I Could Tell You What You Already Know, But That's Classified

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There's not a lot of new information in this New York Times article about Bush Administration secrecy, but this quote was interesting:

Thomas H. Kean, chairman of the Sept. 11 commission and a former Republican governor of New Jersey, said the failure to prevent the 2001 attacks was rooted not in leaks of sensitive information but in the barriers to sharing information between agencies and with the public.

"You'd just be amazed at the kind of information that's classified—everyday information, things we all know from the newspaper," Mr. Kean said. "We're better off with openness. The best ally we have in protecting ourselves against terrorism is an informed public."

Mr. Kean said he could not legally disclose examples he discovered of unnecessary classification.

Best quote of all comes from elaborately monikered National Security Council spokesman Frederick L. Jones II:

"The administration is proud of its record of openness," Mr. Jones said.

Of that I have no doubt. Link via Sploid; I took a pass on this topic a year ago.

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  1. America!!! Fuck yeah!!!! We’re number one!!! We have more freedom and the most honest government of any country in the world!

    Whoops. Wrong thread.

  2. “You’d just be amazed at the kind of information that’s classified — everyday information, things we all know from the newspaper,”

    Like, for example, Valerie Plame’s job?

  3. That would be clever, RC, if it were followed by a link to a newspaper.

    But it’s not.

  4. So do they have to kill Tom Keene now?

  5. Speaking of secrecy, anybody know what Halliburton is up to? GM?

  6. Governments should have two kinds of secrets, period:
    1. Who citizens voted for.
    2. How politicians voted on various bills.

    Yes, you read No. 2 correctly.

  7. Ruthless:

    You’re taking remedial classes of some sort, right?

  8. Jeremy – Halliburton is busy building permanent military bases and huge-ass prisons in Iraq, GM is busy making Ford look good and Ruthless was remediated a long time ago with only some persistant, low-level radioactivity remaining.

  9. I think Ruthless is saying that if politicians’ votes were secret, representatives could vote for what is right instead of for what cannot be used against them in the next campaign. This same issue came up during the Constitutional Convention debates, so it’s hardly a new idea. I’m still not sure whether I agree with it or not.

  10. I think Ruthless is saying that if politicians’ votes were secret, representatives could vote for what is right instead of for what cannot be used against them in the next campaign

    But then people casting their secret ballots in Ruthless’s #1 are supposed to make their decisions based on . . . what, exactly? Who has a better haircut? Who’s wife and kids look better in photo ops? Who gives the better stump speech?

    Without knowing whether your Representative or Senator is accurately representing the views of his or her constituents through his votes, why bother having voting at all?

  11. Back in the eighties I briefly shared an apartment with a guy who had served in the Navy, aboard a fast-attack sub. One evening over beers I asked him a technical question regardinging cruising depth.
    “I can’t answer that,” he said. “It’s classified.”
    “Fair enough,” I said, “But don’t don’t you think the Soviets already know how deep you were?”
    “Sure they do,” he said. “Just as we know how deep they were. I just can’t tell you.”
    I suspect things have gotten even sillier in the ensuing years…

  12. Speaking of Valerie Plame, it took me all of 2 minutes to find her home address and phone number on Zabasearch, once I made sure that it matched a certain Joseph Wilson’s info. Some undercover CIA agent.

  13. Do you actually understand what an undercover CIA agent is, jf? I’ll give you a hint: It doesn’t mean having a fake name or an unlisted phone number. Try again.

  14. I’ve been burned!

    Jesus, I got a giggle considering that someone who values their privacy and is so imperiled by the fact that their “undercover” status became common knowledge would be able to be found using a public records search.

  15. Nope, try again. I’ll give you a bigger hint: The “undercover” part has to do with using their real name, leading a normal life and having an apparently CIA-unrelated job. There is no reason that such a person wouldn’t be able to be found in the phone book or on Yahoo! People Search or via Google.

    Think real hard, and it will come to you.

  16. Jf-
    What was supposed to be secret about Ms. Plame wasn’t her name, but who signed her paychecks. Clark Kent’s probably in the phone book too, but that doesn’t mean folks know he’s Superman. (And yes, I KNOW he’s not real.)

  17. Phil:
    Drink too much coffee this morning? I found something funny, that probably is only humorous to me, and made one half-hearted attempt to explain it. You are taking this waaaaaaaaaaaay too seriously.

  18. So do they have to kill Tom Keene now?

    What, for “Family Circus”?

    Wait, that’s Bil Keane. Never mind.

  19. “Without knowing whether your Representative or Senator is accurately representing the views of his or her constituents through his votes, why bother having voting at all?”

    Phil,
    I’ve already reached that conclusion personally about voting, but my plan for secret voting by politicians on the public’s business, might cause others to come my way.
    My plan would cause much more of a “throw ALL the rascals out” effect than term limits ever could.
    What’s the downside to that?

  20. Ruthless —

    I expect it would actually have exactly the opposite effect, and would create an entrenched political class a thousand times worse than campaign spending and gerrymandering have managed to achieve.

  21. Ruthless- So when some big huge pork-laden piece of legislative shit comes down from the Hill, voters across the country say in a resounding voice, “You guys fucked up. You’re all fired.”

    This has potential.

  22. Historical addendum:
    Founders met in secret… while citizens voted publicly (up until about 1880).
    Why and how did the situation get reversed?
    Whatever, NOW is when we get the porkbarrel spending.

  23. Excess secrecy is bad. There is too much secrecy of gov’t activities. Keene is correct. Nobody gets how important this issue is.

  24. I do agree with David W., though. Making Congressional voting secret would in effect close the doors of the Capitol.

  25. Not for nothin’, Matt, but “I took a pass on this topic” means you skipped it. I think you meant either “I took a pass at this topic” or “I took a piss on this topic.”

  26. A thread is a terrible thing to lose.

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