Saturday, August 5, 2017

Opaque Governance Is So Yesterday

Originally Published June 08, 2012; Last Updated August 05, 2017; Last Republished August 05, 2017:

Some of our leaders have a difficult time understanding that opaque governance is so yesterday and no longer sustainable. It's pastime we drain our lake of secrets and stop trying to patch leaks1.

Our leaders must govern transparently, drain our leaky lake of secrets and stop conducting "leak investigations" every time press reports deviate from government silence, denials, spin, "cover stories", lies, obfuscation, or propaganda.


UPDATED 05/10/2016 WSJ, Obama Administration Using Civil Sanctions to Go After Leakers

...or our governments could learn to transparently govern—an admittedly steep learning curve for successive governments so use to "transparency talk" while opaquely governing.

UPDATED 08/21/2013 UPI Blog, Bradley Manning sentenced to 35 years for leaking government secrets

Why must Manning endure a decade or two of imprisonment before our nation accepts it must govern transparently, apologizes for his imprisonment, and awards him a Presidential Medal of Freedom?

UPDATED 04/24/2013 FAS, Transparency and Open Government Advocates Letter to President Obama

Transparency and open government advocates urge President Obama to establish a Security Classification Reform Steering Committee for the purpose of correcting the problem of over-classification.

Let's just skip the Security Classification Reform Steering Committee and urge President Obama to immediately revoke all  agency heads' original classification authority and declassify ALL existing documents! No questions, review, or exceptions—no shit.

Advocates that cannot immediately envision a totally transparent government may want to consider using any steering committee to ensure that all original classification authority is dependent on a declining derivative classification actions cap. Requiring all agency heads to continually choose and swap out (declassify) derivative secrets under their original classification authority.

Even our most rabid secrecy proponent will tire of continually choosing and swapping secrets under the declining derivative classification actions cap—probably long before debating and deciding which single secret must be maintained to "preserve our nation" (many would pay to eavesdrop on that debate)!

UPDATED 01/23/2013 CRS, The Protection of Classified Information: The Legal Framework Jan 2013 (Courtesy FAS Secrecy Blog)

An overview of our classification hydra—it has flailed about for decades causing all manner of fright, mischief and misery—the sooner it's slain the better.

UPDATED 12/08/2012 PIDB, 2012 Report to the President

Our wonderful National Archives is out with the PIDB's recommended changes to our system of (de)classification. Unfortunately its recommendations are entirely too complicated and perpetuate the currently dysfunctional system.

Instead of wasting its time trying to reform our currently dysfunctional classification system the PIDB recommendations must challenge the very notion of systematic classification of government information as either helpful or required.

On those extremely rare occasions when short duration opaqueness may be deemed necessary by an agency head or the president, ensure that a considerable and continuing burden is met to prevent the information from automatically transitioning to transparency.

As for the massive amount of data currently classified at all levels the recommendation must be simple and direct—declassify all currently classified data, no questions, no review, no authorization, no aging, and no backlog, no shit!

Some of our leadership routinely predict doom if they're required to govern our nation transparently, but these predictions have never been accurate. What's more likely is they're simply confessing an ignorance of how to transparently govern. However, the solution to their ignorance is not systems of state secrecy and opaque governance—it's education or leadership replacement.

UPDATED 06/13/2012 FAS Secrecy Blog, Not All Leaks of Classified Information Violate the Law

Aftergood continues his travels in our nation's classification rabbit hole—we can only hope he eventually discovers a path where opaque information instantaneously becomes transparent.


UPDATED 08/05/2017 Reuters, Trump Administration Goes On Attack Against Leakers, Journalists and VOA, Justice Department Crackdown on Leaks May Also Focus on Journalists

It's contemptible for our "new" alt-white-house's attorney general et al. to condemn, threaten, or prosecute leakers and journalists.  Our government head is a pathological, compulsive, and sociopath liar actively conducting a disinformation and misinformation campaign against our citizenry. This is a much graver threat than a leaked phone conversation with Mexico's president†.

It's laughable for the attorney general et al. to implicitly or explicitly assert that they'll improve this government's effectiveness by suppressing leaks or prosecuting journalist.

These leakers and journalists deserve Distinguished Federal Civilian Service Awards, Distinguished Public Service Medals, or CPJ International Press Freedom Awards, not persecution and prosecution.

...don't forget to laugh...

