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Homeland Security Okays Closed Proceedings

ScuttleMonkey posted about 8 years ago | from the removing-accountability-is-always-fun dept.

281

CNet is reporting that a newly created branch within the Homeland Security Department that brings together many different federal agency employees and private sector players has been given the go-ahead to disregard a law requiring meetings to be open and proceedings public. From the article: "The 1972 law generally requires such groups to meet in open sessions, make written meeting materials publicly available, and deliver a 15-day notice of any decision to close a meeting to the public. The last is a particular point of concern for Homeland Security officials, who anticipate that private emergency meetings may need to be scheduled on short notice."

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281 comments

Homeland Security Okay's Closed Proceedings (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#14995300)

As near as I can tell, this means that somewhere there is a guy named "Homeland Security Okay", and these Closed Proceedings belong to him.

But speaking seriously:

The 1972 law generally requires such groups to meet in open sessions, make written meeting materials publicly available, and deliver a 15-day notice of any decision to close a meeting to the public. The last is a particular point of concern for Homeland Security officials, who anticipate that private emergency meetings may need to be scheduled on short notice.

The private sector, fearing that sensitive data will get to the wrong hands, has continued to resist sharing important information with the feds, the Department of Homeland Security said, citing government auditors' findings from late 2003.

Making the meetings public would amount to "giving our nation's enemies information they could use to most effectively attack a particular infrastructure and cause cascading consequences across multiple infrastructures," another departmental advisory council warned in August.


Is this not a valid reason for a group charged with advising on issues dealing with critical public infrastructure?

Also, please note that ANY meetings under FACA [gsa.gov] can already be closed, but a 15-day notice must be given of such closure. The end result, since 1972, is still that the meeting is closed.

The issue here is that the Critical Infrastructure Partnership Advisory Council may decide it needs to have an emergency meeting, AND that it should be closed, but can't wait 15 days to hold the meeting. The waiting period would seem designed to discourage federal agencies from routinely closing meetings without an announcement period that presumably may allow for recourse, official or otherwise, if such a closure is improper. However, the importance of a critical infrastructure advisory board holding an emergency meeting trumps the waiting period. Remember: being able to hold a closed meeting is NOT new; the only new element is not having to give a 15-day public notice that such a meeting will be closed.

I'd encourage everyone to actually read the article. Of course, if you think nothing should ever be secret and think this is part of another conservative/Republican plot, then you probably won't agree with any reasoning for keeping such critical meetings secret, and/or not having to wait 15 days to hold such meetings.

Re:Homeland Security Okay's Closed Proceedings (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#14995318)

and think this is part of another conservative/Republican plot

LOL no plot here, just more Republicans who think the law doesn't apply to them and they're too busy dancing to their sugar daddies' tunes to change the law.

I'm eno2001. Who the HELL are You? (3, Insightful)

eno2001 (527078) | about 8 years ago | (#14995344)

I find it highly suspicious that someone who seems to know a lot about these types of meetings (I wonder why that is) is posting on Slashdot. Especially with a favorable view. Regardless of whether or not you are right in what you say, it seems to me that you have more of a political motivation for posting here. The kind of mind that takes a keen interest in government and politics and the kind of mind that has a strong interest in computers and technology typically do not mix. This is one of THE biggest problems with the net. We have people who are either "wannabe" career politicians or are virtual lobbyists astroturfing the view of their employers. You are one part of the formula that is trying to subvert people to the cause of the current criminal in charge of the Whitehouse. Unless you have some other defense for yourself (I'm not even touching why you might be posting AC) I recommend that people read what you wrote with a large degree of suspicion.

Re:I'm eno2001. Who the HELL are You? (4, Insightful)

Homology (639438) | about 8 years ago | (#14995391)

The kind of mind that takes a keen interest in government and politics and the kind of mind that has a strong interest in computers and technology typically do not mix.

That might be true of 15 year olds living with Mom, but some of us are adults that do care how a country a governed.

Re:I'm eno2001. Who the HELL are You? (1)

timmyf2371 (586051) | about 8 years ago | (#14995511)

The kind of mind that takes a keen interest in government and politics and the kind of mind that has a strong interest in computers and technology typically do not mix. This is one of THE biggest problems with the net. We have people who are either "wannabe" career politicians or are virtual lobbyists astroturfing the view of their employers.

I'm not the original poster, but I must question your assumption that these two types of mind mix. I've got as strong an interest in computers and technology as anyone yet I still take a very strong interest in politics and Government matters. Fortunately, I also have the ability to look at things objectively without forming a knee-jerk "typical" reaction which the majority agree with.

I don't see this problem with the Internet that you see, I don't even post on the net either in favour of or against my employer; it's simply not worth my job.

Re:I'm eno2001. Who the HELL are You? (2, Informative)

happy cricket (963585) | about 8 years ago | (#14995536)

If you honestly beleive that tech-heads don't understand or research politics, then you need to broaden your scope. Come out of the box, man, there's a whole world out here.

Re:I'm eno2001. Who the HELL are You? (1)

hclyff (925743) | about 8 years ago | (#14995637)

Break My Linux Server [211.158.6.94]

Seems broken enough to me... :-)

Re:I'm eno2001. Who the HELL are You? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#14995789)

Excellent! It isn't actually my server. It was a scumbag phisher who had the misfortune to hit me on a day when I wasn't feeling too generous. I imagine that someone must have taken my up on my "challenge". Hehehe...

Re:I'm eno2001. Who the HELL are You? (3, Insightful)

jrockway (229604) | about 8 years ago | (#14995788)

> I recommend that people read what you wrote with a large degree of suspicion.

  I recommend that people read all slashdot comments with a large degree of suspicion. In fact, I recommend that people read everything with a large degree of suspicion.

Re:Homeland Security Okay's Closed Proceedings (5, Insightful)

LewsTherinKinslayer (817418) | about 8 years ago | (#14995350)

Everything the government does should be held to public scrutiny. How can we be reasonably informed on issues pertaining to the government when there are closed meetings between important government and private sector industries; secret courts issuing secret warrants; agencies such as the NSA performing illegal wiretapping under a veil of national security.

Perhaps it is necessary to have an agency such as the NSA or CIA that have operations that are never publicized. But its still something I have the utmost contempt for. How can the public check the government that was meant to serve them, to protect them, if they have no idea what the government is even doing.

Congressmen when given classified information, cannot release to the public that officals or even the President is involved in illegal activities, because their proof is covered in the interest of national security, and they can be arrested for a breach in such protocals.

Ignorance is power... freedom is slavery...

Re:Homeland Security Okay's Closed Proceedings (4, Insightful)

LordLucless (582312) | about 8 years ago | (#14995597)

Everything the government does should be held to public scrutiny.

True. But it doesn't have to be real-time, and it shouldn't be. Publishing all a nation's defence strategies is a bad idea in a time of war. Publishing, say, the patrol roster for border patrols would not be a good idea. Informing everyone that a particular power plant is currently unguarded and unprotected is not a good idea.

