National Security, Secrecy, Diffusion of Responsibility, and Meaningful Accountability

coderman coderman at
Mon Feb 27 11:37:31 PST 2006

speaking of least privilege,

what institution is more deserving of strong least privilege applied
to authorization and accountability than a the military-industrial
complex and it's government?

the current highly classified, highly compartmentalized, broad swath
privileges in place right now are akin to giving a company full of
employees a single shared account login and trying to apply any kind
of oversight and policy restriction.

what would a Key KOS government/industry look like?

full disclosure of all decisions and resource allocations (and
associated delegations involved if any) for all government activities
declared in advance and then denied until quorum based consensus as to
their reasonableness (?)

a fun exercise for thought, as anything you communicate (in any
medium/representation) is essentially a social (and thus political)


"A Fabric of Illegality"

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This article can be found on the web at
A Fabric of Illegality

[from the March 13, 2006 issue]

Now we know the truth: For months in 2002, when George W. Bush and his
top lieutenants were publicly insisting on their adherence to the
Geneva Conventions, they were privately torpedoing efforts by Alberto
Mora, the Navy's courageous general counsel, to prevent, and establish
accountability for, brutal treatment of detainees. Two years before
the publication of the Abu Ghraib photos, Mora confronted the
highest-level Pentagon officials over abuse of prisoners at Guantanamo
and warned the Administration that its interrogation policies invited
torture and cruelty. The New Yorker's Jane Mayer revealed Mora's
lonely campaign just as Kofi Annan and a team of United Nations
investigators declared Guantanamo a torture camp that should be closed
and its prisoners either tried or released.

If the Administration has so far been able to resist demands for
accountability, whether from the Pentagon's own lawyers or the UN, it
is because of the collusion of the courts and Congress in abuses both
international and within the United States. Exhibit A: the grotesque
February 16 ruling by US District Judge David Trager denying his
court's jurisdiction over the rendition to Syria and torture of
Canadian national Maher Arar, who spent nearly a year in secret
captivity (see David Cole on page 5). Exhibit B: the bipartisan effort
to avoid Congressional investigation of the NSA's warrantless
surveillance of American citizens.

Although key leaders remain angry at the White House for not seeking
Congressional approval for the NSA wiretap program, debate over
surveillance has been sidelined. Leaders from both parties are lining
up behind proposals to bleach the stain of illegality from warrantless
wiretaps--either by incorporating warrantless eavesdropping into the
Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act or by simply declaring
warrantless taps legal. Lost is the simple fact that both plans
broaden domestic spying far beyond the Patriot Act and make hash of
the venerable constitutional demand for search warrants.

That Guantanamo and NSA spying on citizens--the Administration's
abuses abroad and at home--are part of the same fabric of illegality
was brought home by a February 14 House national security subcommittee
hearing. Led by Christopher Shays and Henry Waxman, the subcommittee
heard firsthand evidence of what becomes of truth-tellers in the Bush
military and intelligence services.

In this sense Mora was lucky: He was merely blocked at every turn. He
wasn't demoted like Specialist Samuel Provance, who was kicked
downstairs after confronting a general with horrifying details about
interrogations at Abu Ghraib. Mora wasn't declared by his bosses to be
mentally ill, like NSA whistleblower Russell Tice--who indicated to
the subcommittee that the agency's illegal "black ops" extend well
beyond the wiretap program. No one spread false rumors about Mora's
sex life, as the Defense Intelligence Agency did about Lieut. Col.
Anthony Shaffer after he revealed the extent of the government's
pre-9/11 knowledge about Mohamed Atta (gained through the "Able
Danger" data-mining program).

The dark arts of trashing whistleblowers, who are supposedly protected
by federal law, add yet another layer of illegality to the "war on
terror." Still, Congress and the courts dodge their responsibilities
while the White House maintains its right to stand above the law--and
torture, imprisonment without trial and warrantless spying on
Americans go on, and on.

---end cut---

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