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CIA Secretly Reclassifying Documents 525

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the can-i-get-my-file-yet dept.
SetupWeasel writes "The New York Times is reporting that the CIA is secretly reclassfying documents. How did we catch on? Historians have some of the documents. From the article: "eight [of the] reclassified documents had been previously published in the State Department's history series, 'Foreign Relations of the United States.'" Are our intelligence agencies rewriting history, stupidly paranoid, or both? We do know that they are ignoring a 2003 law that requires formal reclassifications. It puts that whole Google censorship thing in a whole new light. (Americans aren't allowed to see that video.)"
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CIA Secretly Reclassifying Documents

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  • by TripMaster Monkey (862126) * on Tuesday February 21, 2006 @10:05AM (#14767534)

    For interested Americans, the 'big boom' video censored by Google [google.com] may be viewed here [youtube.com].

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 21, 2006 @10:06AM (#14767544)
    U.S. Reclassifies Many Documents in Secret Review
    By SCOTT SHANE
    Published: February 21, 2006

    WASHINGTON, Feb. 20 -- In a seven-year-old secret program at the National Archives, intelligence agencies have been removing from public access thousands of historical documents that were available for years, including some already published by the State Department and others photocopied years ago by private historians.

    The restoration of classified status to more than 55,000 previously declassified pages began in 1999, when the Central Intelligence Agency and five other agencies objected to what they saw as a hasty release of sensitive information after a 1995 declassification order signed by President Bill Clinton. It accelerated after the Bush administration took office and especially after the 2001 terrorist attacks, according to archives records.

    But because the reclassification program is itself shrouded in secrecy -- governed by a still-classified memorandum that prohibits the National Archives even from saying which agencies are involved -- it continued virtually without outside notice until December. That was when an intelligence historian, Matthew M. Aid, noticed that dozens of documents he had copied years ago had been withdrawn from the archives' open shelves.

    Mr. Aid was struck by what seemed to him the innocuous contents of the documents -- mostly decades-old State Department reports from the Korean War and the early cold war. He found that eight reclassified documents had been previously published in the State Department's history series, "Foreign Relations of the United States."

    "The stuff they pulled should never have been removed," he said. "Some of it is mundane, and some of it is outright ridiculous."

    After Mr. Aid and other historians complained, the archives' Information Security Oversight Office, which oversees government classification, began an audit of the reclassification program, said J. William Leonard, director of the office.

    Mr. Leonard said he ordered the audit after reviewing 16 withdrawn documents and concluding that none should be secret.

    "If those sample records were removed because somebody thought they were classified, I'm shocked and disappointed," Mr. Leonard said in an interview. "It just boggles the mind."

    If Mr. Leonard finds that documents are being wrongly reclassified, his office could not unilaterally release them. But as the chief adviser to the White House on classification, he could urge a reversal or a revision of the reclassification program.

    A group of historians, including representatives of the National Coalition for History and the Society of Historians of American Foreign Relations, wrote to Mr. Leonard on Friday to express concern about the reclassification program, which they believe has blocked access to some material at the presidential libraries as well as at the archives.

    Among the 50 withdrawn documents that Mr. Aid found in his own files is a 1948 memorandum on a C.I.A. scheme to float balloons over countries behind the Iron Curtain and drop propaganda leaflets. It was reclassified in 2001 even though it had been published by the State Department in 1996.

    Another historian, William Burr, found a dozen documents he had copied years ago whose reclassification he considers "silly," including a 1962 telegram from George F. Kennan, then ambassador to Yugoslavia, containing an English translation of a Belgrade newspaper article on China's nuclear weapons program.

    Under existing guidelines, government documents are supposed to be declassified after 25 years unless there is particular reason to keep them secret. While some of the choices made by the security reviewers at the archives are baffling, others seem guided by an old bureaucratic reflex: to cover up embarrassments, even if they occurred a half-century ago.

    One reclassified document in Mr. Aid's files, for instance, gives the C.I.A.'s assessment on Oct. 12, 1950, that Chinese intervention in the Korean Wa
    • As much as I agree with your idea(I hate registration just to view a website) I clicked on the link and could view it without problems. I didn't even notice it was a NY time site until you pointed it out.