† The leaked conversation with Mexico's president ironically confirms our government is headed by a liar—the beauty of irony is boundless!

UPDATED 02/24/2017 AP-ST, Trump Blames FBI for Failing to Stop Media Leaks

Our "new" alt-white-house is "Exhibit A" on why transparent governance is the (气) of America's democracy—and all democracies.

Episodes of the "new" reality show, "Fledgling Fascists Fight Lowlife Leakers" will likely run through the summer 2017 or until enough "new" alt-white-house supporters11 decide it's time to pull the plug.

UPDATED 02/16/2017 Reuters, Trump Blasts 'Criminal' Leaks by Intelligence Agencies, Calls Flynn 'Wonderful'

Who could predict that our "new" alt-white-house would launch the de rigueur prosecute-the-low-life-criminal-leaker-campaign after just 27 days!?

The current prosecute-the-low-life-leaker-campaign may have some difficulty distinguishing who the "low-life" is—prosecutor or leaker? How ironic that our "new" alt-white-house now seeks to prosecute the low-life leaker that it was implicitly citing as authoritative just months ago! Then the criminals were Hillary Clinton and the media!


UPDATED 02/03/2017 MoJo, This Senator Is Hell-Bent on Getting Out the Truth About Trump and Russia

Taking charge of an investigation to "slow-walk" it into oblivion is a time-honored congressional method of dealing with potentially controversial facts, particularly if those facts could cause great public panic, outrage, and demand for response.

But, "slow-walking" the investigation may limit the available remedies for any domestic-foreign collusion to illegally influence the outcome of the United States presidential election of 2016.

UPDATED 01/12/2017 Reuters, DOJ investigating FBI decisions in Clinton email probe

How ironic and baleful if the Secretary of States' "email server" is part of a larger foreign government's disinformation campaign, which has snared congressmen and senators as willing or unwilling participants or dupes, respectively!!?

UPDATED 01/09/2017 WP, How to rethink what’s ‘top secret’ for the Internet age

Well...,at least some in our intelligence community have begun proposing a reduction in secrecy. Now would be a good time for our intelligence community to end all secrecy and begin focusing on the more challenging attribute of information relevancy.

Please feel free to use the following decision-tree to swiftly transition to transparent governance:
  1. Is document classified?
  2. Yes: immediately remove all classification markings, publish document, and go to next document. 
  3. No: immediately remove all classification marking, publish document, and go to next document.
  4. Repeat until no government documents remain classified or unpublished to the public domain.
Alternatively, as a time and cost savings measure, enact legislation revoking our entire system of classification as harmful to national security and authorize the immediate uploading of all government documents, as is, to our National Archives for immediate public access.

UPDATED 01/07/2017 DNI, Background to “Assessing Russian Activities and Intentions in Recent US Elections”: The Analytic Process and Cyber Incident Attribution (pdf)

Our government's professional prevaricators persist in arbitrarily deeming government information undisclosable, an action at cross-purposes with democratic decision-making by an informed citizenry.

How will our citizenry accurately evaluate the undisclosed statements of our intelligence community and public accusations of "witch-hunt" by a megalomaniac and demagogic prone president-elect10? Appropriate response(s), if any? How well our representatives are or are not doing with oversight?

UPDATED 12/30/2016 CERT, GRIZZLY STEPPE – Russian Malicious Cyber Activity (pdf) and BBC, US expels Russian diplomats over cyber attack allegations and Reuters, Russia will not expel anyone in response to U.S. sanctions, Putin says

Secrecy must never shield or protect any nation whose behavior menaces or mocks minimum comity for international law.

It's worth noting that the "hacks" (SQL Injection and XSS) discussed in U.S. CERT JAR-16-20296 are well-known and understood vulnerabilities of common commercial Internet web connected computer platforms.

UPDATED 12/10/2016 SSCI, Seven Members of Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Letter to President Obama (also, Hoyer, National Security Ranking Members Send Letter to President Obama Urging Briefings on Russian Interference in U.S. Election and WP, Secret CIA assessment says Russia was trying to help Trump win White House and Democratic Whip Letter Concerns on  Russian efforts to undermine, interfere with, and even influence the outcome of our recent election and WP, Secret CIA assessment says Russia was trying to help Trump win White House and Guardian, Barack Obama orders 'full review' of possible Russian hacking in US election and AP, Obama Orders Review of Election-Season Hacking

Seven members of the SSCI send letter to President Obama urging declassification and public release of information related to allegations of Russia's interference in the most recent presidential election cycle.

