Showing posts with label Government Transparency. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Government Transparency. Show all posts

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--.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Google Transparency Report

Originally Published October 30, 2011; Last Updated December 20, 2013; Last Republished December 20, 2013:

Kudos to Google for its transparency report—a wonderful report that could benefit from more timely updates that are accessible using a standard interface.

The number and intensity of events attempting to maintain or add friction to the flow of information will increase as transparent convergence is perceived to jeopardize common interests.

State actors, if defined as collections of common interests can be expected to generate a significant number of these events when it perceives its common interests are jeopardized by frictionless information flows.

Of course there can be and usually are significant differences between perceived and real interests, particularly for a State actor that defines frictionless information flows as a common interest.


UPDATED 12/03/2012 #freeandopen, take action, watch video or receive updates A free and open world depends on a free and open web


UPDATED 01/23/2013 ARS, Google Stands Up for Gmail Users, Requires Cops to Get a Warrant
UPDATED 12/03/2012 Google, Keep the Internet free and open

 UPDATED 11/29/2012 Google, Transparency Report: Government requests on the rise
"...This is the sixth time we’ve released this data, and one trend has become clear: Government surveillance is on the rise..."
As if on cue Syria just unplugged their Internet connection—maximum opaqueness and friction to Internet information flows!!


UPDATED 12/20/2013 UPI, Google reports significant increase in requests for content takedown

Reports take on increased significance in an era of ubiquitous government surveillance and modern media network insecurity.

UPDATED 03/21/2013 NYT, Microsoft Releases Report on Law Enforcement Requests

Companies providing electronic data transparency reports for law enforcement agencies, and similar government entities requests is a small set—nevertheless you have to begin somewhere and it's nice Google and Microsoft are leading—hopefully other will quickly follow.

UPDATED 12/03/2012 BBC, UN internet regulation treaty talks begin in Dubai
UPDATED 11/29/2012 SFExaminer, Is your online privacy a mirage? Government requests for Google user data jumps

Government monitoring can be a form of friction to Internet information flows.


1. A frictionless information gradient has hugely fascinating implications for State actors and presents enormous challenges for Google, our Internet, and all individuals1.

Monday, October 28, 2013

The Least Secretive Of Nations Is The Strongest Of Nations Update-1

Originally Published November 28, 2010; Last Updated October 28, 2013; Last Republished October 28, 2013:

A new batch of diplomatic traffic released by Wikileaks reads like source notes from a Bob Woodward tome1.


UPDATED 08/02/2012 ProPublica, Washington’s War on Leaks, Explained

It's unclear how the currently proposed Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2013 §503-512 will addresses any fundamental issues related to our dysfunctional and baleful system for classification of information (e.g. erosion of credibility, integrity, transparency, and democratic governance etc.).

In fact many of the proposed sections may have the fortunate, but unintended effect of increasing leaks as our dysfunctional and baleful system for classification continues eroding credibility, integrity, transparency and democratic governance.

Some of the sections border on the comic and absurd, like requiring those responsible for our dysfunctional and baleful system for classification to provide:
"...(3) a description of actions that could be taken to address improper classification of material."
Senator Feinstein likely means well...she may think she's the first to make this request or attempt to reform our completely dysfunctional and baleful system of classification?

Perhaps §503-512 can be replaced with a single section reading
"Not later than 365 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Director of National Information Declassification shall declassify all classified information held by the United States of America and publicly publish same on Wikileaks-like or equivalent platforms."
Our newly created National Information Declassification Agency can oversea our speedy transition (no reason to take two decades and untold leak prosecutions) to transparent democratic governance, plus address the bazillion pleas of "this cannot possibly be declassified because [fill in the most harrowing story you can imagine]".

UPDATED 02/12/2012 CRS, Congressional Lawmaking: A Perspective On Secrecy and Transparency (pdf courtesy FAS, Secrecy Blog)

"...To conclude, representative government requires transparency. It is a paramount value in democratic systems if there is to be government of, by, and for the people. As the Preamble to the Constitution of the United States declares, it is “We the People” who constitute the nation’s ultimate sovereign authority...."--A Perspective On Secrecy--
Those equating national security with secrecy diminish our constitution at best and subvert it at worst.

