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> Secrets, Shhh!!! It's Classified
droop224
post Mar 17 2006, 04:42 AM
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I think Democracy is useless with out the free flow of information. In a democracy or even a republic where we are to vote for candidates fit to legislate I feel like the more informed the nation the stronger our ability to make competent decisions. But we allow our government a power to classify information. But what are the regulations?? What are the time limits??

In my opinion, we the people are aiding those that prefer an oligarchy, by allowing the level of secrecy that we do.

Let's take the Iraq war as an example. If those in power can pick and choose what to declassify and at what time, they can paint a picture of their choosing. Now, they don't lie, but they show what they wish to show.

Secrecy diminishes the potency of a democracy. The less informed the citizen the less equipped that voter is to make an informed decision with a vote or a voice.

Let me give some examples of my thoughts of appropriateness of secrets:

I think secrets that divulge how to make weapons should forever be secret... I think that any creation or plan to create a weapon should be public knowledge.

I think that any conversation between an elected officials and corporations or business entities should be completely transparent. I don't think politicians that make policy for the people, should have anything to say secretly with wealthy CEO or their cronies.

I think any plans of an attack on an enemy should be secret, I think any transpired battle, whether we are the aggressors or in a defensive position should become public knowledge. This does not mean reveal our tactics, simply tell the people an accurate casualty reporting of both the enemy and our own. Tell us if we used chemical weapons. Tell us if they used chemical weapons.

I found this while looking at pearl harbor for classified information:
QUOTE
Part of the controversy of the debate centers on the state of documents pertaining to the attack. While conventional wisdom would seem to dictate that all of the Pearl Harbor documents were declassified decades ago, there are some records that have not been released. Others may not exist as many documents were destroyed early during the war due to fears of an impending Japanese invasion of the Hawaiian Islands
Wikipedia on Pearl Harbor


So uncapped is the governments ability to keep the public in darkness that they continue to keep secret documents from an attack that happened over 6 decades ago

And, yet... someone who says something like "the government knew Pearl Harbor was going to happen" can be passed of as some conspiracy theory loon due to lack of any credible evidence. I mean who is really the loon, the guy who makes claims without evidence, or the person who accepts the "current story" knowing that information is being kept from them.

Simple logic holds...

Secrets hide something.

So let us debate:

What constraints if any should the Government have on classifying information from the public?? Should they even have the ability??

Should there be a time limit??

Does secrecy diminish a democracy or a democratic society??
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Amlord
post Mar 17 2006, 02:56 PM
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What constraints if any should the Government have on classifying information from the public?? Should they even have the ability??

Droop, do you really think the composition and deployment of our military should be in the public domain? That I should be able to look up how many nukes we have, where they are aimed, etc? Do you think we should report to our enemies how many troops we lost and the manner in which they were lost (in other words, reporting our vulnerabilities in combat)?

There are definitely operational details which people simply do not need to know and would hurt our national security. Details such as espionage, troop deployments, methodologies, investigations underway are all examples of things that the public simply has no interest in knowing.

Classifying material should be based on national security and nothing else. Other functions of the government are simply unimportant minutiae compared to national security.

Should there be a time limit??

There should be and there is.

Does secrecy diminish a democracy or a democratic society??
I think democracy does function best with a fully informed voter. Less than fully informed is less than ideal. However, this is a human institution and any human institution is going to be flawed.
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droop224
post Mar 17 2006, 05:27 PM
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QUOTE
Droop, do you really think the composition and deployment of our military should be in the public domain?


In general, yes.

In one hand, I offer you ignorance and the promise of safety.
In the other hand, I offer you knowledge and the greater threat of danger.

No doubt what becomes common knowledge to me becomes common knowledge to the enemy. So if I had a choice which do I choose? I choose knowledge.

Because with secrecy I have no choice. I am not empowered. My ability to direct my government is hampered with each secret.

Let's just say they are unhappy with Venezuela's move toward socialism. They as in "the government". They place troops or agents to attempt to bolster a resistance, assassinate Chavez or aid another party in such an effort, arm a resistance....

Now under the guise of "National Security" such efforts are classified.

How do we determine that such an action is protecting "National Security"?? What tests must be passed to acquire the status of National Security?? Is losing face to the public in the interests of national security? Is endangering the wealth of our nation an issue of national security? Is endangering the "moral status" of our nation a matter of national security?

