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Dim Bulbs in the Bush Administration – Parody Is Certainly Dead

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O.k., there's a bunch of 20-watt bulbs sitting around a room somewhere in the D.C. area. One suddenly flickers and shouts out, "Holy Mother of All the Saints Above, will yer look at t'is. We're giving away the fuckin' store."

He, she, or it was waving a piece of unclassified material that detailed the numbers of strategic weapons in the U.S. nuclear arsenal during the Cold War.  But that wasn't the worst of it.  We'd already given the information the information the Russkies.  Wham!  Reclassified.

Ah, you're no doubt thinking, "this is just a few dim bulbs amidst the brilliant light of the Bush administration."  Wrong.  According to a new report by the National Security Archives, a George Washington University nonprofit research group, our very own Pentagon is busy classifying material that had never been classified before.  And the newly bulked-up and ready-to-take-on-all-terrorists CIA, aided and abetted by the Airforce, has been removing thousands of publicly available records from library shelves.

How bizarre is this?  Nixon Defense Secretary Melvin Laird, in an open 1971 appearance before Congress, revealed "that the United States had 30 strategic bomber squadrons, 54 Titan intercontinental ballistic missiles and 1,000 Minuteman missiles."  That information is now classified.  I have now broken federal law by revealing classified information.  This may be my last post — ever — unless they have internet access in jail.

This would be like Barney Frank trying to go back into the closet.  Are these people idiots?  Once it's public and published, you can't make it secret again unless — hey wait a minute — unless you're about to pull a 1984 on the American people.  Nah, conspiracy theories depend on coordinated, intelligent people acting together.  That knocks out the Bush administration.

It's gets sillier.  In 1964, Defense Secretary Mevlin Laird sent a report to President Johnson on our military preparedness, including the number of U.S. and Soviet ballistic missiles and heavy bombers both sides were expect to have by 1970.  It was declassified.  And why not — the information is over 40 years old and anyone who cares has already seen it.  Yet if you get a copy of the report now, American numbers are blacked out — but not the Soviet's.

William Burr, who wrote the National Security Archives report said, in effect, that you'd have a hard time finding more "dramatic examples of unjustifiable secrecy."  The horses are out of the barn, the barn's burned down, and we're trying to get them to reenter the smoldering ruins.

It just isn't fair.  How can we satirists and parodists (I know, it's not a word but style trumps accuracy sometimes) write satire and parody when the Bush Administration's actions are more bizarre than anything we could come up with.

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About Mark Schannon

Retired crisis & risk manager/communications expert; extensive public relations experience in most areas over 30 years. Still available for extraordinary opportunities of mind-numbing complexity. Life-long liberal agnostic...or is that agnostic liberal.
  • http://thisthatandfroghair2.blogspot.com/ Patty

    Seems to me the keys to the candy store was handed over years ago. People are just now figuring it out.
    Rather sad.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer.php?name=gonzo%20marx gonzo marx

    ah Mark me boyo, sure’n now yer touching the Truth once again…

    there are times when the Truth is much stranger than any Fiction could be

    unfortunately, we happen to be living in one currently…

    Excelsior?

  • http://www.diablog.us Dave Nalle

    One has to wonder why they waste their time with silly shit like this. Once stuff is in the public record they’re NEVER going to get rid of it, especially with the internet.

    Dave

  • http://parodieslost.typepad.com Mark Schannon

    That’s what pisses me off. I would love to do a parody on this but how can you? Oh how I long for the days of Johnson, Nixon, Carter, Fillmore…

    I can’t help but wonder–are these people on drugs? Is there something in the DC water? Should I be drinking bottled water? It’s too stupid to be believed.

    Sigh…

    In Jameson Veritas

  • http://johnmccarthy90066.tripod.com john mccarthy

    Greetings, K.C. Jones

    Re your comprehensive article on the recent Federeal Court ruling on the illegality of the NSA warrantless wiretap intrusions, I was most interested to note the judges decision with respect to disallowing the government’s excuse of ‘national security’ as a blanket reason for not disclosing and responding to the demands of the plaintiff’s.

