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US Pressing Its Crackdown Against Leaks 213

Posted by Soulskill
from the you-can't-handle-the-truth dept.
NotSanguine writes with this quote from a NY Times article: "The Justice Department shows no sign of rethinking its campaign to punish unauthorized disclosures to the news media, with five criminal cases so far under President Obama, compared with three under all previous presidents combined. This week, a grand jury in Virginia heard testimony in a continuing investigation of WikiLeaks, the antisecrecy group, a rare effort to prosecute those who publish secrets, rather than those who leak them. The string of cases reflects a broad belief across two administrations and in both parties in Congress that leaks have gotten out of hand, endangering intelligence agents and exposing American spying methods."
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US Pressing Its Crackdown Against Leaks

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  • by nurb432 (527695) on Saturday June 18, 2011 @09:48AM (#36484876) Homepage Journal

    Is paid for by the public, so is owned by the public. ( well so is classified, but there is a difference )

    The government works for US, remember? Or at least that is how its supposed to work.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      The government works for US, remember?

      If I may quote the epic Rap New 6 [youtube.com]:

      (impersonated) Hillary Clinton:
      This is a case of high treason
      It's against the land of the brave and divine freedom
      We're the good guys, for democracy we fight evil
      and we wage peace around the world, proud of the flag

      These leaks could devalue this powerful brand,
      bring military operations straight to a halt.
      Our shareholders, clients and partners would plainly revolt.

      Robert

      • Uh-oh, just discovered Rap News, there goes my day...

      • Robert Foster: Chili, Iran, Nicaragua

        I used to feel bad about that whole Nicaragua thing, until one day I met a woman who fought as a revolutionary in the 80s. A little in awe, and a bit embarrassed, I asked her, "so you fought against the Contras?" She replied with some condescension, "no, the Contras were a different group." Then tried to explain to me which she was fighting for. The revolutionary history of Nicaragua is so complicated that really the William Walker filibuster in the 1800s is probably more memorable than the Iran-Contra affa

    • by xero314 (722674)

      Non Classified data Is paid for by the public, so is owned by the public.

      By separating classified and non-classified data, all that you are doing is giving motivation to classify more information.

      Any and every action made by an elected official or their appointees must be public knowledge for a representative democracy to work. Otherwise the people represented have no way of knowing if their interests are being met. As long as we allow information to remain hidden from the people of the country then we have nothing but tyranny.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Yes. When I read "The string of cases reflects a broad belief across two administrations and in both parties in Congress that leaks have gotten out of hand.." I immediately thought it should be

      "The string of cases reflects a broad belief across the American public that the actions of the two administrations and both parties in Congress have gotten out of hand..."

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 18, 2011 @09:55AM (#36484910)

    LOL, is this the "American Freedom" I always heard so much about as a youth growing up in Eastern Europe just after the fall of Communism?

    • Two parties are twice as free as one.

      • by causality (777677) on Saturday June 18, 2011 @10:22AM (#36485050)

        Two parties are twice as free as one.

        One party that uses two divisions to pretend to be two distinct parties is slightly more free than one party that drops the entire facade altogether.

        Jesse Ventura gave a good explanation of how politics works. He said it's like pro wrestling. Sure, in the ring the wrestlers talk trash about each other and appear to be fighting each other. After the rigged match, they go out together and have a beer as friends. With wrestling it's the advertising money that does the rigging; with politics it's campaign funds.

        • And for anyone who thinks it's a wacky conspiracy theory, as I used to:

          http://pubrecord.org/torture/8609/wikileaks-cables-reveals-bush-obama/ [pubrecord.org]

      • by rrohbeck (944847)

        The US have one party with two right wings.

    • by poity (465672)

      Well, maybe we could have this freedom if non-Americans in this country and across the world would all agree to stick their fingers in their ears and yell LALALALALA whenever the US government wishes to inform its citizens.

      Or maybe you and I are both being absurd.

      • Or, you know, if your government's foreign policy wasn't so damned contemptible you wouldn't even have to that.
    • by MrBigInThePants (624986) on Saturday June 18, 2011 @05:04PM (#36486906)

      Yes it is. I believe that was the Regan era you speak of? Well this is pretty much the same mentality.

