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WHO'S IN CHARGE HERE?
Magpie is a former journalist, attempted historian [No, you can't ask how her thesis is going], and full-time corvid of the lesbian persuasion. She keeps herself in birdseed by writing those bad computer manuals that you toss out without bothering to read them. She also blogs too much when she's not on deadline, both here and at Pacific Views.

Magpie roosts in Portland, Oregon, where she annoys her housemates (as well as her cats Medea, Whiskers, and Jane Doe) by attempting to play Irish music on the fiddle and concertina.

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Tuesday, September 5, 2006

Secrets? Dubya's administration has them.

Tons of them, according to a latest secrecy report card from OpenTheGovernment.org.

  • In 2005, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court approved all 2,072 requests for secret surveillance orders made by U.S. intelligence agencies, rejecting none. So while surveillance of foreign organizations and nationals under the jurisdiction of this secretive court has doubled in the past five years, the public knows nothing of whom or what is being investigated or how agencies are carrying out such investigations.

  • The government issued 9,254 National Security Letters during 2005. These letters can be used to obtain information about individuals without the government applying for a court-reviewed warrant and, thus, without any external review....

  • President George W. Bush has issued 132 signing statements challenging over 810 provisions of federal laws. In the 211 years of our nation's history preceding 2000, presidents issued fewer than 600 signing statements that took issue with the bills they signed.

The most damning evidence (at least in this magpie's opinion) of how Dubya's administration uses secrecy as a political tool is shown in the following table:


Chart showing increasing federal use of 'state secret' privilege

[Sources: Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press; National Security Whistleblowers Coalition; National Security Archive]

Take a look at the number of times that the feds have invoked the 'state secrecy' privilege over the years. You'll notice that Dubya's administration has used this privilege to keep the public from knowing what the government is doing 22 times since it took office in 2001 — almost quadruple the number of invocations between 1953 and 1977. For the historically impaired, those years were the height of the Cold War, a period during which the rivalry between the US and Soviet Union was frequently on the brink of escalating into nuclear war.

Does anyone seriously believe that the threat posed to the US by 'terrorists' is greater than that the country faced during the Cold War? And that, because of this threat, more information needs to be kept secret? If you do, I've got a number of bridges to sell you ...

You can download the full report in PDF format if you go here.

| | Posted by Magpie at 1:12 AM | Get permalink




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