    The following information relates to the patterns of abuse by the government’s past attempts to cloak judicial procedings in the Linus Blanket of National Security.

    Bests,
    John
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    In response to the article by Sibel Edmonds and William Weaver All That’s Given Up In The Name Of National Security

    The potential for abuse with the catch all phrase of “National Security” is finally exposed in the continuous efforts on the part of the US Government which show no sign of abatement.

    So, what is the reason for “national security” being used as the blanket response to justify the suppression of information?

    Is it invoked for gagging whistleblower’s who possess information which, if disclosed, would expose the official government position on a given subject as a bold faced lie or as a pretext for war or continuing a war?

    Grave Danger to the United States gives us pause to reflect on the cause and effect of the inappropriate release of information which could provide an enemy of our country to take such action as to avoid our defenses. But that is not the case here. We certainly would not want a potential enemy from knowing our war plans. That is not the case here, either.

    But suppressing information which would destroy our government’s contrived position on relevant information on issues such as 911 is an egregious excuse and mis-use of “national security”excuse to hide the truth. It should also be noted that current and past regulations forbid the use or excuse for the classification of matters which are invoked to cover a criminal act.

    An actual example of invoking “national security” as the primary reason/excuse for closing a criminal trial proceeding stretches the fabric of the blanket of “national security” to the breaking point.

    Government court arguments that exposure of witness testimony in an open court environment would seriously effect the national security of the United States and the further prosecution of the war (in Vietnam) gives us obvious trepidation and a cause to pause. For those who would question the validity of such procedures without having access to the “national security” issues, there is the assumed factor that there MUST be something in the classified portions of the Record of Trial which are part and parcel of the evidence for the court having rendered a verdict of guilt. This throws us back to the reasoning that “certainly if the government had a reason to listen to our conversations, read our email or maintain a classification of sensitive materials, there must be a just cause for such action”.

    However, when years later it comes to light that the actual reason for this blanket of national security was to obsfucate a high crime, it is way too late to do anything about it, and in most cases, the perpetrators are dead.

    Will the excuses of “national security” gag orders against the current cases of whistleblowers last long enough for them to die before the documents are exposed for what they actually are?

    1. Since no one had yet testified on the “national security” issues argued by the government as the reason to close the trial to the public, in violation of the 6th Amendment, it would appear incredible that such a position be advanced before the court. The fear of exposing unknown and unspecified secrets gives caution as to the actual reason for closing the trial to the public.

    2. Re witness testimony “seriously effecting the further prosecution of the war” in Vietnam, one is left with the great impression that such testimony would cause the war in Vietnam to be stopped. This Linus Blanket of “national security” was the ultimate excuse which was designed to provide the trial judge with the rationale to close the court to the public. (Had the testimony been given in open court and the war in Vietnam stopped as a result of this testimony, there would be thirty thousand fewer names on the Vietnam War Memorial. Did the government actually fear that the exposure of the treason on the part of the NSC members would halt the Vietnam War? Did they even know of the actual treason or were they just relying on CIA’s reasoning that the issues were most sensitive to their sources and methods? Did the local CIA have a clue to the NSC treason against the President?)

    Other options for the government were to defer the trial until after hostilities ended or dismiss the charge and free the defendant. The government strongly hinted that if the judge ruled in favor of keeping the trial open, they would entertain the option of halting the prosecution.

    The judge, being informed that the prosecutions case did not rely on classified matters, allowed the trial to proceed in open session with a number of interested parties in attendance.

    The prosecution had already established that all members of the court, the lawyers for both prosecution and defense were cleared for information up to and including top secret. The judge was therefore on notice that certain issues of “national security” would be forthcoming in the form of testimony from defense witnesses but not from the prosecutions witnesses.