      Chomsky referred to the dems and repubs as "two arms of the business party" and it could never be more true than today.

      What you are seeing with wiki (and other) leaks is an open challenge to the government-corp-media stranglehold on the truth that currently exists. (Not just in the US BTW - Murdoch and CO. are worldwide now)
      Obviously the government-corp-media machine needs to kill this and the legislators faithfully rise to the challenge.
      This "machine" of course is now heavily blurred in terms of who does what, but then you would expect that considering how closely they work together. Eg. ex politicians on the news, ex CEOs of Goldman (& others) advising the POTUS, new people hired as PR and spokespeople, lobbyists etc

      So what is the big surprise?

      PS: Sorry for being so cynical but at this point I really cannot see any other appropriate response, can you?

    • "American Freedom" is still a going concern. Your take on the US from Eastern Europe was probably so warped by the informational bias (both anti and pro) you would not recognize the country if you were to visit. People in the US are always pilloried as knowing nothing about the rest of the world but these same people are just as clueless about the real US. They tend to judge the US based on it's exported entertainment.
  • by Zaphod-AVA (471116) on Saturday June 18, 2011 @09:56AM (#36484918)

    "Transparency and the rule of law will be the touchstones of this presidency" - President Barack Obama

    • by lennier1 (264730)

      True. And somehow Gitmo is still operational and there are still American kids dying in Iraq.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by hedwards (940851)

        You are aware that the Republicans refuse to fund closing GITMO, right? The President has powers, but ending Iraq and GITMO in a responsible way aren't within his ability. Yes, he could just order the military out of Iraq and to hell with the consequences and he could just order the gates at GITMO opened, and for the personnel to look the other way. Nobody in their right mind thinks that's an acceptable solution to the problem.

        As long as the GOP continues to obstruct government, there's little that the Pres

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          Simply blaming the Republicans doesn't hold water since the Democrats had a majority in Congress and the White House for two years. I have no doubt that the Republicans refused to cooperate, but the Democrats failed us, too.

        • "You are aware that the Republicans refuse to fund closing GITMO, right?"

          So what? You know that public opinion is very much against Gitmo, and if the President chose to really raise a stink about it, the Republicans would have no choice but to back down.

          He hasn't. And he won't. Because he doesn't really want to close it. And never did.

    • "Transparency and the rule of law will be the touchstones of this presidency" - President Barack Obama

      Perhaps we should all attend Obama rallies with signs that say "[citation needed]"

    • by geekmux (1040042) on Saturday June 18, 2011 @10:34AM (#36485110)

      "Transparency and the rule of law will be the touchstones of this presidency" - President Barack Obama

      Exactly. He asked for this, and now he wants to lock people up and throw away the key for trying to help him stay true to his own words. Nice, real nice.

  • by decora (1710862) on Saturday June 18, 2011 @09:59AM (#36484940) Journal

    "endangering intelligence agents and exposing American spying methods."

    I would like someone to explain to me how the Thomas Drake case involved anything remotely resembling the endangerment of intelligence agents. Furthermore, the domestic spying he exposed was illegal. Exposing that is not a crime, and nobody should be 'worried' about 'exposing' crimes. Furthermore, he did not release any classified information, nor was he even charged with doing so.

    I do not understand how the Kim case, has no relationship whatsoever to intelligence agents, nor spying. It is about educated guessing about North Korea's weapons testing. One time, in a single telephone conversation, with a reporter. Where is the 'intelligence agent' here? Where is the 'spying methods'?

    The Manning case has almost nothing to do with spying methods, as far as we know. Otherwise, they probably would have charged him under 18 USC 798 - they didn't. They charged him with 34 other things. 3 of those charges relate to the Icleandic banking scandal - i do not understand how that has anything to do with spying methods nor with intelligence agents. Is every state department employee now an 'intelligence agent'?

    The Leibowitz case - we have no idea what the details of the case are. Even the judge doesn't know the details of the case. Leibowitz plead out because they scared him. What little we know is that he found out the FBI was engaged in illegal activity related to signals intelligence work. Two guesses as to what that is.

    I will admit, the Sterling case is about intelligence agents and spying methods. It is about how the CIA accidentally screwed up and gave Iran accurate nuclear weapons information instead of inaccurate information. Let me just ask you - do you think the public is better off knowing that, or not?

