unclassified, to the public. Can you imagine if Vladimir Putin were to issue such a directive what the US media and public officials would say about that? "This just proves that Russia is not an open society! Why, we here in the US have an open society, we are 'transparent.'”

 

Comments   

 
0 # Daniellllll 2014-04-26 04:07
What the government has shown us is quite the opposite of what they say. Especially after implementing public order policies to the highest extent currently, Obama and his regime must hide even more. This is also due to the fact that Obama must preserve his seemingly "left-wing" policy set in order to keep his trusty supporters in check and fooled. Neoliberalism's fuse of democrats and republicans into the right wing plus a politician hiding under the guise of a minority-loving democrat equals the need to hide a grotesque agenda. If it was someone like a republican, the tone and thrust of the acts being committed would be deemed more normal.
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0 # Sme 2014-04-26 17:16
There is a big opposition to Obama’s regime today especially because his actions have been the opposite of what the American public thought they will be. By Obama claiming that his administration is “transparent” he is inferring that he has told the American public all they need to know about his government, but that is not the case. In our society today, how many people are aware of his principals and actions, most of people who vote are oblivious to the fact that Obama has not keep his promises and the way he is handling foreign issues; by being “transparent” Obama will only gain more opposition from the people.
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0 # cglov3r 2014-04-28 02:30
Yes. There appears to be an inherent trend in politics namely those relevant to the presidency that are contradicting in nature. Transparency does not exist. It's the best thing to say at the right time to the right people under the right circumstances to gain support. Just enough assurance is given and vows made to do great things to again gain support. Once that support is given and the power is held, freedom rings for these politicians to do what they want, when they want, how they want, and to who they want.
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0 # Michelle Ngo 2014-04-26 22:23
I know that the government wants to promote openness, but there seems to be limitations to how open the government can be. We, as the media, will sometimes follow the social desirability and change the information that we find, so that it would fit what we know the people want to hear. How "open" is the government willing to be to the people? I do not like the definition of how media is decribed as a person who does not need to be a creditial reporter. It seems like the authority figures like the idea of media and how information is broadcast to the world. In this sense, these authority figures would have an escapegoat, if some information was "accidentally" leaked.
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0 # Dennis Loo 2014-04-27 00:56
Quoting Michelle Ngo:
I know that the government wants to promote openness

You want to be careful about accepting at face value what Obama is saying. The gov't does not want to promote openness. He says he does, but that is not what he is doing. What he's doing, and this is a consistent thread thru his actions and words, is he's says one thing and then does the other.
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0 # cutemeow 2014-04-29 19:23
The government doesn't want to promote openness, but rather the appearance of being "open". Its ironic how contradicting these policies are. Between the Intelligence Community Directive 119 and the White Houses Transparency statement, they are literally doing the exact opposite. I understand that there are some measures that need to stay classified in order to retain public security, but the language used in the Intelligence Community Directive is very broad. I think its worse for the administration to go out of its way to promote transparency, when they are clearly doing the opposite. I think by saying this, they are doing more harm than good because they are sacrificing their legitimacy for appearances.
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0 # jnandez 2014-05-05 07:17
Quoting cutemeow:
I think by saying this, they are doing more harm than good because they are sacrificing their legitimacy for appearances.

This is true for the small community of people who know the truth about Obama's regime and his lies. This cannot be said for the majority of people, since the majority of people still think that Obama is a legitimate left-winged Democrat. When they hear Obama say things like this, they are only reassured of his "liberal" ideals and policies and are led to believe he is telling the truth. So to the majority, this appearance he is giving is thus a reassurance of his legitimacy. So I believe this tactic that Obama's regime is taking on, is to show the majority that they need not investigate any further into the details of policy and government, because they are supposedly already giving it out for everyone to know and see (their so-called openness)....
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0 # jnandez 2014-05-05 07:17
...In other words, I think they are preventing whistleblowers from forming because they are making them think that they aren't hiding anything from the public in the first place, when in reality this isn't the case.
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0 # zzchi 2014-04-27 07:03
The United States government has always said one thing and done another. Now Obama is trying to plea he wants openness, yet he prosecutes whistle blowers who are supposed to be protected under the law. What is next? He has already deported more immigrants than Bush. The more I look into the truth about our nation the more disgusted I am with our nation. It is a shame that our own government is deceitful. They are not protecting the citizens of the nation; they are protecting themselves. Now the criteria for being in the media has changed. Who is this supposed to protect? Or is this supposed to infringe on the people, so we do not meddle with what the government and our president are doing?