    When prosecution witnesses began responding to questions by the prosecutor the judge called a halt to the proceedings and declared, after the court was cleared of jurors and ‘interested’ parties, “I thought you assured me that we were not going to have this turning the witnesses on and blurting out classified information?” The prosecutor explained that there was nothing classified about the witnesses testimony. The judge noted that, “Well, the security officer (CIA) is about to have a heart attack!”

    The judge then exclaimed, “I am not going to conduct this trial walking on egg shells. Why are we being forced to go through this exercise?”

    Up to this point, there had been no disclosure before the court or interested parties of CIA involvement or mention of the country of Cambodia. Discussion on these issues had taken place before the court was called during government’s arguments to close the court to the public. The aura of National Security permeated the courtroom and the psyche of the judge. But it is here that the pattern in the weave of the Linus Blanket of ‘national security’ began to unravel.

    The trial ended in a conviction for premeditated murder on January 30, 1968 at 7:00 PM. The sentence was life in prison.

    The conviction was overturned in November, 1970 by an appellate court in Washington, DC because of “newly found evidence and fraud on the court”. The governments expert witness had recanted his incourt testimony, in writing, and submitted it to his boss at the Bethesda, Maryland Armed Forces Institute of Pathology where it remained hidden from September, 1968 until November, 1970. This file also contained FBI reports dated February 8, 1968, just nine days after trial, containing exculpatory evidence in violation of Supreme Court Ruling Brady v Maryland

    However, the written recantation of the government’s star witness was determined to be sufficient to over rule the conviction and the FBI was never called to task for their violation of Supreme Court rulings or other egregious acts in this matter.

    The charge was dismissed on January 8, 1971

    In November, 2000 the State Department declassified once top secret documents which were released on the Internet by the LBJ Library.

    This is where the Linus Blanket of ‘national security’ became shredded. These documents prove, in no uncertain terms, that the CIA, State Department and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, as well as other members present during National Security meetings attended by the President, blatantly disregarded presidential directives issued during NSC meetings during June 1966 wherein the president expressed his concern over the state of affairs in Cambodia and his desire to ‘get closer’ to then Prince, now King Norodom Sihanouk by forbidding any and all support for Khmer Serei activities including the overthrow of the Cambodian Government and the assassination of Sihanouk.

    This information allows but one conclusion for critical thinking: The government’s demand for a closed trial was predicated on maintaining the secrecy of rogue CIA operations in violation of presidential directives issued during NSC meetings, during wartime. When LBJ was made aware of the court outcome in 1968 he made it known that he “…would not seek, nor accept, my parties nomination for a second term as President of The United States”. One must conclude, therefore, that the treasonous actions by the NSC were of major concern to the President and the root cause for the continued quagmire of the Vietnam War.

    And these are only a few examples and long lasting ramifications when ‘national security’ is wrongly invoked. Unfortunately, the added blockage of ‘need to know’ further isolates those with true justification for such knowledge.

    The pattern of abuse continues.

    Must we wait another thirty two years for the blanket of national security to be lifted on the information used to gag Sibel Edmonds by court order? Are there crimes of treason in the documents shielded from interested parties relating to the ‘inside job’ and government facilitation of the events of 911?

    It should also be noted that the information found in the above documents has been submitted to Senators of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and the former Attorney General, the National Archives and White House, without response. Subsequent letters of Inquiry seeking response have likewise been ignored.

    Sibel Edmonds and William Weaver wrote:

    “We have also received e-mails from individuals who argued against the public’s right to know when it comes to issues such as NSA warrantless eavesdropping or mass collection of citizens’ financial and other personal data by various intelligence and defense related agencies. They unite in their argument that any measure to protect us from the terrorists is welcomed and justified. One individual wrote: “so what if they are listening to our conversations. I have nothing to hide, so I don’t mind the government eavesdropping on my phone conversations. Only those engaged in evil deeds would worry about the government placing them under surveillance.” But how far can one let the government go based on this rationale? This issue is well articulated in Federalist, No. 51, “You must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself.” How do we oblige our government to control itself?”

