A still from a 2011 video posted online that showed Marines urinating on dead bodies. [Reuters]
"In an apparent expansion of the government’s secrecy powers, the top official in charge of the classification system has decided that it was legitimate for the Marines to classify photographs that showed American forces posing with corpses of Taliban fighters in Afghanistan," reports the NYT's Charlie Savage.
President Obama's 2009 Executive Order on National Security Information stated "In no case shall information be classified, continue to be maintained as classified, or fail to be declassified in order to conceal violations of law, inefficiency, or administrative error, or "prevent embarrassment to a person, organization, or agency." Not anymore.
Information Security Oversight Office director John P. Fitzpatrick accepted the argument made by the Marines for classifying the photographs: the photos could encourage attacks against US troops.
The decision stands in contrast to the government’s position in a legal fight over hundreds of photographs depicting the abuse of detainees in Iraq, which the American Civil Liberties Union sought in a long-running Freedom of Information Act lawsuit.
In that case, military officials raised similar concerns that disseminating the photographs could cause significant harm, provoking attacks on forces in the war zone. But neither the Bush nor the Obama administration claimed they were classified. Instead, Congress passed a special law in 2009 allowing the secretary of defense to block the photographs’ release.
J. William Leonard, a former director of the information office, called the move “a significant and disturbing shift” in the government’s secrecy policy.
“As recently as five years ago, all three branches of government agreed that the executive did not have power to classify such images,” Mr. Leonard said.
"Official Backs Marines’ Move to Classify Photos of Forces With Taliban Bodies"
The House of Commons Science and Technology Committee put out a public call for suggestions on subjects it should investigate and one of the three winning pitches came from Stephanie Mathisen, campaigns and policy officer at Sense about Science, who suggested an inquiry into transparency in algorithmic decision-making.
The Freedom of the Press Foundation’s lawsuit against the DoJ has resulted in the release of documents showing that a bill with that was nearly unanimously supported in Congress and the Senate was killed by behind-the-scene lobbying by the Department of Justice, which feared that they would lose the ability to arbitrarily reject Freedom of […]
In the age of Internet, discussions about the federal government and its functions are informed by and rely on our unprecedented access to federal documents. Anyone can freely view public records online, such as proposed Congressional legislation and presidential executive orders. Accessing public court documents, however, is a bit trickier. As Katherine Mangu-Ward wrote for the Wall Street Journal in 2011, “no aspect of government remains more locked down than the secretive, hierarchical judicial branch.”
Maybe it’s entirely because of podcast ads, but drag-and-drop tools like Squarespace have gotten immensely popular in recent years. While it’s definitely a great tool for any non-coders who want to get a small website up and running quickly, managing content with a primarily visual interface can become a pain once you have more than […]
When you can’t wait for the world’s longest meeting to end, the mindless leg bouncing makes your boredom obvious and just annoys everybody else. Everyone knows the TPS reports need the damn cover sheet, but some sadistic colleague keeps forgetting, probably on purpose just to eat into your lunch hour. Enough is enough!While serving a […]
What could be more fun than a slingshot that shoots tiny airplanes? A slingshot that shoots tiny glowing airplanes of course! These toy planes are outfitted with ultra-bright LEDs, so you can fly all night without losing them in the trees.Whether you are a regular-sized child, or an overgrown adult one, these light-up flyers offer […]