    The Wikileaks case - well, please let me know when there is concrete evidence that any intelligence agents have been harmed by wikileaks. Some ambassadors have been harmed - then again, ambassadors are quite often simply the biggest campaign donors to the president. That's how ambassadorships work. If those people are 'intelligence agents', well, I have to wonder about the wisdom of making campaign donors into intelligence agents. Shouldn't we be picking professionals instead?

    I also haven't seen anything yet about any wikileaks cables that reveal spying information. Gun camera footage is all over youtube, should all of those youtube users now be charged under the Espionage act too?

    • by Xyrus (755017)

      Americans like to believe that their government is all that is right and good in the world, and that it is not in fact a hypocritical institution like every other government on the face of the planet. We are th GOOD GOVERNMNET(tm). We don't do bad things like assassinations or back-room deals or torture or extraordinary renditions or any number of things BAD GOVERNMENTS(tm) do. And our government is only too happy to oblige by covering up or glossing over or secreting away any information that may show them

      • Don't include me in that "our". If I caught someone doing those things, I would happily -- I might even say gleefully -- try to find some way to bring them to justice.

        When the government does something that The People clearly oppose, then it is not The People doing it, and it is wrong to spread the blame. These things are being and have been done by people in government who are no better than criminals. Are criminals, in fact.
        • "When the government does something that The People clearly oppose, then it is not The People doing it, and it is wrong to spread the blame. These things are being and have been done by people in government who are no better than criminals. Are criminals, in fact."

          So, you elect criminals, and then when they do criminal things, you pretend you didn't elect them? Whether Americans think they should be held responsible for the actions of their government is irrelevant. Your living standards are too high for
          • See, there you go. I didn't elect the sumbidge. Other people did. And it's debatable whether Bush was properly elected last time, at all.

            "Your living standards are too high for your to look around and see what is being done in your name."

            For your information, "the people" of the United States are about f*ing fed up with their government, and have started trying to change things in ways they know how, without actually destroying it in the process.

            A lot of the damage was done by prior generations, but it has certainly come to a head in the last decade or two. Problems that have been around that long are n

    • by sgt_doom (655561)
      "I would like someone to explain to me how the Thomas Drake case involved anything remotely..."

      The crime Mr. Drake committed (other than being rather gullible as to the real objectives behind the US intel establishment, now majority privatized) was to point out the thievery and/or embezzlement going on with the outsourcing of the $3 million contract which would total up to at least $1 billion. This is the primary purpose and reason for the existence of the Financial-Intelligence-Complex, founded by the

  • by Apl Way (1032054) on Saturday June 18, 2011 @10:04AM (#36484974)
    Americans are accepting more and more, unaccountable authority.

    "Everything secret degenerates, even the administration of justice; nothing is safe that does not show how it can bear discussion and publicity." - Lord Acton. This is from the same guy that said, power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts, absolutely.

    Government needs to be accountable.

    • also see: religion.

      (as another example of a power base that absolutely refused scrutiny or close examination. perish the thought that they might have to modify their views when shown fallacies and logic holes.)

      it is a rule of mankind: grab power, hold it and try to deny the next guy his chance at a grab. 'my grab was just' yours is not'.

      uhuh.

    • But I disagree with Acton. I don't agree that power, itself, corrupts. Rather, power attracts the mentally weak and easily corruptible. Either already corrupt, or prone to be.

      If you want a good example, look at the staff of your typical police department in a big city. They have even gone to court over their ability to reject applicants with higher IQs.

      Positions of power attract weak-minded bullies who desire little more than power over others. It has always been thus.
      • "All power tends to corrupt. Absolute power tends to corrupt absolutely." Acton, of course, didn't know about psychopaths and malignant narcissists. Neither class is "mentally weak and easily corruptible"; both seek power to use it for their own, corrupt ends. Acton, however, was referring to people who started out with good intentions. Interestingly, the Palin emails seem to suggest that she is one of those - initially she meant well but now seems to be on a full-blown narcissist power trip.
        • "Neither class is 'mentally weak and easily corruptible';"

          I disagree. Psychopaths and narcissists have essential problems with their psychology. They are weaknesses. If one but knows that those weaknesses exist, those people can be manipulated.