    Having nothing to hide matters not when the government resorts to fabricating evidence in order to obtain a guilty verdict. Surveillance of phones and emails can trigger a warrant-less search and the potential of ‘planting’ evidence which, when ‘found’ can and will be used in a court of law to convict any individual. But in this continuous war on terrorism and the Patriot Act, such convictions will only be obtained in secret courts covered by the blanket of ‘national security’, ostensibly to protect the vital interests of our country but actually to secret the sources and methods of obtaining ‘evidence’ with which to convict ‘terrorists’ or other enemies of the state.

    “Our entire system of government and its institutions is grounded in an insistence that tyranny be combated and that individual liberty be protected from a potentially tyrannical government. The result is a suspicion of authority and an emphasis on limited government. Samuel Huntington, a well-known conservative Republican, states in American Politics: The Promise of Disharmony: “The distinctive aspect of the American Creed is its antigovernment character. Opposition to power, and suspicion of government as the most dangerous embodiment of power, are the central themes of American political thought.”
    Tyranny in the form of treason, to undermine the will of the President, and therefore the people, by forming a government within the government, and by subtrefuge, bypass and eliminate the will and focus of the President to counter efforts of war expansion and continuation of the existing war is utterly reprehensible and mind numbing to those now exposed to such skulldugary. In this case, the opposition to power, the power of the presidency, itself, is a matter of grave concern and shows the potential for true disaster in the nuclear age by those who would subvert the law of this land.

    In conclusion, the use and excuse for secreting crimes by invoking the blanket of “national security” must be exposed for the ruse that it is.

    Bests,

    John McCarthy

  • http://www.booklinker.blogspot.com Deano

    Actually there was a serious and wholly legitimate discussion in security circles a few years back (and I don’t know whether the data you cite falls under this category) of what was deemed sensitive or “near-secret” information whichindividually was relatively innocuous, taken together or with other seemingly innocuous information, collectively formed a serious security risk.

    I have no idea whatsoever if this reclassification falls under that category, or as you noted, this is yet another example of the current adminstration’s policies.

  • http://parodieslost.typepad.com Mark Schannon

    Deano, look at what they reclassified: Arms data that has no relevance anymore.

    Plus, as Dave noted, once it’s public, you can’t make it unpublic whatever classification you put on it. They’re all smoking something not available legally to the rest of us.

    In Jameson Veritas

  • http://www.booklinker.blogspot.com Deano

    And I’ll re-note my earlier caveant – I don’t know about if the current crop of date being reclassified would in any remote fashion qualify as to what was being discussed several years ago as reclassifying as senstive data. I’m only adding the salient point to he discussion that reclassification by itself is not necessarily a stupid or useless action…It depends on the nature of the data and the why behind reclassifying it.

    I will note that based on their track record of obfuscation and secrecy for the pure sake of secrecy, the Bush adminsitration doesn’t engender much confidence that this is happening for sensible and necessary reasons…

  • Clavos

    But Deano, even if data that was once unclassified is re-classified, isn’t it logical to assume it’s spread all over the place, and is now in the hands of universities, libraries, think tanks, pollsters and any indivdual with an interest, benign or nefarious?

    What’s the point? The cat’s already out of the bag.

  • http://www.booklinker.blogspot.com Deano

    Depends on the nature of the cat….not all information ends up in places of routine public access.

    By way of example, if the daily accounts for the NSA’s cafeteria are not considered “senstive” or secret, it is fairly easy to determine, based on the volume of food orders, roughly what the number of employees at an NSA location. From there you can make estimates around such things as how many support personnel, how many analysts etc. They will be guesses of course but if you can then cross-reference that information with other open-source materials, you can make an estimate of the analytical capabilities of the NSA.

    Information that has been declassified may once have been benign and useless but now, with much eaiser more widespread access to information of all types, it is possible to pull together information from multiple sources that you may not hiterto have had access to.