National Security are two simple words that cast an infinitely wide brush of secrecy.

Let's see how it can affect us in other ways. We declare ourselves a democracy, well we did up until the election before last where we started screaming we weren't a democracy but a republic with democratic leanings. At any rate we say that our country is run by the people, we stand on mountains high and shout how our government is one of the people.

Fine.

With that declaration comes a responsibility. Every time we put troops in some land, or send spies, or accidently bomb some village church, or stage a coup we the people are the ones that do it, because our government acts by our hand... except it doesn't.

Through use of secrecy under pretenses of "National Security" our government guides us rather than we guide our Government. So now we are creating enemies we don't know about, because we "shouldn't know"... because we have "no need to know" .

I declare that whatever our government does is done in our name and that alone suffices a need.

Because, if those enemies kill upon our soil as we have killed or enabled others to kill on theirs. We the people, are unaware that we may have started it, that we may have played any role in our own nations demise. However if we prior knowledge, maybe we can tell our government "No" Do not allow our spies to enter this land or that land. We can ask... "why are our troops deployed in this part of the world."

To say that we should not know why we, as the people, are doing what we are doing is equivalent of saying... "yes, let me be your trained monkey"

QUOTE
Should there be a time limit??

There should be and there is


Really what is the time limit on how long a document can be classified. Did you see that in my post that documents are still classified from pearl harbor?? Are we to believe that there can be any national security in such documents?

QUOTE
I think democracy does function best with a fully informed voter. Less than fully informed is less than ideal. However, this is a human institution and any human institution is going to be flawed.


The difference is, that as beings of intelligence when we see flaws we should direct efforts to fix the flaws. We can fix this flaw if we have the courage to face the consequences. If we survive, we build a stronger, more ideal government and society.
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VDemosthenes
post Mar 17 2006, 08:06 PM
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This is possibly the one topic where I admit to being a major hypocrite. I don't like censorship, but secrets aren't exactly the same thing in my book. To remove or prevent knowledge and information from being publicly known is wrong. However, to keep information for the safety of the people or the concealment of things that would endanger American lives: I'm all for it.

To say that we all need to be informed of American soldier's exact location is quite insane. I would ask anyone who thinks this to why? Not only would the government possibly lie to us, but it was foster low morale when people say that they shouldn't be there because it's too close to Point B.

Secrets conceal things that would get people killed, at least in this specific case. Classified information is classified for a reason.




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droop224
post Mar 17 2006, 09:51 PM
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QUOTE
This is possibly the one topic where I admit to being a major hypocrite. I don't like censorship, but secrets aren't exactly the same thing in my book. To remove or prevent knowledge and information from being publicly known is wrong. However, to keep information for the safety of the people or the concealment of things that would endanger American lives: I'm all for it.

To say that we all need to be informed of American soldier's exact location is quite insane. I would ask anyone who thinks this to why? Not only would the government possibly lie to us, but it was foster low morale when people say that they shouldn't be there because it's too close to Point B.

Secrets conceal things that would get people killed, at least in this specific case. Classified information is classified for a reason.


...and this is what I worry about in a debate like this. I do not want to take the extreme position of the public know every detail... and then have that called looney.

Of course I don't need the exact coordinates of our any military unit in a foreign nation. But I want to know if we got American forces in a nation.

Take the bay of Pigs...

I don't need to know when, where, and how we are aiding an invasion of Cuba. But I want to know that we have plans for invading Cuba. Do you see the difference? The people can't speak out, (if they chose to) if they don't know.

All that America does around the world, for good or ill is done in the name of Americans. Because WE declare that we are in control of our government.

You don't know what a secret conceals if it is a secret. Again I bring up the fact that documents from the Pearl Harbor attacks are still classified. Who are they protecting?? Whose life do you really think is being saved? What reason is there?

Of course there is a reason, to classify documents... to hide the truth from you.

QUOTE
A federal appeals court rules that Vice President Cheney does not have to disclose who advised him as he created the Bush administration's energy policy. Journalists and interest groups had sued to find out which energy industry executives had been involved. Lawyer Shannen Coffin, who argued Cheney's case in district court, discusses the decision.

link

Also you can hear the discussion with the lawyer.

You think keeping secrets about who is having a say on our energy policy is about keeping us alive?? Really??










