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Homeland Security Okays Closed Proceedings 281

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the removing-accountability-is-always-fun dept.
CNet is reporting that a newly created branch within the Homeland Security Department that brings together many different federal agency employees and private sector players has been given the go-ahead to disregard a law requiring meetings to be open and proceedings public. From the article: "The 1972 law generally requires such groups to meet in open sessions, make written meeting materials publicly available, and deliver a 15-day notice of any decision to close a meeting to the public. The last is a particular point of concern for Homeland Security officials, who anticipate that private emergency meetings may need to be scheduled on short notice."
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Homeland Security Okays Closed Proceedings

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 25, 2006 @06:59PM (#14995300)
    As near as I can tell, this means that somewhere there is a guy named "Homeland Security Okay", and these Closed Proceedings belong to him.

    But speaking seriously:

    The 1972 law generally requires such groups to meet in open sessions, make written meeting materials publicly available, and deliver a 15-day notice of any decision to close a meeting to the public. The last is a particular point of concern for Homeland Security officials, who anticipate that private emergency meetings may need to be scheduled on short notice.

    The private sector, fearing that sensitive data will get to the wrong hands, has continued to resist sharing important information with the feds, the Department of Homeland Security said, citing government auditors' findings from late 2003.

    Making the meetings public would amount to "giving our nation's enemies information they could use to most effectively attack a particular infrastructure and cause cascading consequences across multiple infrastructures," another departmental advisory council warned in August.


    Is this not a valid reason for a group charged with advising on issues dealing with critical public infrastructure?

    Also, please note that ANY meetings under FACA [gsa.gov] can already be closed, but a 15-day notice must be given of such closure. The end result, since 1972, is still that the meeting is closed.

    The issue here is that the Critical Infrastructure Partnership Advisory Council may decide it needs to have an emergency meeting, AND that it should be closed, but can't wait 15 days to hold the meeting. The waiting period would seem designed to discourage federal agencies from routinely closing meetings without an announcement period that presumably may allow for recourse, official or otherwise, if such a closure is improper. However, the importance of a critical infrastructure advisory board holding an emergency meeting trumps the waiting period. Remember: being able to hold a closed meeting is NOT new; the only new element is not having to give a 15-day public notice that such a meeting will be closed.

    I'd encourage everyone to actually read the article. Of course, if you think nothing should ever be secret and think this is part of another conservative/Republican plot, then you probably won't agree with any reasoning for keeping such critical meetings secret, and/or not having to wait 15 days to hold such meetings.
    • I find it highly suspicious that someone who seems to know a lot about these types of meetings (I wonder why that is) is posting on Slashdot. Especially with a favorable view. Regardless of whether or not you are right in what you say, it seems to me that you have more of a political motivation for posting here. The kind of mind that takes a keen interest in government and politics and the kind of mind that has a strong interest in computers and technology typically do not mix. This is one of THE bigges
    • Everything the government does should be held to public scrutiny. How can we be reasonably informed on issues pertaining to the government when there are closed meetings between important government and private sector industries; secret courts issuing secret warrants; agencies such as the NSA performing illegal wiretapping under a veil of national security.

      Perhaps it is necessary to have an agency such as the NSA or CIA that have operations that are never publicized. But its still something I have the utmost contempt for. How can the public check the government that was meant to serve them, to protect them, if they have no idea what the government is even doing.

      Congressmen when given classified information, cannot release to the public that officals or even the President is involved in illegal activities, because their proof is covered in the interest of national security, and they can be arrested for a breach in such protocals.

      Ignorance is power... freedom is slavery...
      • by LordLucless (582312) on Saturday March 25, 2006 @08:08PM (#14995597)
        Everything the government does should be held to public scrutiny.

        True. But it doesn't have to be real-time, and it shouldn't be. Publishing all a nation's defence strategies is a bad idea in a time of war. Publishing, say, the patrol roster for border patrols would not be a good idea. Informing everyone that a particular power plant is currently unguarded and unprotected is not a good idea.

        Groups such as this should be able to hold closed meetings. Otherwise the whole point of the group - to determine what critical infrastructure is vulnerable and to better defend it - is undermined. The proceedings of the meeting should be made available in, say, two years time - if a vulnerable piece of critical infrastructure is still vulnerable after two years, this group isn't doing it's job.

        I don't know the law in this case, but I would be surprised if that is not already the way it works. Even top secret information is declassified eventually.
        • by eosp (885380) on Saturday March 25, 2006 @08:25PM (#14995643) Homepage
          True. But it doesn't have to be real-time, and it shouldn't be. Publishing all a nation's defence strategies is a bad idea in a time of war. Publishing, say, the patrol roster for border patrols would not be a good idea. Informing everyone that a particular power plant is currently unguarded and unprotected is not a good idea.

