30 Years of Enabling the Executive
Keeping on today's theme of government secrecy, the National Security Archive has put together a declassification-packed extravaganza to mark the 30th anniversary of Congress overriding President Ford's veto of the newly tightened Freedom of Information Act. The NSA's lead:
President Gerald R. Ford wanted to sign the Freedom of Information Act strengthening amendments passed by Congress 30 years ago, but concern about leaks (shared by his chief of staff Donald Rumsfeld and deputy Richard Cheney) and legal arguments that the bill was unconstitutional (marshaled by government lawyer Antonin Scalia, among others) persuaded Ford to veto the bill, according to declassified documents posted today by the National Security Archive.
More Scalia stuff here. Included in the harvest is a September 1974 letter from Scalia CIA director William Colby, in which he expresses "serious concern over the interjection of the courts into the classification process. The courts themselves have consistently so indicated and have pointed to the ability of the Executive branch to bring to bear all the necessary knowledge to make proper judgments on matters of classification."
Or, "all the necessary knowledge" to create a National Security precedent by lying its ass off to cover up incompetence. Another NSA excerpt:
The question remains, why did Buchen and President Ford change their minds? The available documents do not provide a definitive answer, but notes from key meetings in September and October provide clues to Ford's priorities—and these were far from government transparency. For example, handwritten notes of the first White House senior staff meeting presided over by Donald Rumsfeld and his deputy Richard Cheney (September 30, 1974) show Rumsfeld's rising concern about leaks, a discussion that takes up a major part of the meeting.
I wrote about the FOIA veto, and the Rumsfeld/Cheney campaign to roll back post-Watergate reforms, back in August.