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Blackstone
post Mar 18 2006, 04:09 AM
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What constraints if any should the Government have on classifying information from the public?? Should they even have the ability??

Generally speaking, it should have broad latitude to keep secret certain aspects of military or foreign policy, provided, for the most part, that its method of enforcement be restricted to administrative action against employees who leak information. The power to actually bring legal action against people who disclose secrets should be severely curtailed. I can only think of two general exceptions to that rule:

1. When the information is actually lifted without authorization from archives belonging to the government, I think it's reasonable in many cases for government to be able to sue to prevent it from being disclosed, the same way that you'd be able to sue to prevent someone who's gotten a hold of your diary without your permission from publishing it far and wide. But there should be statutory limitations (such as the Freedom of Information Act, which I think for the most part is a reasonable law) on government's ability to do that.

2. When disclosure of the information would be detrimental to national security (I mean in an actual logistical sense, not just embarassing to our leaders in some way), government should be able to bring forth charges, but not unconditionally. Here, the burden of proof should be on the government in each individual case to show that the person doing it either had the intent to harm national security, or would have had good reason to believe that it would. It should also have to make a plausible case that the disclosure itself actually was likely to have harmed national security in some way. And that burden of proof should be especially high in cases where Congress has not declared war against an actual enemy. Otherwise, we could very quickly wind up like China where everything the government doesn't want you to know could be classified as a "state secret".
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Curmudgeon
post Mar 18 2006, 01:21 PM
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What constraints if any should the Government have on classifying information from the public?? Should they even have the ability??

QUOTE(droop224 @ Mar 16 2006, 11:42 PM)
And, yet... someone who says something like "the government knew Pearl Harbor was going to happen" can be passed of as some conspiracy theory loon due to lack of any credible evidence. I mean who is really the loon, the guy who makes claims without evidence, or the person who accepts the "current story" knowing that information is being kept from them.

Growing up, the next door neighbor used to tell me that he had been warned of the attack on Pearl harbor by the Emperor of Japan, who had sent the royal carpenters to crate up his belongings. He had passed on the information to another personal friend, the President of The United States of America. For lack of credible evidence, I took it with a grain of salt. We were living, after all in a very poor neighborhood. He explained that he had millions that had been invested in the Philippines before WWII began, but his holdings were all nationalized by Japan during the war...

Then he died, and I helped his widow unpack hand carved shipping crates that had stored their belongings for decades. In my case, "credible evidence" amounted to gold plated hunting rifles, a collection of Samurai swords, and the shipping crates themselves...

I was studying nuclear physics in college when my father picked up my textbook, read a few names, and told me the social security numbers of men such as Albert Einstein. "I first read of him in..." "I recommended him for The Manhattan Project because..." He then showed me a letter, signed by the President of the United States. It began, "I was reviewing some classified documents when I learned..." The secrecy of The Manhattan Project, it went on to say, had been maintained because whenever an employee was needed, they had contacted my father for a recommendation. In turn, everyone that he had recommended had been interviewed, hired, and placed on a "special train to Manhattan" within four hours or less.

I have been a "conspiracy theory loon" for decades.

Should there be a time limit??

Perhaps... People are still alive who fought in WWII, and some still like to share their stories. Others still prefer to keep their stories secret.

My wife and I were given tickets to an event last night to celebrate St. Patrick's Day. We ended up randomly seated next to a WWII vet. Paladin Elspeth had a fascinating conversation with him during intermission.

I remember listening to a man I was working with tell me about the days he spent floating in a life jacket as fellow crew members were eaten by sharks. He had no idea why it took so long to be rescued. Years later, I heard the same story retold on television. The ship he had been on had delivered "Big Boy," the first atomic bomb to be dropped.

Locally, there was an interesting obituary story in the newspaper last year. A veteran died. He had never discussed his activities during the Second World War, not even with his wife and children. A newspaper reporter with accounts from their files from during the war, interviewed the widow, and helped her to locate the journals and scrapbooks her husband had kept. His story was finally told...

I was following a car the other day which had stickers in the back window:
Guam, and the dates he fought there...
Iwo Jima, and the dates he fought there...
I suspect that his friends have heard his stories many times...

In the wee hours of the morning, working the midnight shift, I have heard many war stories retold over a cup of coffee. I never wrote them down.

I heard a historian on television a few weeks back talking of things he had learned about George Washington and the Revolutionary War by reading correspondence that had been kept by the descendants of the correspondents.