      Maybe theyhave changed their policy on slashdot, to increase their ad revenue.
    • by DoofusOfDeath (636671) on Tuesday February 21, 2006 @10:43AM (#14767914)
      I too find registration a PITA, and worrisome because there are no guarantees about how the information will be used. But I'm growingly worried about NOT registering. Here's why...

      A friend of mine is an editor for a large newspaper in a major US city. He tells me that newspapers are in serious trouble financially, significantly because of decreased ad revenue. People are reading paper newspapers less and online news sources more. From what I can tell he's not just bellyaching - newspapers are laying off lots of reporters.

      I'm afraid that if newspapers get poorer and poorer, we citizens lose one of our country's main forces against political evils - skilled investigative reporters with the resources to pursue stories in depth. By not registering for sites like the NYT, we make it harder for that newspaper to get ad revenue, which ultimately jeopardizes its ability to investigate the Bushs, Rumsfelds, and Nixons of the world.
      • by CoderBob (858156) on Tuesday February 21, 2006 @10:53AM (#14767992)
        skilled investigative reporters with the resources to pursue stories in depth.

        Errr? We actually had those at one time?

        Not trying to knock your friend or anything, but if the "quality" of reporting I'm seeing in any one of the major metro papers in my area are any indication of the "skilled investigative reporters" of which you speak, I'd be better off with some tin cans, some string, and those X-Ray glasses I got in a box of Cracker Jack as a kid. That way I could investigate them myself with the same level of "thoroughness". The only way to get decent coverage of any story is to use five or six different sources and try to piece together a coherent image of what the actual story should be.

        People are stupid, sensationalism sells, and the people who are looking for actual news are being disenfranchised by things such as the Jackson trial and the latest political "scandal". If the papers want money, maybe they should improve the quality of their stories, eh?

        • by LaCosaNostradamus (630659) <LaCosaNostradamu ... m ['il.' in gap]> on Tuesday February 21, 2006 @12:48PM (#14769193) Journal
          Poster1: "skilled investigative reporters with the resources to pursue stories in depth"

          Poster2: "Errr? We actually had those at one time?"

          Yes, we did, but the 1990s were a hallmark in the die-off of investigative journalism. Several books have been written about the subject. The 1990s produced a corporatized media system that tipped over a hump in concerns of financial controls, corporate ownership, and the vast background hum of elite influence. The end product is that major media outlets are streamlined to produce consumerist news (HappyNews{tm}), not anything else. Investigating financial topics, for instance, not only takes a while, but tends to cross some corporate donor or owner somewhere.

          The (in)famous meta-story of the Fox News / Monsanto story is an outstanding example of how highly-corporatized ownership of news (and in fact all industries, as well as corruption of government) kills investigative journalism.

          An American is much more likely now to find investigative journalism from independents like Greg Palast, and foreigners (notably, the BBC). His domestic media otherwise has been completely subverted and simply cannot be trusted.
      • by LordSnooty (853791) on Tuesday February 21, 2006 @11:06AM (#14768134)
        "I'm afraid that if newspapers get poorer and poorer, we citizens lose one of our country's main forces against political evils - skilled investigative reporters with the resources to pursue stories in depth."

        But we lost that years ago when newspapers found that parrotting PR guff is a lot cheaper that employing real reporters. The dearth in solid investigative reporting is not just due to the Internet - the decline began long before the net was in everyone's home.
  • by torpor (458) <ibisum@gmail. c o m> on Tuesday February 21, 2006 @10:06AM (#14767546) Homepage Journal
    .. are given cart-blanche to declare their own secrets, they will forever be out of control.

    America: your country has been usurped by your CIA and its masters. The American Public no longer control that agency.
    • "The American Public no longer control that agency"

      Did they ever?

      Once those in power set up 'secret' institutions to guard their interests then democracy and accountability are lost.

    • by saskboy (600063) on Tuesday February 21, 2006 @10:20AM (#14767648) Homepage Journal
      That should have been obvious to even casual media observers, when the media became more rabid over not hearing gossip about the VP's accidental shooting spree [a lawyer shot with many pellets in one blast], than they were about the President's obviously illegal wiretappings of Americans. Geeze, what does a president have to do these days to get impeached when breaking an enshrined value in the constitution, and a law isn't enough?
    • Well, I know you're trying to tell us the sky is falling, but IMO
      After Mr. Aid and other historians complained, the archives' Information Security Oversight Office, which oversees government classification, began an audit of the reclassification program, said J. William Leonard, director of the office.

