Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Other Items

The restoration of classified status to more than 55,000 previously declassified pages began in 1999, when the Central Intelligence Agency and five other agencies objected to what they saw as a hasty release of sensitive information after a 1995 declassification order signed by President Bill Clinton. It accelerated after the Bush administration took office and especially after the 2001 terrorist attacks, according to archives records.
But because the reclassification program is itself shrouded in secrecy -- governed by a still-classified memorandum that prohibits the National Archives even from saying which agencies are involved -- it continued virtually without outside notice until December. That was when an intelligence historian, Matthew M. Aid, noticed that dozens of documents he had copied years ago had been withdrawn from the archives' open shelves.
Mr. Aid was struck by what seemed to him the innocuous contents of the documents -- mostly decades-old State Department reports from the Korean War and the early cold war. He found that eight reclassified documents had been previously published in the State Department's history series, "Foreign Relations of the United States."
"The stuff they pulled should never have been removed," he said. "Some of it is mundane, and some of it is outright ridiculous."
After Mr. Aid and other historians complained, the archives' Information Security Oversight Office, which oversees government classification, began an audit of the reclassification program, said J. William Leonard, director of the office.

The above is from Scott Shane's "U.S. Reclassifies Many Documents In Secret Review" in this morning's New York Times.

Zach wonders what he has to do to get an item highlighted? He sends to the private account, he notes the e-mail heading that it's a highlight, by whom and the topic and he notes in his e-mails why he thinks something is worth highlighting. And? This morning he has one new and one he tried to get highlighted earlier. It helps for them to arrive. If that's flippant, it's not aimed at Zach. A number of members are getting their e-mails bounced back. (Check your junk mail folder for an error message, that's where Gina and Eli's messages of "not deliverable" are going.) And if it happens, or if you think I'm overlooking (intentionally or unintentionally) something you found important, e-mail again (regardless of error message).

Here's what Zach was attempting to have highlighted earlier (again, Zach, no e-mail came through on this end -- I am current on the private account), Robert Parry's "An Upside-Down Media" (Consortium News):

The gravest indictment of the American news media is that George W. Bush has gutted the U.S. Constitution, the Bill of Rights, the Geneva Conventions and the United Nations Charter -- yet this extraordinary story does not lead the nation’s newspapers and the evening news every day.
Nor does the press corps tie Bush’s remarkable abrogation of both U.S. and international law together in any coherent way for the American people. At best, disparate elements of Bush's authoritarian powers are dealt with individually as if they are not part of some larger, more frightening whole.
What's even odder is that the facts of this historic power grab are no longer in serious dispute. The Bush administration virtually spelled out its grandiose vision of Bush's powers during the debates over such issues as Jose Padilla's detention, Samuel Alito’s Supreme Court nomination and the disclosure of warrantless wiretaps.
For instance, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales has defended the wiretapping program in part by citing the inherent powers of the President to override laws during war time, an argument that the administration also has applied to detentions without trial, abuse of prisoners, launching foreign military operations and committing extra-judicial assassinations.
All Bush has to do, it seems, is deem someone an "enemy combatant" or an "affiliate" of some terrorist group and that person's life and liberty are delivered into Bush’s hands, without any impartial evaluation of the evidence.

. . . .
[For more on Consortiumnews.com's reporting on the media crisis and the Middle East, see "Politics of Preemption," "Giving War a Chance," "The Bush Rule of Journalism," "Washington's Ricky Proehl Syndrome," "LMSM -- the Lying Mainstream Media," "Iraq & the Logic of Withdrawal," "Explaining the Bush Cocoon," "Alito & the Point of No Return," and "Alito & the Media Mess."]

That is important (and thanks to Zach for noting it -- apparently again -- in his e-mail this morning). So is the more recent article he wanted highlighted, Nat Parry's "Bush's Mysterious 'New Programs'" (Consortium News):

