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Wikileaks Publishes $1B of Public Domain Research Reports

timothy posted more than 5 years ago | from the well-there's-a-nice-circularity-to-that dept.

Government 231

laird writes "Wikileaks has released nearly a billion dollars worth of quasi-secret reports commissioned by the United States Congress. The 6,780 reports, current as of this month, comprise over 127,000 pages of material on some of the most contentious issues in the nation, from the U.S. relationship with Israel to abortion legislation. Nearly 2,300 of the reports were updated in the last 12 months, while the oldest report goes back to 1990. The release represents the total output of the Congressional Research Service (CRS) electronically available to Congressional offices. The CRS is Congress's analytical agency and has a budget in excess of $100M per year. Although all CRS reports are legally in the public domain, they are quasi-secret because the CRS, as a matter of policy, makes the reports available only to members of Congress, Congressional committees and select sister agencies such as the GAO. Members of Congress are free to selectively release CRS reports to the public but are only motivated to do so when they feel the results would assist them politically. Universally embarrassing reports are kept quiet."

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231 comments

Where do I send my donations? (5, Insightful)

drdanny_orig (585847) | more than 5 years ago | (#26774709)

That's good work, folks. Keep it up.

Would Wikileaks publish a document about itself? (4, Insightful)

patro (104336) | more than 5 years ago | (#26775349)

Suppose someone sends a list to Wikileaks containing all the names of Wikileaks admins and the people behind it.

Would they publish it, so they can stay true to their values, even if this information could effectively mean the end of Wikileaks?

Re:Would Wikileaks publish a document about itself (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26775713)

I don't think publishing such a list would constitute staying true to their values.

Re:Would Wikileaks publish a document about itself (1)

toxygen01 (901511) | more than 5 years ago | (#26775715)

How that would mean end of wikileaks?

Re:Would Wikileaks publish a document about itself (1)

patro (104336) | more than 5 years ago | (#26775785)

AFAIK the people behind Wikileaks are anonymous, otherwise the governments and bigwigs whose secrets they publish could retaliate.

So if their identities are revealed then they can be persecuted and they couldn't maintain Wikileaks.

OT:Would Wikileaks publish a document about itself (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26775901)

This is a great point/question, but what does this have to do with GP's post asking "Where do I send my donations"?

The U.S. government is extremely corrupt. (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26774717)

"Although all CRS reports are legally in the public domain, they are quasi-secret because the CRS, as a matter of policy, makes the reports available only to members of Congress, Congressional committees and select sister agencies such as the GAO. Members of Congress are free to selectively release CRS reports to the public but are only motivated to do so when they feel the results would assist them politically. Universally embarrassing reports are kept quiet."

The U.S. government is extremely corrupt.

Re:The U.S. government is extremely corrupt. (0, Redundant)

Jurily (900488) | more than 5 years ago | (#26774731)

The U.S. government is extremely corrupt.

The bad thing is, it's all legal.

Re:The U.S. government is extremely corrupt. (5, Informative)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 5 years ago | (#26774865)

I actually went though and read a few at random, and there's nothing super-secret there.

The documents are actually reassuring because they state that people are aware that things are wrong. Among the few I briefly scanned are paraphrased thusly: "Oil companies are fixing prices and US law should render oil cartels illegal", "CEO's make way too much damn money, even as their companies are being run into the ground", etc.

Again, the documents are basically admissions that our country is fucked up. Disclaimer: I haven't scanned all of them, and I hope that the discussion turns up interesting facts.

I'd go further (4, Informative)

MoellerPlesset2 (1419023) | more than 5 years ago | (#26775521)

Having looked through some as well, I'd take it a step further.

I don't think there's anything secret in there at ALL.
It's just simple, journalistic-style research and analysis, with information entirely from public sources.

I don't think you're going to find any buried scandals here. At all. You'd probably get more from reading a
good selection of newspapers. Journalists tend to have inside sources, after all.

The worst I could imagine from what I've seen is stuff like "Congressman so-and-so said he didn't know about X..
but he should have if he'd read Congress' own report on it!"

not secret at all (1)

commodoresloat (172735) | more than 5 years ago | (#26775979)

This isn't secret information at all; these are reports that are constantly published by the US Government. I think they used to be put in public libraries; I remember researching CRS reports at university libraries in the 80s. Putting them online is something the government should be doing, not Wikileaks, but either way, nobody is going to get in trouble for this, and nobody is going to find any state secrets here.