      Mr. Leonard said he ordered the audit after reviewing 16 withdrawn documents and concluding that none should be secret.

      "If those sample records were removed because somebody thought they were classified, I'm s
  • by PrinceAshitaka (562972) * on Tuesday February 21, 2006 @10:07AM (#14767550) Homepage
    Everyone is always worried about governments "rewriting history" i.e. from the post "Are our intelligence agencies rewriting history, stupidly paranoid, or both?" This here is not an example of that. The government is not rewriting history, just denying access to it. Whether that is as bad is debatable.

    This poster in no way agrees with what the CIA is doing, just pointing out an oft made error. This here is not some Orwellian nightmare.
    • Maybe this isn't an example of Congress rewriting history, but here [bbc.co.uk] is an example from two weeks ago of exactly that.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      "The government is not rewriting history, just denying access to it."
      "This here is not some Orwellian nightmare."

      No, I guess it's not.

      Ignorance is strength.
    • Haha. The one person who doesn't regret the Bush/Cheney votes!
    • by Scrameustache (459504) * on Tuesday February 21, 2006 @10:18AM (#14767636) Homepage Journal
      The government is not rewriting history, just denying access to it. [...] This here is not some Orwellian nightmare.

      Ok, read this:
      "John Doe died in 1942 after being shot in the face by the president of the united states for looking at him funny. The president attended his funeral and pissed on his grave."

      Now, I won't rewrite history, I will simply deny access to a part of it:
      "John Doe died in 1942. The president attended his funeral."

      P.S. Any ressemblance between my example and real persons or events is purely coincidental. Use of "president" is made to give the anecdote a sense of historical relevance. No animals were hurt in the making of this comment.
      • The original parent is correct. The article is not describing an effort to rewrite documents, only to reclassify documents that were released. We can argue about whether that is a dumb idea (I think dumb), but it has nothing to do with rewriting history. Your example is a strawman.
        • by LS (57954) on Tuesday February 21, 2006 @11:03AM (#14768099) Homepage
          I think YOU missed your parent post's point. He was giving an analogy, and wasn't literally referring to rewriting individual documents. If you look at the body of documents as a whole, they present a story. You can create a different story by releasing some documents and holding others. He analogizes sentence fragments to entire documents.

          LS
    • by AstrumPreliator (708436) on Tuesday February 21, 2006 @10:22AM (#14767673)
      Denying access to history is the same as rewriting it. While we may remember what happens today and we might have some vague guess as to what went on internally, what about two generations from now? Assuming the USA is still standing and the spy agencies still have their way; what exactly do our grandchildren know happened historically? Nothing, just hearesay from their crazy grandparents. I think it's a bit worse than you make it out to be. Of course I could just be paranoid.
      • They'll have the documents that just got classified being declassified, much like we have a large amount of Kennedy era CIA paperwork coming into light right. Not to mention that even were this not the case, they'd still have every souce other than those government reports, which is probably the ones they'd be relying on anyway.
    • Yes you're absolutely right, it would just be like, a hypothetical scenario, where maybe the Nazis had won the war and didn't really feel like making any of that stuff about concentration camps public. Our understanding of history is obviously not affected by parts of it being secret.
    • by $RANDOMLUSER (804576) on Tuesday February 21, 2006 @10:41AM (#14767872)
      You are absolutely correct. We've always been at war with Eurasia.
    • Selective omission (Score:5, Interesting)

      by SgtChaireBourne (457691) on Tuesday February 21, 2006 @10:41AM (#14767875) Homepage
      The government is not rewriting history, just denying access to it.
      Or selectively deleting it. Either way it is possible rewrite history with a few key omissions or abiguities here and there. It's not necessarily the intelligence agencies, more like orders from within the current regime itself.

      The head of the national archives and records administration (NARA), a supposedly independent administration, has been replaced at the request of top levels of the Bush regime [gcn.com]. Not only is that rather unusual, but there are some big issues with the new appointment, Weinstein [hnn.us]. All that means is that NARA now has a politcal appointee at its head, unlikely to stand up for freedom of information.

