US Releases Redacted Document Twice... With Different Redactions

from the [redacted]-if-we-[redacted] dept

We've talked repeatedly about just how arbitrary the feds can be when it comes to redacting documents that they release. Despite the fact that they're supposed to err on the side of transparency, they often go in the other direction. However, it can reach absolutely ridiculous levels, such as when they release the same document twice... with different redactions, revealing what they redacted. Even worse, they claim that the redactions were necessary to avoid having Al Qaeda be able to break prisoners out of Guantanamo Bay prison. The document was released both times as part of a case concerning detainees' access to lawyers and (more specifically) the fact that the prison was conducting "genital searches" on prisoners if they wanted to meet with their lawyers.

Part of the case revolves around a declaration from June 3rd from Guantanamo prison warden Colonel John Bogdan explaining why the genital searches are necessary. However, the US government says that if that declaration is fully made public it "would better enable our enemies to attack the detention facilities at Guantanamo or undermine security at the facility." Got that? The reason Bogdan's declaration must be redacted is that not redacting key parts would allow Al Qaeda to attack the prison.

Given that, the US government released a redacted version to a reporter... apparently forgetting (or unaware) that they had already released a different redacted version a month ago in a related proceeding on the same case. Jason Leopold at Al Jazeera explores some of the differences:

Indeed, in the public version of Bogdan's declaration submitted to the appeals court last month, the following passage is unredacted:

If the detainee would need to use the restroom in Camp 6, the meeting must end and the detainee would need to be moved by guard staff back to his cell.

The same passage, however, appears this way in the version of Bogdan's declaration released on Friday:

If the detainees would need to use the restroom in Camp 6 [redacted].

Another passage in Bogdan's declaration released on Friday says:

The frisk search that is conducted is to ensure there is nothing concealed between the clothing and the body.

However, the word "frisk" is redacted from the public version of Bogdan's declaration submitted to the appeals court last month. The earlier version also says: "At no time is the detainee's actual groin exposed to the staff," whereas that passage is redacted in its entirety in the version of Bogdan's declaration the government released on Friday.

A passage in the earlier version of Bogdan's declaration says:

Additionally, for security reasons, internal moves could not be conducted in proximity to the attorney visits.

That sentence has been redacted in the version of Bogdan's declaration released on Friday.

Another passage in the most recent version of Bogdan's statement says:

During the brief movement to the camps, detainees are restrained in a manner consistent with standard procedures for military corrections.

However, the last part of that sentence, "in a manner consistent with standard procedures for military corrections", was redacted in the public version of the declaration the government released last month.

Leopold also notes that the government claims that revealing the full document would also reveal "details about the physical layout of the detention facilities," but points out this makes no sense at all, because you can view satellite images of the prison via Google maps, and tons of reporters have toured the prison and written about the layout.

No matter what, it seems abundantly clear that, yet again, the US is giving bogus reasons for its arbitrary redactions.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    Ninja (profile), Aug 7th, 2013 @ 7:05am

    I wonder who will get fired. The first redactor or the second.

    It's getting harder and harder to justify the secrecy. I wonder what will be the next step. Maybe actively persecuting and harassing those who dare to question the almighty State?

     

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  2.  
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    Ninja (profile), Aug 7th, 2013 @ 7:08am

    I wonder who will get fired. The first redactor or the second.

    It's getting harder and harder to justify the secrecy. I wonder what will be the next step. Maybe actively persecuting and harassing those who dare to question the almighty State?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
    identicon
    Marak, Aug 7th, 2013 @ 8:03am

    Bit by bit their lies are coming out.

    Still wont be enough to move the public in any useful amount though.

     

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  4.  
    identicon
    Lord Binky, Aug 7th, 2013 @ 8:04am

    So if I want the full document, I just have to file multiple requests and paste together fill in the blanks? It may takes years to recieve the multiple requests, but at least we'll get the full document....eventually.

     

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  5.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 7th, 2013 @ 8:13am

    Re:

    The funny thing is that parts of the unredacted version makes them sound better. For example, redacting "frisk" leaves people to imagine that what has been redacted is "full body cavity". Redacting "in a manner consistent with standard procedures for military corrections." leaves people to imagine worse means of restraint.

     

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  6.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 7th, 2013 @ 8:18am

    The redaction are there to justify the document being classified, rather than hiding classified information. After all if there were no redaction made when the document was released it would be hard to justify it being classified.

     

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  7.  
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    jeh, Aug 7th, 2013 @ 8:37am

    Re:

    I like that argument, it oddly makes sense. I wonder how they decide what to redact. I imagine it involves darts, a document pinned to the wall, a few drinks, and lots of giggling like little school girls.

     

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  8.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 7th, 2013 @ 8:49am

    Re: Re:

    Well, yeah, that's why they want that redacted. They want the enemy to THINK they're going to get a full cavity search, so they don't even try to hide anything up there. But nobody actually wants to DO such a search. So with some clever redacting, you can leave an impression without actually lying.

     

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  9.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Aug 7th, 2013 @ 8:50am

    Re: Re:

    That was my thought as well. With those redactions, the treatment sounds much more severe. I wonder is that might have been the real point of the redactions, to make things sound as intimidating as possible to try to scare people as a deterrent.