Re:The U.S. government is extremely corrupt. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26774831)

Bill Buchanan is right!

U.S. government: Corruption everywhere. (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26774873)

One kind of corruption is killing people and destroying their property for profit.

More than 1,000,000 people have been killed in Iraq [opinion.co.uk] at a final cost of at least $3,000,000,000,000 [washingtonpost.com].

That means the U.S. taxpayer is paying $3 million to kill each Iraqi. Iraqis are mostly poor and defenseless. Obviously, the money is going into the pockets of weapons and oil investors.

The U.S. government has done far more damage to Iraq and killed far more people than Saddam Hussein. What is worse is that the U.S. government did it for money; Saddam Hussein wanted political control.

Re:U.S. government: Corruption everywhere. (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26775015)

And they still say that Hitler caused an holocaust ?. Welcome to the new holocaust!. I hope they get as bad press as he and the Germans got. But those were arabs, what ? they do not count ? They are people, too, they count.

Re:U.S. government: Corruption everywhere. (2, Insightful)

darth dickinson (169021) | more than 5 years ago | (#26775383)

More than 1,000,000 people have been killed in Iraq [opinion.co.uk] at a final cost of at least $3,000,000,000,000 [washingtonpost.com].

Really? Cause last I heard, they pretty much just made that shit up [go.com].

Cost to kill each Iraqi is MORE than $3 million? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26775853)

Oh, so you are saying that the cost to kill each Iraqi is MORE than $3 million?

Re:The U.S. government is extremely corrupt. (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26774979)

The U.S. government is extremely corrupt.

Human beings are extremely corrupt.

There, fixed that for ya.

Kill all humans!

Re:The U.S. government is extremely corrupt. (4, Insightful)

mysticgoat (582871) | more than 5 years ago | (#26775173)

All governments are corrupt. From nations down to neighborhood associations.

It is the nature of some men and women to seek power over others, and because of this driving need, they are more likely to end up in government positions than other persons who might be more qualified in all kinds of ways, but who are not attracted to power. It is also true that those who are ethically unencumbered are more likely to win the races they enter than anyone who tries to follow the rules. The end result is the old adage I first heard applied to the Chicago political machine of the 1960s:

A government does not have to be good, and rarely is. It only has to be good enough that the populace will tolerate it.

The US Constitution was built with this in mind. Its system of checks and balances are designed to keep the natural corruptive nature of politics reined in by making it very difficult for any one individual or group from obtaining across the board power. I think we could now design a better system, since we know a lot more now, and we have some neat technologies that were not available back in the day. But so long as what we've got is good enough, that's not going to happen.

Wikileaks has just raised the bar by shining light into some murky corners. Back room deals and cover-ups that used to be good enough are not good enough any longer... and that's a big win for the Nation.

Re:The U.S. government is extremely corrupt. (0, Redundant)

OeLeWaPpErKe (412765) | more than 5 years ago | (#26775309)

A government does not have to be good, and rarely is. It only has to be good enough that the populace will tolerate it.

A government has to do much, much more than that.

It must be in compliance (and at times, enforce others' compliance) with the basic laws of economics, or it will starve first it's people, then itself.

It has to protect itself from outside influence (it must "keep the barbarians out of the gates"), or it will quickly find itself swamped and destroyed from within.

It has to attack part of it's citizenry to protect other parts, ie. it has to enforce the laws.

It has to attack people outside of it's jurisdiction to protect it's trade relations (in other words : it has to attack pirates outside it's borders or refrain totally from international trade).

And finally : It has to attack "outsiders" to protect it's citizenry, intrests and critical resources that may be in limited supply or not available domestically.

Fail on any of these and the government will die quicker than you can say "revolution". Unless you believe everyone is just "naturally good", in which case you should share with me me some of that stuff you're smoking ...

Re:The U.S. government is extremely corrupt. (1)

Cowmonaut (989226) | more than 5 years ago | (#26775545)

That's a little redundant. IMO, "good enough" means doing everything you've said there, not necessarily as well as can be done but they do it. He wasn't saying "good" as in the white knight sense, as corruption is not the same thing as evil.

Re:The U.S. government is extremely corrupt. (2, Funny)

hobbit (5915) | more than 5 years ago | (#26775337)

It is also true that those who are ethically unencumbered are more likely to win the races they enter than anyone who tries to follow the rules.