          Unfortunately, it has seemed to be other power-mongers who have been doing most of the manipulating...

          I am aware that Acton was referring to good intentions, and that is why I disagree with him. I think most of the people in Congress, for example, who went in with good intentions still have those good intentions. Howev

  • by TheGratefulNet (143330) on Saturday June 18, 2011 @10:30AM (#36485098)

    1) the US does whatever the hell it wants. it does not ask permission and it seeks out those who disagree for intent of harm.

    2) this is not a disney movie, this life we all lead. the line between good and bad guys is often non-existent. stop thinking in binary fashion. the US isn't good and it isn't evil, its JUST ANOTHER COUNTRY run by rich white men who like to keep the power base the way it is (and pretty much has been).

    3) we spy. they spy. everyone spies. not only that, but countries do not respect their own people and will spy on them. kids, learn this. be watchful of EVERYTHING you say or write or photo. this is now universal since all countries have latched onto this 'we control your life, entirely' mentality.

    4) power corrupts and the more you give the government, the more they'll screw you over (now or later) with it. no such thing as 'temporary powers'. don't ever fall for THAT line again, please.

    5) cops, judges, politicians, lawyers; those in authority are there because they are mentally unbalanced and have this need for control. the higher the position, the more corruptable the job is and the more 'attractive' it is to such sick people. beware of those in authority and realize WHY they seeked out those kinds of jobs. avoid dealing or interacting with these people in life, they are not your friends and not worth your friendship. they'll stab you at first chance if it suits them.

    none of this is taught in schools (on purpose). we intentionally lie to our kids when we raise them. then, about teen age, they see the lies we have been telling them. problem is, we have already raised generations of people on pure lies who believe in this 'two party system' and that if you have done nothing wrong, (...). we have a lot of really dumb cattle walking around as human beings with a totally false idea of how the world really works.

    start with truth about what our world is like. you can't fix things if you don't even see them for how they really are.

    • by jaypifer (64463)
      Rumor has it that the leader of the country isn't a rich white man.
      • No, he's a rich black man who lies out his ass. I'm not picking on him for his color, but for his blatant lying. He has been worse in that regard than most other Presidents. In many cases, he has done exactly the opposite of his campaign promises.
        • Whatever color his skin is, he lies like a rich white man.
        • The guy is as much white as he is black. I hate the way the media always refer to him as a black man. It is reminiscent of the bad old days, when all people of colour were seen as lesser and any "black" blood had you relegated to that category. We might call him African American (bearing in mind he is also European American) if his heritage must be singled out.
          • You have a point. The only reason I mentioned color at all is because the other poster had intentionally put it that way. I simply do not like the guy or his politics, and I would not like them no matter what his color is. As far as I am concerned, he's just a Bush clone with even less scruples.
      • If I were a "person of color" in this great land, I would be embarrassed as hell to have this man leading the country.
        • Let's talk reality here: a lot of self-described "people of color" celebrated his election and were proud to have him as "their representative" in the White House. I didn't make that up; it was all over the news. And I don't particularly blame them: it was shown that it is possible to get someone who is not white elected to the highest office in the country. I count that as a positive.

          However, now that Obama has shown his true colors (no pun intended), what I am saying is that * I * would not be proud to
    • by deblau (68023)

      5) cops, judges, politicians, lawyers; those in authority are there because they are mentally unbalanced and have this need for control. the higher the position, the more corruptable the job is and the more 'attractive' it is to such sick people. beware of those in authority and realize WHY they seeked out those kinds of jobs. avoid dealing or interacting with these people in life, they are not your friends and not worth your friendship. they'll stab you at first chance if it suits them.

      This quote reflects a really depressing world view and a lack of perspective. For the most part, those in authority in the US are doing a fine job. Look at other, truly repressive regimes in North Africa and the Middle East, and the atrocities they are daily committing against their citizens. That doesn't happen here nearly as often, or to nearly as great a degree.

      I am a lawyer, and I sought out my job because I want to help people. The same can be said for most other lawyers I know. Cops, judges, poli

      • "For the most part, those in authority in the US are doing a fine job. Look at other, truly repressive regimes in North Africa and the Middle East, and the atrocities they are daily committing against their citizens. That doesn't happen here nearly as often, or to nearly as great a degree."

        I have heard that argument quite a lot, and it's complete bullshit. The fact that someone else has it worse does not mean that you don't have it bad.

        If you were in a room full of people who were getting both legs broken, would you preach about how wonderful life is, when they decide to just break one of your arms and are coming to do it?

      • if you were not in a position of control (face it, just by being a lawyer you can talk your way out of 99% of the shit that common ordinary guys can't) you would probably not feel that people 'like you' are so trustworthy.

        if you got caught by a bad cop, you can have your buddies, somewhere, help you.

        what about us?

        live life like us, esentially, powerless. do that for 1 year. you come back one year, then we talk, yes?

        (serious.)

    • cops, judges, politicians, lawyers; those in authority are there because they are mentally unbalanced..............avoid dealing or interacting with these people in life,

      Wow, way to close your mind to the very data that could change your pre-concieved notions. Have you ever had a cop friend? Saying, "don't talk to X group of people" is a common trick among cults. Hope you don't close your mind to other stuff in the same way.

  • In a pure coincidence, Gaddafi impeded U.S. oil interests before the war [salon.com]

    Is there anything more obvious -- as the world's oil supplies rapidly diminish -- than the fact that our prime objective is to remove Gaddafi and install a regime that is a far more reliable servant to Western oil interests, and that protecting civilians was the justifying pretext for this war, not the purpose?

    Conflict in Libya: U.S. oil companies sit on sidelines as Gaddafi maintains hold [washingtonpost.com]

    In late February 2008, Mulva was “summoned to Sirte for a half-hour ‘browbeating’” from Gaddafi, according to a U.S. State Department cable made available by WikiLeaks. Gaddafi “threatened to dramatically reduce Libya’s oil production and/or expel ... U.S. oil and gas companies,” the cable said.

    Wikileaks was the source for these articles. If all cables get leaked, it is difficult for US to pursue its interests.

    And more: U.S. Fought To Lower Minimum Wage In Haiti So Hanes And Levis Would Stay Cheap [businessinsider.com]

    • by russotto (537200)

      Is there anything more obvious -- as the world's oil supplies rapidly diminish -- than the fact that our prime objective is to remove Gaddafi and install a regime that is a far more reliable servant to Western oil interests, and that protecting civilians was the justifying pretext for this war, not the purpose?

      Note that this is a quote from the author of the Salon article, not from the leaked cables.

      That Ghadafi has been a thorn in the side of the US for decades, for many reasons, is no particular secret.

      Th

  • Then the old jokes start in strange new ways:
    We have eedom of press, but not freedom after publication. A source, like an asset faces the Espionage Act or PATRIOT Act and its game over.
    Expect to see the word "journalist" been used much less due to the little bit of legal cover it still provides.
    Whistleblower protection "under seal" seems to be gone too now :)
    You can talk about computers, sport, politicians, celebrities, just dont follow the money, source code, drugs or hint at lawyer written statements
  • by rbrander (73222) on Saturday June 18, 2011 @11:53AM (#36485552) Homepage

    This is bi-partisan because grabbing more power for the executive branch is bi-partisan. The book "Takeover" by Charlie Savage (also of the NYT) details much about how the Bush 2 administration worked to increase executive power, but also how it has been a tradition for a century before that - and persecution of whistleblowers is an important part of it.

    Two stories from "Takeover" stuck with me.

    One was the story of an ethics advisor for the Justice Dept, Jesslyn Radack. When John Walker Lindh, the "American Taliban", was charged with many counts that led to 20 years in jail, based almost entirely on his own statement given while duct-taped to a board, naked and blindfolded with an untreated bullet wound in his leg, Atty. Gen. Ashcroft stated publicly that while the statement was given without a lawyer present, that was fine since he did not have a lawyer at the time. Alas, Ms. Radack had already notified the FBI that Lindh's father had retained council for him and notified Justice, and that they should not interrogate him - they just did, anyway. And Radack had kept the E-mails, then sent them to a reporter. It was not in her mind at the time that this was "whistleblowing" she felt she was correcting erroneous statements; releasing the information was no crime at all, since it was unclassified. For this, she found herself:

    * Fired, from the private law firm she worked for (they consulted to Justice)
    * Subjected to a year-long criminal investigation, though no charges were ever filed, since she had committed no crime
    * Referred to for "discipline" by the bar associations in all the states she was licensed to practice in, via a secret report that she was not allowed to see
    * Placed on the "selectee" version of the no-fly list - meaning she was *always* "randomly selected" for full off-with-the-underwear search for every single flight.