          Usually we call this "security through obscurity".

          1. We shouldn't be fighting a war if the people don't agree with it.
          2. If a particular power plant is currently unguarded and unprotected, then FIX IT! If there's a security problem, then having it out in the open will get something done about it.

          Groups such as this should be able to hold closed meetings. Otherwise the whole point of the group - to determine what critical infrastructure is vulnerable and to better defend it - is undermined. The proceedings of the meeting should be made available in, say, two years time - if a vulnerable piece of critical infrastructure is still vulnerable after two years, this group isn't doing it's job.

          If it was better defended in the first place, we wouldn't need to hold closed meetings.

          I don't know the law in this case, but I would be surprised if that is not already the way it works. Even top secret information is declassified eventually.

          Tell that to Bush and his domestic wiretapping program.

          Apologies if this came off as trollish or standoffish.

          • If a particular power plant is currently unguarded and unprotected, then FIX IT! If there's a security problem, then having it out in the open will get something done about it.

            In wartime, the most likely result will be to get it bombed before the guards get there.

          • "We shouldn't be fighting a war if the people don't agree with it."

            If the USA had followed this standard, Europe would not be free, the southern slaves would still be enslaved, and most of North America would still belong to England. Oh, and Saddam Hussein would still be in power.

          • by LordLucless (582312) on Saturday March 25, 2006 @10:54PM (#14996111)
            Usually we call this "security through obscurity".

            In the real (ie: non-digital) world, security by obscurity is often the most effective sort. If you don't want your troops bombed, don't let the enemy know where they are. If you don't want your weaknesses exploited, don't let anyone know about them until they are no longer weaknesses.

            If a particular power plant is currently unguarded and unprotected, then FIX IT! If there's a security problem, then having it out in the open will get something done about it.

            You cannot fix something instantly. Lets say these meetings were open. You discuss at the meeting that a power plant is weakly defended and vulnerable. Because the meeting is open, enemies know this information almost as soon as you do. It then becomes a race to see who gets their units to the power plant first. It would be better to discuss the weakness in a closed meeting, deploy the troops to secure it, and then announce that the plant was vulnerable, and has now been secured. That way you don't announce your weaknesses to your enemy.

            If it was better defended in the first place, we wouldn't need to hold closed meetings.

            Yeah, if everything was perfect, nothing would need fixing.

            Tell that to Bush and his domestic wiretapping program.

            What does domestic wiretapping have to do with declassifying information?
      • Everything the government does should be held to public scrutiny.

        Everything down to military blueprints, intelligence and counter-intelligence information, detailed layout plans and reports on critical infrastructure and risk assessments, security clearances and so on? I think you can imagine for yourself that's not going to work. Most scrutiny works the way democracy works, through representation. Even the whole division of power is about the three branches of government scrutinizing each other. I'm not sa
      • by rbochan (827946) on Saturday March 25, 2006 @08:41PM (#14995689) Homepage
        Everything the government does should be held to public scrutiny...

        You're not taking into account the neo-con ideology...
        Women who willingly, even enthusiastically give the president blow jobs should be part of the public record, because the people have the right to know, but security matters and powerful industrial representatives who meet with the administration in secret should have the meetings, the attendees, the topics and effects of those meetings kept secret, because that would interfer with the ability to the government to conduct the people's business without public scrutiny.

        Take that, Osama!

        • Women who willingly, even enthusiastically give the president blow jobs should be part of the public record, because the people have the right to know,

          Just for the record, Repubs didn't give a crap Clinton got a BJ. They *DID* care that he lied while giving testamony during the sexual harassment trial of another woman, Paula Jones. Which the press or NOW didn't seem to care about because she was relatively poor and didn't graduate from Harvard. If you think this was somehow wrong, let me refer you to

          • WHich begs the question why were the republicans so facinated with where bill clinton stuck his cock into? I mean to take the president of the united states and ask him if he stuck his cock into monicas cunt or mouth is kind of gross don't you think?

            Anyway lying about the whereabouts your cock is very bad, lying about weapons of mass desctruction and then waging war based on that lie is no problem at all. Then continually lying about the war once it's started is fine too. Lying about wiretaps is OK, bypassi
            • WHich begs the question why were the republicans so facinated with where bill clinton stuck his cock into?

              This is an example of a strawman argument. If you don't know what that is look it up in the wikipedia. THE REPUBS DIDN'T CARE. Paula Jones did. She was a state employee who was escorted to Clinton's hotel room like a prostitute by a state trooper. Something that should make your stomach turn whether Clinton was a D or an R.