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0 # Marisol Parra 2014-04-27 18:10
Soc 305- Obama truly claims to be transparent with his administration. The fine line of his definition of transparency is letting the nation know what he wants them to think. Behind the scenes the Obama administration are doing the opposite of what they claim. ZZchi you brought up a great topic that Obama has deported more immigrants than Bush which is very true. Obama won much of the Latino vote because of what he promised, amnesty for illegal aliens; those were just promises and will never be reached. What to do with Obama and his transparent office when he says one thing to the nation and acts differently?
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0 # deltoro 2014-05-03 23:11
Soc 302. I am glad that Zzchi brought up immigration reform because May 1st is one of the days in which the Latinos community and other minorities gets together and ask Obama to stop deportation among other things. He needs to Stop the separation of Families and to keep his immigration reform promise. It’s not all up to him but he can push the issue and make executive decisions. He’s being called the President of Deportation. I feel that all politicians are lairs in order to get into offices. Obama preaches transparency but all he hides the truth from us. I think that we need to do more research about the government in order to keep ourselves informed.
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0 # CamouflagedWife 2014-04-27 15:40
It's so sad what our country has come to. The United States government cannot be trusted with just words but action along with it. We like to believe that our government will do the things they say, especially if they will help us, but nothing comes through. Obama promotes openness but then behind closed doors has a kill list, continues to tap into our phones/privacy, and prosecutes/"kil ls" people who want to spread the real truth! He's deported more people than in Bush's time and no one knows. People don't realize it isn't about the Democrats and Republicans; it's much more corrupt and deeper than that. Our media only care about government interest and honestly, it's disgusting. We don't know who to trust, who is really there to protect us, and if we are even safe in our own country. It's not like we have a say or anything, so how do we know things are being done in our benefit when we never SEE it.
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0 # Dbug 2014-04-27 21:09
As Obama promotes openness the public truly wants to believe that the government stands with it's people when in reality we never mattered. CamouflagedWife , you raised an important point, the public focus on the Democrats and Republican's actions when there is no difference. The public does not realize that it's much deeper than that. The media's filtering that does not allow the public to be aware of our governments actions.
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0 # cglov3r 2014-04-28 02:40
Yes, that is precisely the idea. Dbug, you said that Obama promotes 'openness' and that the public wants to believe that the government stands with it's people when we never really mattered. It's all a hoax.The promotion of transparency is only exercised because it's what the people want to hear. It doesn't have to be true but as long as it creates a level of comfort that comfort suffices and therefore many are accepting of it.
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0 # Dbug 2014-04-27 19:50
The government claims that transparency will strengthen our democracy and that citizens would be provided with information about their government’s actions. However, the government does not answer to the people in fact they work in secrecy. The government runs in secret meetings in order to establish their unchecked power. The media does not inform the public about unconstitutiona l acts that the government does, it filters information before it is distributed to the people. The public is not aware of the inhumane treatment of prisoner such as the ones in Guantanamo because the government doesn't allow it. We do not live in a democracy, nor would the government allow transparency. The government will not simply give up power and allow the public to decide with a vote. Claims about transparency manipulated the public into believing that they reflect the governments actions when they don't.
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0 # cutemeow 2014-04-29 19:36
I think that the government's lack of transparency is another form of social control. The fact that the administration has to emphasize "transparency" is so that the public won't ask questions, and so that we can feel satisfied and trusting. What you said is true, that most of the government works in secrecy and they work in secrecy on purpose. If the public knew about what the government was doing behind closed doors, then there would be a lot of outrage. If instead of index crimes being plastered repetitively on the nightly news, we were watching inhumane treatments of prisoners or other cruelties carried out by the administration then the public would not be okay with that. The government knows that what its doing is wrong, and in order to maintain social order they are passing these policies and keeping secrets.
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0 # Jessica Ulloa 2014-04-27 21:04
What i don't understand is how "the Government should be transparent," Yet that is the opposite as to what is being done. Is this information provided and shown to us for show? This is very contradicting to what is being done. According to Andrew Kreig “Obama … has brought more prosecutions against whistleblowers under the Espionage Act than any previous president and all presidents combined.” Similarly to the situation in Spain, people of our country are being punished for speaking their minds about our country. If we are truly transparent, "Transparency promotes accountability and provides information for citizens about what their Government is doing" then every aspect of this needs to be followed.