Therefore, we must reject efforts to substitute government national security with secrecy for transparency and demand that our government continuously transition toward total transparent governance, with all diligent speed.

Thereafter, our debate can focus on solving the problems and concerns, which impede or slow the transition—not on whether transparent governance can generate existential threats.

UPDATED 02/11/2012 NIU, Who Watches the Watchmen? The Conflict Between National Security and Freedom of the Press (pdf)

National Intelligence University, Who Watches the Watchmen? is a Wikileaks white paper of sorts. Who Watches the Watchmen (W3) explores the plethora of past leaks to advance a thesis that rational choice theory may be useful in reducing the perceived harm resulting from an assumed conflict between national security and freedom of the press.

Unfortunately, W3 suffers from failing to first address the fundamental question of whether secrecy or transparency is a superior method for sustaining orderly, responsible, stable, secure and modern civil societies. W3 simply asserts axiomatically the superiority of secrecy, assigns some perceived harm to the leak(s) and then proceeds to apply rational choice theory to mitigate that harm.

W3 is neither original nor rigorous and suffers from drinking its own Kool-Aid. That said, the nascent efforts of our National Intelligence University to rigorously study secrecy, transparency and national security is urgently needed and most welcomed.

When examined rigorously national security, freedom of the press and transparency may be synonymous. If so, Wikileaks platforms are an optimal solution for every orderly, responsible, stable, secure and modern civil society.

UPDATED 04/25/2011 Wikileaks, The Guantanamo Files.

Official dossiers for 700+ Guantanamo detainees between the period of 2002 and 2008—separate multimedia document presentations have been provided by a joint NYT-NPR project and Guardian.

Witness List: Abbe D. Lowell, Kenneth L. Wainstein, Geoffrey R. Stone, Gabriel Schoenfeld, Thomas S. Blanton, Stephen I. Vladeck, and Ralph Nader
"...And during the Cold War, as Americans were whipped up to frenzy of fear of the “Red Menace,” loyalty programs, political infiltration, blacklisting, legislative investigations, and criminal prosecutions of supposed Communist “subversives” and sympathizers swept the nation. Over time, we have come to understand that these episodes from our past were grievous errors in judgment in which we allowed fear and anxiety to override our good judgment and our essential commitment to individual liberty and democratic self-governance. Over time, we have come to understand that, in order to maintain a robust system of democratic self-governance, our government cannot constitutionally be empowered to punish speakers, even in the name of “national security” without a compelling justification."--Statement of Geoffrey R. Stone-- (footnotes excluded)

Our talented and capable Secretary of State significantly overstates the case against transparency—transparency "attacks" nothing...

Our Secretary sets the bar too low when implying that transparency is only necessary to expose [government] wrongdoings or misdeeds.

Transparency is necessary to ensure responsible government—when coupled with an accurately informed and engaged citizenry it then becomes sufficient for ensuring responsible government.

As transparency becomes our default for all responsible governments, including diplomatic functions, expressions of "great concern", such as that expressed by our Secretary will apply to opaqueness instead of transparency2.


UPDATED 12/16/2010 Wikileaks, Hash #Wikileaks
UPDATED 12/07/2010 Wikileaks


UPDATED 10/24/2011 Wikileaks focuses on raising funds with a spoof and description of its very important and next generation mission:


Our government's opaque logic is difficult to understand. Is our government asserting individuals cannot be transparently governed? Or that it is incapable of transparent governance? Or that individuals must be transparent with respect to their government instead of their government transparent with respect to those individuals?

UPDATED 04/12/2011

"...Today something has changed, reality is no longer what governments and their echoes in the media say it is. Of all the spectacular revolts across the world, the most exciting and hopeful is the insurrection of knowledge. Much of it sparked by Wikileaks...."--John Pilger, Sydney Peace Foundation Forum--
It's not without significance that our own nation has "leaked" from its very beginning. John Jay, our first Chief Justice of the Supreme Court Justice returned with the newly negotiated treaty of peace with England, known as the  Jay Treaty

The treaty caused no small controversy between the Federalist and Republican factions of our nascent nation. President Washington sought to keep the Jay Treaty secret while his Federalist faction obtained senate ratification.

