Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Stuff Unworthy of Full Posts

Time for another roundup.

That Word Doesn't Mean What You Think It Means

From the State of the Union Address:

The Congress must ensure the flow of vital intelligence is not disrupted. The Congress must pass liability protection for companies believed to have assisted in the efforts to defend America. We have had ample time for debate. The time to act is now.

Believed? The most common justification given for telecom immunity is that the telecoms acted patriotically by responding to direct requests from the President. Surely Bush himself knows whether or not that is the case -- what's belief got to do with it? The answer of course is that Bush does know -- he's just not telling.

Makes you wonder though, if our belief is wrong and the telecoms didn't do anything at all then why exactly do they need immunity?

This formulation is not new. Administration officials ususally qualify their desciptions of telecom actions with "believed", "alleged" or a similar variant. They could simply tell us what the telecoms did, but that would run counter to their devotion to secrecy and misinformation.

This Sandwhich is a Matter of National Security

Three deep-cover operatives were killed bringing you this photograph of the top-secret government project known only as "Lunch Menu Item 5."

Casinos lobby government to ban internet gambling. Government complies. World Trade Organization cries foul. Government negotiates and resolves dispute. Intrepid go-getter Ed Brayton files Freedom of Information Act request to obtain copy of agreement. Administration response?

Please be advised that the document you seek is being withheld in full pursuant to 5 U.S.C. § 552(b)(1), which pertains to information that is properly classified in the interest of national security pursuant to Executive Order 12958.

In his previous post Ed Brayton wrote:

I have submitted an FOIA request for the full text of the settlement. There's no way they can legally deny that request, but given the Bush administration's secrecy fetish I'm willing to bet they'll at least try to stonewall it.

If anything he gave them too much credit. This is an administration that decided the Office of Administration was retroactively not subject to FOIA requests. The same administration that tried to retroactively classify public material. There's nothing this administration can't justify by appealing to national security concerns.

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