Groups such as this should be able to hold closed meetings. Otherwise the whole point of the group - to determine what critical infrastructure is vulnerable and to better defend it - is undermined. The proceedings of the meeting should be made available in, say, two years time - if a vulnerable piece of critical infrastructure is still vulnerable after two years, this group isn't doing it's job.

I don't know the law in this case, but I would be surprised if that is not already the way it works. Even top secret information is declassified eventually.

Re:Homeland Security Okay's Closed Proceedings (5, Insightful)

eosp (885380) | about 8 years ago | (#14995643)

True. But it doesn't have to be real-time, and it shouldn't be. Publishing all a nation's defence strategies is a bad idea in a time of war. Publishing, say, the patrol roster for border patrols would not be a good idea. Informing everyone that a particular power plant is currently unguarded and unprotected is not a good idea.

Usually we call this "security through obscurity".

  1. We shouldn't be fighting a war if the people don't agree with it.
  2. If a particular power plant is currently unguarded and unprotected, then FIX IT! If there's a security problem, then having it out in the open will get something done about it.

Groups such as this should be able to hold closed meetings. Otherwise the whole point of the group - to determine what critical infrastructure is vulnerable and to better defend it - is undermined. The proceedings of the meeting should be made available in, say, two years time - if a vulnerable piece of critical infrastructure is still vulnerable after two years, this group isn't doing it's job.

If it was better defended in the first place, we wouldn't need to hold closed meetings.

I don't know the law in this case, but I would be surprised if that is not already the way it works. Even top secret information is declassified eventually.

Tell that to Bush and his domestic wiretapping program.

Apologies if this came off as trollish or standoffish.

Re:Homeland Security Okay's Closed Proceedings (2, Insightful)

Kjella (173770) | about 8 years ago | (#14995669)

Everything the government does should be held to public scrutiny.

Everything down to military blueprints, intelligence and counter-intelligence information, detailed layout plans and reports on critical infrastructure and risk assessments, security clearances and so on? I think you can imagine for yourself that's not going to work. Most scrutiny works the way democracy works, through representation. Even the whole division of power is about the three branches of government scrutinizing each other. I'm not saying that's a perfect system but it mostly works - the troubles we've seen have rarely been a broad conspiracy, mostly it's been one agency running off on their own without *anyone's* scrutiny. I agree that sometimes it might be necessary to break the law to expose a corrupt system, but if there's political gain to be had I imagine they wouldn't hesistate to nail the President's head to the wall.

Re:Homeland Security Okay's Closed Proceedings (4, Insightful)

rbochan (827946) | about 8 years ago | (#14995689)

Everything the government does should be held to public scrutiny...

You're not taking into account the neo-con ideology...
Women who willingly, even enthusiastically give the president blow jobs should be part of the public record, because the people have the right to know, but security matters and powerful industrial representatives who meet with the administration in secret should have the meetings, the attendees, the topics and effects of those meetings kept secret, because that would interfer with the ability to the government to conduct the people's business without public scrutiny.

Take that, Osama!

Re:Homeland Security Okay's Closed Proceedings (3, Informative)

amliebsch (724858) | about 8 years ago | (#14995376)

Do you know where that 15-day notice comes from? I'm looking at the Act itself, specifically, Section 10, and see no mention of a 15 day notice requirement. In fact, searching the PDF, there doesn't seem to be any mention of a 15-day notice anywhere in the Act.

Re:Homeland Security Okay's Closed Proceedings (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#14995426)

10. Advisory committee procedures; meetings; notice, publication in Federal Register; regulations;
minutes; certification; annual report; Federal officer or employee, attendance
(a)(1) Each advisory committee meeting shall be open to the public.
(2) Except when the President determines otherwise for reasons of national security, timely
notice of each such meeting shall be published in the Federal Register, and the Adminis-
trator shall prescribe regulations to provide for other types of public notice to insure that all
interested persons are notified of such meeting prior thereto.
(3) Interested persons shall be permitted to attend, appear before, or file statements with
any advisory committee, subject to such reasonable rules or regulations as the Administra-
tor may prescribe.


The 15-day notice is not statutory, but is generally accepted under the rulemaking because that is the leadtime for the notice to reasonably get into the Federal Register and/or other channels of public notice.

In sum, this "revelation" that CIPAC will have closed meetings without the 15-day notice is no revelation at all, as such federal committees have ALWAYS been able to have closed meetings. And in 1972 maybe 15 days was required for reasonable "notice" to the public that a meeting would be closed. However, in 2006, I think 15 minutes is all the notice anyone needs. The end result is still that the meeting is closed to the public. There is no need to arbitrarily wait 15 days to have a meeting that will still be closed.

From painful experience... (1)

Elemenope (905108) | about 8 years ago | (#14995493)

...with open meetings laws here in Rhode Island, I can tell you that the lead time is not just for informative purposes, but also for a person with standing to bring a challenge in court to the act of closing the meeting; a concerned person who has standing can attempt to get an emergency injunction preventing the meeting from going forward if he or she asserts that the meeting was closed improperly. I'm not sure about the federal guidelines, but if they are anything at all like Rhode Island's, then the feds can't close a meeting for just any old reason; there are guidelines, and if someone asserts that those guidelines are being violated and they are being harmed by that violation, it makes a huge amount of sense that they can seek remedy.

Re:From painful experience... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#14995561)

Indeed, as I noted in my original post:

The waiting period would seem designed to discourage federal agencies from routinely closing meetings without an announcement period that presumably may allow for recourse, official or otherwise, if such a closure is improper.

However, there have been no successful challenges, to my knowledge, of meetings closed under FACA provisions.

Further, if the meeting has an emergency status - and folks, let's just cut the BS here and admit that it might be conceivable that an advisory committee on critical public infrastructure might possibly need to have an emergency meeting at some point - it should go forward regardless. Public notice and postmortems can be given as necessary after the meeting is concluded.

Keep in mind, people, that this is a narrow statute governing a specific class of groups known collectively as Federal Advisory Committees. These groups are generally populated with experts and scholars in the given field, and are designed to effectively impart important information and knowledge to the responsible federal agency.

In this area, it will be executives, engineers, and scientists from corporations, laboratories, and other institutions with a stake in protecting and maintaining our nation's critical infrastructure. It's possible that a closed - or even secret - meeting may need to be held on a particular topic. These meetings have always had the option of being closed.

It is further possible that a closed meeting may need to be held in an emergency situation. Waiting 15 days to hold such a meeting cripples the very purpose of the committee.

Re:Homeland Security Okay's Closed Proceedings (1)

amliebsch (724858) | about 8 years ago | (#14995507)

It's worth pointing out that even the provision you cite is not required "when the President determines otherwise for reasons of national security." Presumably the President can delegate the authority to make that decision to his executive appointees, so it would appear that if the meeting is to be closed, that clause would not even apply.

Re:Homeland Security Okay's Closed Proceedings (1)

amliebsch (724858) | about 8 years ago | (#14995550)

Clarification: 10(a)(1)(2) would still apply in cases where the meeting was closed but national security would not be compromised by publishing timely notice of the closed meeting (and even then, the 15-day period is not statutory). But section 10(a)(1)(2) is clearly not required if necessary for "reasons of national security."