There are euphemisms like "Dead men tell no tales." and "Two can keep a secret if one of them is dead." I went on a date with my wife, and discovered that the event was sponsored by a corporation that is part of the military-industrial complex. Their corporate name is a military euphemism to say the least. Had I just seen their name in a phone book, I might have called them and asked them to help me solve a problem I'm dealing with. We are all human. Knowledge is something that we generally want to share and pass on to our children... A hundred years from now or more, the most well guarded secrets will have leaked out, become common knowledge, and will be taught in our public schools...

Do I want to go back and tell an old friend "the truth?" His ship was sunk, and he spent days in the ocean watching friends get eaten alive, and wondering when he too would die because a President who wanted us to be involved in that World War ignored warnings of Pearl Harbor. My personal decision was to listen to his story of the war. "God let me live for a reason," he would tell me, "I just haven't figured out yet what that reason is..." He, like many others has struggled with having been a soldier and its moral implications. I think he is entitled to believe that he fought for a noble cause. I knew men who fought in World War I that were disappointed that their efforts didn't "end all wars."

Does secrecy diminish a democracy or a democratic society??

I had friends in High School that I never heard from again. I presume that some of them perished in Vietnam. In the first war with Iraq, I had co-workers in the National Guard who suddenly learned they were more than weekend warriors. My step-son spent a year in Kuwait expecting to be rotated into Iraq. Because we oppose the war, our son has quit corresponding with us. We hear of him through mutual acquaintances, and we know that he made it home alive.

"Loose lips sink ships." was a phrase that I heard at home, and in history class. I have recalled it often as I have watched CNN report to the world our troops positions, movements, armaments, weaknesses, and plans... I often think that a modern enemy only needs a satellite dish and a television set, that we have such an open society that there is no real need for spies. Even as a pacifist, that is not a comfortable feeling.

There is so much information out there that I doubt if any one individual can know all of the truth, all of the secrets, and pick out all of the lies. (Certainly not by reading My Pet Goat in lieu of daily briefings.) I still live in a country though where I feel free to point out when something does not have the ring of truth. When I step out of my bedroom, I take off my rose colored glasses and put on corrective lenses that automatically adjust to the light. I try to see the world from my background and my perspective. I thought that I spent most of my working career wearing a hard hat. Here on America's Debate, I've learned that most people see me as wearing a tinfoil alien.gif hat. To reiterate, I have been a "conspiracy theory loon" for decades.

There is still a need for secrets however. I remember a young sailor telling me what he was doing in the navy. "We're learning how to write computer programs that can infect other nation's computers. We think that we might be able to use them to cripple, slow down, or even take control of another nation's computers." I don't know if anyone overheard that conversation. I just know that some of the first computer viruses were written intentionally, using TI-50 and Commodore 64 computers, as a military classroom exercise. My documentation of course, is just hearsay...

This post has been edited by Curmudgeon: Mar 18 2006, 01:30 PM
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Lek
post Mar 18 2006, 10:37 PM
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What constraints if any should the Government have on classifying information from the public?? Should they even have the ability??

My negative classification examples/experience are that "government", and it's minions, uses classification to "protect" their own interests, hide errors, and otherwise manipulate voters and "other 'competitor' organizations of the govt./public" on the full facts of a situation/proposal.

All my negative instances seem to have only the common theme of limiting "open decisions, openly arrived at". There is also a sortof "passive" classifying knee jerk bureaucrat's reaction in play, wherein govt. minions classify, "just to be safe", without even the slightest idea what that means beyond "job/turf politics". The net result of my examples is degraded democracy, factual policy errors due to lack of competent review and "swelled heads" in the wrong places. (The number of a bureaucrat's accesses to classified data/programs is on of the ultimate measures of insider "power".

So, I get there should be review. We've tried a lot of review mechanisms though, and have not gotten such great results. Seems there is always too much of the "Fox protecting the Hen house" in almost all such review.

I propose a "Federal Classification Review Jury" to review and decide on all govt. classifications and their time limits. This jury is to be drawn from the public just like a criminal or civil jury. No govt. imployees allowed! Drastic? Perhaps, but "there be high stakes poker played out there on on our nickles"!

Should there be a time limit??

Yes, otherwise, why not just burn it all at the outset? I know the argument that cleared personnel need archives to learn from, etc. If you find such a govt. servant, please let's give him/her recognition. I never met one. All interests are really, really short range. Like +/- 3 months.