Why is this information classified in the first place? How does a democracy investigate or remedy allegations of illegal electioneering using secret data?

UPDATED 12/08/2016 WH, President Obama Speaks to the Open Government Partnership Global Summit 2016


Mr. President, "open government" requires government leaders capable of governing transparently and which in fact govern transparently. Most, if not all of our current leaders are incapable of conceiving how transparent government could function9 and many flaunt their deficiency.

Next time a congressional committee or National Security Council is preparing to meet in secret poll each member why they are governing in secret, you'll be flabbergasted by their transparent ignorance!

UPDATED 10/11/2016 FAS SecrecyBlog, Amount of Classification is Highly Uncertain

Really, our nation, which has perfunctorily "classified" information for decades is uncertain about the number of secrets it maintains!
"...In 2005 there were a total of 258,633 original classification actions, or new secrets, reported;..."
While this number of "original classification" actions is problematic for our democracy it's only a small fraction of our government's accumulated secrecy problem.

The real secrecy problem is in the annual and cumulative number of "derivative classification" actions, which exceeds by orders of magnitude the "original classification" actions. It will surprise nobody that our government is clueless about the number of annual and cumulative "derivative classification" actions it now maintains.

Our government leaders are good at talking about transparent governance, but unless the rate of declassification actions routinely exceeds the rate of "derivative classification" actions, by orders of magnitude, transparent governance will be just talk.

UPDATED 08/06/2016 GoveExec, Agencies Are Declassifying One-Time Secrets at a Higher Rate, Archives Reports

Congress must enact and the President sign a bill entitled "National Transparency and Holiday Act" under which all government agencies and government contractors immediately* declassify any document that a miscreant classified (Top Secret, Secret, or Confidential) during the preceding calendar year.

*You cannot use the words "automatically declassify" because our government thinks "automatically declassify" means, review to see if the document should remain classified!

UPDATED 07/29/2016 FAS, Presidential Policy Directives [PPDs] Barack Obama Administration

President Obama continues our governments' entrenched practices of opaque governance. He dutifully and sincerely pontificates and parrots platitudes about democracy, freedom, transparency, and openness as our secret and increasingly malignant8 national security machinery engulfs our citizenry.

UPDATED 04/12/2016 GovExec, Spy Chief Instructs Intel Community to Serve as Government's Declassification Role Model

Really, James Clapper instructing our IC to serve as a government role model for declassification—you can't make this shit up! Next week there'll be a joint announcement that China's President Xi will be mentoring our IC on how to serve as the government's declassification role model!

It's been rumored that former government lawyers David Addington and John Yoo strongly objected saying that President Xi does not have the authority to be an IC mentor. All objections were dropped after it was pointed out that Xi may skip any mentoring role and immediately declassify and publish all our government's documents.

UPDATED 04/06/2016 FAS, Secrecy System to Undergo “Thoughtful Scrutiny”

Does this mean that all earlier scrutiny has been thoughtless?

No need to think when subjecting our thoughtfully abused and abusive chaos of classified government documents to scrutiny—simply and speedily publish all government documents and refrain from classifying any government documents in the future.

UPDATED 03/13/2016 WP, Hillary Clinton says her emails were classified after the fact. How does that work? and Newsweek, The Shocking Truth: Colin Powell’s Emails Don’t Matter

Journalists are beginning to articulate the tragicomedy of our "system of classification". But, their articles read like a briefing you'd hear when you're "read in" to a classified program. After the umpteenth "read in" you begin wondering whether everyone superintending our "system of classification" is a G. Gordon Liddy clone?

How officials think our "system of classification" works, but doesn't, is the tragicomedy.

UPDATED 03/09/2016 FASecrecy, Help Wanted to Oversee the Classification System

Job qualification: ability to determine if government document is classified using the following algorithm:

Is document classified?
Yes: immediately declassify and publish document.
 No: publish document and go to next document.
 Repeat continuously until no government document remains unpublished to the public domain.

UPDATED 01/29/2016 NPR, 22 Hillary Clinton Emails Dubbed 'Top Secret'

Whenever our government asserts some data are "top secret" or “black, special access required” our citizenry should completely excluded such data from any discussion or analysis, as in totally ignore or disregard the data.

