Feds Say It's Classified Info To Say Who We're At War With

from the why,-we've-always-been-at-war-with-eurasia dept

Back in May, we noted the oddity of the charges in Bradley Manning's trial, in which he was accused of aiding three different "enemies," with the last one being classified. Specifically, he was accused of aiding Al-Qaida, Al-Qaida of the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP, which is different than AQ itself) and... mystery enemy. Back at the beginning of July, the government quietly dropped the charge against the classified enemy, so that's no longer in play in that case. That said, apparently this concept of classifying who we're at war with wasn't just limited to the Manning trial. ProPublica has the ridiculous and frightening tale of finding out that the answer to the simple question of who the US is at war with, is apparently classified as well.
At a hearing in May, Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., asked the Defense Department to provide him with a current list of Al Qaeda affiliates.

The Pentagon responded – but Levin’s office told ProPublica they aren’t allowed to share it. Kathleen Long, a spokeswoman for Levin, would say only that the department’s “answer included the information requested.”
The Pentagon also went on to tell ProPublica that revealing who we're actually at war with would do "serious damage to national security." The main reason? They think those groups would use the info as good publicity and allow them to recruit more. But that's ridiculous, since those groups are already being targeted by the US:
Jack Goldsmith, a professor at Harvard Law who served as a legal counsel during the Bush administration and has written [6] on this question [7] at length, told ProPublica that the Pentagon’s reasoning for keeping the affiliates secret seems weak. “If the organizations are ‘inflated’ enough to be targeted with military force, why cannot they be mentioned publicly?” Goldsmith said. He added that there is “a countervailing very important interest in the public knowing who the government is fighting against in its name."
It really goes beyond that when you think about it. This lack of transparency out of some silly fear that these groups would use it to build up their own reputation is just wacky. It leaves open such massive loopholes for abuse by the government.

Every time we talk about things like this, people trot out the same old joke: it really means that "the public" is "the enemy." That, obviously, is an exaggeration, but the level of secrecy around all of these kinds of efforts -- in the mistaken belief that letting anyone know who you're fighting and what you're doing will somehow undermine the whole campaign -- is entirely antithetical to the kind of example we should be setting around the globe. And, of course, it's doubly ironic that the very same people who are defending this lack of transparency are the ones who trot out the "if you've done nothing wrong, you've got nothing to hide." The obvious response, then, is that we should be asking exactly what our government is trying to hide, because it sure sounds like they've done a lot of things wrong.

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  1. icon
    McCrea (profile), 29 Jul 2013 @ 10:00am

    War, Recruitment, and Citizen Safety

    Maybe it does help recruitment. OF course if we were at war with Russia then Russian outfits might see more enlistment. It would also be a boon to American recruitment. That's how it works. Declaring war is a big deal, things will escalate, that's why you don't go that far until you really mean it. You don't go to war and pussyfoot around like you're not taking it seriously. Ah, the war in Russia? It's nothing serious, no need to worry. Have you seen the Caucaus Range, the mountains are beautiful!

    Shouldn't Americans know who the C/KRT enemy is so that they next time they're at a C/KRT meeting, they don't stand up and "Hi, I'm an American", which leads to being beheaded?

    We can only hope that some patriot stands and shouts "The Secret is coming! The Secret is coming!" before they knock on our door for whatever reason.

    ...OMG! It's the Mormon's isn't it! Of course knowing it's them will help their recruitment, they have the best marital benefits and can procreate faster than Glenn Greenwald's failings! We're doomed!

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