Does secrecy diminish a democracy or a democratic society??

Yes indeed. Again, too many of the classifications I know of would pretty obviously have resulted in different and better decisions. An operational war plans classification up to D-day, and no longer is the only one I feel comfortable with. I do not see "weapons systems" classification as being effective. My example favorite:

The A and H bomb "secrets" were known to our adversaries, but that fact and the nature of the secrets were kept from the voters. (The major features of those secrets were publicly admitted duplicated by physics grad students from open public knowledge, by the way.) Same for many others, such as the Bay of Pigs already mentioned by others above.
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Trouble
post Mar 21 2006, 12:56 AM
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QUOTE(droop224 @ Mar 17 2006, 04:42 AM)
And, yet... someone who says something like "the government knew Pearl Harbor was going to happen" can be passed of as some conspiracy theory loon due to lack of any credible evidence.  I mean who is really the loon, the guy who makes claims without evidence, or the person who accepts the "current story" knowing that information is being kept from them.


I'll add one conspiracy to the mix. Not only did the government know Pearl Harbor was going to happen they suppressed Japan's oil supply. Now remember that the current president comes from an oil background, as does the vice president, and suddenly this idea no longer seems far fetched.

QUOTE
What constraints if any should the Government have on classifying information from the public??  Should they even have the ability??


This is a hard line to define as only immediate military concerns should be under classification. Here is the problem. The military complex is the fastest growing segment in american society. It was by design. Personally I feel too much foreign policy is engulfed within military matters because as the military prescence in our lives grows, so does the opportunity to suppress information.

QUOTE
Should there be a time limit??

Does secrecy diminish a democracy or a democratic society??

*



I agree in a time limit but the problem is an access issue. The military holds all the cards and it is when they decide to declassify information do we see it. The decision process needs to be more in the hands of the public and not in the hands of the generals.

And yes I agree secrecy is an important first step on the road to corruption. Once corruption sets in...well look at the soviet union.
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inventor
post Mar 21 2006, 04:09 AM
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Secrets hide something.

So let us debate:

What constraints if any should the Government have on classifying information from the public?? Should they even have the ability??

Should there be a time limit??

Does secrecy diminish a democracy or a democratic society??


I will reply to the above, does it diminish democracy;

a good story is when my father was called by the Sec of Energy to write a position paper for the US government. The document was cleared for release by DOE and DOD for publication over a international event. Sorry for being so vague but my father and I do not want to be stalked. Later the document after being published by the world media was classified and my father could not even talk about it. It was co-incidental but I had called my father that morning and he told me all the computers in his group were gone. Later that day I called him back and asked him what happened and he told me he did not know what I was talking about…. Not being stupid I knew this meant it was a classified matter and I could not ask more. The reason I know what happened it later was declassified. Can you imagine being at work without a computer and not being able to ask for another one or explain why it was gone. Anyway a undersecretary of Energy called my father to ask him to write more on it in a certain area and he had to tell the under secretary he did not know what he was talking about. Needless to say the undersecretary could not believe a document published could become classified. My father was summoned to DC to meet with the under sec of Energy and Sec of Energy. Pretty much this was a complete waist of taxpayers money and retribution by DOD because they just do not like my fathers opinions because they typically do not lead to more money for DOD budget and propaganda. Every time a document is classified it is a cost to taxpayers and a huger bureaucracy. Classifying Bushs papers as a governor is another perfect waist of taxpayers money and reducing our freedom/democracy to work.

I believe democracy is being threatened as we have the present system. A good book was written about the abuses of the Massed agents by a former agent because of the secrecy, they were out of control having nice classified sex parties and so on is how that one was mis-directed. Absolute power absolutely corrupts I think is the saying… I firmly believe we need to set up a special office of whisltblowers, as you walk in on the right there is a office of the majority on the left an office of the minority. This office has special powers that be. Neither side of the building answers to one another. Unlimited power of subpoena and ability to protect any whistle blower. Including making payments for the rest of their life for what their job was paying them if they deem the information to the publics best interest. That no information is off limits and all intelligence agencies must reply to this office or be held in contempt of court. What this would do is for instance right now even senators can not spill the beans on intelligence information or even get a lawyers opinion. This office could investigate and initiate legal proceedings on behalf of any anyone. Thus if military employees see political appointees coming in and sexing up and selectively cherry picking they have a safe house to go. This is a nuclear deterrent because right now they would go to jail and lose their ability to ever work again. Same with classification issues, when it is abused there is nothing employees can do right now.