The government logic, which ridiculously maintains "if you knew what I'm not disclosing, you'd ... (fill in the blank)" is so yesterday. If our government refuses to disclose government data then it should not be permitted to rely on such data for any government purpose, without extraordinary documented and disclosed justification.

Stated differently, total government transparency is the default, without narrow and extraordinary justification. An auto rubber stamp or assertion of "top secret" or budgeting a program as "black, special access required" would most emphatically would not even come close to extraordinary justification!
UPDATED 08/31/2015 NYMag, Could Hillary Clinton Face Criminal Charges Over Emailgate?
Wonder how long it will take before everyone throws up their arms and concludes our system of classifying government information is arbitrary?

UPDATED 08/19/2015  WP, State Department flags 305 more Clinton e-mails for review

A government employee should not be using private email accounts (or servers) to send any official government information (classified or unclassified) period.

That said, reviewing unmarked emails for classification after the emails have been sent for the purpose of determining if former Secretary of State Clinton sent "classified information" is a Sisyphean exercise.

The individual generating the alleged classified information is responsible for derivatively classifying the information using the original classification authority guidelines—it's simply not a prerogative of the person receiving derivatively classified information to alter the classification. Although, a person with access to the program's classification guide could conceivably challenge derivative classifications, as a practical matter this is rarely done. Government communications would be worse  than they already are (as difficult as that is to imagine:) if everyone began second guessing derivative classifications (i.e. a second derivative guess about the original derivative classification guess7)!

If the truth be told most of those participating in classified programs routinely violate classification guidelines and procedures—most have never read the program's classification guidelines!

Maintaining government transparency would significantly reduce or eliminate all the Sisyphean exercises associated with our arbitrary and nonfunctional classification system. Stated differently guess work and secrecy will always combine to create an arbitrary and nonfunctional system.

And costly in the case of our currently arbitrary and nonfunctional classification system.

UPDATED 01/20/2015  Secrecy News, IC Inspector General Finds No Overclassification
A sampling of 200 documents between the dates of January and April 2014 says nothing about the prevalence of over-classification within the millions of classified documents across our intelligence communities.

Additionally, for the sampled documents it's unclear how the IC IG audited the purpose for which a document was classified (e.g. speaking with the derivative classifier, consult the classification guide, assume a document is correctly classified etc.)?

UPDATED 08/12/2014 FAS Secrecy Blog, Congress Grapples with Classification Issues

It's difficult to tell whether our intelligence community and their putative "overseers" are more fearful that "classified disclosures" will harm our nation or that they won't?

UPDATED 01/26/2014 FAS Secrecy Blog, December 2013 Declassification Deadline Passes– And?
UPDATED 10/31/2013 UPI, Lockheed Unveils New System for Sharing Intel Information

It's unclear what problem our proponents and perpetuators of opaque governance are solving with tokens that implement a finer sharing granularity for existing database objects?

Spending millions or billions of additional dollars to tokenize secrecy sharing is unlikely to improve our existing dysfunctional, harmful and obsolete systems of secrecy. However, such spending may detrimentally impede or slow our nation's learning and transition to transparent governance.
UPDATED 10/26/2013 USAToday, Anti-NSA rally attracts thousands to march in Washington
UPDATED 10/09/2013 NSA, IC Off The Record

NSA must immediately begin posting its documents to the Internet—there is no need to wait for a leak or a truth to precede its implementation of total transparency.

UPDATED 10/02/2013 Wired, Edward Snowden’s E-Mail Provider Defied FBI Demands to Turn Over Crypto Keys, Documents Show and NYT, Lavabit Founder Waged Privacy Fight as F.B.I. Pursued Snowden

Wonder why our opaque government spends so much time and resources forcing transparency on our private citizens?

UPDATED 09/07/2013 ScienceLive, Why the Latest NSA Leak Is the Scariest of All

Our "War on Terror" governments for the last dozen or so years seem to be solving a question not directly asked: can our nation create so much security that we're no longer secure—we may be approaching a solution?

If so, it seems like an unnecessarily destructive, uncertain, and costly solution for discovering government transparency.

UPDATED 08/20/2013 ProPublica, What NSA Transparency Looks Like

From NSA's point-of-view (POV) it must look naked—to a transparent nation NSA still looks like a shivering Russian dressed for a Siberian winter while pleading for another layer of opaque clothing.

UPDATED 08/05/2013 MJ, Reuters: NSA Secretly Helping Drug Agencies Target US Persons
UPDATED 07/26/2013 NYT, Roberts’s Picks Reshaping Secret Surveillance Court

Our government's methods of opaque and dark governance share attributes with the 15th century English monarchy Star Chamber.

