Here's 140 Fully-Redacted Pages Explaining How Much Snowden's Leaks Have Harmed The Nation's Security

from the FOIA:-Freedom-Of-Ink-Act dept

If the US intelligence committee is concerned about the status of “hearts and minds” in its ongoing NSA v. Snowden battle, it won’t be winning anyone over with its latest response to a FOIA request.

Various representatives of the intelligence community have asserted (sometimes repeatedly) that Snowden’s leaks have caused irreparable harm to intelligence-gathering efforts and placed the nation in “grave danger.” But when given the chance to show the public how much damage has been done, it declares everything on the subject too sensitive to release. EVERYTHING.

Here’s the Defense Intelligence Agency’s appraisal of the current situation, as released to Vice News’ Jason Leopold.

On the subject of compromised information:

How about intelligence sharing and cooperation?

At least we know that — as of January 2014 — there were four (4) “talking points.”

Every single assessment, dating back to September 2013, is fully redacted. How does that help communicate the DIA’s concerns about Snowden’s leaks to the general public? How does that persuade anyone about the alleged severity of the situation?

From what’s not on display here, it’s safe to say the general public’s perception of the American intelligence apparatus doesn’t matter. Those who do matter are those already on the NSA’s side, and then only those with the power to guide legislation towards favorable ends. It’s safe to say that there are people in Washington DC who have seen at least a portion of these reports, but that small group contains no members of the general public.

A fully-redacted report may seem logical in the eyes of the intelligence community, which despite multiple leakers, still pretends its secrets will always be secret. Page after page of redaction shows it’s really not interested in the transparency it keeps promising will make everything better. It doesn’t want to give the public any more information than it already has and this mess of whiteout and black ink clearly and loudly states that it believes the public has no stake in the ongoing debate over mass surveillance.

It’s a wordless insult, delivered under the pretense of “national security.”

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Comments on “Here's 140 Fully-Redacted Pages Explaining How Much Snowden's Leaks Have Harmed The Nation's Security”

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That One Guy (profile) says:

So much wasted ink

A hundred and forty pages… Really? They could have saved a whole lot of time and effort if they’d just sent back a simple response, that despite being drastically shorter, would have gotten the exact same meaning across:

“Dear Jason Leopold,

In response to your request for documents pertaining to any harms caused by the recent leaks of classified information:

Fuck you.

You get nothing, because despite what you or your readers may think, we don’t answer to you, never have, and never will. As such we are under no obligation to explain ourselves, our actions, or our statements to any of you.

If you have any concerns or comments regarding our response, please, feel free to drop dead, as we could not care less what you think or say.

Have a nice day.”

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: So much wasted ink

I really think the people sending these 140 page blank responses are internally laughing at the lack of accountability they have towards the public. They know their response is ridiculous, they knew this before even submitting it, they can’t possibly be that dumb. They are basically intentionally taunting the public as if to say ‘what are you going to do about it?’. This publication should be evidence of their childish intent.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: So much wasted ink

Actually, I think you’re wrong. The culprit here is “bureaucratic chain of commandd”.

One person handles the FOIA request.
They find the documents, and send them off to someone else, who reviews them.
That person reviews the document, marking the sections they think should be redacted (they do this for other documents not under FOIA too — their job is to vet documents for unclassified release)
When they’re done, they send it off to a reviewer, who does the actual redacting. That’s what this person does all day — they blank out documents to ‘sanitize’ them for release to X target.
The documents then go back down the chain to the person managing the request, whose job is then to take the resulting document and release it to the appropriate party. They probably don’t even review the document to see what’s been done to it (as that part’s been done by someone vetted to do such things).

In fact, the person releasing the document may not even have the credentials to view the document in all cases.

So each person’s job is totally sensible in and of itself — it’s just when you combine them and don’t have a single person who can look at the whole picture and ask “does this make sense?” that you get situations like this.

And with this kind of thing, the document hits the media/courts, and the redacted version goes back up the chain to someone who DOES have clearance to look at the original. They look at it and go ‘well, this is a mess…’ and then get on to the PR people (who don’t have clearance).

So for the first round, the problem is more one of process than of intent. The problem with intent doesn’t come until they hit the damage control phase, where I’m sure the prevailing attitude is “protect the classified information at all cost (to the taxpayer)!”

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

If I had to guess, the reason for blacking out the talking points is mostly likely to keep people from being able to show why they are wrong.

If they’re careful to only use them when people cannot refute their claims, than I’m sure the talking points are most persuasive, but if someone has time to do a little research, and show the flaws in their arguments, they’d be a lot less effective.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

Not when they’re banking on using those talking points with people who aren’t able to fact check their statements at the time they are making them.

