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Sat Jul 21, 2012, 09:18 PM

Ex-federal official calls U.S. classification system ‘dysfunctional’

Source: Washington Post

When the government’s espionage case against former National Security Agency official Thomas A. Drake collapsed last year, it meant that a key defense witness didn’t get to take the stand.

The witness, J. William Leonard, the government’s former classification czar, planned to testify about the harm to democracy represented by the case — not from Drake leaking information about a troubled counterterrorism technology program at the NSA, but from what Leonard viewed as the government’s needless classification of information.

Leonard’s views, outlined in an affidavit, got some support with the release of a memo that formed part of the evidence against Drake. The Washington Post received the memo in response to a Freedom of Information Act request.

The now-declassified two-page memo is titled “What a Wonderful Success,” and it contains praise from Gen. Keith B. Alexander, director of the NSA, for agency employees involved in the program. Two paragraphs were marked “secret.” One of them praised the merits of the program and spoke of getting members of Congress to see how it worked. In the other, a team member was lauded for “an excellent job” of briefing Alexander on the program.

Read more: http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/ex-federal-official-calls-us-classification-system-dysfunctional/2012/07/21/gJQAfJ1o0W_story.html

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Response to alp227 (Original post)

Sat Jul 21, 2012, 10:16 PM

1. Dysfunctional = working against itself, counter to its own purpose, defeating usefulness

In an e-mail Friday, Leonard, speaking generally, said the system for classifying information is “becoming dysfunctional” and “clearly lacks the ability to differentiate between trivial information and that which can truly damage our nation’s well-being.”

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Response to alp227 (Original post)

Sat Jul 21, 2012, 10:44 PM

2. A Close Friend of Mine, who worked for a No Longer Existing State says

Documents and programmes are classified for the following reasons:

1: Primarily and most importantly to cover the arses of the heads of the departments, so their failures and incompetencies will not become public.

2: Secondarily to keep the public from knowing what that department, and/or the government in general is doing.

3: Tertiarily to make the persons who read the documents, and the persons who are named in them, and the persons in the programmes feel important.

4: Fourthly to protect the persons named in the documents and involved in the programs.

5: Fifthly, lastly, and least importantly, to keep the information from an enemy.

Wolf

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Response to Wolf Frankula (Reply #2)

Sat Jul 21, 2012, 10:54 PM

3. I'm thinking #3 takes priority at times.

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Response to Wolf Frankula (Reply #2)

Sun Jul 22, 2012, 03:49 AM

5. They missed the most common one

In a very large number of cases, documents are classified out of routine: because the agency that produced the document produces classified material, the people who work there assume it ONLY produces classified material.

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Response to Wolf Frankula (Reply #2)

Sun Jul 22, 2012, 08:37 AM

6. May not have applied in NLES, but, 6) it also creates profitable contracts for private companies.

Now, we square the circle.

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Response to leveymg (Reply #6)

Sun Jul 22, 2012, 12:04 PM

7. having a clearance is an economic barrier to entry

firms having cleared facilities and staff can therefore charge more than the going rate, without worrying so much about competition

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Response to DBoon (Reply #7)

Sun Jul 22, 2012, 12:35 PM

8. That's (7). And, (8) public scrutiny is foreclosed, so less risk of fraud conviction

Nice work, if you can get it.

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Response to alp227 (Original post)

Sat Jul 21, 2012, 10:54 PM

4. So it work as well as the rest of the government. :( n/t

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Response to pam4water (Reply #4)

Sun Jul 22, 2012, 12:36 PM

9. Much better. Just ask the (ex)-KGB.

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