Re:Homeland Security Okay's Closed Proceedings (3, Funny)

vought (160908) | about 8 years ago | (#14995436)

As near as I can tell, this means that somewhere there is a guy named "Homeland Security Okay", and these Closed Proceedings belong to him.

Slashdot headlines make you cringe, hunh? Me too.

Re:Homeland Security Okay's Closed Proceedings (1)

vought (160908) | about 8 years ago | (#14995450)

As near as I can tell, this means that somewhere there is a guy named "Homeland Security Okay", and these Closed Proceedings belong to him. You cad. My name is Homeland Security Okay, and I'll have you know that my Closed Proceedings are mine to do with as I please.

Re:Homeland Security Okay's Closed Proceedings (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#14995464)

this is part of another conservative/Republican plot

Huh? It's part of another Republican/Democrat plot.

The only good government is a dead government.

Re:Homeland Security Okay's Closed Proceedings (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#14995666)

I read the article. The 15 day notice is minor point. The problem is that the government and the private sector players want to be exempt from the entire process of public scrutiny. Hell, with this exemption there doesn't even have to be a record of these meetings. Government policy can be made entirely in secret with no puplic oversight.

Re:Homeland Security Okay's Closed Proceedings (1)

inode_buddha (576844) | about 8 years ago | (#14995681)

Well, I'm glad to bill myself as conservative, and I *still* think its wrong. Go figure.

expediency yes, but within the rule of law (5, Insightful)

mr_burns (13129) | about 8 years ago | (#14995711)

What I'm worried about is it being so easy to close a meeting that it becomes routine.

Right now we have one safeguard: It's a pain in the ass to wait 15 days so people would mostly rather keep meetings open than close them. Unless absolutely necessary.

And I understand the probable necessity of having a closed meeting on short notice.

Where I have a real issue is the way that DHS has decided to work around this conflict. You can't just up and decide that the law doesn't apply to you. You can't decide to just break the law if it doesn't suit you. If the circumstances under which the law was created have changed, maybe it's time to change the law. Go to Congress, tell them how the law hasn't kept pace with reality and ask for changes. Better yet, suggest some.

Here's my suggestion: keep the 15 days notice the way it has been. However, in the case that the meeting has to be held much sooner than that and be closed, you have to do more than just give notice. You may have to have a counterpart in a different branch of government review an "emergency closure request" or somesuch and OK it. Maybe add a sunset provision in there where after a certain amount of time there will be a review (with a comment period) to decide wether or not the meeting stuff should remain closed. If the review isn't held, the stuff is automatically opened.

See, it isn't that complicated. DHS gets what they need to do their job. There is a check against the power from another branch and we have a mechanism to regain transparency after the fact.

But did DHS even ask Congress or entertain the notion? I don't have the answer to that. What I do know is that the President, DHS, the whole danged government and the general populace don't get to decide which laws do and do not apply to them. They can't selectively choose to obey this law and disobey that law. No matter what the percieved necessity may be.

And this has been happenning at an increasing pace in our executive branch as of late. It's criminal, anAmerican and unacceptable.

Sheesh, DHS... all you have to do is ask. We'll listen. But if you give up on the rule of law... you'll lead us down a path to anarchy or totalitarianism. And you know what... that's a bigger threat to America than Al Qaeda could ever hope to be. Don't do their work for them.

Uhuh (3, Funny)

Dibblah (645750) | about 8 years ago | (#14995309)

Because security through obscurity is a time-proven strategy. It works for everyone that's tried it, doesn't it?

To some extent, it does. (1)

babbling (952366) | about 8 years ago | (#14995441)

Any "obscurity" can be thought of as an extra layer of security. It shouldn't be relied upon, but it does work to an extent.

People who know the "secret" will be able to see through the obscurity, while others need to spend time analyzing. It's not that different from "secret passwords", which are what most consumer-level devices and services use. A password is just a stronger "obscurity" than what you have in mind.

Re:Uhuh (4, Funny)

NitsujTPU (19263) | about 8 years ago | (#14995533)

This is a little different.

It's not relying on people not knowing where your insecure webserver is.

This sounds a lot more like when the military doesn't say, "Hey, drop your bombs here, our troops are over heeeerrrreeee!" I suppose that, by your argument, the troops should just be well protected enough to survive that bomb blast, but that's not how it works in these scenarios. They like to keep these things secret.

By the way, if you were wondering the password to my computer, it's TYPE_THESE_WORDS_IN.

par for the course (2, Informative)

macshit (157376) | about 8 years ago | (#14995324)

The current administration seems to make just about everything it can closed to public scrutiny; in this case, it's even easier than usual because they can claim "it's against terrorists / fer the children!!!"

Sigh...

Re:par for the course (2, Interesting)

pvt_medic (715692) | about 8 years ago | (#14995368)

There are things that should not be publicly available. But with that being said there is typically some problem with this:
-no oversight (I dont care what they say this govt was founded on a system of checks and balances and there should always be an independant form of oversight)
-the mentality we are going to keep this secret not because it is sensitive but because the public is stupid and cant handle the truth (ok some people are stupid, but the govt is suppose to serve us)
-the problem with the fact that they typically goof up the process of classifying things in the first place and that it eventually will get leaked out (the govt needs to do a better job at keeping secrets secret).

Re:par for the course (1, Insightful)

Homology (639438) | about 8 years ago | (#14995423)

The current administration seems to make just about everything it can closed to public scrutiny; in this case, it's even easier than usual because they can claim "it's against terrorists / fer the children!!!"

The secrecy of this administration is unprecented, and so are their efforts to give the President unchecked powers.

The meetings can already be closed (2, Interesting)

daveschroeder (516195) | about 8 years ago | (#14995325)

Under FACA, such federal advisory meetings can already be closed, and have been able to be closed for over three decades. However, a 15-day public notice must be given for such a closure.

The net result, however, is that the meeting is still closed.

This change allows for the Critical Infrastructure Partnership Advisory Council to have closed meetings in an emergency without giving a 15-day notice that it is going to have a closed meeting.

I think that critical public infrastructure protection outweighs any need for a 15-day notice of a closed meeting.

Re:The meetings can already be closed (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#14995372)

If its critical to hold the meeting prior to the 15 day notice then just hold it publically! If the public is in that sort of danger they deserve a right to know.

Heh (1)

Wizardry Dragon (952618) | about 8 years ago | (#14995422)

I remember a quote of significant relevance: "He who gives up freedom for security deserves neither."

Re:Heh (2, Informative)

daveschroeder (516195) | about 8 years ago | (#14995452)

Except that meetings of such advisory committees have already been able to be closed to the public for 34 years (and could also be closed to the public with NO notice before that).

FACA stipulated a reasonable notice to the public when a meeting was to be closed, so as to advise the public where additional information may be obtained, or information about when the results of such a meeting may become public, or when future public meetings may occur.

That was in 1972.

The meetings were still closed.