The Jay Treaty was leaked to the media and promptly printed. Treaty proponents (Federalists) hurled allegations of anti-patriotism at opponents calling for the revocation of their American citizenship and deportation. Treaty opponents (Republicans) hurled charges of counter-revolution and secret monarchist cabals at proponents.

UPDATED 12/09/2010 Democracy Now's Amy Goodman and Glenn Greenwald discuss the strange Swedish sex saga and Interpol's atypical use of its most wanted list to aid Swedish questioning of Assange; some are speculating that the Swedish-Interpol sex saga is nothing more than a political prelude to fig leaf rendition and Guantánmozation of press, speech, and dissent. 

Democracy Now, from December 07, 2010 Transcript, Glenn Greenwald6 (9:04):
    "...Well, I just want to underscore how alarming everything is that you just described, both in that report and in your earlier one, which is, whatever you think of WikiLeaks, they’ve never been charged with a crime, let alone indicted or convicted. And yet, look at what has happened to them.
    They’ve been essentially removed from the internet, not just through a denial of service attacks that are very sophisticated, but through political pressure applied to numerous countries. Their funds have been frozen, including funds donated by people around the world for his—for Julian Assange’s defense fund and for WikiLeaks’s defense fund. They’ve had their access to all kinds of accounts cut off. Leading politicians and media figures have called for their assassination, their murder, to be labeled a terrorist organization. What’s really going on here is a war over control of the internet and whether or not the internet can actually serve what a lot of people hoped its ultimate purpose was, which was to allow citizens to band together and democratize the checks on the world’s most powerful factions. That’s what this really is about. It’s why you see Western government, totally lawlessly, waging what can only be described as a war on WikiLeaks and Julian Assange outside the bounds of any constraints, because that’s what really is at stake here. If they want to prosecute them, they should go to court and do it through legal means. But this extralegal persecution ought to be very alarming to every citizen in every one of these countries, because it essentially is pure authoritarianism and is designed to prevent the internet from being used as its ultimate promise, which is providing a check on unconstrained political power...."--Glenn Greenwald--

UPDATED 12/07/2010

UPDATED 12/07/2010


UPDATED 08/19/2012 NYT Lede, Video of Assange’s Speech at the Ecuadorean Embassy in London

Includes video and link to text link of Assange comments and video of Baltasar Garzón comments.

UPDATED 02/12/2012 FAS Secrecy, Leaks, National Security, and Freedom of the Press Aftergood post on Gary Ross's Who Watches the Watchman.

UPDATED 12/09/2011 FAS Secrecy, When Does Public Disclosure Make Secrecy Moot?

Aftergood makes the obvious point that neither Afshar nor Fitzgibbon is applicable when the public domain document is a mirror image of the document the government seeks to withhold—stated differently the document is self-authenticating, without government involvement.

Additionally, neither Afshar nor Fitzgibbon seem robust enough for today's cyber environment. For example suppose Iran intercepts an RQ-170 Sentinel drone and posts a video of the drone to the Internet, does the drone's reduced angles shape remain classified? How about if the talented Iranians reverse engineer the drone and publish the detailed drawings? How about when China downloads the Iranian's drone drawings, builds, and offers for sale the "personal RQ-170p drone kit"? How about when an American buys a personal RQ-170p drone kit and uses it to track the authorities?; publish online traffic reports?; produce surveillance reports? etc.

UPDATED 06/19/2011 FAS Secrecy, Govt Opposes Attorneys’ Free Use of WikiLeaks Documents. Publicly leaked classified documents are not authentic until we say they are, so says our government. The most disappointing aspect of the above assertion is not the lack of objective evidence supporting its accuracy—the impacts of leaked documents are often independent of any government authenticity or inauthenticity acknowledgement or even awareness. More disappointing is the implicit premise underlying our government's assertion—continued opaque governance10.

UPDATED 04/12/2011 PBS MediaShift, WikiLeaks' Julian Assange, NY Times Feud at Logan Symposium How long before our government routinely cautions its spokespersons to read Wikileaks before conducting their media briefings?

