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Author Topic: ACLU: Gov't Seeks 'secret' Document
snopes
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The government is demanding that the American Civil Liberties Union turn over a classified document that the civil rights group said would be embarrassing to the government and pertains to the war against terrorism.

http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/S/SECRET_DOCUMENT?SITE=FLTAM

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Seaboe Muffinchucker
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quote:
Originally posted by snopes:
The government is demanding that the American Civil Liberties Union turn over a classified document that the civil rights group said would be embarrassing to the government ...

I was under the impression that it was impossible to embarrass the current administration...

Seaboe

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Malruhn
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Embarrassing or not, the durned thing is classified! How the heck did the ACLU get the thing in the first place?

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AnglsWeHvHrdOnHiRdr
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quote:
Originally posted by Malruhn:
Embarrassing or not, the durned thing is classified! How the heck did the ACLU get the thing in the first place?

Why? It's not as if this is the first classified bit of information to get out of this administration (*cough* Valerie Plame *cough*). It's a good thing The Douchebag of Liberty didn't get his meaty hooks on it; the whole world would know by now.

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Steve Eisenberg
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quote:
Originally posted by Malruhn:
How the heck did the ACLU get the thing in the first place?

The ACLU says in its brief that the document was sent as an unsolicited e-mail on Oct. 23 . .

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trollface
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Well, I suppose that means that it's genuine, then.

Now I'm just curious as to what it actually says.

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keokuk
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Prosecutors Drop ACLU Subpoena In Document Fight

quote:
Federal prosecutors in New York yesterday withdrew a subpoena to the American Civil Liberties Union that had sought to retrieve all copies of a classified document.

In an opaque and defensive four-page letter to the judge in the case, the prosecutors said they were acting “in light of changed circumstances” and their determination that “the grand jury can obtain the evidence necessary to its investigation from other sources.”

Another factor may have played a role. A transcript of a closed hearing in the case that was unsealed yesterday suggested the government was going to lose.


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AnglsWeHvHrdOnHiRdr
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quote:
Originally posted by keokuk:
Prosecutors Drop ACLU Subpoena In Document Fight

They really should have been embarrased by what was in the document.

They learn absolutely nothing, do they?

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"When a stupid man is doing something he is ashamed of, he always declares that it is his duty."--George Bernard Shaw

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Matt H.
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quote:
The document itself, declassified Friday and released by the A.C.L.U. yesterday, was not obviously confidential. An “information paper” dated Dec. 20, 2005, it was marked “secret” at the top and bottom of each of its four pages.
Uhh, not obviously confidential?

That's because it was considered higher than confidential. That's what the "Secret" on the pages means.

Like it or not, this was classified information.

ETA: Whether it should have been or not, that is entirely another question which I'm not comfortable being handled in the public domain.

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Dara bhur gCara
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quote:
Originally posted by Matt H.:
Like it or not, this was classified information.

ETA: Whether it should have been or not, that is entirely another question which I'm not comfortable being handled in the public domain.

Why not? Even if the information itself shouldn't be in the public domain, why shouldn't the question over whether or not this type of information should be in the public domain be handled in the public domain?

Even if we accept that some information has to be secret, why should the debate over whether or not it should be secret be secret?

(Both those questions were difficult to type, and quite possibly to read.)

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Matt H.
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I think I get what you're driving at...

If I do, please allow me to answer with a question of my own.

How can a public debate about a type of information occur without divulging the information, even if by conjecture?

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"Who needs the Bible? I've got this magic 8-ball."

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Dara bhur gCara
As Shepherds Watched Their Flocks Buy Now Pay Later


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quote:
Originally posted by Matt H.:
I think I get what you're driving at...

If I do, please allow me to answer with a question of my own.

How can a public debate about a type of information occur without divulging the information, even if by conjecture?

By dealing with generalities.

For example: "Should our codes of conduct or specific policies regarding the way in which detainees are treated be in the public domain? If not, why not?"

This doesn't appear to be the covering up of an incident, which is at least understandable, it's about the covering up of a policy.

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This wrinkle in time, I can't give it no credit, I thought about my space and it really got me down.
Got me so down, I got me a headache, My heart is crammed in my cranium and it still knows how to pound


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AnglsWeHvHrdOnHiRdr
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The government just can't stamp "Secret" on the documents it wishes to keep private. There must be a legitimate reason (national security is pretty much the only legally acceptable reason) to keep documents out of the public eye.

The ACLU was absolutely right about this one: there was no reason whatsoever for it to be classified; there was every reason for it to be embarrasing.

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"When a stupid man is doing something he is ashamed of, he always declares that it is his duty."--George Bernard Shaw

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Matt H.
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quote:
Originally posted by Dara bhur gCara:
By dealing with generalities.

For example: "Should our codes of conduct or specific policies regarding the way in which detainees are treated be in the public domain? If not, why not?"

This doesn't appear to be the covering up of an incident, which is at least understandable, it's about the covering up of a policy.

But therein lies the problem. Many policies need to remain classified, and by dealing in generalities, one can't nail down the specifics of what would make it so or not so. There are detainee policies that need to be classified, and those that don't.

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Matt H.
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quote:
Originally posted by AnglsWeHvHrdOnHiRdr:
The government just can't stamp "Secret" on the documents it wishes to keep private. There must be a legitimate reason (national security is pretty much the only legally acceptable reason) to keep documents out of the public eye.