     

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  10.  
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    Disgusted, Aug 7th, 2013 @ 8:51am

    Hard to keep all the lies straight

    Once you start lying, it's difficult to remember what and how you lied the last few times. Also hard to remember what your team members lied about. Eventually you get caught with silliness like this. Shame!

     

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  11.  
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    Internet Zen Master (profile), Aug 7th, 2013 @ 8:54am

    When someone lies

    Then the person usually ends up having to come up with bigger lies to cover up the original lie. And even bigger lies to cover up those lies. And then even bigger lies...[Repeat ad nauseam.]

    Why isn't it just easier for people to tell the truth? You look like less of an idiot afterwards.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
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    Hephaestus (profile), Aug 7th, 2013 @ 8:55am

    Re:

    They won't get fired they will get promoted. Just like everyone else in the government that f#$%ks up.

     

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  13.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 7th, 2013 @ 9:06am

    Re: Re: Re:

    So even redactions from FOIAs are used to create a chilling effect on the single muslim thinking about killing US soldiers and reading this? It would be an extremely random procedure for redacting since any detail can fall under that criteria.

     

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  14.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 7th, 2013 @ 9:21am

    So the excuse 'matters of national security' can now be accurately and verifiably defined as "that which an individual gov't functionary finds personally offensive, distasteful or liable to make someone in government look bad on any given day". Got it.

    Now that we have a working and contemporary definition for the term 'national security', can we go ahead and figure out what the hell the people in charge are actually up to??? They haven't been minding the store for years.

    I'd say we're about to "be left holding the bag", but we've been holding this bag all along.

    And what the heck is the story with Syria anyway? I'm out of money to spend on international flights to watch the evening news.

     

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  15.  
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    LivingInNavarre (profile), Aug 7th, 2013 @ 9:26am

    Termination Memo

    Due to the oversight of releasing conflicting redacted documents. [REDACTED] will be terminated.

     

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  16.  
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    Michael, Aug 7th, 2013 @ 9:29am

    The have stated clearly that releasing the redacted information would help Al Qaeda. Then, they released the redacted information. This leads me to one of two possible conclusions:

    1) The DOJ needs to prosecute the group doing DOD redactions for "Aiding the Enemy".
    2) Al Qaeda is less of an enemy than the people Snowden released his information to (you know, the people of the United States of America)

     

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  17.  
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    Wally (profile), Aug 7th, 2013 @ 9:44am

    And the most disturbingly funny point that makes me facepalm is....

    "Even worse, they claim that the redactions were necessary to avoid having Al Qaeda be able to break prisoners out of Guantanamo Bay prison."

    No Mike Mandick, your statement isn't the funny part, it's their claim. Gitmo is way too heavily guarded for this to happen.

     

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  18.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 7th, 2013 @ 9:52am

    Re: Re:

    I wonder how they decide what to redact. I imagine it involves darts, a document pinned to the wall, a few drinks, and lots of giggling like little school girls.

    I've always imagined that it's more like this:

    http://grammar.about.com/od/shortpassagesforanalysis/a/hellercatch22.htm

     

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  19.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 7th, 2013 @ 9:55am

    SCP Foundation

    To those who like these sorts of things, I highly recommend the SCP Foundation. Nothing like a well-placed [REDACTED] to make something seem scarier.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20.  
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    Dr. Evil, Aug 7th, 2013 @ 9:58am

    [redacted]

    idea: [redacted] with the original document in order to facilitate a seemingly timely response to every FOIA request. Let me repeat, It would be a good idea for the gov't to keep a pre-redacted copy of every document [redacted]. Of course I already have a patent on this concept. bwa ha ha.

    [redacted]

     

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  21.  
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    murgatroyd (profile), Aug 7th, 2013 @ 10:02am

    Re: When someone lies

    It's harder for people to tell the truth the first time around because it may be immediately embarrassing. With a lie, they won't be embarrassed until later (assuming someone figures out that it was a lie). Short-term vs. long-term thinking.

     

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  22.  
    identicon
    PRMan, Aug 7th, 2013 @ 10:40am

    Re: SCP Foundation

    Reminds me of the Windows 7 launch videos that sound really raunchy by simply bleeping out innocent words.

    http://www.engadget.com/2009/09/24/video-windows-7-launch-party-parody-is-bleeping-genius/

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23.  
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    Ninja (profile), Aug 7th, 2013 @ 10:51am

    Re: And the most disturbingly funny point that makes me facepalm is....

    Mandick was an unintended gold piece of comedy ;)

    They'll claim whatever to maintain their control and the secrecy. Next: US Govt claims that releasing information on the mass surveillance programs would harm innocent unicorns!

     

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  24.  
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    toyotabedzrock (profile), Aug 7th, 2013 @ 10:59am

    Another issue

    It sounds like they do not trust the lawyers and that they want to make a lawyer visit as frustrating and inconvenient as possible for the detainees.

     

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  25.  
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    peter baker, Aug 7th, 2013 @ 11:59am

    Um

    Does that this mean that the two parties responsible for releasing different redacted parts are each guilty of 'aiding the enemy', being traitors and unauthorised release of classified information.

     

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  26.  
    identicon
    Anonymous, Aug 7th, 2013 @ 4:27pm

    This is redactulous.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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