UPDATED 02/07/2011 FAS Secrecy Blog, Accessing WikiLeaks Violates Espionage Act, USAF Says9. United States Air Force Materials Materiel Command offers shocking, if prematurely preemptive "guidance" on Wikileaks, via their official website:
UPDATED 12/15/2010 Columbia Journalism Review, Columbia J-School Speaks Out Against WikiLeaks Prosecution. Includes a link to the full text of the letter.
    "As a historical matter, government overreaction to publication of leaked material in the press has always been more damaging to American democracy than the leaks themselves."--Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism faculty members and officers signing letter--
    It's unclear why our leadership is so eager to surrender our nation's strategic, comparative, and competitive advantage in the transparent press, speech, association, and dissent space. Transparent press, speech, association, and dissent space are vital for the future stability and growth of all nations. We must use the current Wikileaks disclosures and any future disclosures to teach (by example) other nations how to govern with maximum government transparency. Leak prosecutions are inconsistent with this objective or maximum government transparency.
UPDATED 12/14/2010 Michael Moore, Why I'm Posting Bail Money for Julian Assange. Said only as American Michael Moore can say it—fortunately, courage is as contagious as kowtowing:
    "You [our government] simply can't be trusted"--Michael Moore--
    "5. I support Julian, whom I see as a pioneer of free speech, transparent government and the digital revolution in journalism...."--Court Statement of Michael Moore--
UPDATED 12/14/2010 Guardian Blog, Julian Assange granted bail: live updates. Blogger Twittering Live from inside the courtroom.


UPDATED 10/28/2013 VoiceOfRussia , Free Snowden: JSPDF Launches Website to Fund Whistleblower’s Defense Campaign

Our government's unmeasured and unconstrained psychotic pursuit of secret surveillance initiatives undermines and threatens both our democracy and its foundational First Amendment.

Only after the intervention of a courageous young whistleblower, competitive China and cantankerous Russia has some of our government's representatives begun to acknowledge that our government's secret surveillance initiatives require constraints.

Our government representative's acknowledgement that our its secret surveillance initiatives require constraints is a good beginning. However, the required constraints must be coupled with government transparency, but that will require the intervention of our increasingly concerned citizenry.

UPDATED 10/26/2013 USAToday, Anti-NSA rally attracts thousands to march in Washington and Reuters, Protesters march in Washington against NSA spying
UPDATED 08/01/2013 WP, WikiLeaks full statement on Snowden’s being granted asylum by Russia
UPDATED 06/23/2013 NYT, WikiLeaks Says It Is Working to Negotiate Asylum in Iceland for Snowden
UPDATED 05/06/2013 SacBee, Secrecy shrouds pretrial hearing in WikiLeaks case

It's unclear if the court is simply perpetuating the illogical and absurd fiction of shielding documents (and related testimony) that are already in the public domain?

UPDATED 04/11/2013 UPI, Bin Laden Strike Team Member May Testify At Court Martial

It's speculative and highly prejudicial for the court to permit the prosecutor to associate information on a Bin Laden compound computer, the  leaker (defendant), and an assumed Wikileaks source—it seems more indicative of a cheap ploy to imply guilt by association.

On the positive side the required association implies a "harm requirement", which may presage an impossibly high bar for the prosecutor to surmount requiring the dropping or acquittal of the (over|mis)charges.

UPDATED 03/01/2013 NYT, Soldier Admits Providing Files to WikiLeaks

Manning admits leaking logs describing our decade long war debacles and dissociates his leak decision from Wikileaks.

So, our government should credit custodial time, apologize for custodial mistreatment (some might say degrading and inhumane treatment, assuming sleep deprivation and isolation fell short of torture), drop the remaining (over|mis)charges and release Manning.

Unfortunately our leakers must sometimes await history to confound the "harm" (some might say harmful) pronouncements of our secrecy proponents and prognosticators—in the meantime it will be helpful for our government to ceases its prosecution of leakers and move with all diligent speed to totally transparent governance.

UPDATED 09/28/2012 Reuters, Assange mocks Obama via video at U.N. event and BBC, Julian Assange: Amnesty calls for Swedish assurances

UPDATED 08/24/2012 SMH, UK lays out police tactics over Assange How apropos that the document is confidential.