The ACLU was absolutely right about this one: there was no reason whatsoever for it to be classified; there was every reason for it to be embarrasing.

I don't disagree with you (the criteria you give for classification are accurate) nor the ACLU in this case (they didn't cause the leak.) I have a HUGE disagreement with whoever leaked the information, however. As I have not seen the actual document in question, it would be impossible to say that there was or was not a legitimate reason for its classification.

If not, then there's an issue. Again, though, that issue needs to be dealt with with vetted personnel conducting an investigation.

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RangerDog
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Here's a blurb from a past Executive Order:

Information may not be considered for classification unless it concerns:


a. military plans, weapons systems, or operations;

b. foreign government information;

c. intelligence activities (including special activities), intelligence sources or methods, or cryptology;

d. foreign relations or foreign activities of the United States, including confidential sources;

e. scientific, technological, or economic matters relating to the national security;

f. United States Government programs for safeguarding nuclear materials or facilities; or

g. vulnerabilities or capabilities of systems, installations, projects or plans relating to the national security.

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AnglsWeHvHrdOnHiRdr
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quote:
Originally posted by Matt H.:
quote:
Originally posted by AnglsWeHvHrdOnHiRdr:
The government just can't stamp "Secret" on the documents it wishes to keep private. There must be a legitimate reason (national security is pretty much the only legally acceptable reason) to keep documents out of the public eye.

The ACLU was absolutely right about this one: there was no reason whatsoever for it to be classified; there was every reason for it to be embarrasing.

I don't disagree with you (the criteria you give for classification are accurate) nor the ACLU in this case (they didn't cause the leak.) I have a HUGE disagreement with whoever leaked the information, however. As I have not seen the actual document in question, it would be impossible to say that there was or was not a legitimate reason for its classification.

The NYTimes article synopsizes it. It's not declassified.

quote:
If not, then there's an issue. Again, though, that issue needs to be dealt with with vetted personnel conducting an investigation.
I agree to a point. If the information had valid reasons for being classified (such as Valerie Plame's identity), then it should be harshly dealt with. In the case of information that was incorrectly/improperly classified, then I would say that it wasn't a lawful order, thus doesn't require being followed.

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abbubmah
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The problem of whether to classify the document is irrelevant compared to why a document marked as "classified" or "secret" ended up where it shouldn't have.

It was either mishandled or intentionally leaked; if leaked, then there is a person or persons with access to classified data that has no qualms about releasing it to other parties. If mishandled, then policies regarding the handling should be reviewed.

THAT is the major problem here. Documents that are considered for classification may not clearly fall under the categories RangerDog posted. Yet, if there is a possibility it might be, classify and restrict it until it can be reviewed properly.

Whether it met the criteria is irrelevant. There is someone untrustworthy handling restricted documents, most likely ones dealing with national security.

I've had a clearance and handled classified documents. The fear instilled of what happens if you do something unofficial with these SHOULD be incentive to anyone to not play that game.

ham "still not talking about it" bubba

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AnglsWeHvHrdOnHiRdr
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I don't agree that it is as simple as that, hambubba.

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Matt H.
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quote:
Originally posted by AnglsWeHvHrdOnHiRdr:
The NYTimes article synopsizes it. It's not declassified.

The article says it was declassified on Friday.

quote:
I agree to a point. If the information had valid reasons for being classified (such as Valerie Plame's identity), then it should be harshly dealt with. In the case of information that was incorrectly/improperly classified, then I would say that it wasn't a lawful order, thus doesn't require being followed.
This has nothing to do with lawful orders--that only applies to persons subject to UCMJ. Even if the leak was such a person (which I doubt,) and the subject matter inappropriately classified, the directive to safeguard it is not an unlawful order. The decision to declassify can only be made by the originator--not by anyone else. All personnel are directed to safeguard all classified material in accordance with its assumed classification. It is this way by law and by DoD directive, thus, a lawful order.

I'm with hambubba. It is as simple as that.

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AnglsWeHvHrdOnHiRdr
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quote:
Originally posted by Matt H.:
quote:
Originally posted by AnglsWeHvHrdOnHiRdr:
The NYTimes article synopsizes it. It's not declassified.

The article says it was declassified on Friday.

Sorry, I made a typo; it should have read "now declassified."

quote:
quote:
I agree to a point. If the information had valid reasons for being classified (such as Valerie Plame's identity), then it should be harshly dealt with. In the case of information that was incorrectly/improperly classified, then I would say that it wasn't a lawful order, thus doesn't require being followed.
This has nothing to do with lawful orders--that only applies to persons subject to UCMJ. Even if the leak was such a person (which I doubt,) and the subject matter inappropriately classified, the directive to safeguard it is not an unlawful order. The decision to declassify can only be made by the originator--not by anyone else. All personnel are directed to safeguard all classified material in accordance with its assumed classification. It is this way by law and by DoD directive, thus, a lawful order.

I'm with hambubba. It is as simple as that.

I still don't agree. Because it was not something that should have been classified, and, because it came from DoD directed toward those subject to the UCMJ, I am not terribly concerned about its release. As for who is allowed to declassify, you are incorrect that that power exists only with the person who classified it in the first place. There aren't a whole lot of people who can, but it does not have to be done by the originator.

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"When a stupid man is doing something he is ashamed of, he always declares that it is his duty."--George Bernard Shaw

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