NSA invited our media into its Maryland facilities to tell a story (Inside the NSA: America's Cyber Secrets) of using its computing power to intercept and decrypt data, which enabled our leaders to kill some of our historical enemies, citizens and NSA employees. It's hard to tell whether NSA is making a case for its relevance or irrelevance and opaqueness or transparency?

When NSA was recently asked by a reporter to provide emails about its cooperation with any documentary production NSA responded by asking the reporter to narrow the FOIA request to specific email address NSA personnel! (You can't make this stuff up!!)

Congress will waste decades tinkering around the edges of our opaque and dark systems of governance instead of implementing totally transparent governance. Propaganda and fear mongering, however well meaning, are not substitutes for totally transparent governance.

UPDATED 07/21/2013 NYT, Math Behind Leak Crackdown: 153 Cases, 4 Years, 0 Indictments
Well, Admiral Blair got it half right when stating this needs to stop: …“We were hoping to get somebody and make people realize that there are consequences to this and it needed to stop.”…

Unfortunately, Admiral Blair was referring to "leaks" instead of ending our methods of dark and opaque governance. Most of our existing leadership have become so accustom (taught) to dark and opaque governance they think it's the default—they express a stupefying amazement when any sunshine impinges their otherwise dark and opaque environment.

We must demand that our future leaders learn that totally transparent governance is our nation's default, without exceptions. Like our genetically close cousin, the mouse, future leaders must automatically run from all dark and opaque spots that cloud the sunshine flooding into their environment.

The negative consequences referred to by Admiral Blair attach to our nation's failure to teach our future leaders how to transparently govern our citizenry with total transparency, without exception.6

UPDATED 07/20/2013 AspenPublicRadio, NSA Lead Attorney Defends Phone Surveillance

Five “worker-bees” (see video for names) that variously participated in our NSA's data vacuuming, storage and analysis programs broadly discuss the program elements illuminated by Snowden and authorized by public law sections 702 (FISA) and 215 (Patriot). Drone usage is discussed, too (debate on Snowden leaks breaks out during drone discussion). Moderator Mike Isikoff tries to truncate participants’ tendency to pursue non-responsive justification speeches.

The panel is a frightening reminder of how poorly we have been and will be served by methods of dark governance. Panel participants, no doubt narrowly competent, demonstrated a complete ignorance about the negative implications their activities may have on modern civil societies.

Instead panel participants parrot untested, if not untrue platitudes, seem content to assume their activities are beneficial and fail to demonstrate any heterodox thinking required of participants in modern civil societies.

The ACLU representative's entirely orthodox complaint that NSA's data vacuuming, storage and analysis programs erode the attorney-client privilege may qualify as "radically heterodox" thinking for some of the panel participants?

UPDATED 0719/2013 Reuters, U.S. court renews surveillance program exposed by Snowden
UPDATED 07/16/2013 BBC, Yahoo wins battle over Prism court papers
UPDATED 07/15/2013 Reuters, German spies made use of U.S. surveillance data: paper
UPDATED 07/15/2013 UPI, U.N. steps into Snowden fray
UPDATED 07/13/2013 UPI, NSA tapped fiber cables to collect data
UPDATED 07/13/2013 WP, The NSA slide you haven’t seen and  WP, NSA slides explain the PRISM data-collection program
UPDATED 07/12/2013 WP, Welcome to the transit zone: Photos from Snowden’s meeting and the strange scene outside and WP, Full text of Snowden’s new statement: I had ‘the power to change people’s fates’

The half-life of a government secret is considerably shorter than a cure for its secrecy sickness.

UPDATED 07/11/2013 Guardian, Revealed: how Microsoft handed the NSA access to encrypted messages
UPDATED 07/03/2013 WP, Edward Snowden’s father, in letter, compares son to Paul Revere, assails administration

WOW, a lawyer in defense of our magnificent and beautiful Constitution against our government, seemingly incapable of measuring and constraining or bounding its behavior—thought such primates had gone missing or extinct, until this sighting.

If Snowden is like Paul Revere, Fein is like John Marshall.

UPDATED 07/03/2013 Reuters, Fugitive Snowden's options narrow as asylum requests spurned
UPDATED 07/02/2013 BBC, US-EU bugging claims: Is it OK for US to spy on allies?

