Monday, May 19, 2008

Controlled Unclassified Information ... Brilliant!

I suppose, the big, unanswered question that comes out this news today is, what crony company is going to get the contract for the Super Special Secret Decoder Rings?

And, is there a secure telephone line in this treehouse?

Some kind of Odd Fellows handshake?

Leave it to the Bush Grindhouse, to wrap up their super secrecy reign of terror with, yet, more super secrecy.

While a number of articles sprouted up on this new, Commander Guy-penned-in-the-bubble law, Smintheus, over on Daily Kos, looks to be the first out-of-the-gate with it back on 10 May;

On Friday afternoon, with George Bush in Texas for his daughter's wedding, the White House finally released its new Executive Branch rules for designating and disseminating what used to be known as "sensitive" information. The most common term in the past for such material has been "Sensitive But Unclassified" (SBU), though there was an an alphabet soup of competing classifications in various agencies. In part, the new rules create a uniform standard across the Executive by replacing SBU etc. with a new classification, "Controlled Unclassified Information" (CUI).

Furthermore, after passage of the Homeland Security Act of 2002 federal agencies had been encouraged to apply the SBU designation to just about anything they didn't feel like releasing to the public. Hyper-classification was out of control.

In fact, Friday's memo doesn't even pretend to rein in secrecy. Quite the opposite, it looks like the Bush administration used the crafting of new rules as an opportunity to expand the range of government secrecy.

Walter Pincus, in the WAPO today, offered a look at what this might look like;
Sometime in the next few years, if a memorandum signed by President Bush this month ever goes into effect, one government official talking to another about information on terrorists will have to begin by saying: "What I am about to tell you is controlled unclassified information enhanced with specified dissemination."

That would mean, according to the memo, that the information requires safeguarding because "the inadvertent or unauthorized disclosure would create risk of substantial harm."

Pincus also notes that "Steven Aftergood, director of the Federation of American Scientists' Project on Government Secrecy, described it as a "not even half-baked" exercise in policymaking".

DavidK, over on TPMMuckraker notes;
The saving grace may be that many of the hard decisions about how CUI will work have not been made, and likely won't be made until after President Bush leaves office. So federal officials may dodge one of the memo's more comical requirements: "oral communications should be prefaced with a statement describing the controls when necessary to ensure that recipients are aware of the information's status."

And Matthew Yglesias muses "You've got to sympathize with the Bush administration. Sometimes you're running the government but, inconveniently, it's not the government of Burma and so you need to be accountable to voters, other branches of government, public opinion, etc."

Hmmm ... I wonder how much this has to do with post-administration investigations and subpoenas?

Christ, they're on their way to establishing that anyone in the Bush Grindhouse can refuse to cooperate, or even acknowledge, that they said "Good Morning" as soon as they hit the office under this thing.

And, Lord knows, with the pinheads like John Yoo and David Addington inside they bubble, they've probably already put together reams of legal arguments on how "Good Morning" is a "national security issue" and that any release of information on "Good Morning", could be an advantage to the terrorists.

Next thing you know, Matt Sludge will have screaming headlines, the Right Wing Freak Show bashing Barack Obama, and the Democrats, with being appeasers, for saying "Good Morning" in public, to their staffs, family and friends.

It will become the the Verbal Lapel Pin Brouhaha.

And John McCain?

With is age, and his flip-flopping, how is Stumblin' Bumblin John McCain ever going to remember to get this straight?

Are Post-It Notes covered under this?

Super Secret Bonus Links

SourceWatch: Bush administration fetish for government secrecy

Russ Feingold: Government in secret - The Yoo memo is just one example of Bush's hidden laws

Amanda at Think Progress: Bush Administration Hides More Data, Shuts Down Website Tracking U.S. Economic Indicators

Steven Aftergood: The Age of Missing InformationThe Bush administration's campaign against openness

Scott Shane: U.S. archives making public data secret again; Reclassifications shrouded in mystery

Robert Parry: Bush's War on History

No comments: