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Monday, July 05, 2004

Retroactive Classification: Is It Contagious? 

Here's an interesting tidbit from a Boston Globe article on former FBI translator Sibel Edmonds, whose testimony about security lapses and general incomptence at the Bureau post-9/11 were retroactively classified by John Ashcroft's Department of Justice -- even though much of the relevant information has been public knowledge for two years:
In a development that legal analysts say is disturbing, a pattern of retroactive classifications has begun to emerge in recent years, all of them pertaining to -- but not limited to -- national security. For example, Representative John F. Tierney, Democrat of Massachusetts, is locked in an ongoing battle with the Defense Department over testing requirements for a national missile defense system that were made public in 2000 but have since been declared classified.
Now why in the world would Secretary Rumsfeld want to classify previously unclassified testing requirements for a can't-miss, proven-value-for-money program like missile defense?

Boy, once you start thinking about it, there are so many candidates for retroactive classification. Think of all the stuff that might embolden terrorists: the findings of the 9/11 panel, all references by public officials to Saddam's WMD's or his links to al Qaeda, "trifecta" jokes caught on tape, "Let the Mighty Eagle Soar," photos of Lynndie England having sex, the footage of Bush reading My Pet Goat in the Florida schoolroom, the very existence of Halliburton, all published references to "Kenny Boy," Colin Powell-as-Village Person, any news from Iraq that does not involve a school opening. Now if they could just figure out how to retroactively classify Valerie Plame's job status . . . .

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