Mr. President this presents a perfect opportunity for America to lead by proposing a treaty for totally transparent governance.

Now that would truly be an "exceptional America"!

UPDATED 06/30/2013 Reuters, U.S. bugged EU offices, computer networks: German magazine

UPDATED 06/27/2013 MoJo, NSA Claims That It Has Stopped Collecting Bulk Domestic Email Records

More evidence that our government doesn't understand the problem, as if we needed more evidence! I'm sure our government really believes their assertion is believable and effective—unfortunately (or fortunately), others will not.

Our government must pursue total transparency with the same tenacity it pursues total awareness!

UPDATED 06/25/2013 Reuters, The 'Snowden Effect': U.S. spies say militants change tactics

Regardless of your understandings about government secrecy you must credit (or condemn) the tenacity with which our government continues pursuing secrecy, notwithstanding the extraordinary costs (excluding embarrassment).

It seems silly to continue secretly building and hiding costly needles in costly haystacks; leaking the costly needles and costly haystacks, forecasting "grave national harm"; condemning leakers as traitors, prosecuting leakers, and jailing leaker for life; and then opaquely repeating the cycle with ever more costly needles and haystacks...!

Our government's solution, to date, seems to be doubling or tripling or quadrupling down on oppressive and coercive methods—these methods have consistently failed and are likely to do so into the foreseeable future—leaks likely occur in response to a perceived overly oppressive and coercive government (oppressive and coercive methods simply confirm the leaker’s perception!).

Our government can adopt methods of transparent governance or continue engaging in an escalating,  costly and cyclical contest of oppression and coercion with the leakers, supporters, and citizenry (domestic and foreign)5. The former seems to be the much more sensible and successful path for our government to pursue (if somewhat counter-intuitive).

UPDATED 06/24/2013 Xinhua, Snowden "healthy and safe", whereabouts undisclosed
UPDATED 06/23/2013 NYT, Snowden, in Russia, Said to Seek Asylum in Ecuador

If the NSA director's proposition that Snowden's leaks have caused "irreversible harm" is accurate (a dubious proposition reactionarily asserted by most if not all proponents of secrecy4) it has sped our nation's transition to transparent governance. If the director's proposition is inaccurate it has sped our nation's transition to transparent governance on a circuitous and costly track.

A global underground railroad for whistle-blowers should not be required to convince our nation to lead the global transition to transparent governance with all diligent speed.

UPDATED 06/23/2013 Wikileaks, WikiLeaks Statement On Edward Snowden’s Exit From Hong Kong - UPDATED and  SCMP, Snowden flies to Russia, reportedly headed to Ecuador and NJ, The Edward Snowden Drama Has Reached Peak Action Movie

UPDATED 06/22/2013 Reuters, British spy agency taps cables, shares with NSA: Guardian
UPDATED 06/21/2013 Guardian, US files criminal charges against NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden
UPDATED 06/18/2013  Guardian, The NSA Files and Guardian, Edward Snowden Q&A: Dick Cheney traitor charge is 'the highest honor'

Wow, journalism equivalent to an undergraduate Civics seminar—not bad for a "high school dropout"—sadly our government isn't playing the role of humble or humiliated instructor.

Of course, accurately instructing our citizenry in Civics may be difficult when our President thinks our  Foreign  Domestic Intelligence Surveillance Act Court (FISC) is transparent!

UPDATED 06/09/2013 Guardian, Edward Snowden: the whistleblower behind the NSA surveillance revelations

Perhaps  a presidential pardon petition3 can be submitted concurrently with any NSA's U.S. Justice Department criminal report?

UPDATED 06/09/2013 Reuters, Obama defends surveillance effort as 'trade-off' for security

Mr. President much of our citizenry do not seek 100 percent security and 100 percent privacy, and zero inconvenience, they seek 100 percent transparency—you may be conflating the delusions of our sick2 secrecy proponents with the desires of our citizenry?

It redefines cynicism to call on our citizenry to debate our security and privacy without disclosing all of the information relevant to the debate or threatening to prosecute those that try to provide information to our citizenry relevant to that debate!

Our senators and others asserting or implying that they're not calling terrorists and as long as we're not calling terrorists we have nothing to worry about don't even qualify as misinformed, stupid silly or stooge propagandists.