Apparently if you smoke a little weed every now and again you can kick ass in the swimming pool.

Re:The U.S. government is extremely corrupt. (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26775635)

Those who desire power tend to be the least deserving of it.

Re:The U.S. government is extremely corrupt. (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26776025)

Those who desire power tend to be the least deserving of it.

Those who desire power tend to be those who can least be trusted with it.

There, fixed that for ya.

Fight the power!

old adage (2, Insightful)

lordcorusa (591938) | more than 5 years ago | (#26775809)

The end result is the old adage I first heard applied to the Chicago political machine of the 1960s: A government does not have to be good, and rarely is. It only has to be good enough that the populace will tolerate it.

An older version of the same adage:

Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.

Re:The U.S. government is extremely corrupt. (4, Insightful)

mpe (36238) | more than 5 years ago | (#26775207)

The U.S. government is extremely corrupt.

Corruption is a fairly common attribute of government. Regardless of when and where in human history you look... Power can both corrupt and attract the corrupt/easily corruptable. What's actually more worrying is when people display such great faith that "their government" is immune to or free of corruption.

Sunshine (4, Insightful)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 5 years ago | (#26774739)

Unreleased reports are the bane of a modern society.
Unfavorable medical studies get buries, Congressional reports that never see the light of day.
Hopefully this ray of sunshine will shake things up and give everyone something to complain about.

Re:Sunshine (2, Insightful)

thetoadwarrior (1268702) | more than 5 years ago | (#26775243)

Who is going to take time to read this and miss out on American Idol?

A lot of people go on about government conspiracies but there is no reason for the government to do anything in secret because it can be done out in the open and most people won't take notice and if they do find out odds are they won't care enough to do anything about it.

Saddening (4, Insightful)

Seraphim_72 (622457) | more than 5 years ago | (#26774751)

It is saddening to have to have this "leaked". It should reside at something like www.Government.us/research/ :(

Re:Saddening (1, Insightful)

rah1420 (234198) | more than 5 years ago | (#26774861)

It should reside at something like www.Government.us/research/

Hey, there's hope yet. We still have Change We Can Believe In, remember? One of the Changes was greater transparency. (cough)

Re:Saddening (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26775027)

So start a campaign to get them all published. It's not an executive or judicial branch issue, so focus on congress. Start a grass roots campaign, get some publicity, and embarrass congress into making the reports public. The secret to getting something published in the main stream press is to write the article yourself and give it to a reporter to claim as their own. It has to be well written, generally accessible, and interesting.

Wait, this is slashdot, and that's a lot of work. So just whine about it, stuff some potato chips in your face, and go back to playing world of warcraft.

Re:Saddening (4, Interesting)

Protonk (599901) | more than 5 years ago | (#26775089)

Just a note, the (C) in CRS stands for "Congressional". It operates under legislation, not executive order, so changing its policies requires a little more than changing who is president.

Re:Saddening (4, Informative)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | more than 5 years ago | (#26775103)

One of the Changes was greater transparency. (cough)

What is it with the readers on Slashdot? A couple of weeks in office and Obama has already loosened several regulations and policies pertaining to transparency, including.

1. The Ashcroft directive to automatically deny FOIA applications.
2. Made changes to the Presidential Records Act.
3. Started work on an Open Government Directive.

Also as a Senator Obama has been instrumental in legislation fostering transpaency.

http://www.propublica.org/article/obama-begins-rollback-of-bush-era-secrecy [propublica.org]

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Federal_Funding_Accountability_and_Transparency_Act_of_2006 [wikipedia.org]

All you have done is revealed your complete lack of knowledge on the topic.

Maybe you should see a doctor for that cough.

Re:Saddening (-1, Troll)

OeLeWaPpErKe (412765) | more than 5 years ago | (#26775361)

Maybe you should wake up to reality ... honestly your view of the world is worrying.

Obama's first 10 days cost more than the entire "never before has the government spent so much" Bush administration. And he's spent most of his money repaying his campaign debts. After all, if you let ACORN's commit voter fraud and various other crimes for you, you best pay them afterwards.

But everyone who "contributed" to obama's campaign is getting a (way larger than the contribution) piece of the pie in return.

That's called corruption, in case you're not clear on that.