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0 # Dennis Loo 2014-04-27 21:13
Quoting Jessica Ulloa:
Is this information provided [that Obama's being transparent] and shown to us for show?

Yes. It's for show. It's an attempt to legitimize the gov't's actions so that peo won't realize what's actually being done. Obama was brought forward by the ruling class specifically to perform this role, of blocking prosecution of the Bush Regime and carrying forward with the Bush Doctrine while making it appear that he was doing the very opposite of this. When Obama was touted as the answer to the crimes of the Bush Regime the populace was increasingly restive. Millions were threatening to spiral out of the system's orbit into taking political action against the gov't. Obama's claims about transparency and "restoring the rule of law" should be understood in that light.
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0 # thatdude 2014-04-27 21:08
Obama's idea of "transparency" apparently has a different meaning than what others would assume it would mean. With this directive, it is basically making it so that the government is even more of a secret to the public. Much of what the government does is already under wraps and it will continue to be. Public is only aware of what the media tells us, so I always wonder what media is NOT telling us and if we knew everything how that would affect society.
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0 # Aria 2014-04-28 00:18
I also wonder what they could be hiding from us. I think that there are a lot of secretive deals that go on in the government that the public knows nothing about. I wonder what happens to the people who find out what goes on and want to talk about it but can't. I wonder if we made a list of things that the government was telling us and compared it to a list of the things the government wasn't telling us, which list would be longer and by how much.
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0 # tiffany 2014-04-28 04:47
I think what you are saying is true. That is going on and we will never know. Yet, if we knew the information, what would we do? That is my question. As horrible as we think it is, what if hiding some information IS the right thing to do?
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0 # Heng Chang 2014-04-27 22:38
It seems like Presidents all say one thing and do another. The reason that they make all these promises before election is to get into the office. They want to be elected, there fore the government system allows "competition" and gives us a "freedom of choice" between two political parties (third parties rarely get elected). We get tricked into thinking that they will actually remember what they promised. Maybe at first they do attempt, but the results are always not in favor of the citizens, but in favor of what the Presidents felt like doing.
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0 # Dennis Loo 2014-04-27 23:17
It's a system and that's why individuals and parties being elected, whatever their promises, are not what people should pay attention to and fooled by. It's a system that operates according to system logic so elections are really only a show to delude people into believing that the people are in charge. We are not in charge and we can only be in charge if we realize that elections are a sham, that promises are empty, and that the way for the people to have actual power is by spreading the truth and having people act upon that truth.
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0 # Catman 2014-04-28 01:14
I think this is absolutely true. We are always tricked into thinking this new president is going to be this amazing guy that turns our economy and government toward the positive light, but it is all an act. When electing a president, you have to think are these things he/she is promising actually possible? I think if Obama promised change in 2008, we definitely got change, just change for the worse.
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0 # LA305302 2014-04-28 00:03
For people who are not in academia, or follow politics (which is most) have no idea as to what is going on in politics. Obama's character seems a very honest one whether it be because of his charisma, or that he has all of Hollywood rallying behind him. Media are a great source of propaganda, and Obama uses this tool to its fullest extent by associating himself with famous people. People get impressed or shape certain perceptions of him, without looking at the policies that he has implemented in the last few years.
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0 # Aria 2014-04-28 00:16
The government seems as though they are putting on a facade, where they are telling the public one thing and doing the complete opposite. It seems as though this may be necessary to obtain their true goals, because not everything they do will be as clean as the public hopes it to be. I feel like if we knew everything, it would be a great show of transparency, but a lot of people would be shocked at what goes on behind the scenes to make America what it is. I feel like a facade is part of what makes the American government work because we like to seem as though we are a free country that allows the people to choose who they want to lead, yet even in the voting process our votes go towards others voting for who the president will be.
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0 # jatoxqui 2014-05-01 04:01
It is what Dr. Loo would call, their hidden agenda-saying and doing something to the public when in reality they have another intention behind it all. It's true, not everything is as clean as the public hopes it to be because the government channels their information through the media and of course they will not allow the distribution of any "classified" information to be known to the public. Despite the statements that the government has made, it is highly unlikely that there could be such a thing as a transparent government. As mentioned in another comment made by another student, the government just tells the minorities what we want to hear.
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0 # Catman 2014-04-28 01:11
I think this is just a way to protect the government's actions. If anything the governments says has to be authorized to be given to the media, then maybe the government won't be exposed for as many bad things as it does. The government will want to protect itself for as long as they can to hold that powerful and trustworthy image they have had in the past. Sadly enough, many holes have emerged in Obama's presidency leading people to question the government's intentions.