              During depositions Paula wanted to establish that Clinton had a hist

        • I like Jon Stewart's take on that, via the Daily Show. He said something like Bill Clinton's whole impeachment could have been avoided if he just stamped his wang with the word "Classified". That would have stopped any further investigations, as per Bush's standard operating procedure.
      • Everything the government does should be held to public scrutiny.

        Would you extend that to local governments as well? I ask because I'm from California where the Brown Act is quite strict regarding open government, yet many city councils routinely meet before or after their "official" sessions to discuss business in private. It's illegal but they don't care.
      • Forget the rare security implications for once and consider the surprisingly common criminal and competance issues.

        I live in a state in Australia which was governed by an incompetants engaged in criminal activity who imposed draconian laws to limit public scrutiny. Infighting in the cabinet resulted in the leader being isolated from his own party, and only then did events unfold which resulted in the jailing of the police commisionioner and several government ministers. The situation had continued for yea

    • by amliebsch (724858) on Saturday March 25, 2006 @07:15PM (#14995376) Journal
      Do you know where that 15-day notice comes from? I'm looking at the Act itself, specifically, Section 10, and see no mention of a 15 day notice requirement. In fact, searching the PDF, there doesn't seem to be any mention of a 15-day notice anywhere in the Act.
      • by Anonymous Coward
        10. Advisory committee procedures; meetings; notice, publication in Federal Register; regulations;
        minutes; certification; annual report; Federal officer or employee, attendance
        (a)(1) Each advisory committee meeting shall be open to the public.
        (2) Except when the President determines otherwise for reasons of national security, timely
        notice of each such meeting shall be published in the Federal Register, and the Adminis-
        trator shall prescribe regulations to provide for other types of public notice to insure t
        • ...with open meetings laws here in Rhode Island, I can tell you that the lead time is not just for informative purposes, but also for a person with standing to bring a challenge in court to the act of closing the meeting; a concerned person who has standing can attempt to get an emergency injunction preventing the meeting from going forward if he or she asserts that the meeting was closed improperly. I'm not sure about the federal guidelines, but if they are anything at all like Rhode Island's, then the fe
        • It's worth pointing out that even the provision you cite is not required "when the President determines otherwise for reasons of national security." Presumably the President can delegate the authority to make that decision to his executive appointees, so it would appear that if the meeting is to be closed, that clause would not even apply.
          • Clarification: 10(a)(1)(2) would still apply in cases where the meeting was closed but national security would not be compromised by publishing timely notice of the closed meeting (and even then, the 15-day period is not statutory). But section 10(a)(1)(2) is clearly not required if necessary for "reasons of national security."
    • by vought (160908) on Saturday March 25, 2006 @07:29PM (#14995436)
      As near as I can tell, this means that somewhere there is a guy named "Homeland Security Okay", and these Closed Proceedings belong to him.

      Slashdot headlines make you cringe, hunh? Me too.

    • As near as I can tell, this means that somewhere there is a guy named "Homeland Security Okay", and these Closed Proceedings belong to him. You cad. My name is Homeland Security Okay, and I'll have you know that my Closed Proceedings are mine to do with as I please.
    • by mr_burns (13129) on Saturday March 25, 2006 @08:48PM (#14995711)
      What I'm worried about is it being so easy to close a meeting that it becomes routine.

      Right now we have one safeguard: It's a pain in the ass to wait 15 days so people would mostly rather keep meetings open than close them. Unless absolutely necessary.

      And I understand the probable necessity of having a closed meeting on short notice.

      Where I have a real issue is the way that DHS has decided to work around this conflict. You can't just up and decide that the law doesn't apply to you. You can't decide to just break the law if it doesn't suit you. If the circumstances under which the law was created have changed, maybe it's time to change the law. Go to Congress, tell them how the law hasn't kept pace with reality and ask for changes. Better yet, suggest some.

      Here's my suggestion: keep the 15 days notice the way it has been. However, in the case that the meeting has to be held much sooner than that and be closed, you have to do more than just give notice. You may have to have a counterpart in a different branch of government review an "emergency closure request" or somesuch and OK it. Maybe add a sunset provision in there where after a certain amount of time there will be a review (with a comment period) to decide wether or not the meeting stuff should remain closed. If the review isn't held, the stuff is automatically opened.

      See, it isn't that complicated. DHS gets what they need to do their job. There is a check against the power from another branch and we have a mechanism to regain transparency after the fact.

      But did DHS even ask Congress or entertain the notion? I don't have the answer to that. What I do know is that the President, DHS, the whole danged government and the general populace don't get to decide which laws do and do not apply to them. They can't selectively choose to obey this law and disobey that law. No matter what the percieved necessity may be.

