Written by Alissa Bohling Friday, 16 September 2011 15:31
"American democracy has a disease, and it's called secrecy."
So begins a July 2011 American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) report on secrecy laws and the security establishment's heavy-handed use of the classified stamp.
Of course, even unclassified documents don't just magically make their way into the public domain.
Much of the shocking (and sometimes, not so shocking) news we read wouldn't have come to light without the Freedom of Information Act, or FOIA, the open records law passed as an antidote to the secrecy disease in 1966. FOIA was amended for the first time in the wake of the Watergate scandal, and, most recently, by the Open Government Act at the close of George W. Bush's second term.
FOIA was especially important in unearthing the secrets of the Bush presidency, when early rumors of extraordinary rendition, "enhanced interrogation techniques" and "black site" prisons challenged everything Americans thought they knew about their country.
Written by Jason Leopold Wednesday, 24 August 2011 16:37
A clandestine National Security Agency spy program code-named Echelon was likely one of the programs the Bush administration used to tap into the emails, telephone calls and facsimiles of thousands of average American citizens, according to half-a-dozen current and former intelligence officials from the NSA.
The existence of the program has been publicly known for years. Echelon was developed in the 1970s primarily as an American-British intelligence sharing system to monitor foreigners – specifically, during the Cold War, to catch Soviet spies. But sources said the spyware, operated by satellite, is the means by which the NSA eavesdropped on Americans when President Bush secretly authorized the agency to do so in 2002.
Another top-secret program code-named Tempest, also operated by satellite, is capable of reading computer monitors, cash registers and automatic teller machines from as far away as a half-mile and is being used to keep a close eye on an untold number of American citizens, the sources said, pointing to a little known declassified document that sheds light on the program.