UPDATED 06/08/2013 Guardian, Boundless Informant: NSA explainer – full document text and Boundless Informant NSA data-mining tool – four key slides

"BOUNDLESS INFORMANT is hosted entirely on corporate services and leverages FOSS technology ( i.e. available to all NSA developers)."

What does the above bullet point from the partial Boundless Informant slides mean: "...hosted entirely on corporate services..."?

UPDATED 06/07/2013 WP, Documents: U.S. mining data from 9 leading Internet firms; companies deny knowledge and NSA slides explain the PRISM data-collection program

In the 21st century it's difficult to imagine a faster method of sabotaging and harming our social and civil society networks than creating the perception or reality that our government is conducting secret mass data vacuuming operations against these networks without constitutional authority, lawful process, probable cause, transparency or specific user permission.

On the positive side our government, in response to this latest leak, instead of invoking their standard delusion that leaked data is not public data quickly moved to disclose additional information about the program(s). Our government must immediately move to publicly disclose all details of this and other programs conducting secret mass data vacuuming operations against our social and civil society networks.

It seems preferable for our government and leadership to learn how to transparently govern our nation and citizenry than for our nation to continually build and maintain massive systems of secrecy—those asserting secrecy sustains security are perpetuating a harmful myth.

UPDATED 06/06/2013 Guardian, NSA collecting phone records of millions of Verizon customers daily

More governmental secrecy leading to massive mischief—can't wait to hear our leaders' explanations—so far they've told us it's nothing new, been going on for seven years; the privacy compromise was effective two years ago in securing our safety; and my favorite, so far, is from Senator Graham, I'm a Verizon customer and I don't care if NSA has my phone number; ... more to follow!

Hey, on the positive side it's another press leak for our FBI and Attorney General to chase down, it will give all those NSA computers in the desert some data to crunch and nobody will have to declassify the Domestic Foreign Intelligence Surveillance (Act) Court order in 2038—do you feel safer, now?.

UPDATED 05/19/2013 WT, AP CEO calls Justice Department’s records seizure unconstitutional

Our government (Executive, Congress and Judiciary) has learned to routinely assert "national security risk" as justification for opaque governance and all matter of mischief. As if, speaking or writing these words is some talismanic pathway for compromising our citizenry, Constitution, democracy, basic rights and fundamental concepts.

Disabusing our government of their talismanic notion will not be easily accomplished, but it certainly begins with our press asserting its fundamental rights and our citizenry vociferously demanding that press freedoms trumps national security.

UPDATED 05/14/2013 WP, Under sweeping subpoenas, Justice Department obtained AP phone records in leak investigation and Reuters, U.S. attorney general says he didn't make AP phone records decision

Until government secrecy is understood as a sickness requiring a cure we will endure well meaning, but nevertheless meaningless serial government pronouncements of "grave harm" or "very very serious" or variation on the theme "The British are Coming" as justification for enforcing and reinforcing opaque governance.

Our government's "grave harm" and "very very serious"and "The Russians are Coming"  pronouncements are irrefutable because each pronouncement is invariable followed by additional opaque pronouncements intended as further justification for mandatory opaque governance.

In this context these serial pronouncements of "grave harm" and "very, very serious leak" and "The Terrorists are Coming" are as meaningless as the next "very, very, very serious leak" or the next "very, very, very, very serious leak".

Ending our government's secrecy and opaque ways is as simple as choosing to protect our transparent press freedoms in lieu of "very, very ... very serious leak or "grave harm" or "The Chinese are Coming" pronouncements.

Of course, proponents seeking to perpetuate secrecy and opaque governance will predict and promise our nation will end when secrecy and opaque governance ends—not unlike those perpetually predicting and promising the end of our nation, if not the world!

UPDATED 06/10/2012 NPR, How The President Decides To Make Drone Strikes
NYT, Holder Directs U.S. Attorneys to Investigate Spate of Leaks

Other Incidents of Opaque Governance:

UPDATED 12/14/2012 Thomson Reuters, U.S. government says wiretap lawsuit should not proceed Carolyn Jewel et al. vs. National Security Agency et al., 08-cv-4373, Northern District California


1. There has been some small progress in recognizing that our system of classification is expensive, arbitrary, and totally dysfunctional—the debate is over whether the secrecy system should be salvaged or scrapped.

Protecting our leakers, journalists, reporters, press, and bloggers from periodic "leak investigations" will encourage reluctant leaders to move to transparent governance or render their reluctance moot.