      And this has been happenning at an increasing pace in our executive branch as of late. It's criminal, anAmerican and unacceptable.

      Sheesh, DHS... all you have to do is ask. We'll listen. But if you give up on the rule of law... you'll lead us down a path to anarchy or totalitarianism. And you know what... that's a bigger threat to America than Al Qaeda could ever hope to be. Don't do their work for them.
      • You may have to have a counterpart in a different branch of government review an "emergency closure request" or somesuch and OK it.

        You bring up an interesting point here, one that shows something interesting about the way we often think of our checks and balances system.

        In theory, all three branches of government are co-equal and enact checks on each other so that any one branch cannot become too powerful. As we've seen in the last few years, this is not the way it works in practice. In practice, if the l
    • Your points are worth debating - they're debatable. But who are you? You anonymously post a long, formatted screed, in the first post, including a link to the law. Replying in the first post to an article published by ScuttleMonkey, but without the usual submitter's credit introducing the story.

      Who are you, and where do you get off assuring us that anything isn't part of another "conservative/Republican plot", when our lives are so full of them already, and they always come with the same kind of denial? Lik
  • Uhuh (Score:4, Funny)

    by Dibblah (645750) on Saturday March 25, 2006 @07:02PM (#14995309)
    Because security through obscurity is a time-proven strategy. It works for everyone that's tried it, doesn't it?
    • Any "obscurity" can be thought of as an extra layer of security. It shouldn't be relied upon, but it does work to an extent.

      People who know the "secret" will be able to see through the obscurity, while others need to spend time analyzing. It's not that different from "secret passwords", which are what most consumer-level devices and services use. A password is just a stronger "obscurity" than what you have in mind.
      • you are mistaken. Security by obscurity refers to using a secret method of protection which, once discovered will become a threat to all using that method of security.

        for example public key cryptography is not security by obscurity, but Flash DRM media stream is. there is theoretically nothing standing between the potential attacker and the target, merely a bit of debugging and/or traffic sniffing.
    • Re:Uhuh (Score:5, Funny)

      by NitsujTPU (19263) on Saturday March 25, 2006 @07:49PM (#14995533)
      This is a little different.

      It's not relying on people not knowing where your insecure webserver is.

      This sounds a lot more like when the military doesn't say, "Hey, drop your bombs here, our troops are over heeeerrrreeee!" I suppose that, by your argument, the troops should just be well protected enough to survive that bomb blast, but that's not how it works in these scenarios. They like to keep these things secret.

      By the way, if you were wondering the password to my computer, it's TYPE_THESE_WORDS_IN.
  • par for the course (Score:2, Informative)

    by macshit (157376)
    The current administration seems to make just about everything it can closed to public scrutiny; in this case, it's even easier than usual because they can claim "it's against terrorists / fer the children!!!"

    Sigh...
    • by pvt_medic (715692)
      There are things that should not be publicly available. But with that being said there is typically some problem with this:
      -no oversight (I dont care what they say this govt was founded on a system of checks and balances and there should always be an independant form of oversight)
      -the mentality we are going to keep this secret not because it is sensitive but because the public is stupid and cant handle the truth (ok some people are stupid, but the govt is suppose to serve us)
      -the problem with the fact
  • by daveschroeder (516195) * on Saturday March 25, 2006 @07:05PM (#14995325)
    Under FACA, such federal advisory meetings can already be closed, and have been able to be closed for over three decades. However, a 15-day public notice must be given for such a closure.

    The net result, however, is that the meeting is still closed.

    This change allows for the Critical Infrastructure Partnership Advisory Council to have closed meetings in an emergency without giving a 15-day notice that it is going to have a closed meeting.

    I think that critical public infrastructure protection outweighs any need for a 15-day notice of a closed meeting.
    • It's wierd that what you are saying runs counter to everything thats being put in the news, even by FACA and those who support this measure. Where did you glean this tidbit of important information that no one else has brought attention to? I'm not doubting you, but I sure am curious.
      • Where did the information come from? The statute:

        (a)(1) Each advisory committee meeting shall be open to the public.

        (2) Except when the President determines otherwise for reasons of national security, timely
        notice of each such meeting shall be published in the Federal Register, and the Adminis-
        trator shall prescribe regulations to provide for other types of public notice to insure that all
        interested persons are notified of such meeting prior thereto.

        (3) Interested persons shall be permitted to attend, appea
        • Okay, we will use what you provided since I'm not finding much googling.

          (2) Except when the President determines otherwise for reasons of national security, timely
          notice of each such meeting shall be published in the Federal Register,


          So, if we have these terrorists planning on destroying our phone system, the President can negate the rest of rule 2 by saying it's for national security. No complaints there. They have a legit claim to quickly hold a closed meeting. Otherwise, why the rush? Meetings can be
  • by Anonymous Coward
    In case there's any doubt regarding my position :

    I fear the government of the US far more than I fear any terrorist.