A lot of the stuff they say may make a lot of sense… until you actually do a little research and find out that pretty much all of it is a mix of lies, damn lies, misdirections and falsehoods. If people were able to research the arguments that they were using, those arguments would be a lot less effective, as they’d be exposed as the rot that they are.

Anonymous Coward says:

A more concise method of conveying to the people that the NSA doesn’t care what anyone thinks would have been to just send a picture of a closed fist, middle finger extended.

In fact, this is precisely the impression I get from them whenever I hear or read any statements they make.

They like to bitch and moan about the damage caused by the leaking of details of their abusive, unconstitutional spying. But, they are absolutely unwilling to prove it. Anyone willing to “trust them” or “give them the benefit of the doubt” is embarking on a fools errand.

Criminals, all of them. They all belong in a prison cell for the rest of their natural lives.

GEMont (profile) says:

Re: Re:

They are just following the rules laid out in the new Secret Post 9/11 Corporate Constitution section, titled Ways and Means of Remaining Legal, While Breaking Laws.

You see, it would be illegal for them to not comply with the FOIA inquiry, so by pretending that they are complying – by releasing blank pages covered entirely in redacting ink – they are fulfilling the rules necessary to remain on legal footing under the new secret interpretation of the laws.

Anonymous Coward says:

Directive 19

IN order to address concerns the US Government is not ‘transparent’ in meeting its legal FOIA requirements, all agencies are directed to apply the literal definition to the word ‘transparency’. THEREFORE:

All FOIA requests which cannot be addressed with a standard FUCK YOU response shall be printed on acetate, cellophane or other clear media, in white ink, using a 4 pt font, WITH THE FOLLOWING EXCEPTIONS:

Any FOIA response containing 47% or more pure confabulation shall be printed on tissue, and

All DHS responses shall continue to be printed on tinfoil.

Remember, IT IS YOUR DUTY to keep information from the ignorant, terrorist-loving general population.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Directive 19

Reminds me of a quote from a Discworld book:
“And these are your reasons, my lord?”
“Do you think I have others?” said Lord Vetinari. “My motives, as ever, are entirely transparent.”
Hughnon reflected that ‘entirely transparent’ meant either that you could see right through them or that you couldn’t see them at all.”
― Terry Pratchett, The Truth

beltorak (profile) says:

Re: Speaking of wasted ink...

make sure to tape the papers in a loop so they have enough copies to get to all the relevant people. start on a friday evening so they have ample time over the weekend to work on it.

see black faxes (time code 6:50)

(no, don’t really do that)

((jeez, do i really have to put that to cover my ass in case i get swept up in some surveillance net??))

Padpaw (profile) says:

to summarize

“Snowden’s leaks have shown us to be acting in a way more common with Nazi Germany than what we pretend we represent ie the last bastion of freedom for the tired oppressed masses.

This has hurt our public image and has made those we have committed war crimes against aware of such things.

By exposing our evil to the light Snowden has made this country a target”

GEMont (profile) says:

Reverse Bluff

No surprises here.

After all, releasing the un-redacted documents – a stack of blank pages, or more precisely, no pages at all – would give the game away.

By releasing a stack of blank, but fully redacted pages, the agency has made it appear that the “leaks” really have harmed national security, but in ways that cannot be explained due to a need to protect national security.

Best sleight of hand PR move I’ve seen to date.

They must have hired someone with a college education to do their PR work recently…. or George Bush Sr.


Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

They've leaked information here!

At the bottom of page 2 of the document, where it incorrectly refers to “memorandums of understanding” (should be memoranda), the submitted, redacted documents contain two crossed out fields. Unfortunately, the contents of those fields are readily discernible, and so I expect the Defense ‘Intelligence’ Agency will conduct an investigation into who leaked the following information:

Derived from: Multiple Sources
Declassify on: 20381109 (the 3 may in fact be a 7, so this is not a complete leak).

This information is also contained on page 4, which APPEARS to state the declassification date as 20331107. Page 6 has a date that appears to be 20381024.

I encourage someone with better eyesight than I to have a closer look at this potentially life-risking information.

GEMont (profile) says:

Re: They've leaked information here!

Since the documents were entirely redacted, they could have indeed been any documents about anything at all and have absolutely nothing to do with leaks or national security.

They could have been documents pertaining to something like the cost of the secret escape exits ad tunnels, built into the White House and other Government Buildings throughout the US in preparation for an armed uprising by US citizens, expected to occur between 2033 and 2038, and were selected because they were handily near the top of the alphabetically arranged stack, listed under Access Accommodations Assessments.

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