    Talk about a chilling effect. Thou Shalt Not Embarrass The Justice Department, even with the simple truth that it got excited and eager for a headline and made a mistake.

    Just so that this isn't seen as partisan, the other story is about a democrat: Harry Truman. (Who also felt the whole Korean War(!) was strictly an executive branch decision, no congressional authorization needed ... take THAT, Libya protestors!) A major avoidance of government transparency is enabled by the "state secrets" privilege, in which the government can tell a court, "dismiss this lawsuit; to argue it, we'd have to reveal State Secrets". It's been used to shut down every lawsuit about torture and unlawful detention that came after 9/11. But there's no such privilege in the Constitution. It comes from a Supreme Court decision, "US vs. Reynolds", where the survivors of 3 civilian scientists killed in a B-29 bomber crash in Georgia, 1948, while doing missile research. The government argued that the judge had to dismiss the suit without even seeing the crash report himself, lest "secret electronics" be revealed, and it was upheld - then used about 60 times since. In 2000, the daughter of one of the victims found the crash report, declassified, on the Internet. It contained NOTHING about secret electronics - it contained proof that there had been negligent maintenance of the bomber, and negligent lack of training for the civilians on how to escape the aircraft. The government had used the claim to avoid embarrassment, not to mention losing a lawsuit.

    As Charlie Savage summed it up, "The central case on which the State Secrets Privilege rests, then, was a fraud. The Truman administration had lied to the courts and gotten away with it."

    So that's why you need whistleblowers. And that's why governments persecute them as ruthlessly as possible; it's about executive power, the effort to restore America to the status of having a King who is above the law - partly by exempting the executive from laws that the rest of us must obey, partly by ensuring that most of their lawbreaking is never revealed in the first place, so they don't have to fight for that exemption very often.

    • "A major avoidance of government transparency is enabled by the "state secrets" privilege, in which the government can tell a court, 'dismiss this lawsuit; to argue it, we'd have to reveal State Secrets'. "

      However, just about a month or so ago, a Federal judge ruled that the government cannot do that. They can take measures to ensure that the public cannot see those 'secrets' in the course of a trial, but the government cannot withhold that information from the judge or jury.

      Unfortunately, I do not have a citation for that decision. Maybe some person out there who is reading this has one.'

      • by rbrander (73222)

        That was exciting to hear and I rushed to Google. I tried [ "state secrets privilege" ruling against ] as my search phrase.

        Got nuthin' but the recent (May 2011) ruling that was still in favour of the SSP - but "narrowed" the grounds for using it. The one before that was the 9th circuit, Sept 2010, that the EFF described as

        "Unfortunately, abdicating its responsibility is just what the Court did. It ordered summary dismissal of the complaint without allowing any discovery, or presentation of the public evi

        • I still wish you had linked to those stories.

          But you are correct, my memory was not serving me well. What I was unknowing referring to was the Drake Case [fas.org], in which the government's bungled attempts to keep information secret nevertheless would have served to bias the jury against the defendant.

          Somehow, I got that confused with another case in which the judge told the government (pre-trial) that they could use the established secrecy procedures to withhold confidential information from the public, but
  • The transparency initiative of President Obama was a campaign lie. I remember him preaching the importance of transparency in government and having an open and accessible government. If the Obama Administration seeks to criminalize attempts to hold Obama to his campaign promise, then he simply pandered to the voting public. For the record, I am neither Democrat nor Republican, both are misguided and self-serving parties.
    • Don't you think there should be some legal way to bind politicians to, at least, attempting to achieve what they claim they will. Or, at very least, not doing the opposite.
      Here, in the UK, the conservatives got in (in a way) saying they would ring fence spending on the NHS (national health service) and are now going about trying to privatise it.

      Why should they be able to deceive the public with impunity?
  • If only the administration put half the effort into punishing various people who broke US laws on surrveilance and torture that they're putting into punishing the people who let the American people find out about it.

Entropy requires no maintenance. -- Markoff Chaney

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