    Why ?

    Because the US government has wasted far more American lives than any terrorist has.
    • If it was about saving lives then where is the war on cars, or the war on junk food?
      • If it was about saving lives then where is the war on cars, or the war on junk food?

        Cars and junk food make huge amounts of money for large corporations. Drugs and terrorism do not - unless we have a War on them, and can then funnel enormous amounts of government money to companies that top politicians have close links with.

        Remember, it's not about the People, it's about the Corporations. The principle of 'voting with your dollars' has been taken far further than anybody realises...

  • Dept. of Homeland Obscurity not caring 'bout laws. Anything else new?
    • Slashbots' general ignorance of the actual law is certainly not new. The law specifically allows closed meetings, and I may be missing something, but do not actually see any mention of the requirement of a 15-day notice of closed meetings in the act itself [gsa.gov].
  • ... by widdeling away at it little by little.

    just like what is happening to our freedom...

    The more important questions are in regards to why is there such an huge apparent expectation of attacks on the US?

    Try a google search on "Trillion dollar bet" and read the transcript.
  • by erroneus (253617) on Saturday March 25, 2006 @07:27PM (#14995428) Homepage
    I am left to wonder what significant safegaurds we have remaining. Admittedly, I knew nothing of this particular 1972 law to begin with. But now I wonder if there are any more significant laws that are in place to preserve the transparency of the US government that will likely be targetted or otherwise disregarded?

    This "war on terror" is such an incredibly dangerous witchunt. It struck my mind really hard the other day when I first heard it said that "terrorism is a method, not an identity." Nothing and no law could possibly prevent any free people from being stripped of their creativity when it comes to fighting for what they think is important. To attempt to target a "methodology" is like shooting at ghosts. Instead, they have to target people believed to be capable of using a methodology. It's just an inch or two away from "crimes of thought."

    There are other nations that have been dealing with "terrorist activity" in the past and their reaction has been nothing so drastic as what is happening in the US. They treat the activity as they would any crime. This is exactly how the US should be responding. There must be a way to fight crime without taking civil liberties and government transparency further from the public's eye.

    The next round of elections will not come soon enough for me. I still have hopes that the damage can be reversed.
    • The law was made during the cold war, a time of great secrecy itself. They were fighting a very well organized, highly trained, and intelligent foe.
    • If there are any safeguards left, they're likely to become secret soon enough. Kind of a nice "Catch 22" situation: You can only use a law if you know about it, but if you know about it you've already broken the law.
    • There are other nations that have been dealing with "terrorist activity" in the past and their reaction has been nothing so drastic as what is happening in the US.

      Do you know if most other nations of openness laws as strict as ours? Without doing a survey, I would suspect most European and Asian leaders would wonder what the big deal is about holding a closed door emergency meeting of this type. While I don't like this particular move, it is hardly drastic.
    • The founding fathers had this concept of checks and balances. Theoretically the three branches of govt and the press (the fourth estate) was supposed to keep each other honest.

      What they didn't forsee was that the two party system would put party loyalty above the love of country, the devotion to the constitution and anything else. This congress will never impeach or sanction this president even though he clearly has overstepped his bounds and has comitted felonies becuase they care more about the republican
  • It seems like (Score:3, Insightful)

    by irimi_00 (962766) on Saturday March 25, 2006 @07:37PM (#14995472)
    If this helps prevent another 911 (which, admittedly, there is a potential it may not), then maybe it isn't such a bad thing.
    • Re:It seems like (Score:3, Insightful)

      by ScrewMaster (602015)
      It won't stop another 9/11, not much can do that. A determined terrorist can always find a way to blow something up because it so easy to destroy. And groups like Al Quaeda are nothing if not determined.

      The problem, from a security perspective, is that America is a goldfish bowl, and has always been a goldfish bowl. That transparency and openness has always been one of our greatest strengths, and to a certain extent an exploitable weakness. I fear that these ongoing attempts to turn this nation into an a
    • I disagree. Hundreds of thousands of people have died in order to protect the freedoms of this nation. I'm not willing to give them up for something which has a small risk of killing a relatively small number of people. There are many more things we can do to save lives which are far less risky. Making cigarette smoking illegal would save hundreds of times as many lives, and not push us much closer towards a fascist regime.
    • Re:It seems like (Score:5, Insightful)