2. Some of our citizenry may diagnose our government's secrecy as a special strength, but most if not all our government's secrecy is more accurately diagnosed as a self-perpetuating, subtle and subversive sickness.

Of course those participating in our government's system of secrecy are unable to perceive any sickness—for them it's not only as a special strength, but a necessary, if not sufficient strength.

Not unlike those participating in a sick relationship are unable to perceive how sick their relationship is, at least until they've left the relationship and sometimes spent many years in treatment.

3. There has been speculation that Edward Snowden maybe fleeing ahead of an inquiry into his espionage for the Chinese—if the speculation is proved more than a CIA disinformation campaign then he can be pardoned for leaking and indicted for espionage, if any.

4. Participants in our government's secrecy sickness are by definition unable to assert that a disclosure is benign—an algorithm would flag them as a potential security risk.

5. One wonders what level of government oppression and coercion is consistent a developing (or optimal) advance economy?

6. Proponents for perpetuating the paradigm of dark and opaque governance will often assert that we must continue our dark and opaque governance because others will not follow our transparent leadership—really, so let others continue with their dark and opaque governance, if they can!

7. The original derivative classifier is doing little more than guessing about what should be classified when she subjectively applies the program's classification guidelines (assuming she has read the guide).

A second derivative classifier would be subjectively guessing about the first derivative classifier's guessing when she initially applied the program's classification guidelines! Judges in general refuse to perform the function of a second derivative classifier—many rightly stating they refuse to "second guess" the government. Who'll perform the function of "second guesser" on the information in the 305 emails of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton?

8. Who will soon forget the unseemly (not to mention unconstitutional) episode of national security operatives interfering with Congress as it exercised its oversight responsibilities with respect to torture (i.e. Senate Intelligence Committee report on CIA torture)?

9. Many of our leaders freak-out over something as simple and mundane as public disclosure of diplomatic or Secretary of State communications and emails.

10. Providing our citizenry with all available data is especially important at a time when our prospective president not only panders to an alt-right but also traffics in an alt-reality. Even with all available data our citizenry have difficulty reconciling their perceptions with real data.

For example in the most recent Ipsos Perils of Perception 2016 survey of Americans, when asked: "Out of every 100 people, about how many do you think are Muslim? " responded 17%, which is 16% points higher than the real data of 1%)!

11. UPDATED 02/28/2017 Our "new" alt-white-house may move beyond all caps attack tweets as its alt-right nationalistic agenda and rhetoric blossoms in to frustration, accusations, blame and conspiracies. (see FP, The Deep State Comes to America: In Egypt and Turkey, grand government conspiracies are a reality. In the United States, they're little more than fantasy)

How will our citizenry distinguish the fantastic and fake from realism or assure a free press—the Bible? It's not so simple as one might initially imagine, even in a transparent democracy with independent institutions! (e.g. FBI refused White House Request To Knock Down Recent Trump-Russia Stories and WP, White House blocks CNN, New York Times from Press Briefing Hours After Trump Slams Media)

Really, after only 35 days and one episode of "Fledgling Fascists Fight Lowlife Leakers" journalists are the "enemy of the people" and some press members are shutout of a "new" alt-white-house briefing, which may not be legal?

Although it's shockingly disgraceful to hear our "new" alt-white-house berate our nation, people, and press it's important to recall that our nation is not fragile. Its robustness surprised our founding father, Thomas Jefferson as he expressed in a letter to Edward Carrington from Paris:

"The tumults in America I expected would have produced in Europe an unfavorable opinion of our political state. But it has not. On the contrary, the small effect of those tumults seems to have given more confidence in the firmness of our governments. The interposition of the people themselves on the side of government has had a great effect on the opinion here. I am persuaded myself that the good sense of the people will always be found to be the best army. They may be led astray for a moment, but will soon correct themselves. The people are the only censors of their governors: and even their errors will tend to keep these to the true principles of their institution. To punish these errors too severely would be to suppress the only safeguard of the public liberty. The way to prevent these irregular interpositions of the people is to give them full information of their affairs thro' [sic] the channel of the public papers, and to contrive that those papers should penetrate the whole mass of the people. The basis of our governments being the opinion of the people, the very first object should be to keep that right; and were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers, or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter. But I should mean that every man should receive those papers and be capable of reading them..." --The Founders' Constitution Volume 5, Amendment I (Speech and Press), Document 8, The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, Edited by Julian P. Boyd et al., Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1950--.

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