from the huh? dept
I'm curious how "off the record, no comment" qualifies as either. It appears to be redactions for redactions' sake.
by Mike Masnick
Fri, Sep 5th 2014 9:00am
by Mike Masnick
Thu, Aug 7th 2014 9:03am
by Mike Masnick
Wed, Aug 6th 2014 7:52am
“After further review of the redacted version of the executive summary, I have concluded the redactions eliminate or obscure key facts that support the report’s findings and conclusions. Until these redactions are addressed to the committee’s satisfaction, the report will not be made public.Senator Carl Levin then came out with a much more strongly worded condemnation of the redactions suggesting that they were clearly designed to hide embarrassing information, which is not a legitimate reason for redactions:
“I am sending a letter today to the president laying out a series of changes to the redactions that we believe are necessary prior to public release. The White House and the intelligence community have committed to working through these changes in good faith. This process will take some time, and the report will not be released until I am satisfied that all redactions are appropriate.
“The bottom line is that the United States must never again make the mistakes documented in this report. I believe the best way to accomplish that is to make public our thorough documentary history of the CIA’s program. That is why I believe taking our time and getting it right is so important, and I will not rush this process.”
“The redactions that CIA has proposed to the Intelligence Committee’s report on CIA interrogations are totally unacceptable. Classification should be used to protect sources and methods or the disclosure of information which could compromise national security, not to avoid disclosure of improper acts or embarrassing information. But in reviewing the CIA-proposed redactions, I saw multiple instances where CIA proposes to redact information that has already been publicly disclosed in the Senate Armed Services Committee report on detainee abuse that was reviewed by the administration and authorized for release in 2009. The White House needs to take hold of this process and ensure that all information that should be declassified is declassified.”Senator Mark Udall issued a statement in which he notes that the "strategic" redactions are used to distort the nature of what's in the report:
"While Director Clapper may be technically correct that the document has been 85 percent declassified, it is also true that strategically placed redactions can make a narrative incomprehensible and can certainly make it more difficult to understand the basis for the findings and conclusions reached in the report. I agree wholeheartedly that redactions are necessary to protect intelligence sources and methods, but the White House must work closely with this committee to reach this goal in a way that makes it possible for the public to understand what happened.All three of those Senators are well aware of what's in the report, and it appears they recognize that the black ink was being used not to protect national security or "sources and methods" but rather to hide or distort the facts of the CIA's torture program.
"I am committed to working with Chairman Feinstein to declassify the Senate Intelligence Committee's study to the fullest extent possible, correct the record on the CIA's brutal and ineffective detention and interrogation program, and ensure the CIA learns from its past mistakes. And in light of the importance of the work the Senate Intelligence Committee has undertaken, I believe that the chairman should take all necessary time to ensure that the redactions to the executive summary are appropriate — not merely made to cover up acts that could embarrass the agency.
"The CIA should not face its past with a redaction pen, and the White House must not allow it to do so."
by Mike Masnick
Mon, Aug 4th 2014 5:41am
More than 85% of the Committee Report has been declassified, and half of the redactions are in footnotes. The redactions were the result of an extensive and unprecedented interagency process, headed up by my office, to protect sensitive classified information. We are confident that the declassified document delivered to the Committee will provide the public with a full view of the Committee’s report on the detention and interrogation program, and we look forward to a constructive dialogue with the Committee.Compare that to Feinstein's statement, which noted:
A preliminary review of the report indicates there have been significant redactions. We need additional time to understand the basis for these redactions and determine their justification.Reporter Jason Leopold spoke to some people knowledgeable about the redactions, who said that they were about methods of torture that hadn't been revealed... and about countries that helped the CIA. Basically, more stuff that would embarrass the CIA and certain allies, but which wouldn't actually impact national security today.
Two officials with access to the declassified executive summary told VICE News that some of the redactions allegedly pertain to the manner in which the detainees were held captive, and to certain torture techniques that were not among the 10 “approved” methods contained in a Justice Department legal memo commonly referred to as the “torture memo.” The officials said the never before–revealed methods, which in certain instances were “improvised,” are central to the report because they underscore the “cruelty” of the program. Some other redactions allegedly pertain to the origins of the program and the intelligence the CIA collected through the use of torture, which the Senate report claims was of little or no value — a claim with which the CIA disagrees.Of course, if we're going to "come clean" on this black spot in our history, it would help to really come clean about it. Hiding that the torture the CIA did was much worse than originally thought means that officials still aren't willing to come to terms with what the CIA did.
Another US official told VICE News that the CIA “vehemently opposed” the inclusion of some of the footnotes because they allegedly revealed too many “specific” details about the CIA’s operational files, which evidently contain information about foreign intelligence sources and operations, and provide clues about the foreign governments that allowed the CIA to operate its torture program in their countries. (The National Clandestine's Service's operational files are protected from public disclosure and open records laws.) The report, according to the US official, identifies the countries where the suspected terrorists were held as “Country A, Country B, Country C.”
by Mike Masnick
Fri, Aug 1st 2014 7:39pm
The committee this afternoon received the redacted executive summary of our study on the CIA detention and interrogation program.At least Feinstein didn't just rubber stamp the redactions. The Senate Intelligence Committee has been pushing to release this report for over a year now, and it's been clear that the CIA/White House was going to fight them on it somewhat.