    From the description in the article the declassified information certainly doesn’t sound like it had any current relevance and did not merit reclassification. The discussion I cited in the above questions was more aimed at controlling items that fell into that “grey area” between secret and public….

  • Nancy

    Well, isn’t that why “military intelligence” is considered a classic?

  • http://kanrei.blogspot.com brad schader

    How can we satirists and parodists (I know, it’s not a word but style trumps accuracy sometimes) write satire and parody when the Bush Administration’s actions are more bizarre than anything we could come up with.

    Simple, we become fortunetellers.

  • http://www.1bigdragon.blogspot.com Peter J

    Deano, I get your point but in light of the’web’ I believe at most it may slow down a retrieval of info, but to make anything or any part of anything which was once public knowlege obscure is a losing battle.

    The Bush group has run out of strategy, all they can do now is to throw wads of crumpled paper back at their moderate Republican constituency, who have long been aware at their deceival and are wanting to save their party.

    With mid-term elections coming up W’s in a tizzy knowing that he needs more than his ‘base’ to swing his people through and once he loses the majority he’s gone. Any performance by the Bush administration at this point is merely a shell game.

    Mark, you haven’t run out of material, you still have ‘Herr’ Rumsfeld, ‘Lon’ Cheney, ‘Rockin’ Rove, and ‘Condumleeki’ Rice.
    Each of them is bizarre, it’s too bad Michael Jackon’s not on the team.

  • http://jswynne.typepad.com/gropes/ Jim Wynne

    Not only is parodist a legitimate word, there is also an adjective form–parodistic.

  • http://www.booklinker.blogspot.com Deano

    This is off-topic to an extent but to paraphrase Darth Vader “Don’t be too proud of this technological terror you’ve created…”

    It is interesting to watch the way research habits have changed from generation to generation…While the Internet is a marvelous research tool with tremendous scope and breadth in many ways, it also has several severe restrictions – first, it is chock full of dubious sources, unverified “truthiness” and poorly documented information. Second, a hugely significant amount of information is not yet tied into the Internet. Yes you can find it if you dig in University archives, in libraries or in newspaper records, but it may not be as easily locatable as you think.

    My experience in recent years with students doing research is that far too many now rely purely on what they can “Google”. If they can’t find it on Google, many tend to stop looking or worse, they find partial information online and assume it is complete and/or factual. It can be great but it also is somewhat of a “lazy” solution that often results in distortions and misconceptions.

    This is obviously changing as more and more content is moved to a searchable medium but talk to some students today and the very idea of crawling through microfiche, archives and actual physical books is almost anathema to some.

    It’s starting to make me feel old…

  • http://parodieslost.typepad.com Mark Schannon

    Jim, thanks. I am a parodist. What a paradistic little twit you’ve become. Does your mother know you’re being parodistic? Does your wife?

    Deano, I agree. There was always something wonderful being in a library with stacks of books all around you, writing out 3X5 cards by the dozen…Or searching for a book only to find another completely off subject that captivates you.

    Technology will replace that…but at a great loss.

    In Decaf Veritas

  • http://absent-mind.blogspot.com/ Jet in Columbus

    Mark, leave Bush alone. He’s already had to interupt his vacation in Texas… no wait that’s right he’s on vacation in Maine now, visiting Gonzo… where was I?

    Oh yeah

    Leave him alone damn it, he’s busy arranging to send comedians to the Caribbean area to helP FEMA with the new tropical depression before it hits the U.S.

  • Nancy

    That’s better than what he wanted to do Weds, which was to have the entire route from the WH to Mt. Vernon closed to the commuting hoi polloi – during rush hour, no less – so’s he could attend a private fund-raiser for George “Macaca” Allen. Fortunately VA refused to comply with the presidential “request”, so he went by helicopter instead – but still on your tax dime, you betcha.

    Who says there’ no material here for parody? You aren’t looking.