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FRINFORMSUM: 10/19/2010

October 19, 2010


Kate Doyle in Guatemala City (Getty).


First, check out out the Archive’s Senior Analyst Kate Doyle testifying in Guatemala City about the 1984 disappearance of Guatemalan union leader Fernando Garcia at the hands of the former Guatemalan security service.

A recent study conducted by CREW (Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics and Washington) shows that the new government initiatives to increase information freedom have yet to yield major results. In short, while CREW commends the Obama administration for its stated effort to implement the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) more effectively, the speed and efficiency of FOIA has not yet improved.  Additionally, the survey shows that discontent among FOIA officers is high.

Quill magazine largely seconds CREW’s analysis.

According to US Secretary of Defense Bob Gates, the  Wikileaks’ exposure of classified Afghanistan documents did not reveal any US sources or methods.  The documents did name Afghans who cooperated and collaborated with US forces, therefore exposing them to danger.  Despite this, there has been no reported evidence of the Taliban carrying out retribution attacks.

One of the many travails of transferring the detainees at Guantanamo Bay into the US legal system is a special category of prisoner: those who are deemed too dangerous to release but also “not feasible for prosecution.” When Judge Henry Kennedy ordered the release of one of these “problem detainees,” a disturbing episode occurred.  Kennedy’s opinion handled classified information and was mistakenly left unredacted and posted on the court’s website.  The mistake was corrected almost immediately, and a second version was released. Disturbingly, Propublica’s comparison of the two shows that while classified information has been removed, the opinion has also been substantially rewritten in a way that skews the facts of the case.

Read Steve Aftergood’s piece on over-classification at Foreign Policy.

And Secrecy News has also detailed the Obama Administration’s apparent double standard on declassification.  Bob Woodward’s latest book –which exposed deep national security secrets– got nary a glance from the administration which prosecuted more leakers than any of its predecessors.

The latest prosecution is of an author who allegedly did not follow the instructions of the CIA’s Publication Review Board.  A side note: the CIA contended in court that it did not have to disclose the author’s real name because “if defendant’s true name and affiliation with the CIA were officially acknowledged, foreign governments, enterprising journalists, and amateur spy-hunters would be able to discover and publicly disclose the cover methods defendant used to conceal his true status as a CIA officer.”

I wonder if any of you “amateur spy hunters” read this blog. (H/T Secrecy News).

Finally, read Walter Pincus’s elegant eulogy for the B-53 thermonuclear bomb.  The B-53 –which yielded an explosion 600 times more powerful than the bomb dropped on Hiroshima–   was the largest bomb in the US’s nuclear stockpile.  Its rear compartment contained five parachutes because it was designed to sit softly on the ground before exploding and –as the plan went– destroying the USSR’s underground nuclear fallout bunkers.

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