In 2006, there is no reason to give 15 days notice of a closed meeting of a federal advisory board. Ample information can be broadly provided to meet the statue, which specifically states:

(a)(1) Each advisory committee meeting shall be open to the public.

(2) Except when the President determines otherwise for reasons of national security, timely
notice of each such meeting shall be published in the Federal Register, and the Adminis-
trator shall prescribe regulations to provide for other types of public notice to insure that all
interested persons are notified of such meeting prior thereto.

(3) Interested persons shall be permitted to attend, appear before, or file statements with
any advisory committee, subject to such reasonable rules or regulations as the Administra-
tor may prescribe.


Public notice of a closed meeting can reasonably happen a lot more quickly in 2006 than it could in 1972. Remember, the meeting is still closed.

So, your quote isn't very relevant. At all.

Re:Heh (1)

Wizardry Dragon (952618) | about 8 years ago | (#14995556)

If you have no recourse when your government makes descisions you don't like, you have no freedom. All of that in the name of 'homeland security.'

Bah, makes me happy I don't like in America.

Re:The meetings can already be closed (1)

Kind420 (808757) | about 8 years ago | (#14995468)

Judging by the last line in your post it sounds like you are ready to bend over and take it w/o vasoline, all in the name of security! Why do you trust this incompetent agency so implicitly? They have done nothing so far to warrant it! Anyone who is so ready to surrender their rights, deserves no freedom at all. How about you move to another country?

Re:The meetings can already be closed (2, Insightful)

daveschroeder (516195) | about 8 years ago | (#14995513)

Judging from your post, it sounds like you have no concept of the fact that federal advisory council meetings have been able to be closed for nigh on 34 years, and the only thing that this would change is the generally accepted 15-day notice of the closed meeting to the Federal Register, which isn't even required by the statute. The meeting is still closed, in either instance. 15-day notice or not. How is that "surrendering rights" or "freedom"? Please, explain that to me.

We live in a society based on rule of law and rights tempered with responsibility, including delegated responsibility that we implicitly grant to government. Bottom line? Someone trying to make a mountain out of a molehill. Even the submission makes it appear as if the "new" aspect of this is closed meetings.

Oops. It isn't. Such meetings have been able to be closed for three and a half decades with notice, and with no notice for the prior couple centuries, since there was no requirement for any notice. The "notice" aspect was created to allow for public notification of a closed meeting of an advisory board, so that the public would still have reasonable mechanisms to obtain more information. Note that in the statute, nothing specific is required for notice, other than it be given.

Notice can still be given, and an advisory committee on critical public infrastructure can have a closed meeting when deemed necessary, as it would have been able to since 1776 and 1976. And now, 2006. But without having to arbitrarily wait 15 days between the notice and the closed meeting.

Please note that even with a 15 day notice, there is NO PUBLIC RECOURSE, and no process to open the meeting. It is a NOTICE ONLY. So if you want to trumpet about "rights", why don't you learn what you're talking about first.

Re:The meetings can already be closed (1)

penix1 (722987) | about 8 years ago | (#14995699)

"Notice can still be given, and an advisory committee on critical public infrastructure can have a closed meeting when deemed necessary, as it would have been able to since 1776 and 1976. And now, 2006. But without having to arbitrarily wait 15 days between the notice and the closed meeting."

There is a reason there are "sunshine laws" in this nation. This is part of the clearing for those laws. If the administration doesn't like the law then they should do as any other agancy does and petition the legislature to exempt them IN THIS LAW. The thing that is arbitrary here is the administration's intrepretation of the law.

And just what is to object to in the 15 day requirement to ANNOUNCE that they are meeting in closed session BEFORE the meeting? There has got to be a reason the administration fears trying to change the law. Could it be that they would get a resounding NO...

B.

Re:The meetings can already be closed (1)

aachrisg (899192) | about 8 years ago | (#14995516)

>I think that critical public infrastructure protection outweighs any need for a 15-day notice of a closed meeting. Then lobby your congress-persons to change the law. They may just change it the way homeland security wants, or put restrictions on when the meetings can be closed w/o notice, or whatever. Thats what we have a legislature for instead of a king.

Re:The meetings can already be closed (1)

sbrown123 (229895) | about 8 years ago | (#14995569)

It's wierd that what you are saying runs counter to everything thats being put in the news, even by FACA and those who support this measure. Where did you glean this tidbit of important information that no one else has brought attention to? I'm not doubting you, but I sure am curious.

Re:The meetings can already be closed (1)

daveschroeder (516195) | about 8 years ago | (#14995600)

Where did the information come from? The statute:

(a)(1) Each advisory committee meeting shall be open to the public.

(2) Except when the President determines otherwise for reasons of national security, timely
notice of each such meeting shall be published in the Federal Register, and the Adminis-
trator shall prescribe regulations to provide for other types of public notice to insure that all
interested persons are notified of such meeting prior thereto.

(3) Interested persons shall be permitted to attend, appear before, or file statements with
any advisory committee, subject to such reasonable rules or regulations as the Administra-
tor may prescribe.


FACA makes it very clear that closed meetings can be held, and that public notice must be given of such meetings. That's it.

In an emergent situation where a closed meeting is required, waiting for it to get into the Federal Register or newspapers is ridiculous and unnecessary. Ample public notice can be given by other channels in 2006 that weren't possible in 1972.

If you argue that not only notice, but time to bring a court challenge, is what is required, then I may agree with your line of reasoning. However, I also believe that sometimes emergency meetings of federal advisory committees may be needed without excessive lead time.

Re:The meetings can already be closed (1)

inode_buddha (576844) | about 8 years ago | (#14995722)

"This change allows for the Critical Infrastructure Partnership Advisory Council to have closed meetings in an emergency without giving a 15-day notice that it is going to have a closed meeting."

Tinfoil hat time. This is starting to make me wonder if the telcos and energy corps are part of this Critical Infrastructure Partnership.

Well yeah, IMHO telcos and energy corps *are* a critical part of anyone's infrastructure, but it kinda stinks when there are closed meetings on short notice. Especially when you consider that there are anti-trust regulations and taxpaying voters.

How Is This News for Nerds??!! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#14995343)

A story about the Department of Homeland Security's Proceedings? What relevance does this have to most of the slashdot crowd?

I don't like Scuttlmonkey's use of slashdot as his personal soapbox to vent on his politics. It's obvious some of the slashdot editors are angry, lefty, Bush bashers, but they don't need to shove their political tripe down the readers' throats.

This story is basically offtopic.

are you retarded? (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#14995483)

Not paying attention?? You been away from the keyboard for a few years? The effin gestapo, the guys who hijacked the government with the 911 coup (yes, they did it, the scum sucking traitors,the evidence is overwhelming now, the WTC buildings were taken down controlled demolitions while they were running a simultaneous "drill" as one of the covers) are going batshit nuts instituting complete online surveillence and data mining, installing video cameras everywhere, engaging in illegal wiretapping, using paid off government drones for online astroturfing, blackmailing congressmen and judges, paying off journalists to push propoganda, trying to get treacherous computing implemented, trying their damndest to get everyone to accept implantable microchips and various other RFID schemes for commeand and control and surveillence, pushing the cashless society with guranteed inflation (spend it or lose it fast), building freaking hover drones to spy on people and using penetrating radar to look in houses, forcing people to meekly accept jack booted thugs at airports and at random road blocks with that "yess massh" mindset they want everyone to have, setting up the internal passport scheme with the national ID act, forcing people to use their vote hijacking equipment, forcing them to "support" illegal wars by rip off taxes, killing off the middle class economy for their goal of the two class society with them as masters and everyone else slaves....

