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Thread: For Congress, ‘it’s classified’ is new equivalent of ‘none of your business’

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    For Congress, ‘it’s classified’ is new equivalent of ‘none of your business’

    The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence reportedly gave its approval last week to an Obama administration plan to provide weapons to moderate rebels in Syria, but how individual members of the committee stood on the subject remains unknown.

    There was no public debate and no public vote when one of the most contentious topics in American foreign policy was decided – outside of the view of constituents, who oppose the president’s plan to aid the rebels by 54 percent to 37 percent, according to a Gallup Poll last month.

    In fact, ask individual members of the committee, who represent 117 million people in 14 states, how they stood on the plan to use the CIA to funnel weapons to the rebels and they are likely to respond with the current equivalent of “none of your business:” It’s classified.

    Those were, in fact, the words Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., chair of the committee, used when asked a few days before the approval was granted to clarify her position for her constituents. She declined. It’s a difficult situation, she said. And, “It’s classified.”

    She was not alone. In a string of interviews over days, members of both the Senate intelligence committee or its equivalent in the House were difficult to pin down on their view of providing arms to the rebels. The senators and representatives said they couldn’t give an opinion, or at least a detailed one, because the matter was classified.

    It’s an increasingly common stance that advocates of open government say undermines the very principle of a representative democracy.

    “It’s like a pandemic in Washington, D.C., this idea that ‘I don’t have to say anything, I don’t have to justify anything, because I can say it’s secret,’” said Jim Harper, director of information policy studies at the Cato Institute, a Washington-based libertarian think tank.

    “Classified” has become less a safeguard for information and more a shield from accountability on tough subjects, said Steven Aftergood, the director of the Federation of American Scientists’ Project on Government Secrecy.

    “Classification can be a convenient pretext for avoiding difficult questions,” he said. “There’s a lot that can be said about Syria without touching on classified, including a statement of general principles, a delineation of possible military and diplomatic options, and a preference for one or the other of them. So to jump to ‘national security secrecy’ right off the bat looks like an evasion.”
    http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2013/07/3...l#.Ufi6sR1q1P4

    I've grown quite tired of this, "It's classified," business, and I have been following politics for barely two years. I think there should be a position of something like Civilian Representative who has unconditional oversight and is absolutely transparent with us about the on-goings in the government because our lawmakers simply are not cutting it.

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    Re: For Congress, ‘it’s classified’ is new equivalent of ‘none of your business’

    Quote Originally Posted by Jango View Post
    For Congress, ‘it’s classified’ is new equivalent of ‘none of your business’ | McClatchy

    I've grown quite tired of this, "It's classified," business, and I have been following politics for barely two years. I think there should be a position of something like Civilian Representative who has unconditional oversight and is absolutely transparent with us about the on-goings in the government because our lawmakers simply are not cutting it.
    The concept is to classify information that might hurt national security if known publicly. The reality is that it is a convenient method for hiding information from the public that someone or some group doesn't want the public to know. Our government will get even worse if it is allowed to operate in the shadows. We the people need to support the whistle blowers. It is the only way we will get past this. The government persecutes whistle blowers. There is no chance of reform in that.

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    Re: For Congress, ‘it’s classified’ is new equivalent of ‘none of your business’

    Quote Originally Posted by Jango View Post
    I've grown quite tired of this, "It's classified," business, and I have been following politics for barely two years. I think there should be a position of something like Civilian Representative who has unconditional oversight and is absolutely transparent with us about the on-goings in the government because our lawmakers simply are not cutting it.
    Essentially the oversight IS a civilian representative though. If you don't like them, vote them out. The problem is most voters think "the other guy" is the problem and not "their guy".

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    Re: For Congress, ‘it’s classified’ is new equivalent of ‘none of your business’

    Perhaps I don't understand enough of your form of government, but I find it odd that a Senate Committee has the authority to approve anything without the matter being voted on by the full Senate and potentially by the House as well. This is likely more a situation where the President has the authority either based on the powers of his office or on some prior congressional approval and he was simply informing this committee of the actions he intends to take. As such, I see no problem with this being classified.

    On the larger issue, however, I agree that far too much of the operations of government is being held secret at the discretion of the powers in office rather than based on any form of legislated criteria. It's laughable, when you think back to the campaign in 2008, and Obama bleating about how he was going to be the head of the most open and transparent government in the history of the nation and it could easily be argued that his is the least transparent.

    This can only happen, and continue, at the implicit or explicit approval of the general public and life today is far too time consuming and complicated for most people to care. That's how democracy gets abused.
    "Liberals claim to want to give a hearing to other views, but then are shocked and offended to discover that there are other views." William F. Buckley Jr.

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