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.'”
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[F]ree market fundamentalism - also known as neoliberalism - makes us not more secure or prosperous: it tears the social fabric and undermines security, leading inevitably to disasters on the individual, regional, and global levels.
Neoliberalism is based on the mantra that market forces should run everything. It aims to eliminate job and income security, the social safety net (including welfare and other social guarantees), unions, pensions, public services, and the governmental regulation of corporations. It consequently undermines the basis for people to voluntarily cooperate with authority as almost everyone is increasingly left by themselves to face gargantuan private interests, with governmental and corporate authority ever more indifferent to the public’s welfare.
Those in charge of our collective fates in government and business personify a heartless system based on profit and plunder. They have been relentlessly instituting profoundly immoral and unjust policies even while they insist that they are doing the opposite. We, on the other hand, stand for and are fighting for a radically different system and set of values than this.
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