    • The government is not rewriting history, just denying access to it. Whether that is as bad is debatable... This here is not some Orwellian nightmare.

      One of the examples from the story is a 1950 assessment by the intelligence folks to the effect that the People's Republic of China was unlikely to intervene directly in the Korean war that year. As anyone who watched an episode of two of "MASH" could tell you, the red Chinese did come across the border in 1950.

      In that case, the history the CIA (and whatev

  • Secret? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by nathan118 (880824) on Tuesday February 21, 2006 @10:09AM (#14767561) Homepage
    Doesn't sound very secret to me. Isn't secret when nobody knows about it? And why does slashdot assume the only possible explanations are A) the government is evil and rewriting history or B) the government is stupid or C) the government is evil? Watch out! Sounds as big as the wiretap scandal! Oh wait, nobody cares about that anymore either.
    • Re:Secret? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by ObsessiveMathsFreak (773371) <obsessivemathsfreakNO@SPAMeircom.net> on Tuesday February 21, 2006 @10:15AM (#14767607) Homepage Journal
      Yeah! I mean, what's the big deal. It's just super powerful government agencies flagrantly breaking the law. It's not like this is a bad thing. How could it be bad? The CIA is good. The government is good. They can't do bad things. It's just impossible. This is not bad. Ergo, it is good.

      Gammas are the best class. I sure wouldn't want to be one of those Alphas or Betas.
    • Re:Secret? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by lucabrasi999 (585141)
      And why does slashdot assume the only possible explanations are A) the government is evil and rewriting history or B) the government is stupid or C) the government is evil?

      Don't limit those explanations to just Slashdot. Almost everywhere you go in the US, you will find a natural distrust of government. After all, remember back in the Clinton Administration, there was a large number of conservatives that truly believed the US Government was secretly collaborating with the United Nations in order to allo

    • by Tony (765)
      Oh wait, nobody cares about that anymore either.

      If by "nobody" you mean "people who take their civil rights seriously," then you are correct.

      As far as assuming the government is evil, the evidence is stacked firmly against them. They are fucking people over for their own gain; that constitutes "evil" to me.
    • Doesn't sound very secret to me. Isn't secret when nobody knows about it?

      It's secret like the Freemasons are a secret society, I guess.

      Anyway, RTFBlurb, the secret is out because historians are getting told to fork over their documents, and aren't happy about it. Getting between an historian and his documents is like getting between a mama bear and her cubs, you know.
    • Re:Secret? (Score:3, Interesting)

      by DjMd (541962)
      Watch out! Sounds as big as the wiretap scandal! Oh wait, nobody cares about that anymore either.

      What an amazingly bad messure of importance... If the American Public still care must be important, vs. no longer cares = Unimportant.
      So American Idol's next round is the next critical thing facing this country.

      The average american's lack of focus, concern, and ability to understand an issue in no way alters its significance.

      And your point that Doesn't sound very secret to me. Isn't secret when nobody knows a
    • Re:Secret? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by evil_tandem (767932)
      Oh wait, nobody cares about that anymore either.

      which is why my fellow americans terrify me.

      i think for the most part our government is both evil and stupid. not necessarily on purpose or design. but it is bound to happen when you create a huge beuracracy and give it unchecked power.

      i mean seriously, the thing that annoys me most about this is it implies they have nothing better to do? these idiots can't adequately describe the nuclear capability of a hostile nation because they're too busy reclassif

    • Re:Secret? (Score:3, Interesting)

      Uh, maybe YOU don't care about the President violating the 4th amendment and blatantly ignoring a law specifically designed to implement the safeguards it describes. But, I guess you Bushheads don't care about living in a police state as long as the police are Republicans.
      • Re:Secret? (Score:3, Informative)

        by Zak3056 (69287)
        Uh, maybe YOU don't care about the President violating the 4th amendment and blatantly ignoring a law specifically designed to implement the safeguards it describes. But, I guess you Bushheads don't care about living in a police state as long as the police are Republicans.

        You're talking about FISA, of course, and I completely agree with you on that subject. However, the article that we are obstensibly discussing (CIA secretly reclassifying documents) notes that this began in 1999 while Clinton was still in
        • Re:Secret? (Score:3, Informative)

          by TubeSteak (669689)
          If you RTFA a bit better, you may have noted that they were reclassifying documents Clinton had declassified in 1995.

