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Posts Tagged ‘Disclosure

From One Transparency Advocate to Another: Steven Aftergood on WikiLeaks

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Update below

from July, 2010

Thoughtful and rational discussion of this issue is in short supply.  Steven Aftergood is the writer of Secrecy News, a publication of the Federation of American Scientists, which reports on new developments in government secrecy and provides public access to documentary resources on secrecy, intelligence and national security policy.

July 30, 2010 Transcript  Onthemedia audio available at site

WikiLeaks leaked the biggest collection of classified documents in U.S. history, a fact that should make government-transparency advocates proud. But even some of WikiLeaks most likely allies have mixed feelings about precisely how this leak took place and how WikiLeaks operates. Longtime open government writer Steven Aftergood makes his case.

BROOKE GLADSTONE: WikiLeaks has demonstrated its ability to flout U.S. law by being, in effect, stateless. Guided by different priorities than the more traditional advocates of sunlight, it lives by the rules of the Internet. Here’s Julian Assange, WikiLeaks’ founder, explaining his code of conduct.

JULIAN ASSANGE: We’re an activist organization. The method is transparency. The goal is justice.

BROOKE GLADSTONE: Steven Aftergood is the longtime writer of the email newsletter and blog, Secrecy News. For years he’s reported and researched government secrecy and advocated for U.S. government transparency. He’s no stranger to the antagonism between secrecy and disclosure. But in recent months he’s been a critic of WikiLeaks and its methods. Steven, welcome back to the show.

STEVEN AFTERGOOD: Thank you.

BROOKE GLADSTONE: So in June you wrote a blog post offering some praise for WikiLeaks, but you didn’t mince words when it came to its failings. You wrote, quote: “It is not whistleblowing and it is not journalism. It is a kind of information vandalism.”

STEVEN AFTERGOOD: What I was responding to there was a pattern of activity by WikiLeaks in which they were disclosing confidential records of social and religious groups, like the Masons and the Mormons and several others, that did not reveal any misconduct. And it seemed to me that they were using the posture of transparency as a kind of weapon against disfavored groups. And, to me, that was a really repugnant thing to do.

BROOKE GLADSTONE: What about the video of the Apache helicopter attack in Iraq in 2007 that WikiLeaks leaked in April?

STEVEN AFTERGOOD: Well, that I thought was a perfectly legitimate disclosure. I wish the Pentagon had released it when they had been asked to do so. Read the rest of this entry »

SecDef Defends New Policy on Limiting Media Access

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Despite the Secretary’s assurance, however, it seems practically certain that the new guidance will significantly impede the flow of information to the press and will complicate the already difficult task of probing beneath the official surface of events.

July 9th, 2010 by Steven Aftergood

FAS  SecrecyNews

“I have grown increasingly concerned that we have become too lax, disorganized, and, in some cases, flat-out sloppy in the way we engage with the press,” said Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates, explaining why he had issued new guidance to regulate Pentagon interactions with the news media.

The new guidance (pdf), issued on July 2, requires advance notification and coordination with DoD Public Affairs before a Department official can speak to the media on a story that may have any “national or international implications.”

In the absence of such controls, Gates said at a July 8 press briefing, “personal views have been published as official government positions, and information has gone out that was inaccurate, incomplete or lacking in proper context.  Reports and other documents, including on sensitive subjects, are routinely provided to the press and other elements in this town before I or the White House know anything about them.  Even more worrisome, highly classified and sensitive information has been divulged without authorization or accountability.”

“My hope and expectation is that this new guidance will improve the quality of press engagement by ensuring that the people the media talk to can speak with accuracy and authority.  This should not infringe or impede the flow of accurate and timely information to you or to the public.  That is not my intent, nor will I tolerate it.”

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New Wall Street Bailout Tally: $4.6 Trillion

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Center for Media and Democracy

CMD RELEASES NEW WALL STREET BAILOUT TOTAL

$4.6 TRILLION IN FEDERAL FUNDS DISBURSED

New Tally Focuses on Expansive Role of Federal Reserve

Today, the Real Economy Project of the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) released an assessment of the total cost to taxpayers of the Wall Street bailout. CMD concludes that multiple federal agencies have disbursed $4.6 trillion dollars in supporting the financial sector since the meltdown in 2007-2008. Of that, $2 trillion is still outstanding.

CMD’s assessment demonstrates that the Federal Reserve has provided by far the bulk of the funding for the bailout in the form of loans amounting to $3.8 trillion. Little information has been disclosed about what collateral taxpayers have received in return for these loans. CMD also concludes that the bailout is far from over as the government has active programs authorized to cost up to $2.9 trillion and still has $2 trillion in outstanding investments and loans.

Learn more about the 35 programs included in our tally by visiting our Total Wall Street Bailout Cost Table, which contains links to pages on each bailout program with details including the current balance sheet for each program.

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