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0 # Dennis Loo 2014-04-28 01:24
Quoting Catman:
Sadly enough, many holes have emerged in Obama's presidency leading people to question the government's intentions.
Why is that sad? That's a good thing for people to begin to see the truth!
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0 # katgrl 2014-04-28 03:48
I think the sad part is that a position that most people hold in high regard uses and abuses its power. People feel that being president is a great accomplishment and only a upstanding individual can be in that position. It's sad that people are being deceived and are led to believe that there are no holes in Obama's presidency. But as for people being exposed to truthful information, only good outcomes can come from it. Having people more aware of what the government withholds can bring light to such horrendous situations and actions that have taken place within our political system. With these truths surfacing maybe the possibility of a reformed government could arise but that still is a stretch and a long distance away.
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0 # menava 2014-04-28 06:30
I think it's sad because I am someone who fed into the entire openness (hook-line- and-sinker) of Obama. I believed that Obama was better than other Presidents prior because of the image he provided me. Granted, I believed in this image many years ago, I still nonetheless blindly believed. Now I don't believe everything at face value and this comes not only from critical thinking skills, but from life experience. Some of us are just realizing that the "truth" is not the truth. We must be responsible for what he believe to be fact or fiction, rather than thinking someone is a creditable source therefore it must be factual. And to be honest, sometimes investigating the truth is very tolling and it's easier to just accept it and move on. It’s difficult to muster up the energy to sift through all the available information and decide who said what and what motivated them to make such a claim—everyone has an agenda.
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0 # Viceless 2014-04-28 03:21
One just has to look to the Snowden incident to see how our government reacts to information being leaked to the public. I could understand if what was leaked top the public had been sensitive information about the governments actions that they were doing legally but much of what was leaked was about illegal acts done by our government. The fact that Snowden was prosecuted so vigorously shows just how government officials feel about their actions being exposed. This is in no way a transparent government but one shrouded in secrecy and corruption as it has been for a long time.
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0 # draen 2014-04-28 03:26
It is unfortunate that in a country that supposedly promotes transparency, all attempts to show what is really happening in out government are being blocked. We are lucky that we are being exposed to the truth, because there are many Americans who do not know that this is happening and are buying into the belief that America has transparency.
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0 # Dbug 2014-04-28 07:00
There are many who believe that our government is transparent because this is what the media is suppose to do. It promotes our government as transparent when in reality uses the media to manipulate people from the truth. Especially during elections, the media promotes voting very serous when in reality the people's opinion does not matter.
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0 # Princess Peach 2014-04-28 04:11
I think that this article highlights that Obama is contracting himself. He states that he wants the government to be more transparent, however his actions do not reflect this statement. The American citizens deserve to know what the government is doing. In the SOC 302 lecture, it was discussed that the media or public policy should reflect what the people want. Public official supposedly “mirror” what the people want. This is what Obama states that he is doing, but his actions do not mirror what the people want, which is transparency.
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0 # Dennis Loo 2014-04-28 04:24
To be clear, what I said in lecture was that according to democratic theory and according to functionalism, public officials and the media are supposed to mirror the public's sentiments in a general sense.
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0 # mdAngel 2014-04-28 04:15
Slowly Obamas regime is doing whatever they want to feel like. Obama does as he like he likes he told congress he will do what he wants and won't wait for congress to act. These elements of dictator ship must be recognized by everyone. It as seen as the president does not care about the input of congress or other government officials.
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0 # mdAngel 2014-04-28 04:43
As stated before, the government should be transparent and open to the public eye. Yes obama does as he likes and made choices to give us more efficient national security. However, it takes away economic standing and allows china to give us leverage over us. The acts of his choices have affected us in more than one way.
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0 # Sherlock 2014-04-28 04:44
We act as if a transparent government would make a difference. The government does dumb things all the time that are public and we don't care. Furthermore, there are a lot of things that are public, that the media does not touch upon. Even if we knew everything, it would be about whether or not people would act on it.
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0 # Jason Kubanis 2014-04-28 05:29
Whistle blowing can be very dangerous, as for transparency intelligence and government officials can only allow so much information to be viewed by the public, due to ensuring the safety of these individuals. As for over all transparency this is not just an issue in the U.S., take for example the Malaysian Airlines and their government if they were transparent with the U.S. there is a chance that the plane would have been found a week or two after it vanished. As for Obama prosecuting these whistle blowers, like most have said he is contradicting himself, I guess it is what information that he believes to be dangerous to the public. If there were more transparency this would help deter any type of bloggers or reporters or anyone for that matter to cook up conspiracy theories.