UPDATED 08/17/2012 FP, How WikiLeaks Blew It

The article is not particularly insightful and certainly not the quality one expects and often reads in Foreign Policy.

All articles on Wikileaks can assume or stipulated: that Wikileaks has focused on our government; that our government is not currently appreciative of Wikileaks or Assange's efforts; that other governments often are not appreciative of some actions taken by our government; that most governments will typically prefer to push back rather than publicly explain its private activity; and that Wikileaks and Wikileaks-like platforms can always improve their publishing functions.

OK, now begin your article here. An individual with the capacity and courage to resist and endure the onslaught of government push back is rare and by definition interesting, whether you agree with or support that individual.

Our democracy, government transparency and speech rights will not improve by chanting condemnation of those working to improve all three.

UPDATED 08/17/2012 UPI, World Court appeal if Assange exit blocked

It's easy to forget that all the extraordinary governmental hysteria, maneuvering and hyperbole is about asking an individual some questions related to his sexual activity.

It's as if our Secret Service instead of flying down and talking to the Colombian prostitutes about their activity with those responsible for guarding President Obama, which they wisely did, instead: called Interpol for a "Red Alert" on the prostitutes; requested Columbia to hold and extradite the prostitutes; took to the media to denounce the prostitutes and prostitution as threats to our national security; forbid all their agents from reading press accounts of the scandal; and inquired of DOJ about charging the prostitutes with espionage!

UPDATED 08/16/2012 NYT, Ecuador Grants Asylum to Assange, Defying Britain
UPDATED 08/16/2012 Reuters, Britain says Assange asylum wouldn't change a thing
UPDATED 08/07/2012 ThomsonReuters, U.S. appeals ruling against military detention law

Interesting recall of the judge's query over the scope of provision she enjoined,  §1021, National Defense Authorization Act.
"In issuing her ruling, the judge said she was worried by the government's reluctance at a March hearing to say whether examples of the plaintiffs' activities - such as aiding the anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks in the case of Birgitta Jonsdottir, a member of parliament in Iceland - would fall under the scope of the provision."
UPDATED 07/30/2012 Reuters, Assange's mother says WikiLeaks founder under stress and Ecuador says WikiLeaks' Assange hires Spanish jurist Garzon

UPDATED 07/23/2012 UPI, Assange explains [Ecuadorean] embassy move

UPDATED 07/05/2012 AuHeraldSun, WikiLeaks publishing Syria emails as Ecuador says Assange charges ‘hilarious'

It seems beyond dispute that transparency increases the convergence rate for dispute resolutions—if so, one then wonders why governments must be dragged kicking and screaming toward transparency?

UPDATED 06/19/2012 BBC, Wikileaks' Julian Assange seeks asylum in Ecuador embassy
UPDATED 05/30/2012 British Supreme Court, Julian Assange v Swedish Prosecution Authority British Supreme Court has ruled that Assange can be extradited to Sweden but has stayed the extradition authority for 14 days pending any request for reopening the case.

Whatever the interpretation given to the phrase "judicial authority" in international treaties it must not moot due process by equating or conflating "judicial authority" with "prosecutorial authority".

Hopefully, any rehearing on reopening will ensure judicial and prosecutorial authority are not conflated or equated.

UPDATED 04/06/2012 SF Examiner, Wikileaks: Secrets and Lies [Documentary Review] Below is a short SXSW video interview with the documentary's director:

UPDATED 04/06/2012 Rolling Stone, Julian Assange: The Rolling Stone Interview

UPDATED 02/03/2012 EPIC, EPIC Files Suit for Documents Detailing Surveillance of WikiLeaks Supporters

UPDATED 02/02/2012 UPI, Assange extradition hearing concludes

UPDATED 12/07/2011 EFFCablegate One Year Later: How WikiLeaks Has Influenced Foreign Policy, Journalism, and the First Amendment

UPDATED 12/03/2011 WP, WikiLeaks founder Assange appealing for UK’s highest court to halt extradition to Sweden

UPDATED 11/05/2011 TTBook, Wikileaks founder Julian Assange

Anne Strainchamps conducts a telephone interview with Assange about Wikileaks--raising some interesting questions and responses with implications for our democracy.