          Clinton signed an order to declassify those documents and then a few years later, some/one alphabet agency went behind his back and started reclassifying them.
  • by Distinguished Hero (618385) on Tuesday February 21, 2006 @10:09AM (#14767567) Homepage
    The google video is 17 s of an explosion taped from far away with the description:

    "Detonation of Improvised Explosive Device used against Coalition forces. We found this one before they could use it against us."

    Are Americans actually not allowed to see it? Doesn't make much sense.
    • Yeah. Google won't let me watch it. I get the message:

      This video is not playable in your country.

      And yes, I do live in the Land of the Free (TM). And my civil rights like taking it up the ass. They enjoy it.
      • Any proof that the government is coercing Google into not letting you see the video (instead of say Google doing it out of their own volition for some peculiar reason)? I really don't see what the US government (or anyone else) would have to gain from anyone not seeing that video. If anyone would care to explain it to me, please have a go at it.

        I forgot to add: there are no people in that video whatsoever, getting injured or otherwise.
    • Google has censored [google.com] videos from Iraq before [blognewschannel.com].
      • That video doesn't display anything that might be damaging to the US Government either. It's just darkness, darkness, an explosion, followed by more darkness.

        The description reads:
        "This is a weapons cache found in Iraq, we detonated it with a few satchels of C4."

        Of interest might be the fact that both this video and the other one use the pronoun "we," which I take to denote members of the US Armed Service.
    • by thefirelane (586885) on Tuesday February 21, 2006 @10:29AM (#14767747)
      Insightful?

      Settle down everyone, and read this [slashdot.org].

      It is a feature when you upload a video to say who can and cannot watch a video, not "US Government Censorship"
      • Well, that settles the matter then. Now the question that remains is why would the uploaders have decided to not allow the video to be shown in the US. To baffle and confound the would-be American audience? To fuel conspiracy theories? Now I'm becoming a conspiracy theorist myself.
      • A feature that can be used as Censorship when Google recieves a court order to do so. Or so a deal the can't refuse from the Peoples Republic of China... Look the Internet is the worlds best chance for freedom we have to fight for it!
  • Eep.. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Turn-X Alphonse (789240) on Tuesday February 21, 2006 @10:11AM (#14767579) Journal
    Should we worry that people are doing this (although I suspect others in the past have) or that they are being caught doing this? Maybe we're trying harder to catch these people, but if your average newspaper can catch these people, what does it say about the security we've got in place to cover tracks?

    In some ways I'm glad that my civil rights can't be screwed because such lax idiots are in control, but at the same time I fear all my personal information is being held by people I wouldn't trust with my TV remote.
  • Documents are always getting reclassified, both up and down. If you will all recall a number of previously accessible public works documents concerning dams and power plants were removed post 9/11.

    The thing is that something that wasn't secret before may become sensitive in the future due to changing conditions. Also things that are secret now may become less critical in the future and thus be released. This is the whole reason for review procedures.

    Only people who are constantly willing to believe the w
    • by geoffspear (692508) on Tuesday February 21, 2006 @10:23AM (#14767678) Homepage
      Only people who are constantly willing to believe the worst in the government are going to see a grand conspiracy here.

      If the government will stop proving on a regular basis that it deserves to be thought of in that way, we'll stop.

      • You're right! As soon as human nature changes, we'll be set. Until then, we'll just have to maintain some perspective and a vigilant watch.
        • and a vigilant watch.

          Yeah, that's real effective. The President can piss all over the Constitution, violating his oath of office in a series of act that by any reasonable measure require impeachment and imprisonment, and what happens? A few folks scream bloody murder, the President and staff respond with a big "fuck you - we'll do what we want", and the whole shebang continues unabated.

          That whole 'vigilance' thing isn't doing dick.

          Max
    • "Only people who are constantly willing to believe the worst in the government are going to see a grand conspiracy here."

      And if at this point you're not willing to believe the worst in the government, you haven't paid attention in the slightest, and need to widen the range of your sources of information.
    • This is the whole reason for review procedures.

