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Location: UFOUpDatesList.Com > 2001 > Nov > Nov 7

Secrecy News -- 11/06/01

From: Steven Aftergood <saftergood@fas.org>
Date: Tue, 6 Nov 2001 08:47:08 -0500
Fwd Date: Wed, 07 Nov 2001 04:19:09 -0500
Subject: Secrecy News -- 11/06/01


SECRECY NEWS
from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
November 6, 2001


**	BUSH ORDER IMPEDES RELEASE OF PRESIDENTIAL RECORDS
**	INFORMATION ON DETAINED SUSPECTS SOUGHT
**	HOMELAND SECURITY PRESIDENTIAL DIRECTIVES
**	MY RED INDIAN ISN'T COMING


BUSH ORDER IMPEDES RELEASE OF PRESIDENTIAL RECORDS

A new executive order could make it substantially more difficult
for the public to gain access to historically valuable
presidential records by requiring the consent of both the
incumbent President and the former President whose
Administration generated the records.

Earlier this year, the White House had blocked release of
records from the Reagan Administration that were supposed to
have become public under the Presidential Records Act.

Now the new executive order 13233, signed November 1, will
significantly increase the obstacles to disclosure of such
records, since it allows either the current President or the
former President -- or even the former President's family after
his death -- to veto disclosure.

The new order replaces the 1989 executive order 12667, which
also permitted a former President to request that records be
withheld, but reserved to the incumbent President the right to
decide whether or not to honor that request.

It should be noted that the new restrictions will apply only to
unclassified information, since classified records are exempt
from disclosure anyway, as are a myriad of other categories of
information that are protected by statute.

Since classified, privacy, proprietary and other forms of
information are already off the table, the new executive order
invites the suspicion that it is intended to shield embarrassing
information, a category for which an explicit exemption does not
exist.

But the actual import of the new order will not be fully clear
until it is applied in the months to come to the Reagan records
which still await processing.

The new executive order 13233 is posted here:

http://www.fas.org/sgp/news/2001/11/eo-pra.html

The order was the subject of a rather testy exchange at the
White House press briefing on November 1.  See:

http://www.fas.org/sgp/news/2001/11/wh110101.html

"I don't see this as anything other than setting a set of
procedures that I believe is fair and reasonable," President
Bush said at a press availability on November 2:

http://www.fas.org/sgp/news/2001/11/wh110201.html

Others disagree.  "This decree is not about protecting troops or
homeland security," the Los Angeles Times editorialized today.
"Rather, the administration's sweeping refusal to release any
documents from the Reagan era suggests a secrecy fetish."  See:

http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/commentary/la-000088720nov06
.story

The House Government Reform Subcommittee on Government
Efficiency will hold a hearing on presidential records today.


INFORMATION ON DETAINED SUSPECTS SOUGHT

A coalition of civil liberties and other groups filed a Freedom
of Information Act request last week calling upon the Justice
Department to disclose information concerning the identities and
status of the more than 1,000 individuals who were arrested or
detained in the aftermath of the September 11 terrorist attacks.

"While certain aspects of the FBI investigation into the
terrorist attacks need to be secret, we do not live in a country
where the government can keep secret who they arrest, where they
are being held, or the charges against them," said Kate Martin
of the Center for National Security Studies (CNSS), who prepared
the request.

The October 29 FOIA request seeking disclosure of the
information is posted here:

http://www.aclu.org/congress/l102901a.html

An independent analysis by the Washington Post identified 235 of
the detainees and described the circumstances and purpose of
their detention.  See the November 4 article "A Deliberate
Strategy of Disruption":

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A36356-2001Nov3.ht
ml

Meanwhile, CNSS reports that the Justice Department has agreed
to expedite the pending FOIA request under the provision
relating to "matters of widespread and exceptional media
interest in which there exist possible questions about the
government's integrity which affect public confidence."


HOMELAND SECURITY PRESIDENTIAL DIRECTIVES

The Bush Administration has inaugurated a new series of
Presidential Directives, designated Homeland Security
Presidential Directives, or HSPDs, that will "record and
communicate presidential decisions about the homeland security
policies of the United States."

Though other Presidential Directives are almost reflexively
withheld from disclosure, and released grudgingly if at all, the
first two HSPDs were published last week without hesitation,
although only in softcopy format.  See:

   http://www.fas.org/irp/offdocs/nspd/index.html#hspd


MY RED INDIAN ISN'T COMING

Toward the end of World War II, a young Jewish survivor named
Marcel Reich found himself working as a military censor for the
Polish army searching the mail for suspicious communications. As
he recently recalled:

	Dark formulations, calling for the censor, were found
	with particular frequency in the letters of female
	members of the army.  For instance: "My Red Indian
	isn't coming" or "I am very worried because there
	is no sign of the Chinese" or "All my efforts are
	in vain. Have you no idea how to get the thing
	moving?" After much effort the mystery was solved:
	these letters always concerned a missed period.
	Anyone might have thought that the greatest secret
	of the Polish army was menstruation.

	What I learned then was that institutions surrounded
	by a halo of secrecy owe their reputation to the
	legends spread about them or to those which they
	themselves have launched.  Once one comes to know
	them from the inside they are invariably
	disappointing.... I soon came to the conclusion
	that censorship work was not only stupid and
	boring but also totally unnecessary.

These observations appear in the book "The Author of Himself" by
Marcel Reich-Ranicki, newly translated from the German (p. 218).
It is a memoir of Reich's boyhood in Berlin, his wartime
experiences in the Warsaw ghetto (where as a music critic he
once reviewed a performance by a young ghetto violinist named
Edgar Aftergut) through his professional ascent to become
perhaps the preeminent literary critic in Germany today.

Rich in anecdote and high literary gossip, the book will appeal
to those with an affinity for German literature or an interest
in the fateful encounter of Germans and Jews.  See:

http://pup.princeton.edu/titles/7110.html


******************************
Secrecy News is written by Steven Aftergood and published by the
Federation of American Scientists.

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_______________________
Steven Aftergood
Project on Government Secrecy
Federation of American Scientists
web:    www.fas.org/sgp/index.html
email:  saftergood@fas.org
voice:  (202) 454-4691





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