UPDATED 11/02/2011 NYT, WikiLeaks Founder Can Be Extradited to Sweden in Sex Abuse Case

UPDATED 10/24/2011 Reuters, WikiLeaks says "blockade" threatens its existence

UPDATED 07/09/2011 Reuters, Exclusive: WikiLeaks loses Icelandic financial lifeline.

WoW that was fast! The basis for this potentially harmful corporate coordination denying access to international financial clearing entities remains unclear?

The corporate coordination becomes baleful if it's discovered that our government is directly or indirectly or officially or unofficially extra judicially involved in trying to extinguish that which criticizes or decries it.

Often the coordination is the result of subtle government actions: a private phone call; lunch discussion; a question about the value of government contracts; patriotic appeal; contract cancellation or award to competitor; declining an interview; denying access; arrest and perp walk; press conference explicitly or implicitly communicating government displeasure; etc.

UPDATED 02/29/2011 NYT, Detainees’ Lawyers Can’t Click on Leaked Documents.

Wonder if a detainees' lawyers can enjoy a cup of coffee while listening to an uncleanuncleared lawyer read the leaked documents aloud?

One wonders how effective any lawyer is if our government has the ability to proscribe access to information, any information?

Shouldn't our government's responsibility be to ensure access to information? Presumably the "cleared" detainees' defense lawyers could be "read in" to the relevant programs governing the documents our government is pretending are still classified?

In any event our government's decision to pretend that leaked Wikileaks documents are still classified may provide more comic entertainment than the recently replaced color coded threat level system.

UPDATED 02/07/2011 NPR, Professors Differ On Ethics Of Using WikiLeaks Cables.

It seems short sighted and illogical for a professor of the diplomatic arts to deprive our future Georgetown University diplomatic students of any benefit from the Wikileaks cables because of a personal belief that a diplomatic cable is stolen.

Let's assume for the sake of argument that a stolen diplomatic cable should not be used, as Georgetown University Professor Marc Grossman asserts.

Such an assertion significantly blinds our nation's talented diplomats (as demonstrated by some Wikileaks cables) and by extension our policymakers, both of whom routinely consume stolen diplomatic cable traffic.

UPDATED 01/16/2011 Aftenposten, Iran in secret pursuit of nuclear bomb.

Aftenposten (Norwegian) has culled some of the Wikileaks cables to report that Iran has been on a shopping spree to acquire the technology, equipment and raw materials needed to develop a nuclear bomb.

Unfortunately, some companies in various nations have witting and unwitting filled purchase orders: South Korea, China, Spain, Japan, Namibia, Kazakhstan, South Africa, North Korean, Taiwan, Brazil, Spain, Sweden8, Switzerland, Ukraine, Czech Republic, India, Turkey, Germany, Ecuador, Canada, Netherlands, USA, United Kingdom, Austria, Malaysia, Russia8, Pakistan8, Syria8, France8, Italy8, Macedonia8, Armenia8 and the Emirates8.

UPDATED 01/14/2011 Mail, 'First Wikileaks Revolution': Tunisia riots blamed on cables which revealed country's corruption and About, Wikileaks Cable: Tunisian Corruption and President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali and NYT, Chaos in Tunisia as President Flees.

Perhaps our government can assist the Tunisians with recovery of all or a portion of the estimated $5 billion dollars reportedly looted by the former president.

UPDATED 01/09/2011 Guardian, Iceland summons US envoy over demand for MP's Twitter details. In addition to First Amendment speech and press rights the subpoena implicates association rights with nothing more than a simple government assertion that relevant information is sought. Social networking sites like Twitter®, Facebook®, and Google® collect comprehensive time-series link data, which reveal associations when analyzed with modern software tools.