      by wes33 (698200) on Saturday March 25, 2006 @07:49PM (#14995534)
      Although it may sound callous, 911 was not a major loss of life (compare traffic accidents or the number of people who die from malaria, or just the number of people murdered every year). You are throwing away your LIBERTY. The 911 criminals are just criminals - they and their ilk can be handled by the criminal justice system. You do not need Dictatorship America. One has to wonder about a hidden agenda here.
    • The current administration is the most incompetent since the Hoover presidency, and incorporates the worst elements of the Nixon and Reagan years on top of it. I don't disallow the possibility that Bush et. al. is capable of making real strides in preventing terrorism, but if they're making such a claim, and using that claim to justify taking away some of my rights as a citizen of this republic, then I want proof that what they're doing is going to work. I want to at least see what mechanism they believe
  • by HangingChad (677530) on Saturday March 25, 2006 @07:38PM (#14995482) Homepage
    For the duration of the war on terror, which will be, essentially, forever. Then we don't have to worry about those silly liberals whining about secret courts, holding people in secret prisons without charges or access to a lawyer and we can wiretap everyone without a warrant.

    There were compelling reasons for secrecy even back in the day the Constituion was originally drafted, yet the framers thought it more important for the government not to operate in secret.

    We didn't have the mis-named Patriot Act before 9-11 and the FBI and CIA had ample warning about the 9-11 hijackers. We KNEW about some of them going to flight school and didn't act on it. We had ample intelligence before 9-11 and law enforcement had enough power to pick them up if anyone had bothered to act on the FBI field report about potential terrorists in flight school. So why is it the government needs all these additional secret powers and wire tip authority now?

    The real compelling reason for Republicans to want secrecy is because they've all but thrown accountability out the window. When there's no accountability, then you damn sure don't want transparency.

    And do not give me any of that bullshit about the Democrats not being any better. All this is happening with a Republican House, Senate and White House and it's been that way since 2000 and you've had Congress since 1994. It's time to admit that if this country is in a bucket of shit it's because of the REPUBLICANS! Not the Democrats, not the liberals...the problem is YOU.

    • It's time to admit that if this country is in a bucket of shit it's because of the REPUBLICANS! Not the Democrats, not the liberals...the problem is YOU.

      The problem is not partisan - it's people.

      A reduction in knowledge of what our government is doing, the sabotage of the teaching of critical thinking (outcome based education for one), and an overdose of manufactured paranoia has caused people to become hungry for safety and security at the cost of all their liberties.

      Defining this issue as partisan i
      • The problem is not partisan - it's people.

        This includes most of the posters bitching in the thread about transparency, without even using the transparency they have to read the act. Nor, I would bet, have any of them any actual desire to challenge the meeting closures. In fact, I'm certain the majority had no knowledge that there was any such statute. This is, for them, nothing more than their two minutes of hate against America, or Bush, or the Man, or whoever they think is keeping them down. They don

    • For the duration of the war on terror, which will be, essentially, forever.

      Oh, I would be perfectly fine with suspending the Constitution and its associated rights. In war time. In time of Congressionally-declared war. In areas declared a combat zone.

      Because if they declare formal war and declare the homeland a combat zone, it will be so obvious to everyone that they're just imposing martial law on their own citizens, so they wouldn't dare try. However corrupt our government may be, it stills want the perce
    • Why not just suspend that pesky Constitution?

      This is regards to a 1972 law. The Constitution was written almost two hundred years earlier. There is nothing in the Constitution regarding this wholly procedural issue.
  • Okay (Score:4, Interesting)

    by jlarocco (851450) on Saturday March 25, 2006 @07:47PM (#14995519) Homepage

    Sounds okay to me. Maybe I'll just stop paying my taxes, too. I won't pay for a CD I can't listen to, or a book I can't read, so why pay for a government that won't let me see what it's doing?

    If it's none of my business, maybe I shouldn't be paying for it.

  • Who is Homeland Security Okay and why do I care about his proceedings? Is that not what the article is about? http://www.angryflower.com/bobsqu.gif [angryflower.com]
  • There IS NO LAW (Score:4, Insightful)

    by fishbowl (7759) on Saturday March 25, 2006 @07:54PM (#14995548)
    It's a fallacy to think that there is anything which the current administration cannot get away with, law or no law. The outrage is already to the threshold where people are talking in terms of "impeaching the President", which is the ultimate consequence short of a violent coup... And it is not going to happen.

    So what do people imagine the current administration cannot do? Obviously there are outrageous things they could do which might affect the loyalty of the military system that keeps them in power, or that could sever the ties to the financial supporters, but they aren't going to do anything of that nature.

    The people aren't going to act, at least not in significant numbers, and certainly not with real hostility. Congress isn't going to destroy this government, not even if the House turns over to the opposition party next January. And other countries aren't going to band together to wage war against the US, not to liberate Iraq from the US, and absolutely not in response to US *domestic* policy.