And dozens more.

  This is just another example of how they are trying to cover their tracks and hide. EVERY example of them assholes mumbling "national security" to pull off some crap like this has to do with them covering up further fascism. They are the worst bunch of lying murdering thugs ever,because they *pose* as righteous nice guys, and they have just started wasting people by the thousands and taking over. It's only going to get worse with those boys.

They...are... PIGS.

The story is under politics. Don't read the politics section then, that is easy enough to do.

  If you don't think all this affects you, you are either A-a moron, or B-one of those fascist pigs.

I am guessing B-an effin traitor. And possibly even one of the paid off online traitors, brainwashed into working for the coup plotters. Most of their drones and minions are TOO STUPID to even realise they are being lied to, used and abused, and if not that stupid, and they realise what is going on, they lack the courage to do anything about it. They don't even have the guts to *quit*, they just keep cashing the blood money government checks.

Either way, it doesn't matter which flavor of idiot and traitor you are, suck it fascist!

Re:are you retarded? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#14995552)

Many of these people have investments in biometric/security companies. It's in their interest to keep up the "war on terror", and to keep their involvement secret.

I for one do NOT welcome our overlords ... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#14995356)

In case there's any doubt regarding my position :

I fear the government of the US far more than I fear any terrorist.

Why ?

Because the US government has wasted far more American lives than any terrorist has.

Re:I for one do NOT welcome our overlords ... (1)

Watson Ladd (955755) | about 8 years ago | (#14995743)

Amen. When you total up the lives we cost other countries, and the number the cost us, we end up with spilling more blood by a factor of ten since WWII. Counting brinksmanship, the total is even bigger. (Like Cuban Missile crisis.)

Nothing to see here (1)

Opportunist (166417) | about 8 years ago | (#14995401)

Dept. of Homeland Obscurity not caring 'bout laws. Anything else new?

Re:Nothing to see here (1)

amliebsch (724858) | about 8 years ago | (#14995421)

Slashbots' general ignorance of the actual law is certainly not new. The law specifically allows closed meetings, and I may be missing something, but do not actually see any mention of the requirement of a 15-day notice of closed meetings in the act itself [gsa.gov].

you can make a tooth pick out of a 2x4,,,, (1)

3seas (184403) | about 8 years ago | (#14995417)

... by widdeling away at it little by little.

just like what is happening to our freedom...

The more important questions are in regards to why is there such an huge apparent expectation of attacks on the US?

Try a google search on "Trillion dollar bet" and read the transcript.

Re:you can make a tooth pick out of a 2x4,,,, (1)

melikamp (631205) | about 8 years ago | (#14995449)

The more important questions are in regards to why is there such an huge apparent expectation of attacks on the US?

...Especially considering that US is winning that war... Ah, nevermind...

Re:you can make a tooth pick out of a 2x4,,,, (4, Funny)

LordLucless (582312) | about 8 years ago | (#14995611)

Widdling [wordwebonline.com]
Whittling [wikipedia.org]

While your statement may be true, I don't think it comes out the way you intended it. And if you did intend it that way, you're a sick little puppy.

Re:you can make a tooth pick out of a 2x4,,,, (1)

clevershark (130296) | about 8 years ago | (#14995618)

I guess it's possible to widdle a 2x4 into a toothpick... you just need a lot of time and a few kegs of beer!

Re:you can make a tooth pick out of a 2x4,,,, (1)

irimi_00 (962766) | about 8 years ago | (#14995768)

Please explain to me what you think 'A Trillion Dollar Bet' has to do what is being discussed. And if you would direct me to the manuscript as well, I would appreciate it. I do not see an obvious link on the website for the show.

Eroding, eroding, eroding (4, Insightful)

erroneus (253617) | about 8 years ago | (#14995428)

I am left to wonder what significant safegaurds we have remaining. Admittedly, I knew nothing of this particular 1972 law to begin with. But now I wonder if there are any more significant laws that are in place to preserve the transparency of the US government that will likely be targetted or otherwise disregarded?

This "war on terror" is such an incredibly dangerous witchunt. It struck my mind really hard the other day when I first heard it said that "terrorism is a method, not an identity." Nothing and no law could possibly prevent any free people from being stripped of their creativity when it comes to fighting for what they think is important. To attempt to target a "methodology" is like shooting at ghosts. Instead, they have to target people believed to be capable of using a methodology. It's just an inch or two away from "crimes of thought."

There are other nations that have been dealing with "terrorist activity" in the past and their reaction has been nothing so drastic as what is happening in the US. They treat the activity as they would any crime. This is exactly how the US should be responding. There must be a way to fight crime without taking civil liberties and government transparency further from the public's eye.

The next round of elections will not come soon enough for me. I still have hopes that the damage can be reversed.

Re:Eroding, eroding, eroding (1)

Goalie_Ca (584234) | about 8 years ago | (#14995553)

The law was made during the cold war, a time of great secrecy itself. They were fighting a very well organized, highly trained, and intelligent foe.

Re:Eroding, eroding, eroding (1)

happy cricket (963585) | about 8 years ago | (#14995572)

You didn't even know about the law, but you are concerned? Do you actually vote when you are this uninformed? I certainly hope not. If we need something to be scared of, it's of uninformed opinions.

Re:Eroding, eroding, eroding (1)

jefu (53450) | about 8 years ago | (#14995644)

If there are any safeguards left, they're likely to become secret soon enough. Kind of a nice "Catch 22" situation: You can only use a law if you know about it, but if you know about it you've already broken the law.

Re:Eroding, eroding, eroding (1)

iminplaya (723125) | about 8 years ago | (#14995694)

The next round of elections will not come soon enough for me. I still have hopes that the damage can be reversed.

By all historical indications, you are in for a big disappointment. The majority thinks all this is just fine. Many believe we have too many freedoms. The gov't is representing 99% of the voters to the tee, and they consider the other 1% (the real opposition) to be a bunch of loons. As long as the major party continues to win the elections, there will be absolutely no reversal. Chances are that this degradation will accelerate. Too bad your neighbors are too brainwashed to vote with a real conscious and get these fascists out of office. On the other hand, it's possible that the voters are consciously voting for fascism.

Re:Eroding, eroding, eroding (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#14995725)

Yeah, we shouldn't have gone after those people who participated in lynchings in the 50s either. Oh wait, we are still bringing people to justice for those kilings and bombings.

As for civil liberties that the government is taking away, I stopped caring when I realized I had already lost to right to keep even 50% of the money I make.