In this I believe the individuals in the government know what is essential and what is being abused. So I give basic trust that the employees of the government would not abuse this provision to bring out troop locations and such that many point out being secret and would remain so, plus this office would not release this information unless they deemed it important to do so because they also have brains. A good for instance is if the CIA again started placing agents as reporters in the US again. They at one point had a bunch on their payroll in some way or another, I think it was about 50-400.

http://www.geocities.com/cpa_blacktown/200...8mediaoverb.htm

http://www.cpj.org/attacks96/sreports/cia.html
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droop224
post Mar 21 2006, 06:11 AM
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As if to add to the debate, by brother-in-law gave me a case and point example.

We were on the phone and somehow began talking about "special government jobs" I told him how I was almost about a friend who hooked up with some other former Marines and headed to Iraq to make some big money... and how I almost had an opportunity to go as well.

He comes back and tells me how some former Air Force guy he worked with in Crash, Fire, and Rescue told him of a job and was trying to gert him hooked on as well. Of course, he needed top-secret clearance... so let's get to the point

His freind tells him that he gets on a plane in Las Vegas gets flown "who knows where" to some place he can't talk about anyway, to do a three or four day shift.

Now when I say "who knows where", I mean the friend has no idea where he is flying to. He gets on a plane at Las Vegas with others, it lands somewhere in America (I presume) and he does his job. My brothers friend couldn't tell him anymore than that .... oh and the BIG $$$ the job pays.

Now do we need secrets like this. Is this healthy for our nation. Some of the people reading this will no doubt question whether I am even being honest about this. Others will be like "So what the sky isn't falling". But the point is here on our soil, in our country our government is doing things we know nothing about. This isn't some tactical positioning of troops overseas in war, this is some kind of... what do you call something that you have no idea what it is?? experiment???... some kind of experiment that requies people who know how to put out fires and that is all any of us know.

Why does anyone here condone such secrecy?? What purpose can it serve us??
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Vermillion
post Mar 21 2006, 11:39 AM
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QUOTE(Trouble @ Mar 21 2006, 12:56 AM)
I'll add one conspiracy to the mix. Not only did the government know Pearl Harbor was going to happen they suppressed Japan's oil supply.


(Sigh)

They did NOT know PH was going to happen, and as fas as supressing Japan's oil supply, they put a trade embargo on them, including aviation and refined fuel among a thousand other things, in protest of the Japanese invasion of French Indochina and Independent Thailand. Economic sanctions are hardly earthshattering. The US also cut of a huge part of South Africa's oil supply (as well as a thousand other things) in the 1980s with sanctions there. Is that part of the conspiracy?


OK, oddly enough, I have to take the line of the hawks here. Of course a Government needs to have secrets, no state could function without them. Some of those are secrets which do not impact the people, others might have a significant impact. Now that does not mean I advocate unfettered secrecy, obviously there need to be limits and time limits is a resonable example.

I worked in an agency of secrets for a time before my current job, and they re kept for a multitude of different reasons. Police keep secrets about a case for fear of warning suspects or compromising the investigation. Military keeps secrets about technology, deployments and training for fear of surrendering a potential tactical advantage. Industries keep secrets to keep aprofitable edge, or hold on the a money-making idea or technology.

Secrets are simply unavoidable, there has not been an organised state in the history of humanity, from Ur to the Vatican, from The Chinese dynasties to modern United States, which did not keep a vast plethora of secrets from its people.


Secrets are not what led to Soviet Russia, I doubt the Kremlin kept substantially more secrets than the White House. The difference was the power of the rule of law, and the means by which these secrets were kept. In the US (ideally anyays) the law states what can and what cannot be kept secret, and what length the state could go to to protect those secrets. In the Kremlin, the KGB and GRU decided that.


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Ted
post May 1 2006, 03:01 PM
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QUOTE
What constraints if any should the Government have on classifying information from the public?? Should they even have the ability??

They should defiantly have the ability to classify anything that could effect our security. This could include military or industrial information. For example when a grad student at Princeton, for a doctoral paper, submitted the design of a “suitcase nuke” it was immediately classified. Can anyone disagree with that?