    So tell me again, what is it that stops the executive administration from operating precisely as a term-limited dictatorship?

    The real fun starts when this administration hands over all this newly asserted power to the next one -- equally likely to be a liberal democrat or a moderate republican. Either way, somebody new gets all this amazing unprecedented power that nobody ever seems to have discovered before Bush.

    If Bush has a legacy, that's it: The President of the United States, formerly believed to be under severe constraints, actually has unlimited power as long as he can protect himself from assassinations and as long as he has a strongly aligned partisan majority in both houses of congress. Even when most of the people in the country are vehemently (but not violently) opposed to his government, and even when there is a widespread belief that he should be removed from office, it has no meaning at all, and certainly is no contraint on the president's actions, either in making domestic policy, or in waging wars of aggression.
    Even if the money to fight these wars is borrowed from five generations in the future, he gets away with it. Lives another day. Isn't removed from power. Has a military that continues to follow orders from the chain of command, as opposed to turning against it. Faces no military or economic opposition from any other nation. That sort of thing. Get it?
    • has unlimited power as long as he [...] has a strongly aligned partisan majority in both houses of congress.

      This is the key, isn't it. More often than not here in Australia voters have voted the opposite way in the lower and upper house. The result is that the Government has to negotiate with a hostile Senate.

      We are in truoble now because the minority party which used to oppose the government in the senate had a self destruct switch and the PM found how to trigger it, but I expect we will return to normal

    • "The real fun starts when this administration hands over all this newly asserted power to the next one -- equally likely to be a liberal democrat or a moderate republican."

      I really don't think so. Bush will start a war with iran or syria or north korea in the run up to the election. Either that or Osama will be caught just before the election. Either way the next president and congress will be controlled by the republicans. California has already been rigged thanks to diebold.

      WHat could anybody do? Well the
  • by Nethead (1563)
    That's ok, we'll just wiretap the meetings. I understand that's allowed now.
  • by NMerriam (15122) <NMerriam@artboy.org> on Saturday March 25, 2006 @08:38PM (#14995683) Homepage
    Making the meetings public would amount to "giving our nation's enemies information they could use to most effectively attack a particular infrastructure and cause cascading consequences across multiple infrastructures," another departmental advisory council warned in August.

    As I recall, in 1972, we were in the midst of fighting a Cold War that had, as a very real possible consequence, the end of life on Earth as we know it. We were fighting against a highly organized and well-funded enemy that had thousands of spies at all levels of government and industry, sleeper agents ready to be called on when necessary, and military capabilities that made us legitimately doubt whether we would prevail in any conventional armed conflict. An attack from their formidable stockpiles of intercontinental ballistic missiles would give us less than an hour to pray to the God of our choice before the sun vanished and our component molecules were suddenly and violently redistributed into the ash that would, hopefully, someday support life again.

    And yet, even with this Sword of Damocles hanging over our very survival, we had the conscience and foresight to realize that while we cannot control the behavior of those who would be our enemies, we can control ourselves, and refuse to sacrifice the ideals we believe more important than life in the vain hopes that by abdicating oversight of our government we will somehow gain immunity from outside aggressors.

    I find it the greatest irony of all that those in power right now, who present themselves so vaingloriously, act with such great cowardice. Their willingness to preemptively sacrifice the ideals we hold dear is an insult to the oaths they took, and the people who trust them with their lives.

    No bomb is capable of destroying the historical significance of the Constitution, the concept of modern representative democracy, religious freedom, free speech, or the notion that man has the right and responsibility to govern himself by reason. Yet we find ourselves in the peculiar position of surrendering these, our most valuable possessions, in the vain hope that they will purchase us safety, when we know with certainty that such safety is a chimera, that our lives will always be in danger so long as we espouse such dangerous ideas.

    It does not take courage to hide in a shelter, to stifle dissent or cut yourself off from contrary opinions. It does not take courage to meet in secret, to persecute those who are different, to deny the humanity of those who oppose you.

