Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

New tactic by government to move more things into the shadows

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The Secret Government is now moving more assuredly and, since the public seems to accept what’s happening, the process will doubtless accelerate: you can get away with a lot if you can keep it secret. Richard Lardner describes the tactic:

The nation’s top special operations commander ordered military files about the Navy SEAL raid on Osama bin Laden’s hideout to be purged from Defense Department computers and sent to the CIA, where they could be more easily shielded from ever being made public.

The secret move, described briefly in a draft report by the Pentagon’s inspector general, set off no alarms within the Obama administration even though it appears to have sidestepped federal rules and perhaps also the Freedom of Information Act.

An acknowledgement by Adm. William McRaven of his actions was quietly removed from the final version of an inspector general’s report published weeks ago. A spokesman for the admiral declined to comment. The CIA, noting that the bin Laden mission was overseen by then-CIA Director Leon Panetta before he became defense secretary, said that the SEALs were effectively assigned to work temporarily for the CIA, which has presidential authority to conduct covert operations.

“Documents related to the raid were handled in a manner consistent with the fact that the operation was conducted under the direction of the CIA director,” agency spokesman Preston Golson said in an emailed statement. “Records of a CIA operation such as the (bin Laden) raid, which were created during the conduct of the operation by persons acting under the authority of the CIA Director, are CIA records.”

Golson said it is “absolutely false” that records were moved to the CIA to avoid the legal requirements of the Freedom of Information Act.

The records transfer was part of an effort by McRaven to protect the names of the personnel involved in the raid, according to the inspector general’s draft report.

But secretly moving the records allowed the Pentagon to tell The Associated Press that it couldn’t find any documents inside the Defense Department that AP had requested more than two years ago, and could represent a new strategy for the U.S. government to shield even its most sensitive activities from public scrutiny.

“Welcome to the shell game in place of open government,” said Thomas Blanton, director of the National Security Archive, a private research institute at George Washington University. “Guess which shell the records are under. If you guess the right shell, we might show them to you. It’s ridiculous.”

McRaven’s directive sent the only copies of the military’s records about its daring raid to the CIA, which has special authority to prevent the release of “operational files” in ways that can’t effectively be challenged in federal court. The Defense Department can prevent the release of its own military files, too, citing risks to national security. But that can be contested in court, and a judge can compel the Pentagon to turn over non-sensitive portions of records.

Under federal rules, transferring government records from one executive agency to another must be approved in writing by the National Archives and Records Administration. There are limited circumstances when prior approval is not required, such as when the records are moved between two components of the same executive department. The CIA and Special Operations Command are not part of the same department.

The Archives was not aware of any request from the U.S. Special Operations Command to transfer its records to the CIA, spokeswoman Miriam Kleiman said. . .

Continue reading.

Obama, of course, promised more transparency and more open government, but quite clearly he was lying through his teeth. I don’t believe history will be kind to him. He has consistently betrayed his promises and Democratic values. As Jeff Cohen notes at AlterNet:

I was a young person when I first heard the quip: “How do you know when the President is lying? His lips are moving.” At the time, President Nixon was expanding the war in Vietnam to other countries and deploying the White House “plumbers” to commit crimes against antiwar leakers.

Forty years have passed. Sadly, these days, often when I see President Obama moving his lips, I assume he’s lying.

Like Nixon, our current president is prolonging an endless, borderless and counter-productive war (“on terror”) and waging a parallel war against “national security” leakers that makes the plumbers’ burglary of Daniel Ellsberg’s psychiatrist’s office look almost quaint.

The World War I vintage Espionage Act, originally used to imprison socialists for making antiwar speeches, has been used by the administration against whistleblowers with a vengeance unprecedented in history: eight leakers have been charged [3] with Espionage under Obama, compared to three under all previous presidents. The Obama administration has prosecuted not a single CIA torturer, but has imprisoned a CIA officer who talked about torture with a journalist [4]. National Security Agency official Thomas Drake, who was unable to get abuses fixed internally, now has a criminal record for communicating with a reporter [5] years ago about sweeping domestic surveillance.

So there I was watching Obama’s lips move about NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden at a June 27 press conference [6]. Saying he wouldn’t be “scrambling military jets to go after a 29-year-old hacker,” Obama added that he would not “start wheeling and dealing and trading on a whole host of other issues, simply to get a guy extradited.”

I didn’t believe a word of it.

Given Obama’s war on whistleblowers and journalists who utilize them [7], and given the Army’s abusive treatment of military whistleblower Bradley Manning (apparently aimed at getting him to implicate WikiLeaks), it’s inconceivable that Obama was truly blasé about Snowden. To deter future whistleblowers, Snowden would have to be caught and made an example of – and probably mistreated (like Manning, in hopes of getting him to turn against WikiLeaks and even journalist Glenn Greenwald).

As his lips were moving, Obama knew well that he would go to extreme lengths to prevent this articulate young man from securing asylum in some Latin American country, where he could continue to inform the world’s media about the Surveillance State that has blossomed alongside the Warfare State under the Bush and Obama administrations.

That Obama wasn’t truthful became clear when the U.S. campaign of “wheeling and dealing” led to possible asylum countries retreating in fear one after another (Vice President Biden was deployed to pressure Ecuador’s president by phone). And even clearer with last week’s outrageous, international law-breaking [8] that effectively forced down the presidential plane of Bolivian President Evo Morales.

And if Obama eventually does scramble jets to force down a plane with Snowden on board, the commander-in-chief will be applauded for taking bold and decisive action by mainstream TV talking heads, “national security” experts and the opposition he seems most intent on pleasing: conservatives. Criticism from civil libertarian and peace voices (or unions and environmentalists, for that matter) has rarely daunted Obama. . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

8 July 2013 at 11:00 am

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