      Gee, shame they're not following the procedures.

      to believe the worst in the government

      And what are you willing to believe of a government that flat out refuses to follow the rules it creates for itself?
    • Did you read the damn article at all? The two critical points is first how hidden this reclassification process is (particularly from scrutiny of whether it is consistent with the relevant law on the matter) and second the reaction of multiple historians that there seems to be a trend of "cleaning up" embarassing loose ends of historical issues rather than there being a relevant intelligence or security interest. I'm not exactly locking myself in the bunker, no, but I'm fed up with people acting like we s
  • by ChePibe (882378) on Tuesday February 21, 2006 @10:21AM (#14767660)
    Anyone who has held a security clearence can tell you - the government over-classifies. From my brief stint with a security clearence, I can honestly say I didn't learn anything from the documents I viewed that one couldn't reach by common sense or looking around on the internet.

    While I think most will agree that classification is important to basic security - protecting sources and methods saves lives - there is little doubt that the US government uses it too much and always has. There is always a fear that even a slight mention in a report or stating information that we shouldn't know and only know through a secret source or method will blow the program and potentially waste millions or, worse, put someone's life in danger.

    Most of the time this is unwarranted and, in the case of these specific documents, one has to wonder a great deal about it. That said, from time to time, it's absolutely necessary. (Following is an anecdote from a professor I had who worked for Senate Intelligence Committe for a while and, yes, was a Democrat) In the late 1970's, an FBI author of a book on the Rosenburg incident, for example, was angered by what he believed to be censorship regarding important information on the case. After going through the motions to allow him to print that part what he wanted, he found the reason - the information he wanted to print came from a source who, after more than 30 years, was still reporting from the USSR. Putting it in his book would have, without doubt, led to his death.

    The "missile gap" of the late 50's - early 60's is another example - it existed only in public perception, and this had been confirmed by secret intelligence programs. But, rather than divulge this information and risk intelligence-gathering the programs, Kennedy was allowed to use it as a political plank.

    Don't get me wrong - the government absolutely over classifies data, something I know perfectly well from experience. But, from time to time, it has been extremely important to keep what we know under wraps.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 21, 2006 @10:21AM (#14767661)
    http://www.cryptome.org/ [cryptome.org] They archive all kinds of stuff that was being pulled of the Internet in the post 9/11 world.
  • One reclassified document in Mr. Aid's files, for instance, gives the C.I.A.'s assessment on Oct. 12, 1950, that Chinese intervention in the Korean War was "not probable in 1950." Just two weeks later, on Oct. 27, some 300,000 Chinese troops crossed into Korea. ooops.

    I find it surprising just how far off reality the intelligence community can be. I am not sure why this is. So much money is spent, yet the best answers they can come up with are still so often just plain wrong.

    I am sure it is very di
  • by matt_martin (159394) on Tuesday February 21, 2006 @10:30AM (#14767757) Homepage Journal
    This just in:

    In the latest step to protect us all from terrorists, the bill of rights has been re-classified.
    Dick Cheney revealed that he has been given the executive power by the president to classify specific portions of the constitution. "If they know their rights, it will give them an edge in the war on terror. Agents have shown time and again that they can move much faster and more effectively without any constitutional entanglements. Americans understand that this is a necessary measure."

    Rumors that a secret house-to-house gun collection program is underway have been vehemently denied by Whitehouse spokesman Scott McCleanone. Mr McC also deflected a question about the house's mysterious inability to find procedural documents relating to the drawing of articles of impeachment.
  • by dtsazza (956120)
    As for historians who have access to these documents, having already made copies of their contents - what's their legal status now?

    What if they were using some of these documents for a paper or thesis; presumably they'll have to re-write that part? How about if they've already published a paper quoting parts of those documents verbatim - would the classification then extend to their paper? The documents are being reclassified while the information is already public domain... while it's going to be as inef
  • Orwell is here (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Whammy666 (589169) on Tuesday February 21, 2006 @10:44AM (#14767926) Homepage
    The reason that they want to re-classify stuff is simple. The US gov has a policy of 'plausible deniability' meaning that everything they say is considered true ("because we say so") until someone finds evidence to the contrary. Remove the evidence and you got a new 'truth'.