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0 # AJ 2014-04-28 06:09
The government claims to be transparent and although it is not being done the right way there is a degree to which we can assumed they are. We, as citizens and members of the public, might not know what goes on behind close doors but one thing that is very transparent in the hypocrisy of the government. The government is more then willing to open up to the public with false promise. Although we all want to believe such promise are truth deep down we doubt it.
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0 # Natalie Rivera 2014-04-28 06:34
Obama's administration is not transparent, we are made to believe that it is, but it is not. We are constantly being shown what we should believe via the media. The sad thing is that few realize that they are being manipulated by the government due to what the media displays.
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0 # jatoxqui 2014-04-29 01:29
Quoting Natalie Rivera:
The sad thing is that few realize that they are being manipulated by the government due to what the media displays.
actually, a lot of Americans are being kept on the blind side of things and that is exactly how the government wants it. It is a great thing that as students we are becoming aware of the reality of what is really happening and it is up to us to make more people aware. In that manner, we reverse the number and say that only a few are being manipulated.
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0 # soad 2014-04-28 06:39
Did people really think our government was "transparent?" We know nothing about what our government is doing. Everything we hear on the news, is tailored and spoon fed to us by the US government. They like to say that we are the best, we have nothing to hide, but in reality, we do. But we're quick to call out other countries on their flaws.
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0 # Slovebee 2014-04-28 06:45
I wonder what the government would think / or how they would react if they had to face the possibility of the people of the United States starting a Revolution. How far are they willing to go until they turn everything around and they have all of us as blind puppets, although some of us may already be there. Many might not be informed on the state of the nation and the world, but as people become educated things can happen. We're not a stupid country. We just need to be informed and educated. I think that if enough people strive for change the government will be taken aback.
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0 # menava 2014-04-28 06:47
People say they want transparency but what will they do once it is provided? I don't think the answer is as simple as transparency. Might I add the advantage of a system being non-transparent : we can easily say "WELL HECK! I DIDN'T KNOW!" and shift the responsibility of being informed away from ourselves. Well what happens when you do know? Who’s to blame for not making changes to real problems in the government? So what happens when you are given real transparency? People are aware of many injustices and shortcomings of this country and remain stagnant even with transparent knowledge. What's the catalyst needed to get change? Or is the system set-up so that those with transparent knowledge cannot bring change?
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0 # Dennis Loo 2014-05-05 16:17
Quoting menava:
People are aware of many injustices and shortcomings of this country and remain stagnant even with transparent knowledge. What's the catalyst needed to get change? Or is the system set-up so that those with transparent knowledge cannot bring change?
Peo know some things about what's really going on but they don't know but a tiny fraction.
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0 # jatoxqui 2014-04-28 06:48
So much for transparency. From the article above, it sounds like the complete opposite is going on. The Obama administration is doing everything to restrain whistleblowers from talking. There is a documentary called War on Whistleblowers and discussed three cases where all three whistleblowers felt fear for their lives at some point because they thought they were doing the right thing of exposing information about the government but they stood their ground. According to the Obama administration, anyone can be a potential whistleblower. They do not have to belong to an accredited media, as long as they are to pass on the information, then they become a potential threat to the government. The government is basically trying to keep anyone from talking and shutting anyone who can possibly intervene in their plans. Everything is just a facade while they continue to blind people about how everything is more transparent than ever.
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0 # Brandon Vildosola 2014-04-28 06:49
I agree that this Government is not as transparent as President Barack Obama portrays it to be. However it is still, in my view, the most transparent form of Government in history compared to all other administrations . Although some people may find it troubling that the IC forbids its employees without Authorization to speak to any "media" i believe they are only implementing this for the good of the country, because there is sensitive material within the government that I as a citizen would sacrifice my own right to know just so that the chance of it falling into the wrong hands gets cut drastically, preventing a potential attack. I must say I feel safer this way.
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0 # Dennis Loo 2014-04-28 15:12
Quoting Brandon Vildosola:
i believe they are only implementing this for the good of the country... I must say I feel safer this way.