QUOTE
Should there be a time limit??

Yes

QUOTE
Does secrecy diminish a democracy or a democratic society??

No.

This post has been edited by Ted: May 1 2006, 03:02 PM
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TruthMarch
post May 1 2006, 09:44 PM
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thumbsup.gif I've made this argument many times before, on deaf ears as usual. People are lulled into thinking they're in control, that they have a say (elections). It's all moot. There will be a true democracy the day when "no comment" is outlawed and unaccepted when it comes from elected officials. I have to remember that these are grown adults I'm talking about here. On the one hand, they say they're answerable to the people, that they represent the people. On the other hand, when asked a tough legal question, they'll say "I can't comment on that" or "no comment" or something to that effect. It makes fun of democracy and you have to be a fool to think that is what we are living in. Remember that. Public officials---no comment---unacceptable.
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droop224
post May 2 2006, 07:15 PM
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Vermillion
QUOTE
They did NOT know PH was going to happen, and as fas as supressing Japan's oil supply, they put a trade embargo on them, including aviation and refined fuel among a thousand other things, in protest of the Japanese invasion of French Indochina and Independent Thailand. Economic sanctions are hardly earthshattering. The US also cut of a huge part of South Africa's oil supply (as well as a thousand other things) in the 1980s with sanctions there. Is that part of the conspiracy?


I don't understand your exasperation. You base your assumptions on the facts that have been released... but that is the problem... it is only the facts that have been released.

So the simple question is this?? Do you believe that all the facts about pearl harbor have been declassified?

QUOTE
Secrets are simply unavoidable, there has not been an organised state in the history of humanity, from Ur to the Vatican, from The Chinese dynasties to modern United States, which did not keep a vast plethora of secrets from its people.


I agree. But I also believe that secrecy breeds corruption. Thus as a democracy we should have stringent safeguards. I think two years are sufficient for and political decision that have been classified.


Ted
QUOTE
QUOTE
Does secrecy diminish a democracy or a democratic society??
No.


No... I'm shocked.

Allow me to place a scenario

A murder happened. A the murder weapon was found a block away in some bushes with Sams finger prints.

Now people don't know that Sam is the murderer, but the fact that Sam's finger prints weere on the weapon would make many believe that Sam was the murderer.

Now add to that that Sam has an air tight alibi that prevents him from being at the scene. Well, now people won't think Sam the murderer.

All this to say... knowledge empowers. I can manipulate people with information. I become an artist with facts to form a public perception.

Now a democracy or even a democratic society is suppossed to based on the will of the people. However by allowing secrets you give some one the tools to manipulate that will. Thus their power to make informed decisions is diminished. If they are diminshed in their will due to secrets that the democracy as a whole is also diminished, because the beliefs of the majority are be shaped by a minority of people who are gereatly more informed.
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Trickster0831
post May 10 2006, 03:26 AM
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QUOTE(droop224 @ Mar 16 2006, 11:42 PM)
So let us debate:

What constraints if any should the Government have on classifying information from the public??  Should they even have the ability??

Should there be a time limit??

Does secrecy diminish a democracy or a democratic society??

*



The constraints set on information that we are allowed to view should be left around where it is. The ability to classify information is very important to our safety. Information that would infringe on our safety and protection should be released to the public in a safe and secure manner. It is said that we knew about something like September 11th before it happened. If we had allowed people to know that a terrorist attack could be coming, things may have been different. It allows us to know the risks and dangers that we go through every day.

If the information is secret and has nothing to do with our safety, such as the where abouts of Osama Bin Laden or some other high priority terrorist or dangerous person, like we know them anyways, should be kept secret obviously. If word got out that we knew where they were, they would move even faster than they already do and we would never have a chance to catch any of them. On things such as weapon construction and biological weapons, like you mentioned, should be kept under wraps for a long time, at least until those weapons are out dated and then they can be released for educational purposes. I think the ability to keep things secret is, once again, very important.

A time limit on top secret information should eventually be released. Such as government secrets like Rosewell, New Mexico, or eventually September 11th, or any other secret that we could benefit from knowing or learning from. Of course, what they say is the truth can always be a lie, and we will never actually know or think it is the truth unless it is the thing our minds want to hear. Some things people just want to know. In the case of aliens, if they are real and that whole Rosewell thing isn't actually a weather ballon experiment type thing designed to detect Soviet nuclear activity, and really was a UFO, then that information might want to stay secret since it may cause mass panic among citizens of the world who are ones to fret.