A preliminary review of the report indicates there have been significant redactions. We need additional time to understand the basis for these redactions and determine their justification.
Therefore the report will be held until further notice and released when that process is completed.
by Mike Masnick
Tue, Jun 24th 2014 9:02am
Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.), a former Intelligence Committee chairman, said the declassification process has strained relations between the committee and the administration’s intelligence apparatus. The CIA has accused the committee of removing an internal interrogation review from its facilities — and Feinstein has charged that the CIA erred in removing that document from the committee’s computers.While the "code of silence" seems stupid and petty, frankly, it's probably a good thing that the sides aren't too chummy. The whole point of the Intelligence Committees in both houses of Congress is supposed to be for oversight of the intelligence community. However, in recent years that's obviously changed into something entirely different, where those Committees seemed much more focused on being the intelligence community's cheerleaders and defenders, rather than overseers. The relationship here should be somewhat adversarial. No one's saying they need to hate each others' guts, but it's pretty clear that bad things happen when the relationship has become downright friendly.
“There’s a code of silence. And it stems from the redaction of this enhanced interrogation, torture report,” Rockefeller said of congressional relations with the CIA.
by Tim Cushing
Thu, May 15th 2014 3:01pm
Intelligence agencies seem to make some very un-intelligent decisions. Just last month, James Clapper told NSA employees they were no longer free to talk to the media in an extremely misguided attempt to head off future leaks.
Now, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) has seen fit to issue a redacted document, which in itself is not an unusual event. The problem here is that the unredacted version, originally published by the ODNI itself, has been in the public domain for years now.
Last month, ODNI issued a heavily redacted version of its Intelligence Community Directive 304 on “Human Intelligence.” The redacted document was produced in response to a Freedom of Information Act request from Robert Sesek, and posted on ScribD.So, why would it do this? Steven Aftergood at FAS Secrecy News suspects it might be the ODNI caving to the CIA's desire to keep everything a secret.
The new redactions come as a surprise because most of the censored text had already been published by ODNI itself in an earlier iteration of the same unclassified Directive from 2008. That document has since been removed from the ODNI website but it is preserved on the FAS website here.
A comparison of the redacted and unredacted versions shows that ODNI is now seeking to withhold the fact that the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency functions as the National HUMINT Manager, among other things.The CIA is only rivaled by the New York Police Department in terms of unresponsiveness to FOIA requests. That it would demand information related to its "super-secret" HUMINT (human intelligence) work be redacted isn't a surprise. That it would have no idea that this information is out in the open is a bit more surprising. But considering the government's extremely scattershot approach to overclassification, it is not entirely unexpected.
Collects, analyzes, produces, and disseminates foreign intelligence and counterintelligence information, including information obtained through clandestine means.Apparently, the ODNI would prefer that no one know (enemies or citizens) these agencies secure information through "clandestine means," which is something everyone expects the CIA to be doing, if not the FBI.
by Mike Masnick
Fri, Apr 18th 2014 2:40pm
Given the Kafkaesque [REDACTED] treatment imposed on Dr. Ibrahim, the government is further ordered expressly to tell Dr. Ibrahim [REDACTED] (always subject, of course, to future developments and evidence that might [REDACTED]). This relief is appropriate and warranted because of the confusion generated by the government's own mistake and the very real misapprehension on her part that the later visa denials are traceable to her erroneous 2004 placement on the no-fly list, suggesting (reasonably from her viewpoint) that she somehow remains on the no-fly list.Now those redactions have been uncovered, and here's what we see (with the redacted portions in yellow):
Given the Kafkaesque on-off-on-list treatment imposed on Dr. Ibrahim, the government is further ordered expressly to tell Dr. Ibrahim that she is no longer on the no-fly list and has not been on it since 2005 (always subject, of course, to future developments and evidence that might warrant reinstating her to the list). This relief is appropriate and warranted because of the confusion generated by the government's own mistake and the very real misapprehension on her part that the later visa denials are traceable to her erroneous 2004 placement on the no-fly list, suggesting (reasonably from her viewpoint) that she somehow remains on the no-fly list.Many people rightly mocked the original version as the Kafkaesque nature of the situation appeared to be increased by that particularly hilarious looking redaction. Of course, now having seen all the redactions, we can see the true reason behind it. It appears that, despite all of this, Ibrahim is still in the Terror Screening Database (TSDB), for some secret reason, even though everyone admits she's no threat. And that secret reason is apparently unrelated to the original mistake.