It's like a wedding (1)

MrSoundAndVision (836415) | about 8 years ago | (#14995432)

Private security companies and public military are getting married, and we're not invited. Yes they've been engaged for a long time so it's proper.

It seems like (3, Insightful)

irimi_00 (962766) | about 8 years ago | (#14995472)

If this helps prevent another 911 (which, admittedly, there is a potential it may not), then maybe it isn't such a bad thing.

Re:It seems like (2, Insightful)

ScrewMaster (602015) | about 8 years ago | (#14995524)

It won't stop another 9/11, not much can do that. A determined terrorist can always find a way to blow something up because it so easy to destroy. And groups like Al Quaeda are nothing if not determined.

The problem, from a security perspective, is that America is a goldfish bowl, and has always been a goldfish bowl. That transparency and openness has always been one of our greatest strengths, and to a certain extent an exploitable weakness. I fear that these ongoing attempts to turn this nation into an armored aquarium may ultimately succeed ... but when that happens we won't be Americans anymore, and this country will be "America" in name only.

Theroetically speaking... (1)

irimi_00 (962766) | about 8 years ago | (#14995632)

Theoretically speaking, is the following not possible? :::

1. Terrorist plans to release a biological agent or release a dirty bomb, and somehow (directly or otherwise, may heaven forbid) kill 1,000,000+ people.
2. There is a closed meeting that discusses, "Let's do X, Y, and Z to deter terrorists from releasing diseases or dirty bombs". They all agree.
3. The powers that be secretly execute and follow through on items X, Y and Z.
4. Terrorists plan to use a method to kill 1,000,000 (albeit, a VERY remote possibility) that would be counteracted due to the measures of X Y and Z previously taken.
5. Terrorists do not include in their plans ways to counteract X, Y, and Z.
6. Terrorists are foiled by X Y and Z, and 1,000,000+ lives are saved.

I admit, this is not possible. And there is a potential that the terrorists are using our anxieties to "turn us in to a dictatorship", and that is their plan. Albeit, that is remote as well.

As for saying the powers that be, somehow 'have a hidden agenda', as another gentleman who replied to my post suggested. I just don't think that is the case.

I knew/know a fellow who pre-Nov 2004, claimed adamantly, and rather passionately that if George Bush won the election that 'there will never be another election'. I just don't see events coalescing into anything like this. Perhaps I am just naive. Please BigTrike's logic almost sold me, but I just don't see a small number of people's lives at stake. If the terrorists play their cards right and are smart, they could theoretically do A LOT of damage. They claim and hope to do this, if you have heard their most recent statements.

Re:It seems like (1)

bigtrike (904535) | about 8 years ago | (#14995528)

I disagree. Hundreds of thousands of people have died in order to protect the freedoms of this nation. I'm not willing to give them up for something which has a small risk of killing a relatively small number of people. There are many more things we can do to save lives which are far less risky. Making cigarette smoking illegal would save hundreds of times as many lives, and not push us much closer towards a fascist regime.

Re:It seems like (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#14995586)

Making cigarette smoking illegal would save hundreds of times as many lives, and not push us much closer towards a fascist regime.

Yeah, just like alcohol. Oh, wait....

Because every intrusion on your personal freedom (that we currently have) is one step closter to fascism. You know, obesity is the #1 killer now, more then cigarettes, more then turrism. Shall we first start my closing all buffets, and implementing a mandatory state/federal dietary routine?

Because, as you say, "would save hundreds of times as many lives, and not push us much closer towards a fascist regime."

Are you sure about that?

Re:It seems like (1)

irimi_00 (962766) | about 8 years ago | (#14995646)

Although, I see good logic in what you say, I just don't see a "relatively small number of people's lives" at stake. The terrorists would kill everyone in America if they could (unless, perhaps, we all convert to Islam), and if they are smarter than us, there is a potential they could inflict mass casualties. I don't want this to happen, and this could seem like a relatively number of big people if they kill enough of us.

However, I'd be all for banning cigarette use, at least in all places besides one's home and around one's children. Sounds good to me.

Re:It seems like (5, Insightful)

wes33 (698200) | about 8 years ago | (#14995534)

Although it may sound callous, 911 was not a major loss of life (compare traffic accidents or the number of people who die from malaria, or just the number of people murdered every year). You are throwing away your LIBERTY. The 911 criminals are just criminals - they and their ilk can be handled by the criminal justice system. You do not need Dictatorship America. One has to wonder about a hidden agenda here.

Flame Bait (1)

irimi_00 (962766) | about 8 years ago | (#14995690)

Two things.

1. This seems like flame bait, not insight. (perhaps I'm just overly sensitive, but he calls 3,000 people's lives not a major loss of life, and then tells me that because of my opinion I am 'throwing away my(italics added) liberty'... excuse me... 'LIBERTY')

2. Then out of all the posts in this thread, this was the only one modded to an insight level of 3. How dare they insult my level of insight through neglect.

Please consider me righteously indignant. Thank you. =0)

Oh, and the 'criminals' who perpetrated 911. Those criminals commited an act of war against us, just like the criminals at Pearl Harbor. They may not be of one nation, but 911 seemed like an act of war to me. I realize however, if you want to minimize the harm done to your nation, through semantics, that is your business, but I thougth that ought to be said.

Re:Flame Bait (1)

Captain_Biggles (935196) | about 8 years ago | (#14995793)

1. This seems like flame bait, not insight. (perhaps I'm just overly sensitive, but he calls 3,000 people's lives not a major loss of life

Nobody (sane) is arguing that 3,000 people dying is unimportant in itself; obviously it would be great if such things never happened.

But the point is, terrorism is a comparatively small issue when you consider the risks incurred simply by living our daily lives -- you could die crossing the street, be in a serious traffic accident, or somebody could even break into your house and kill you. Those are all far more likely to occur than a major act of terrorism, so completely restructuring our society and giving up a large measure of freedom is a response out of proportion to the threat.

It feels good emotionally to spend billions of dollars and order the federal government to prevent another terrorist attack ever again, but rationally it doesn't make any sense, especially considering the fact that preventing any conceivable attack is flat-out impossible except perhaps in the most repressive police state imaginable.

That's not to say we should do absolutely nothing at all, but let's take the simple, sensible precautions (like having any border security at all) first, rather than opening up secret prisons and suspending everyone's constitutional rights.

Re:It seems like (1)

saihung (19097) | about 8 years ago | (#14995596)

The current administration is the most incompetent since the Hoover presidency, and incorporates the worst elements of the Nixon and Reagan years on top of it. I don't disallow the possibility that Bush et. al. is capable of making real strides in preventing terrorism, but if they're making such a claim, and using that claim to justify taking away some of my rights as a citizen of this republic, then I want proof that what they're doing is going to work. I want to at least see what mechanism they believe is at play that would cause the policy to function as they intend. I want examples of cases where the policy has had the intended effect. If the entire executive branch is made secret, then we have no way to evaluate to president's claims. The result, and we're seeing this, is a president who gives press conferences where he tells us that "he believes" he has the right to do things, and "he is optimistic" about his policies. I couldn't care less what he believes, I want proof that he has the right to do things, I want proof that his policies are working, and if he can't give me that, then he shouldn't be doing it.