I do not think that keeping things a secret infringes or diminishes democracy one bit if that information keeps us safe and helps keep democracy going. If it is a secret that ruins our lives and our reputation and is kept to keep someones image alive and well, it may diminish our democracy a little bit, but unless that secret is catastrophic, it would only be a small scratch in our freedom and our lives.

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nebraska29
post May 10 2006, 10:59 PM
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QUOTE
[b]What constraints if any should the Government have on classifying information from the public??  Should they even have the ability??


Undoubtedly, they should have the ability to shield us from information that people don't need to know. What information would this be? Perhaps any and every threat that might arise, as well as weapons production and military manuevers. I don't believe that anyone would argue that we need absolute transparency in regards to these things. We do have proper constraints in regards to information and government secrecy. FOIA legislation is available for citizens to obtain information the government has on them, or information that the government may have on a group that one belongs to. A good sign of this healthy constraint is the ACLU and their head on tackling of the issue of domestic spying against dissent organizations that has reared it's ugly head as of late. ermm.gif

QUOTE
Should there be a time limit??


I would argue that a lifetime limit would suffice. After that, embarrassing facts and events previously unknown should be aired out. Once again, there are limits. We don't need to declassify weapons blueprints and that kind of thing after a lifetime passes. Any information from that would be inconsequential as opposed to finding out about what the people in the White House were thinking and doing when in office.


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CruisingRam
post May 11 2006, 10:48 AM
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Okay- we all make this a chit chat on defense/military secrets- but i would like to take a different tack- look at Ken Lay and Cheney and gang on the energy commision- THAT SHOULD BE RELEASED IMMEDIATELY AND SHOULD NEVER BE ALLOWED TO BE SECRET, EVER.

That is the real travesty here with "executive privilage and top secret" stuff- how about a top secret meeting with CEOs from the energy industry that has nothing to do with national defense? hmmm.gif

Anyone can see the need for defense secrets- by why policy secrets?
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NiteGuy
post May 14 2006, 12:23 AM
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QUOTE(Vermillion)
Secrets are not what led to Soviet Russia, I doubt the Kremlin kept substantially more secrets than the White House. The difference was the power of the rule of law, and the means by which these secrets were kept. In the US (ideally anyays) the law states what can and what cannot be kept secret, and what length the state could go to to protect those secrets. In the Kremlin, the KGB and GRU decided that.


Well, Vermillion, apparently we are getting closer to the Soviet ideal of secrecy than we care to admit.

It was just recently reported that the Justice department had to drop their investigation into the (perhaps) illegal domestic wire tapping by the NSA.

Why, you ask? Because the NSA decided, all on their little lonesome, that nobody in the Justice Department had, or could obtain, a classification high enough to see any of the information involved.

Makes you proud to be an American, doesn't it? whistling.gif

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Eeyore
post May 16 2006, 04:06 PM
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What constraints if any should the Government have on classifying information from the public?? Should they even have the ability??
QUOTE(Amlord @ Mar 17 2006, 09:56 AM)


Classifying material should be based on national security and nothing else. 
*



I will support this. But is this was secrecy is based on? Do you have a type of ombudsman to protect the American public from keeping things secret that aren't based on national security? Is there a clear distinction between national security and embarrassing revelations of misconduct by the government. Our secrets should be based on national security. There needs to be a clear check on classification, but at present the checks that allowed the Pentagon Papers and the release of the Nixon tapes are not in place.

Classified status seems to be at the whim of the executive branch right now an that is not safe. Oversight of this needs to be done by Congress and the Judicial branch.

Should there be a time limit??

Yes there should be a time limit and that limit should be as short as possible, again with the standard of national security interests. The burden of proof should be on the government to show the threat to national security.

Does secrecy diminish a democracy or a democratic society??

Secrecy does diminish a democratic society. The system works best with transparency. It is a democratic responsibility to pressure more clarity and disclosure from the government. We have been failing miserably in this endeavor as a voting public.

The secrecy that is necessary needs to be reviewed in a system of checks and balances. We should air our dirty laundry as soon as we can. Perhaps if this becomes the process we will soil less clothing.

This post has been edited by Eeyore: May 16 2006, 04:06 PM
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