Government counsel has conceded at trial that Dr. Ibrahim is not a threat to our national security. She does not pose (and has not posed) a threat of committing an act of international or domestic terrorism with respect to an aircraft, a threat to airline passenger or civil aviation security, or a threat of domestic terrorism. This the government admits and this order finds.Why was that redacted? Perhaps the government thought the reasons someone might be put on the list needed to be secret? But, did anyone doubt that any of the things listed above were considered reasons why you might be put on the no fly list or the terrorist screening database? This identical redaction was done later in the ruling as well, again enforcing the idea that the government sought to hide the fact that you have to be a threat to one of those three things to be placed on the lists. But it also hid the fact that even if you were not one of those things, you can still be placed in the Terrorist Screening Database for a "secret exception" to the reasonable suspicion requirement.
In a form dated February 10, 2006, an unidentified government agent requested that Dr. Ibrahim be "Remove[ d) From ALL Watchlisting Supported Systems (For terrorist subjects: due to closure of case AND no nexus to terrorism)" (TX 10). For the question "Is the individual qualified for placement on the no fly list," the "No" box was checked. For the question, "If no, is the individual qualified for placement on the selectee list," the "No" box was checked.Can anyone explain why this was redacted? It makes no sense at all.
by Mike Masnick
Fri, Apr 18th 2014 7:44am
The TSC has determined that Dr. Ibrahim does not currently meet the reasonable suspicion standard for inclusion in the TSDB.However, the next two sentences were redacted until now:
She, however, remains in the TSDB pursuant to a classified and secret exception to the reasonable suspicion standard. Again, both the reasonable suspicion standard and the secret exception are self-imposed processes and procedures within the Executive Branch.The ruling also makes it clear that Ibrahim has not been on the actual no fly list (even if she is on other lists) since 2005, and that she should be told this (and, indeed, to comply with the law, the government has now told her solely that she's not on the "no fly" list and hasn't been since 2005). It also tells the government to search for all traces of her being on all such lists and correct all of those that are connected to Agent Kelley's initial mistake. However, it's not at all clear if this applies to the later additions to the TSDB, which was done for this secret and undisclosed exception, and might not be directly because of Agent Kelley's mistake (though, potentially is indirectly because of that). In fact, a different unredacted section now says that the reasons why Ibrahim was denied a visa (which were revealed to the court in a classified manner) were valid, and thus it appears that Ibrahim will still be denied visas in the future (unredacted portions underlined) -- and, indeed, as we explain below that has already happened:
The Court has read the relevant classified information, under seal and ex parte, that led to the visa denials. That classified information, if accurate, warranted denial of the visa under Section 212(a)(3)(B) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, 8 U.S.C. 1182(a)(3)(B). (That information was different from the 2004 mistaken nomination by Agent Kelley.) Therefore, under the state secrets privilege, any challenge to the visa denials in 2009 and 2013 must be deniedThus, it appears that while Ibrahim has been told she's been taken off the no fly list (and has been for nearly ten years), she's still not going to be able to travel to the US, because she's still in the TSDB for an unrevealed secret reason -- even though everyone admits she's not a threat. And, indeed, Ibrahim tried to apply for a visa to the US on Monday and was denied (with the apparent reason -- if you read between the lines -- being that she is related to someone "engaged in a terrorist activity.")
by Tim Cushing
Wed, Apr 9th 2014 12:13am
This exemption theoretically covers only the following:
inter-agency or intra-agency memorandums or letters which would not be available by law to a party other than an agency in litigation with the agencyIn reality, it covers all of the following, according to Unredacted's research.
The Department of Justice’s use of b(5) to censor dozens of pages of a candid history of Nazi-hunting (and Nazi-protecting) by the U.S. government to such a self-defeating extent that former officials leaked the entire document to the New York Times, instead of fulfilling a Freedom of Information request.Also included? Henry Kissinger's notes on telephone conversations, which were withheld for seven years under this exemption. DOJ legal counsel opinions, which by law must be released if the stated suggestions have been officially adopted. The State Dept. even argued that this exemption applied to Presidential Policy Directive addressing the Department's need to be more transparent about its aid plans.
The CIA, supported by the Department of Justice, is currently using the b(5) exemption to keep secret its history of the 1961 Bay of Pigs Invasion, arguing that it’s release “could confuse the public.”
Muckrock’s Shawn Muscrave has reported that The Federal Elections Commission attempted to argue that it’s own guidance on when to apply b(5) is itself exempt from release under b(5) –even though it had already been posted on the FEC’s website.
Sure enough, b(5) was cited when redacting the opinion ("What a bunch of crap!"), meaning that this penned commentary somehow was an inter/intra-agency "memorandum or letter" not meant for the public's eye. The fact that it was neither and was written on a copy of a publicly available piece of legislation didn't stop the agency from redacting it. Two years later, it was finally forced by the court to uncover the rogue commentary.
"Because you feel like it" sums it up completely. Someone hoped to head off a microscopic bit of embarrassment by abusing the FOIA exemptions and somehow we're expected to believe other b(5) redactions are done with a sense of purpose and restraint.
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