Why not just suspend that pesky Constitution? (5, Insightful)

HangingChad (677530) | about 8 years ago | (#14995482)

For the duration of the war on terror, which will be, essentially, forever. Then we don't have to worry about those silly liberals whining about secret courts, holding people in secret prisons without charges or access to a lawyer and we can wiretap everyone without a warrant.

There were compelling reasons for secrecy even back in the day the Constituion was originally drafted, yet the framers thought it more important for the government not to operate in secret.

We didn't have the mis-named Patriot Act before 9-11 and the FBI and CIA had ample warning about the 9-11 hijackers. We KNEW about some of them going to flight school and didn't act on it. We had ample intelligence before 9-11 and law enforcement had enough power to pick them up if anyone had bothered to act on the FBI field report about potential terrorists in flight school. So why is it the government needs all these additional secret powers and wire tip authority now?

The real compelling reason for Republicans to want secrecy is because they've all but thrown accountability out the window. When there's no accountability, then you damn sure don't want transparency.

And do not give me any of that bullshit about the Democrats not being any better. All this is happening with a Republican House, Senate and White House and it's been that way since 2000 and you've had Congress since 1994. It's time to admit that if this country is in a bucket of shit it's because of the REPUBLICANS! Not the Democrats, not the liberals...the problem is YOU.

Re:Why not just suspend that pesky Constitution? (1)

Cheerio Boy (82178) | about 8 years ago | (#14995540)

It's time to admit that if this country is in a bucket of shit it's because of the REPUBLICANS! Not the Democrats, not the liberals...the problem is YOU.

The problem is not partisan - it's people.

A reduction in knowledge of what our government is doing, the sabotage of the teaching of critical thinking (outcome based education for one), and an overdose of manufactured paranoia has caused people to become hungry for safety and security at the cost of all their liberties.

Defining this issue as partisan is one of the reasons it's hard to wake the sheep up. If you really want to help, rather than just rant about it confront the issues not the facade.

The building of this has been in the works for years - indeed probably before you or I were born. They've been "boiling the frog" for quite some time now and it's almost cooked.

I don't have a solution but I know blaming the spectre of party politics will not solve this.

Re:Why not just suspend that pesky Constitution? (2, Insightful)

amliebsch (724858) | about 8 years ago | (#14995621)

The problem is not partisan - it's people.

This includes most of the posters bitching in the thread about transparency, without even using the transparency they have to read the act. Nor, I would bet, have any of them any actual desire to challenge the meeting closures. In fact, I'm certain the majority had no knowledge that there was any such statute. This is, for them, nothing more than their two minutes of hate against America, or Bush, or the Man, or whoever they think is keeping them down. They don't know the details. They don't want to know the details. Their ignorance is rationalized by their need to rage against the machine. Shame on the editors for enabling this behavior.

Re:Why not just suspend that pesky Constitution? (2, Insightful)

Geoffreyerffoeg (729040) | about 8 years ago | (#14995588)

For the duration of the war on terror, which will be, essentially, forever.

Oh, I would be perfectly fine with suspending the Constitution and its associated rights. In war time. In time of Congressionally-declared war. In areas declared a combat zone.

Because if they declare formal war and declare the homeland a combat zone, it will be so obvious to everyone that they're just imposing martial law on their own citizens, so they wouldn't dare try. However corrupt our government may be, it stills want the perception of being the "beacon of democracy."

Re:Why not just suspend that pesky Constitution? (1)

iminplaya (723125) | about 8 years ago | (#14995727)

And do not give me any of that bullshit about the Democrats not being any better...

Well, when I see the democrats actually stand up and say no to the republicans and put up a real fight against the patriot act, the war, torture, etc., I might actually believe you. You really should wake up to the fact that they both feed from the same trough. They both trip over each other trying to be just like the other to garner a few extra votes.

So? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#14995496)

Set a date for a meeting, post your notice, and then move the meeting date. Tada!

Okay (3, Interesting)

jlarocco (851450) | about 8 years ago | (#14995519)

Sounds okay to me. Maybe I'll just stop paying my taxes, too. I won't pay for a CD I can't listen to, or a book I can't read, so why pay for a government that won't let me see what it's doing?

If it's none of my business, maybe I shouldn't be paying for it.

Re:Okay (0)

layer3switch (783864) | about 8 years ago | (#14995570)

...I won't pay for a CD I can't listen to, or a book I can't read...

It's tough to be deaf and illiterate these days... How you post your comments on Slashdot facing with all those obsticles, it's just beyond me. I applaud you for putting such an effort. (clap clap ... clap .. clap)

Aren't you guys tired of it? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#14995538)

I firmly believe the USA in in no more danger now than it was on the day in 9/11 or before that. You just fell for the whole, "We are doing this to keep you safe" line that was being handed to you by your government. Terrorists have already beaten your country. You don't think so? Look at what you've already lost... Your rights are toast, your freedom is toast, and your privacy is toast.

You're not living in the country that was respected by the rest of the world for so many years anymore. You let a yahoo like Bush convince you that he could keep you safe and look what happened... You've gotten yourself into a conflict in the middle-east that is making Vietnam look like a picnic. You've got North Korea with nukes because they are afraid you are going to attack them. You've got Iran trying to get nukes because they are afraid you are going to attack them. Most of the western nations in the world hate that the USA has become a big bully.

Why did you let this happen? All for a fake feeling that you are safe. Guess what? You have the same threat to your security now as you ever had... the only difference is now you've gone and pissed so many people off that they are less willing to watch your back.

Look how much money your wonderful government has wasted on their pet conflicts? Your debt is practically owned by foreign countries... (China owns a heck of a lot of US debt right now) and you think this makes you safe? One day, not far from now these same countries will let the dollar crash and you'll be up the creek without a paddle. So much for this wonderful "security" that you are supposed to be enjoying.

All I can hope for is that you don't take the rest of the world with you because of your country's short-sightedness.

Re:Aren't you guys tired of it? (1)

Syntroxis (564739) | about 8 years ago | (#14995678)

But... but.... you don't understand! The oceans don't protect us anymore! The terrists could attack again at any time! You must give the govmint all of the power that it needs to fight these "evil doers"! Who knows how many more countries we'll have to invade to insure the safety of the 'Merican people.

After all, GOD has told us to do this. Who are you to question GOD?

Watching episodes of "24" (0, Offtopic)

layer3switch (783864) | about 8 years ago | (#14995539)

So I was watching "24" on my "Wednesday" (Heh hem! cough! thanks to BT), and thought, what if Jack Bower had to go through all those red tapes to get things done to prevent the terrorists plots, or head of CTU/administration had to go through "15 days public hearing" disclosure before making any decision.

And then I wonder... what if terrorists also had to go through "15 days public hearing" disclosure before the attack?

Yeah, this could mean, a very long season for "24".