    What takes courage is knowing there are people in this world who hate you so much they will kill you, and to still get up in the morning and walk out the front door, refusing to change your life or your beliefs due to fear. We knew this after September 11th, we were even told this at the time by our leaders, but for some reason both they and we have lost sight of such a simple insight.
  • Cheap Shot article (Score:5, Informative)

    by cagle_.25 (715952) on Saturday March 25, 2006 @09:29PM (#14995843) Journal
    This is not the first time someone's done this, and it's no doubt too much to hope that it will be the last time, but this article somehow turns "following the law" into "ignoring the law." Perhaps Roland should read From The Friggin' Law Itself:

    (a)(1) Each advisory committee meeting shall be open to the public. (2) Except when the President determines otherwise for reasons of national security, timely notice of each such meeting shall be published in the Federal Register, and the Administrator shall prescribe regulations to provide for other types of public notice to insure that all interested persons are notified of such meeting prior thereto. (3) Interested persons shall be permitted to attend, appear before, or file statements with any advisory committee, subject to such reasonable rules or regulations as the Administrator may prescribe. (b) Subject to section 552 of title 5, United States Code, the records, reports, transcripts, minutes, appendixes, working papers, drafts, studies, agenda, or other documents which were made available to or prepared for or by each advisory committee shall be available for public inspection and copying at a single location in the offices of the advisory committee or the agency to which the advisory committee reports until the advisory committee ceases to exist. (c) Detailed minutes of each meeting of each advisory committee shall be kept and shall contain a record of the persons present, a complete and accurate description of matters discussed and conclusions reached, and copies of all reports received, issued, or approved by the advisory committee. The accuracy of all minutes shall be certified to by the chairman of the advisory committee. (d) Subsections (a)(1) and (a)(3) of this section shall not apply to any portion of an advisory committee meeting where the President, or the head of the agency to which the advisory committee reports, determines that such portion of such meeting may be closed to the public in accordance with subsection (c) of section 552b of title 5, United States Code. Any such determination shall be in writing and shall contain the reasons for such determination. If such a determination is made, the advisory committee shall issue a report at least annually setting forth a summary of its activities and such related matters as would be informative to the public consistent with the policy of section 552(b) of title 5, United States Code.

    No question: Chertoff's actions are entirely within the scope of the law.

    NOW: is all this secrecy a good thing? I doubt it. But anyone who really cares about this ought to do something: join the NSA, put your uber-coding skillz to good use, and find bin Laden.

  • BARTLETT: Do I look like Joe McCarthy to you, Toby?

    ZIEGLER: No sir. [beat] Nobody ever looks like Joe McCarthy. That's how they get in the door in the first place.

    Or to put it another way: Yeah, this option exists already. And yeah, there are times when security trumps transparency. But it's always a dangerous move, the DHS seems congenitally disposed toward excessive secrecy, and if we don't keep our eyes open, we're going to find ourselves in a place most can't imagine we could ever reach.

    The Roman Em

  • I have to agree, I do not want the Critical Infrastructure Partnership Advisory Council, which will be power-meetings with CIA, NSA, FBI and private sector allies, whom are all working on securing nation's infrastructure, cybercomponents included, to be on closed-circuit TV. Now I must admit, I'd sure like to listen in, but I'd gladly sacrifice that right so mine enemies to not listen in as well. Can I think such a way and still be on the left?
  • The Bush administration is ignoring the law instead of trying to change it? Shocking!
  • by v1 (525388) on Sunday March 26, 2006 @03:27AM (#14996823) Homepage Journal
    ...but it is true now more than ever.

    Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.

    It's not 1984 yet, but it's looking more and more like November of 1983. Scarry stuff.
  • by Razor Sex (561796) on Sunday March 26, 2006 @03:45AM (#14996861)
    Real security will only come from dealing with the root causes which create the threats. This means that we must listen to what, for example, Osama bin Laden has to say. From Aljazeera, a portion of a transcript of one of his videos:
    Peace be upon he who follows the guidance: People of America this talk of mine is for you and concerns the ideal way to prevent another Manhattan, and deals with the war and its causes and results.

    Before I begin, I say to you that security is an indispensable pillar of human life and that free men do not forfeit their security, contrary to Bush's claim that we hate freedom.

    If so, then let him explain to us why we don't strike for example - Sweden? And we know that freedom-haters don't possess defiant spirits like those of the 19 - may Allah have mercy on them.

    No, we fight because we are free men who don't sleep under oppression. We want to restore freedom to our nation, just as you lay waste to our nation. So shall we lay waste to yours.

    No one except a dumb thief plays with the security of others and then makes himself believe he will be secure. Whereas thinking people, when disaster strikes, make it their priority to look for its causes, in order to prevent it happening again.

    But I am amazed at you. Even though we are in the fourth year after the events of September 11th, Bush is still engaged in distortion, deception and hiding from you the real causes. And thus, the reasons are still there for a repeat of what occurred.
    The rest can be found here [aljazeera.net]. I'll make no claims as to whether or not he is "right" - but that's irrelevant. What matters is understanding how he came to adopt the perspective he now operates under. Those are the roots causes, and only addressing those will provide security. The current strategy of sabotaging or defeating the threat isn't nearly as effective as eliminating it.

The closest to perfection a person ever comes is when he fills out a job application form. -- Stanley J. Randall

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