Tag Archive for Secrecy

UN Human Rights Report on the Protection of Whistleblowers and Confidential Sources

UN-WhistleblowerProtections

In the report, submitted in accordance with Human Rights Council resolution 25/2, the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression addresses the protection of sources of information and whistle-blowers. Everyone enjoys the right to access to information, an essential tool for the public’s participation in political affairs, democratic governance and accountability. In many situations, sources of information and whistle-blowers make access to information possible, for which they deserve the strongest protection in law and in practice. Drawing on international and national law and practice, the Special Rapporteur highlights the key elements of a framework for the protection of sources and whistle-blowers.

Moynihan Commission on Protecting and Reducing Government Secrecy Report 1997

The classification and personnel security systems are no longer trusted by many inside and outside the Government. It is now almost routine for American officials of unquestioned loyalty to reveal classified information as part of ongoing policy disputes—with one camp “leaking” information in support of a particular view, or to the detriment of another—or in support of settled administration policy. In the process, this degrades public service by giving a huge advantage to the least scrupulous players.

Survey of Journalists Finds Public Information Officers Often Prevent the Public From Accessing Information

The Society of Professional Journalists conducted a study for this year’s Sunshine Week surveying 146 journalists who cover federal agencies regarding the role that public affairs or public information officers play in restricting the flow of relevant information to the public. The survey found that journalists face significant obstacles in the performance of their duties due to the obstructive activities of public affairs officers. Some of these obstacles include requiring pre-approval for interviews, prohibiting interviews of certain agency employees or rerouting interview requests, and the active monitoring of interviews being conducted with agency employees. Journalists who responded to the survey found that this obstruction is preventing the public from “getting all the information it needs because of barriers agencies are imposing on journalists’ reporting practices.”

White House “WikiLeaks” Executive Order on Improving Security of Classified Networks

This order directs structural reforms to ensure responsible sharing and safeguarding of classified information on computer networks that shall be consistent with appropriate protections for privacy and civil liberties. Agencies bear the primary responsibility for meeting these twin goals. These structural reforms will ensure coordinated interagency development and reliable implementation of policies and minimum standards regarding information security, personnel security, and systems security; address both internal and external security threats and vulnerabilities; and provide policies and minimum standards for sharing classified information both within and outside the Federal Government. These policies and minimum standards will address all agencies that operate or access classified computer networks, all users of classified computer networks (including contractors and others who operate or access classified computer networks controlled by the Federal Government), and all classified information on those networks.

Council of Europe Draft Resolution on Abuse of State Secrecy and National Security

The Assembly considers that judicial and parliamentary scrutiny of government and its agents is of vital importance for the rule of law and democracy. This also applies especially to so-called special services whose activities are usually kept secret. Security and intelligence services, the need for which cannot be put into doubt, must nonetheless not become a “state within the state”, exempted from accountability for their actions. Such lack of accountability leads to a dangerous culture of impunity, which undermines the very foundations of democratic institutions.

Fusion Center Locations Revealed

Since 9/11, the U.S. Government has engaged in a multibillion-dollar effort to construct a domestic intelligence network for the ostensible purpose of combating terrorism, criminal activity and violent extremism. One of the central components of this system is the network of “fusion centers” that have sprung up around the country over the last several years. These entities integrate local law enforcement with a state’s police force, Department of Justice, or Office of Emergency Management and are designed to facilitate law enforcement intelligence activities throughout the jurisdiction, providing federal authorities access to local information and databases, while simultaneously allowing federal agencies to disseminate classified intelligence materials to local authorities. There are almost always federal representatives present in local fusion centers and Secretary Napolitano has recently testified that DHS is “committed to having an officer in each fusion center.” Most fusion centers also work with representatives of the private sector, particularly those industries related to so-called “critical infrastructure and key resources.”