There IS NO LAW (4, Insightful)

fishbowl (7759) | about 8 years ago | (#14995548)

It's a fallacy to think that there is anything which the current administration cannot get away with, law or no law. The outrage is already to the threshold where people are talking in terms of "impeaching the President", which is the ultimate consequence short of a violent coup... And it is not going to happen.

So what do people imagine the current administration cannot do? Obviously there are outrageous things they could do which might affect the loyalty of the military system that keeps them in power, or that could sever the ties to the financial supporters, but they aren't going to do anything of that nature.

The people aren't going to act, at least not in significant numbers, and certainly not with real hostility. Congress isn't going to destroy this government, not even if the House turns over to the opposition party next January. And other countries aren't going to band together to wage war against the US, not to liberate Iraq from the US, and absolutely not in response to US *domestic* policy.

So tell me again, what is it that stops the executive administration from operating precisely as a term-limited dictatorship?

The real fun starts when this administration hands over all this newly asserted power to the next one -- equally likely to be a liberal democrat or a moderate republican. Either way, somebody new gets all this amazing unprecedented power that nobody ever seems to have discovered before Bush.

If Bush has a legacy, that's it: The President of the United States, formerly believed to be under severe constraints, actually has unlimited power as long as he can protect himself from assassinations and as long as he has a strongly aligned partisan majority in both houses of congress. Even when most of the people in the country are vehemently (but not violently) opposed to his government, and even when there is a widespread belief that he should be removed from office, it has no meaning at all, and certainly is no contraint on the president's actions, either in making domestic policy, or in waging wars of aggression.
Even if the money to fight these wars is borrowed from five generations in the future, he gets away with it. Lives another day. Isn't removed from power. Has a military that continues to follow orders from the chain of command, as opposed to turning against it. Faces no military or economic opposition from any other nation. That sort of thing. Get it?

Re:There IS NO LAW (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | about 8 years ago | (#14995584)

has unlimited power as long as he [...] has a strongly aligned partisan majority in both houses of congress.

This is the key, isn't it. More often than not here in Australia voters have voted the opposite way in the lower and upper house. The result is that the Government has to negotiate with a hostile Senate.

We are in truoble now because the minority party which used to oppose the government in the senate had a self destruct switch and the PM found how to trigger it, but I expect we will return to normality in a decade or so.

So my question is this: why did US voters trust GWB to the extent that they also voted Republican in the upper house?

Re:There IS NO LAW (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#14995630)

We didn't. The Republicans have been blatantly stealing elections at least since 2000. And until we fix that problem we can forget all about "democracy." The United State is a Fascist State, and Oz is well on the way down the same path.

Sorry about that, but that's simply the way it is. And my wimpy countrymen embarrass me to tears with their contemptable silence in the face of all the atrocities committed by the Bush administration.

I guess "manhood" has been bred out of the entire bunch.

"In God We Trust" is on the money for all to see. You see the result, and it isn't pretty!

Re:There IS NO LAW (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#14995715)

The only law that this tiny little committee wants to disregard is giving a 15 day notice before having a closed meeting. The have always been able to have closed meetings. I'm sure you didn't bother to check the facts before you launched into your BUSH=EVIL tirade spawned by an inflmmatory Slashdot article title.

Read a little about past presidents sometime, like Lincoln. No president has come close to gutting the constitution the way Lincoln did -- including Bush. If losing a 15 day notice before a closed meeting of a committee that you've probably never heard of before is going to keep you up at nights, it's time to put the foil beanie away.

Red Herring! (1)

RokcetScientist (900414) | about 8 years ago | (#14995612)

"Homeland Security officials, who anticipate that private emergency meetings may need to be scheduled on short notice" makes it sound as if their problem is operational time constraints. Something sensible people can hardly disagree with. While what they REALLY want to bury is the public accountability part of it!

Luckily, the USSR always gave a 15-day warning! (5, Insightful)

NMerriam (15122) | about 8 years ago | (#14995683)

Making the meetings public would amount to "giving our nation's enemies information they could use to most effectively attack a particular infrastructure and cause cascading consequences across multiple infrastructures," another departmental advisory council warned in August.

As I recall, in 1972, we were in the midst of fighting a Cold War that had, as a very real possible consequence, the end of life on Earth as we know it. We were fighting against a highly organized and well-funded enemy that had thousands of spies at all levels of government and industry, sleeper agents ready to be called on when necessary, and military capabilities that made us legitimately doubt whether we would prevail in any conventional armed conflict. An attack from their formidable stockpiles of intercontinental ballistic missiles would give us less than an hour to pray to the God of our choice before the sun vanished and our component molecules were suddenly and violently redistributed into the ash that would, hopefully, someday support life again.

And yet, even with this Sword of Damocles hanging over our very survival, we had the conscience and foresight to realize that while we cannot control the behavior of those who would be our enemies, we can control ourselves, and refuse to sacrifice the ideals we believe more important than life in the vain hopes that by abdicating oversight of our government we will somehow gain immunity from outside aggressors.

I find it the greatest irony of all that those in power right now, who present themselves so vaingloriously, act with such great cowardice. Their willingness to preemptively sacrifice the ideals we hold dear is an insult to the oaths they took, and the people who trust them with their lives.

No bomb is capable of destroying the historical significance of the Constitution, the concept of modern representative democracy, religious freedom, free speech, or the notion that man has the right and responsibility to govern himself by reason. Yet we find ourselves in the peculiar position of surrendering these, our most valuable possessions, in the vain hope that they will purchase us safety, when we know with certainty that such safety is a chimera, that our lives will always be in danger so long as we espouse such dangerous ideas.

It does not take courage to hide in a shelter, to stifle dissent or cut yourself off from contrary opinions. It does not take courage to meet in secret, to persecute those who are different, to deny the humanity of those who oppose you.

What takes courage is knowing there are people in this world who hate you so much they will kill you, and to still get up in the morning and walk out the front door, refusing to change your life or your beliefs due to fear. We knew this after September 11th, we were even told this at the time by our leaders, but for some reason both they and we have lost sight of such a simple insight.

Our Nation's Enemies (0)

rufusdufus (450462) | about 8 years ago | (#14995693)

Only crazy or incompetent people have enemies. If some crazed monkey throws poo at you, does it become your enemy or just a monkey to steer clear of? The "US vs Them" mentality has got to go; we can cope with people of different persuasions without branding them evildoers and going rambo on them.

HOW IMPORTANT IS /.? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#14995731)

I wonder if the /. infrastructure is labeled as critical to the nation?

"It's been that way for years" (1)

Random Q. Hacker (137687) | about 8 years ago | (#14995774)

"It's been that way for years" is hardly a reason to bite your lip if you disagree with something.

Or should we still be engaging in slavery and writing with quills?

I think it is wonderful that so many young people are becoming politically aware today. With all that we have learned from recent history, our distrust of marketing and authority, and our unique "open" perspective on knowledge and security, I think we can make a positive change in our country.

Or we can shut down our browsers, forget the outrage of the moment, and get back to playing some video game that simulates what we'd like to do in the real world, if only we had balls.

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