    This is part of a larger trend that is developing at a rapid pace in the US which embraces secrecy in place of open government, and propaganda instead of news. To think we used to scold the old USSR for this very same bullshit. It's shameful that so many Americans are comfortable with this new form of 'freedom'. It really is true: You don't really appreciate what you have until it's gone.
  • <tinfoil hat>
    Suddenly the Bill of Rights and the Constitution become "classified" too!
    </tinfoil hat>
  • 1. To keep someone from knowing something that he could use against you.
    2. To keep someone from finding out something that would incriminate you.
    3. To keep someone from finding out something that would be embarrassing for you.
    4. To keep someone from knowing something that would turn their opinion against you.

    Glad it's done by the feds, if I'd do that it might be illegal.
  • What is going on here is that the Clinton Administration did a blanket order to un-classify truckloads of documents without properly reviewing each one to see if it was appropriate to de-classify. It was a purely political and ideological decision about "open government", "right of the people to know", etc, etc, etc without any real review of the propriety of releasing each document. So the Bush Administration is reacting to reclassify them on the basis of being prudent (better safe than sorry, in their vie
  • by TheWorkz (866187) on Tuesday February 21, 2006 @10:58AM (#14768054)
    "It puts that whole Google censorship thing in a whole new light. (Americans aren't allowed to see that video.)" Anyone who has ever actually posted a video to Google Video knows that you can specify which country you would like this viewable in. The option under advanced settings when posting is: ----------------- Regional restrict: -Do not restrict (your video will be seen by the largest audience possible) -Select countries where the video won't be shown: (LIST HERE) ----------------- Now quit playing the blame game on google for censoring.
  • by Shannon Love (705240) on Tuesday February 21, 2006 @11:16AM (#14768252) Homepage
    Virtually nobody in the general public understands how intelligence collecting works or how classification schemes are intended to thwart them. Hollywood and novels have conditioned us to think of vital information as being a small discrete units, say a single document, that must be protected. In truth, this is a mere plot device to create what Hitchcock called a "McGuffin", some single thing the characters can run around trying to obtain in order to drive the story. People believe that only a small amount of the "McGuffin" information honestly needs to be kept secret and that the rest is just dishonesty.

    However, real-world intelligence does not come in discrete units but rather it arises from an analysis of broad patterns. It comes from data mining. Many separate and seemingly innocuous pieces of information are stitched together to create a picture of something hidden. The reason that the military (or even corporations) "over-classify" is to prevent the data mining of otherwise trivial items. The 1947 balloon program sounds historic and trivial but that program fit into a budget and organization somewhere and that effected the form of other, perhaps more interesting and relevant, programs.

    Only someone from the inside, with a broad picture of how all the pieces fit together, could possibly judge whether the classification of any particular piece of information is justified or not. Anyone else is doing so based on ignorant hubris.
    • by RossumsChild (941873) on Tuesday February 21, 2006 @12:07PM (#14768769)
      Only someone from the inside, with a broad picture of how all the pieces fit together, could possibly judge whether the classification of any particular piece of information is justified or not. If only someone from the inside is capable of recognizing that the document has relevance. . .then it's declassification cannot possibly be a threat, because someone from the outside won't have the frame of reference to understand it (as you just said yourself). You've just set up a very spurious assertion.
    • Only someone from the inside, with a broad picture of how all the pieces fit together, could possibly judge whether the classification of any particular piece of information is justified or not. Anyone else is doing so based on ignorant hubris.

      That sounds pragamatic enough, but then how are citizens to cope with the inevitiable use of classification to bury information for political reasons rather then security reasons? The most egregious example that I know of was the "secret" bombing of Cambodia in the

  • by MobyDisk (75490) on Tuesday February 21, 2006 @11:23AM (#14768326) Homepage
    I checked with the Ministry of Truth [orwelltoday.com] and apparently this information is incorrect. These documents have always been classified. And we have always been at war with Eurasia.
  • by slashdot_commentator (444053) on Tuesday February 21, 2006 @11:58AM (#14768670) Journal
    1984 [george-orwell.org]

    If you can control what people know, you control what they beleive, and thus how they act. Right to the point where they're not even aware that they're being played.

    The Iraq Invasion is a wonderful demonstration of the US Ministry of Truth. There are people in the US currently running around thinking the US invaded Iraq to "liberate" the people, not go after WMD which wasn't there.

    You 1st worlders can't see it firsthand, it is so scary to watch.

What the world *really* needs is a good Automatic Bicycle Sharpener.

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