You are accepting the gov't's rationales at face value. When you look underneath their official stories, you find the very opposite of what they claim. The NSA's massive, illegal surveillance of literally everyone began in Feb 2001, seven months before 911 and was therefore not in response to 911. The gov't had very substantial amounts of info about a pending attack on NYC and specifically the Twin Towers in the years, months, and weeks before 9/11, prompting the Atty Gen'l, John Ashcroft, and Pentagon officials to stop flying commercial airplanes, for ex., and yet they did nothing with that info. In the wake of 911 the gov't insisted that it needed more info to prevent future attacks. Cont.
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0 # Dennis Loo 2014-04-28 15:17
When Snowden revealed that the gov't was spying on everyone, this was not a surprise to al-Qaeda who had stopped using cell phones for sensitive info or at all since 1999. It was only a surprise to Americans who thought they were not being spied upon without warrant and without cause. I agree that a gov't can't and shouldn't reveal absolutely everything it's doing but you need to distinguish between deceitful claims of the need for secrecy from genuine ones. The reasons we've been given for this are patently false and can be shown to be so and have been shown to be so by investigative reporting and analysis. See, for ex., chapter 4 and 5 of Globalization and the Demolition of Society. See, for ex., http://dennisloo.com/Sample-Data-Articles/we-are-the-enemy-whistleblowers-journalists-protestors-and-the-people.html. We aren't safer b/c of this. That isn't what they're trying to do. What they're doing is actually making us and the world less safe.
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0 # Marcos1 2014-05-05 04:27
"When Snowden revealed that the gov't was spying on everyone, this was not a surprise to al-Qaeda who had stopped using cell phones for sensitive info or at all since 1999. It was only a surprise to Americans who thought they were not being spied upon without warrant and without cause."

I have to admit that I am not afraid of the government hearing my conversations. I guess I'm one of those people you spoke about in class. However, I heard that the new x-box had a policy of its devices always being online. Now these consoles have the ability to sense your movement and have a camera and all this stuff that makes the gaming experience all the better, but just knowing it was always going to be online all the time freaked me out. What I'm saying is that we cannot live under big brother's surveillance, George Orwell's 1984. I love this country, maybe I've been conditioned to love it but nevertheless I do. That doesn't mean, however, that they can monitor my every move.
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0 # Susan Torres 2014-04-28 19:17
It seems to me that the only reason Obama might say such a thing and otherwise do the opposite is to simply keep the lower working class at ease and on his side. In order for this society to progress smoothly the working class must remain in their position and continue working. They are told that the government is transparent, they end up believing it and do not look into what is actually going on.
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0 # giovanna serrano 2014-05-01 03:01
I can agree with you about how the Obama administration has been saying otherwise to keep people calm and so they will not really notice any changes. Like you say Durkheim believed that in order to maintain order in society, the working class must remain the working class and acting as if he's "transparent" is the best move Obama can do. But how long will it take people to actually notice?
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0 # Heng Chang 2014-04-30 06:26
I agree with you. Presidents usually try to get the minorities on their side because of the large minority population in the United States. If more people in the U.S were wealthy, then the President would probably target the wealthy and tell them the things that they want to hear.
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0 # Dennis Loo 2014-04-30 13:28
This already goes on as you predict. When Obama ran for office in 2008 Wall Street gave him at least $20 million more in donations for his campaign than they gave McCain. They did this because they knew that Obama would be a big friend of WS and that his populist rhetoric was for PR purposes only. Do you remember the infamous video of Romney when he gave his 47% speech and he thought he was talking only to his rich buddies? Similarly, when Democrats, including Obama, are speaking to crowds of wealthy donors, they will tell them things that they want to hear.
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0 # jatoxqui 2014-05-01 03:45
Quoting Heng Chang:
If more people in the U.S were wealthy, then the President would probably target the wealthy and tell them the things that they want to hear.
Unfortunately Obama supports the top 1% because that is how he gets their financial support. It's a win-win situation where the top 1% gets the support they need from any president to sustain their powerful positions while the president gets their financial support. Globalization and the top 1% will keep feeding the American public (through the media) the myth that there is equal opportunity to reach the American Dream if they only work hard enough like the 1% did but the reality is another. There is no such thing as equal opportunity when the educational resources and job opportunities are not available to those who live at the bottom of the social ranks. Therefore, there will not be more people who will be as wealthy as them. Besides, Obama is already telling the wealthy what they want to hear.
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0 # AJ 2014-05-01 04:22
Aside from the targeting the minorities due to their larger proportion in the population, the presidents, in my opinion, do so because the minorities' desire to benefit the most. Presidents, for the most part, have the wealthy (the 1%) supporting them already. In fact, the government overall has protected the 1% more than too often, so the presidents already are know that they don't need to fill the wealthy with as much lies as the minorities.