    "Internet freedom 'has always coexisted with the rule of law' and 'does not mean that the Internet can be used to harm others,'”--NYT quoting State Department spokesperson P.J. Crowley--
    It's not unusual for authoritarian regimes or democratic governments behaving in an authoritarian manner to conflate or commingle "rule-of-law" with "rule-by-law". It's often the case that those attempting to apply rule-by-law will use disjointed and non-sequitur logic like:
    "X has always coexisted with the rule-of-law;that does not mean you can do Y."
    Of course, all attempts to commingle or conflate rule-of-law with rule-by-law must be subjected to heightened scrutiny. This is particularly so when such commingling or conflation occurs in the context of the conduct of war where rule-of-law is most in jeopardy. [* Thesubpoena (courtesy of Salon) was issued by Eastern District of Virginia, Alexandria Division and required only a simple assertion that relevant information was sought. In the absence of traditional judicial oversight under the heightened probable cause standard the need for transparency is great. It does not speak well of our government that when the need for transparency is great it seeks greater opaqueness.]
UPDATED 01/08/2011 Guardian, WikiLeaks demands Google and Facebook unseal US subpoenas and BBC, US wants Twitter details of Wikileaks activists.

Shifting governments away from their opaque ways will require more that Wikileaks or Twitter, but all substantive shifts or changes begin with just one individual.

The substantive shifts or changes will always generate strong push back in proportion to its substance—no push back, no change of substance. We are fortunate that there are individuals capable of enduring the push back—without them shifts and changes would be much slower or not occur.

How wonderful that it's our modern social networks leading the substantive shift to government transparency.

UPDATED 12/20/2010 Walkleys Foundation, Australian Media's Finest Defend Wikileaks.

Open letter (pdf) to Prime Minister Julia Gillard:
    "...The volume of the leaks is unprecedented, yet the leaking and publication of diplomatic correspondence is not new. We, as editors and news directors of major media organisations, believe the reaction of the US and Australian governments to date has been deeply troubling. We will strongly resist any attempts to make the publication of these or similar documents illegal. Any such action would impact not only on WikiLeaks, but every media organisation in the world that aims to inform the public about decisions made on their behalf. WikiLeaks, just four years old, is part of the media and deserves our support. ...It is the media’s duty to responsibly report such material if it comes into their possession. To aggressively attempt to shut WikiLeaks down, to threaten to prosecute those who publish official leaks, and to pressure companies to cease doing commercial business with WikiLeaks, is a serious threat to democracy, which relies on a free and fearless press."--Signers Walkley Foundation Open Letter Re: Wikileaks--
UPDATED 12/16/2010 Guardian, Julian Assange bail decision made by UK authorities, not Sweden 

Interestingly, the CPS [Crown Prosecution Services] appealed the Assange bail grant.

Swedish authorities have indicated they have no involvement in the bail appeal and take no view on bail. The statement by Swedish authorities was confirmed by CPS.

    "My convictions are unfaltering. I remain true to the ideals I have expressed. This circumstance shall not shake them....If anything this process has increased my determination that they are true and correct....We now know that Visa, Mastercard, Paypal and others are instruments of US foreign policy,....It's not something we knew before....I am calling for the world to protect my work and my people from these illegal and immoral attacks....As a mother, I'm asking the world to stand up for my brave son."--Australia's 7News and Sunshine Coast Daily quoting Ms. Assange quoting her son's statement from a British jail and her reaction to his statement--
UPDATED 12/11/2010 NPR, WikiLeaks' Payment Processor To Sue Card Companies. It's of course shocking and of concern when any private corporation interferes with citizens' press, speech, or association rights based on government hysteria (has the hysteria driven Iraq and Afghanistan War debacles taught us nothing).

Our private corporations should not be able to do on behalf of our government7 what our government cannot do itself, assertions of State Secrets notwithstanding. Perhaps a lawsuit can explore whether Visa®, MasterCard®, et al's actions can or should be imputed to our government, then seek class status on behalf of those whose constitutional rights have been trampled in the hysteria?

UPDATED 12/09/2010 Sydney Morning Herald, Geoffrey Robertson to defend Assange.

Additionally, Australia Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd has said Assange will be provided citizen consular support. Australia has been previously criticized for its lack of support for Assange, an Australian citizen.

    "WikiLeaks is operational. We are continuing on the same track as laid out before. Any development with regards to Julian Assange will not change the plans we have with regards to the releases today and in the coming days."--Guardian quoting WikiLeaks spokesman, Kristinn Hrafnsson--
    "I make no judgment of Julian Assange as an individual as I have never met him. I am offering my support to him as I believe in the universal right to freedom of information and our right to be told the truth."--Guardian quoting Socialite and Charity Fundraiser Jemima Khan--
    "I think the work he has done has been a public service. I think we are entitled to know the dealings of those that govern us."--Guardian quoting film-maker Ken Loach--
UPDATED 12/03/2010 VOA, Sweden Issues Second Arrest Warrant for WikiLeaks' Assange.

