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February 7, 2011

The Espionage Act?

According to a report prepared by the Department of Defense (DOD), between 2007 and 2009 the Pentagon paid in excess of $270 billion to defense contractors previously convicted of civil fraud in excess of $1 million and conducted an additional almost $700 million in business with contractors convicted of criminal fraud.  The report was prepared responsive to a reporting provision added to a defense appropriation bill by Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VA).  Sanders claims, “The sad truth is that virtually all of the major defense contractors in this country for years have been engaged in systemic fraudulent behavior, while receiving hundreds of billions of dollars of taxpayer money.”

The New York Times has an interesting piece on Eva Golinger, a U.S. born lawyer who has become Hugo Chavez’s interpreter of the “motives of the Empire.”  Between accompanying Chavez on his global tour of visiting Venezuela-aligned autocrats and excoriating human rights groups as agents of the West, Ms. Golinger uses her rights as a U.S. citizen to issue FOIA requests to U.S. government agencies to investigate purported U.S. efforts to undermine the Chavez regime.  The irony of the situation is not lost on Andres Cañizález, a press freedom advocate who claims, “Paradoxically she uses a right established in the United States, of access to public information, which Venezuelans do not have.”

The RAND Corporation’s National Defense Research Institute has prepared a study for the DOD entitled What Should Be Classified.  The study seeks to outline a comprehensive framework for classification decisions, and apply the proposed standards to the DOD’s Global Force Management Data Initiative.

The U.S. Air Force offered additional guidance to employees (and family members of employees) regarding accessing WikiLeaks materials, or other leaked documents that remain classified.  The guidance claims that, “To do so [on a government or personal computer] would not only violate the SECAF guidance on this issue, a violation of which subjects the violator to prosecution for dereliction of duty or for engaging in prejudicial/service discrediting conduct, it would also subject the violator to prosecution for violation of espionage under the Espionage Act.”

The Issa-mania continues as three Democratic members of the House Oversight Committee sent a letter to Congressman Issa claiming that his request for documentation of previously made FOIA requests “ will place a significant burden on FOIA offices and divert limited staff from processing requests from the public.”

Meanwhile, Issa has continued his assault on Janet Napolitano’s Department of Homeland Security over allegedly filtering FOIA requests through political appointees.  In his Tuesday letter to Napolitano, Issa claims that DHS’ behavior in response to these claims “raises questions about the department’s commitment to the president’s effort to create ‘an unprecedented level of openness in government.’”  DHS denies the allegations and claims to be complying with Mr. Issa’s investigation.

One Comment
  1. Emily W. permalink
    February 7, 2011 1:11 pm

    Wow, the guidance to Air Force employees (and family!) is rediculous! Talk about big brother and censorship, even on personal computers…How is it that a person should be concerned about reading something that is now a part of the public domain just because it is still officially classified?

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