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0 # deltoro 2014-05-03 23:12
Soc 302. The government does the opposite of what they are saying. All the information collected should be shared with the people. I just think it is wrong that the employees are not allowed to disclose information. The Obama administration is keeping employees under stress. It is not fair to threaten the employees with termination and possible criminal charges if they disclose information.
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0 # WOW 2014-05-03 23:40
It seems that the only thing the government is trying to protect is the government and its people who work for it. Dr. Loo said that officials were advised to stop using commercial aircraft. It seems that the lives of the citizens were not important. I don’t recall there being a warning from the media for citizens to stop flying. It is a huge indicator that the public is not really considered valuable or important. Maybe the public is transparent and invisible to the government.
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0 # Dennis Loo 2014-05-04 02:11
You're referring to the days leaving up to 911 when the Attorney Gen'l and Joint Chiefs of Staff were informed not to use commercial aircraft.
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0 # Marcos1 2014-05-05 03:44
Accepting anything at face value is hard now a days. You can read anything, for example the information on this website, and not know whether it is true or not. What are the sources for everything I've read? What are the sources of those sources? I simply don't have the time to search, and then search some more, to get to the bottom of every piece of information that I hear/read/see. I have made my own world view based on the life experiences that I have gone through, I understand that to a certain extent those life experiences could have been "tainted" because I've grown up in this country but all I can now for certain is what I myself have lived.
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0 # Dennis Loo 2014-05-05 23:44
Quoting Marcos1:
You can read anything, for example the information on this website, and not know whether it is true or not...I simply don't have the time to search, and then search some more, to get to the bottom of every piece of information that I hear/read/see...all I can now for certain is what I myself have lived.
Time is a problem and how to determine what's true is also a real issue. I'm going to refer you to another article where I discuss these issues in more depth: http://dennisloo.com/Articles/how-can-i-figure-out-what-s-true.html

The problem and danger from taking the position that I can only be sure of what I myself have lived is that a) all of us HAVE to live our lives based mainly on second hand info, not first hand, and we rely on this for so many things such as airplanes flying, medical care, etc. in which you have to rely on others and more than personal experience (cont.)
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0 # Dennis Loo 2014-05-05 23:45
Cont: & b) if you think that you're only relying for sure on your personal experiences than, for ex., you're going to ignore major issues like global warming since you can't know the full dimensions of it except thru your personal experience. Tyrants rely on peo having narrow vistas for what they do and how they think. That is the immoral appeal by our leaders now for peo to ignore what they're really doing and think only about yourself.
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0 # Sherlock 2014-05-05 05:38
From my experience, and from the postings I have seen on my personal Facebook page, people would not act even if the government were transparent. I see my friends posting all the time about these issues, but they don't actually go out and write the government letters or take any kind of a stand. I feel like with people that are in my generation, it wouldn't be the issue of whether or not the government is transparent, but if it were-would we act?
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0 # Dennis Loo 2014-05-05 23:47
Your friends are an example of some of those who are in fact indifferent to things that they should do something about. Hopefully that will change at some point. But your circle is not all of society.
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0 # shannon barkley 2014-05-05 06:00
Well after reading this, the one word that really stuck out was transparency. When I read this word I think transparent as being something see threw or with a lot of wholes in it. With my belief of transparency, and the fact the article uses the word to talk about the government, how good of a government is it really? If it is transparent then the actions can be seen right threw. The actions may be seen threw by the people it is trying to support or even by other governments, which has no benefits either.
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0 # Menava 2014-05-05 06:14
After class I thought a lot about transparency and democracy. I started wondering why doctors often keep medical information private from the patient and/or so difficult to attain. This is especially true when it comes to psychiatrist diagnosis. Wouldn't it be beneficial to share this information with the client? Doesn't we want the client to be able to manage their "illness" and be informed? Maybe by keeping the client in the dark it allows for more power? It's easy, and profitable, to keep prescribing medication and not keeping many clients in the loop of their true diagnosis. It's very sad if the lack of medical transparency is a poly to keep the medical industry in business.
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0 # Christine Lopez 2014-05-07 18:57
There is no visible transparency. The governments true intention is not to promote openness. The government want us to believe that they are open so we call feel like they are being honest so they can secure votes and less people can rebel or question the system. Even though the article mentions that President Obama talks about how his administration is the most transparent why is there so much information that is not being reported? It’s like they do not want us to be informed what is going on in our society so we cannot question what we do not know. They even encourage their employees to report on each other; that is why they are prosecuting whistle blowers who report information to the media.