Not that George W. Bush needs much encouragement, but Sen. Lindsey Graham suggested to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales a new target for the administration’s domestic operations -- Fifth Columnists, supposedly disloyal Americans who sympathize and collaborate with the enemy.
"The administration has not only the right, but the duty, in my opinion, to pursue Fifth Column movements," Graham, R-S.C., told Gonzales during Senate Judiciary Committee hearings on Feb. 6.
"I stand by this President's ability, inherent to being Commander in Chief, to find out about Fifth Column movements, and I don’t think you need a warrant to do that," Graham added, volunteering to work with the administration to draft guidelines for how best to neutralize this alleged threat.
"Senator," a smiling Gonzales responded, "the President already said we'd be happy to listen to your ideas."
In less paranoid times, Graham's comments might be viewed by many Americans as a Republican trying to have it both ways -- ingratiating himself to an administration of his own party while seeking some credit from Washington centrists for suggesting Congress should have at least a tiny say in how Bush runs the War on Terror.
But recent developments suggest that the Bush administration may already be contemplating what to do with Americans who are deemed insufficiently loyal or who disseminate information that may be considered helpful to the enemy.
Top U.S. officials have cited the need to challenge news that undercuts Bush’s actions as a key front in defeating the terrorists, who are aided by "news informers" in the words of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. [For details, see Consortiumnews.com "
Upside-Down Media" or below.]
Detention Centers
Plus, there was that curious development in January when the Army Corps of Engineers awarded Halliburton subsidiary Kellogg Brown & Root a $385 million contract to construct detention centers somewhere in the United States, to deal with "an emergency influx of immigrants into the U.S., or to support the rapid development of new programs," KBR said. [
Market Watch, Jan. 26, 2006]
Later, the
New York Times reported that "KBR would build the centers for the Homeland Security Department for an unexpected influx of immigrants, to house people in the event of a natural disaster or for new programs that require additional detention space." [Feb. 4, 2006]
Like most news stories on the KBR contract, the Times focused on concerns about Halliburton's reputation for bilking U.S. taxpayers by overcharging for sub-par services.
"It's hard to believe that the administration has decided to entrust Halliburton with even more taxpayer dollars," remarked Rep. Henry Waxman, D-California.
Less attention centered on the phrase "rapid development of new programs" and what kind of programs would require a major expansion of detention centers, each capable of holding 5,000 people. Jamie Zuieback, a spokeswoman for Immigration and Customs Enforcement, declined to elaborate on what these "new programs" might be.
Only a few independent journalists, such as Peter Dale Scott and Maureen Farrell, have pursued what the Bush administration might actually be thinking.

Scott speculated that the "detention centers could be used to detain American citizens if the Bush administration were to declare martial law." He recalled that during the Reagan administration, National Security Council aide Oliver North organized Rex-84 "readiness exercise," which contemplated the Federal Emergency Management Agency rounding up and detaining 400,000 "refugees," in the event of "uncontrolled population movements" over the Mexican border into the United States.
pointed out that because "another terror attack is all but certain, it seems far more likely that the centers would be used for post-911-type detentions of immigrants rather than a sudden deluge" of immigrants flooding across the border.
Vietnam-era whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg said, "Almost certainly this is preparation for a roundup after the next 9/11 for Mid-Easterners, Muslims and possibly dissenters. They’ve already done this on a smaller scale, with the
'special registration' detentions of immigrant men from Muslim countries, and with Guantanamo."

Swiping from Thursday's entry, we'll note the following to be sure that one more journalist we're aware of touching on this issue gets credited:

A lot of highlights so let's move quickly. It's Thursday, new edition of The Black Commentator up. Remember the "temporary detention facilities"? Keesha notes Margaret Kimberley's "Haliburton Detention Centers" (Freedom Rider, The Black Commentator) [.]

Rebecca phoned this morning regarding Robert Parry's highlight above and she also noted
Thomas E. Rick's "U.S. Counterinsurgency Academy Giving Officers a New Mind-Set" (the Washington Post):

Called the COIN Academy -- using military shorthand for "counterinsurgency" -- the newest educational institution in the U.S. military establishment seeks, as a course summary puts it, to "stress the need for U.S. forces to shift from a conventional warfare mindset" to one that understands how to win in a guerrilla-style conflict. Or, as a sign on the wall of one administrator's office here put it less politely: "Insanity is doing the same thing the same way and expecting a different outcome."
The purpose of the school north of Baghdad is to try to bring about a different outcome than the U.S. military achieved in 2003-04, when Army commanders committed mistakes typical of a conventional military facing an insurgency. "When the insurgency started, we came in very conventional," said Col. Chris Short, the District native and recent Manassas resident who is the new school's commandant.
Back then, U.S. forces rounded up tens of thousands of Iraqis, mixing innocent people in detention with hard-core Islamic extremists. Commanders permitted troops to shoot at anything mildly threatening. And they failed to give their troops the basic conceptual and cultural tools needed to operate in the complex environment of Iraq, from how to deal with a sheik to understanding why killing insurgents usually is the least desirable outcome in dealing with them. (It is more effective, they are now taught, to persuade them either to desert or to join the political process.)

Today on Democracy Now!, Yuri Kochiyama is the guest and the topics include Malcolm X and internment (among many other topics). We'll have a post at some point today on that and other highlights, however, I'm sick as a dog today (hence the delays this morning in posting entries) so don't be surprised if the next post is late this evening.

The e-mail address for this site is common_ills@yahoo.com. (Members can use that if they find they're getting an error messages or are worried that they are. But I'm not going into it today unless I stop throwing up and feel better. And Ava and Jess were told to take the day off, and took Monday off from the public account due to it being a holiday, so it will be overflowing when I do make it into that account -- last in it early Sunday morning when I replied to a visitor commenting on Todd S. Purdum.)