Swedish prosecutors' strange sex saga gets stranger...Interpol Red Alert for a person whose whereabouts is known; whose attorney is contacting prosecutors and consenting to questioning; who's not charged with a crime; whose extradition is not sought; whose arrest warrant was issued, withdrawn, reissued, and re-reissued; whose condom reportedly broke during consensual sex;...prompting one popular American talk show host to ask "is this intercourse or Interpol"?

Instead of apologizing to corrupt governments, issuing "Red Alerts", and calling for leak prosecutions3 our leadership must further increase (maximize) our own government's transparency and persuade other governments to follow our lead.

UPDATED 12/02/2010 CSM, Wikileaks Coverage.

UPDATED 12/04/2010 CSM, For Europe, WikiLeaks offers cyberdrama with Julian Assange as main character.

To date, disclosures of the diplomatic traffic indicates minimal or no effort to balance secrecy in the democratic space (this of course is no secret for our secrecy system specialists—they've been arguing our democracy is drowning in secrecy for years).

Moreover, the diplomatic traffic indicates a wide margin from any supposed Hannah Arendt imbalance, should such exist. Finally, that the current diplomatic traffic transparency is perceived as "radical"4 is also an indicator of how wide the imbalance margin is!


1. A person-citizen with access to Bob Woodward's new book, Obama's Wars has the opportunity to inform themselves with respect to our leader's motivations, frustrations, and decisions concerning the Afghanistan War debacle. Is such an informed person-citizen more or less of a benefit to our nation? Does your answer change because Woodward's book contains information marked "SECRET/NOFORN" or transparency embarrasses opaqueness?

2. Hopefully the French Budget Minister Francois Baroin will provide the logic and reasoning, which supports his personal assertion that "a transparent society would be a totalitarian society" (refer to NPR, Clinton: WikiLeaks 'Tear At Fabric' Of Government).
4. Encouragingly, those reporting or following current events tend to view the disclosed diplomatic traffic as little more than confirmation of what has already been suspected or known. Some have even suggested updating the "Batman and Robin" metaphor with a more imaginative metaphor. ...And who knew that the Kadafi voluptuous-blond-nurse traffic would be the most popular traffic or that some of our leaders would make the routine prediction of lack of future candidness?
5. UPDATED 12/04/2010 The Washington Times's motivation for publishing an extremist's editorial calling for the assassination of Julian Assange is unclear. Many Americans expect the debate over government transparency to be intense; most do not expect an American newspaper to print fatwas.
6. Democracy Now also hosted an informative discussion between Glenn Greenwald and Steven Aftergood on transparency.
7. UPDATED 12/11/2010 Reuters is reporting that Attorney General Holder, during a San Francisco fraud conference, stated "We have not pressured anybody to do anything," with respect to Wikileaks.
8. Aftenposten is also reporting that between 2007 and 2009 the Swedish company ÅF Colenco secretly helped Iran design a 360 MW light water reactor. This activity may have violated UN sanctions. The design and support help has since stopped. According to Aftenposten companies from Russia, Pakistan, Syria, France, Italy, Macedonia, Armenia and the Emirates may have engaged in activity that violated UN sanction, too.
9. FAS Secrecy Blog has updated its original post to state that the AFMC Wikileaks "guidance" has been withdrawn.
10. It's hazardous to draw conclusions about governance from argument(s) made in legal cases—particularly cases asserting the buzz words "national security". However, over the years our government has erected a complex opaque behemoth that it uses to govern—voluntarily or involuntarily dismantling this complex opaque behemoth will not be easy, speedy, or without benefits and burdens. Nevertheless, as data leaks from the closed to open set of books even the most uninformed citizen understands that meaningful participation in our democracy requires one set of transparent books. Fortunately, there are some data to suggest that our government (and others) understand their transparent future, if not the bulk transition pace of Wikileaks.