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0 # Jolie Savage 2014-05-07 20:38
I think that it is crazy that the government is now literally trying to keep everything from us. My question is why aren't more people getting upset that this has happened? I mean obviously there are some trying to get answers as to why this is happening, but it's not enough if nothing has changed. If people are refraining from taking action because they truly believe that ignorance is bliss and so that if and when things do go wrong and won't feel any fault on their part because they chose not to be informed.
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0 # Dennis Loo 2014-05-07 21:42
Quoting Jolie Savage:
I mean obviously there are some trying to get answers as to why this is happening, but it's not enough if nothing has changed.

The stakes are very high and the gov't is very intent on continuing its increasing isolation from the public's observation and entreaties as well as its ubiquitous surveillance. It would take a great deal of struggle on a large scale to undo this. It's very important to do this, but frankly I think in the ultimate analysis it's going to take a revolution. I don't say that to discourage peo from organizing - on the contrary - because revolutions don't appear from out of nowhere. They have to be built.
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0 # Dennis Loo 2014-05-07 21:45
Quoting Jolie Savage:
If people are refraining from taking action because they truly believe that ignorance is bliss and so that if and when things do go wrong and won't feel any fault on their part because they chose not to be informed.


There's a term in social psychology that bears on this. It's called "pluralistic ignorance." It means that peo in general look at what others are doing around them and they wrongly conclude from that observation of others' behavior that all of those others have made a conscious choice about what they're going to do. Humans spontaneously tend to conform to others and they do not consciously as a rule think about what they should do. So in your comment that peo who aren't acting now might be choosing "not to be informed" is an example of misreading why peo for the most part are doing what they're doing. Any political movement has to have a considerable amount of organizing and consciousness raising to happen. Cont.
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0 # Dennis Loo 2014-05-07 21:52
If there's not enough protest going on it's not mainly because those who aren't protesting are choosing to be ignorant. Some of them, a minority of them, ARE doing that, but not most of them. The missing factor here is that the ones who are actively organizing to raise the level of protest and awareness need to be joined by others who can see this but who are holding back. What holds these peo back? Part of it is that they need to recognize what difference it would make if they act and they need to spend less energy complaining about the lassitude of others. In other words, more select individuals need to step forward and set an example for others to follow.
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0 # Jolie Savage 2014-05-07 20:51
i think that the more the government tries to hide things from its citizens, the more people are going to push for answers. It's not okay for the President to say that he is going to be more open about what going on in government and then place these restrictions on how to obtain the information. It makes it difficult to trust him as a leader and we can't know what's going on in the government but the government can know everything that's going on with us.
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0 # mitchell denerson 2014-05-10 07:02
it's unbelievable that the government literally is hiding everything from us, or at least attempting to do so. The only way to make change to that is the attempt at a large scale revolution, which i doubt we will see. I believe that a revolution is very important. But there is just not enough protest going on because people would rather sit back and observe instead of doing something about it. Less complaining, more acting.
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0 # Dennis Loo 2014-05-10 14:34
Yes, less complaining and more acting. But it's important to realize that understanding is the main thing that is holding us collectively back. People do need to act, but it's not just that some are just complaining or that "people would rather sit back." And in the course of acting peo need to continually deepen their understanding. To say that "people would rather sit back" is wrong as a gen'l statement. The reason things are the way they are now is not because most people "would rather sit back." That assumes that peo know what's going on but refuse to act on it. That's not the situation. Most peo really don't understand enough about what's going on and why and what they can and should do about it. A brief exposure to part of the truth isn't enough to change people's actions and also, peo mainly go along with what they see others doing out of "pluralistic ignorance" not out of consensus. There's a big difference btw consensus and conformity. See a definition for "pluralistic ignorance" for further elaboration.
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0 # Bbalty 2014-05-14 04:33
This article does not surprise me in the slightest. The government will make any excuse to justify whatever actions they want to take or views they wish to hold. Behind the promise of Obama's claims to promote "transparency", he fails to inform the public of the disclaimers that contradict his statements. Because Americans are uninformed and unaware, they are helpless against these policies and cannot read the "fine print" created by the government. Therefore, Americans will naturally believe what Obama says during his speeches.
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Elaine Brower 2

Elaine Brower of World Can't Wait speaking at the NYC Stop the War on Iran rally 2/4/12