Re:Saddening (0, Troll)

SpaceLifeForm (228190) | more than 5 years ago | (#26775457)

You have drank the koolaid.

ACORN can not commit voter fraud.

Bogus voter registrations is not voter fraud.

You should wake up to reality.

Re:Saddening (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26775665)

Hi Karl, gets kinda boring when you're out of a job, eh?

Re:Saddening (1, Insightful)

Znork (31774) | more than 5 years ago | (#26775513)

A couple of weeks in office and Obama has already

Unfortunately, I suspect it's not so much about what he hasn't had time to do, but about what he's also done. Threatening the UK with withdrawing intelligence cooperation if the UK government hands evidence in a torture case to the courts. Appointing RIAA lawyers to significant positions. Nominating no less than three tax evaders. Cozying up with Blair.

I had some hopes for Obama, and I still hope he wont be as much of a disaster as that last guy, but he's shown either some seriously bad judgment or signs of getting reeled in. It's not a good start.

Re:Saddening (3, Interesting)

thePowerOfGrayskull (905905) | more than 5 years ago | (#26775999)

For all we know, this was "leaked" by someone in the administration who wanted to bypass the years of red type required to simply release the stuff...

For the .01% of the people who would read it... (3, Insightful)

Improv (2467) | more than 5 years ago | (#26774847)

For the .01% of the people who would actually read stuff like this, this is fantastic. It's important that the public has access to this, and a shame that no suitable politician has decided to request all the reports and publish the whole lot (is there any reason this is not the case? Contact your representatives!).

For the rest of us, this is more in a long line of public information that we'll never read - more (potentially interesting but lost among the rest) documents are published by the military, various departments, etc, than we could shake a stick at, and it'd already be a fulltime job to even try to read everything in a field.

Re:For the .01% of the people who would read it... (5, Insightful)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 5 years ago | (#26774977)

For the rest of us, this is more in a long line of public information that we'll never read - more (potentially interesting but lost among the rest) documents are published by the military, various departments, etc, than we could shake a stick at,

Think tanks, research groups, journalists, students, historians and a whole passle of other professions will find this stuff invaluable.

They have always provided a filter between raw material and the general public. I guarantee that these reports will immediately start getting cited in journals and newspaper articles. Best of all, we can read the primary source without having to pay the RAND Corporation or some other think tank $XYZ to get our hands on the document.

Re:For the .01% of the people who would read it... (3, Informative)

Protonk (599901) | more than 5 years ago | (#26775057)

For the rest of us, this is more in a long line of public information that we'll never read - more (potentially interesting but lost among the rest) documents are published by the military, various departments, etc, than we could shake a stick at,

Think tanks, research groups, journalists, students, historians and a whole passle of other professions will find this stuff invaluable.

They have always provided a filter between raw material and the general public. I guarantee that these reports will immediately start getting cited in journals and newspaper articles. Best of all, we can read the primary source without having to pay the RAND Corporation or some other think tank $XYZ to get our hands on the document.

Most of the RAND studies commissioned by the government which are not classified are available free from their wesbite [rand.org]. Just search around or browse to the topic area that interests you.

Re:For the .01% of the people who would read it... (1)

Improv (2467) | more than 5 years ago | (#26775109)

Certainly true. Occasionally I see references in journals to things like this [dtic.mil] - the more sources we can get like that, the better.

Re:For the .01% of the people who would read it... (2, Interesting)

bigmacd24 (1168847) | more than 5 years ago | (#26775095)

From TFA "Open government lawmakers such as Senators John McCain (R-Arizona) and Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vermont) have fought for years to make the reports public, with bills being introduced--and rejected--almost every year since 1998." So the better question to ask would by why the bills were rejected, but that would require more research into the situation. Government is never /that/ simple. As a side note, I love reading about pre 2008 McCain, he seems like such a reasonable dude.

Re:For the .01% of the people who would read it... (1)

David Gerard (12369) | more than 5 years ago | (#26776067)

I'd regard 2008 as an inexplicable blip in an otherwise excellent career.

Re:For the .01% of the people who would read it... (4, Interesting)

mpe (36238) | more than 5 years ago | (#26775145)

For the .01% of the people who would actually read stuff like this, this is fantastic. It's important that the public has access to this, and a shame that no suitable politician has decided to request all the reports and publish the whole lot (is there any reason this is not the case? Contact your representatives!).

The original article states that politicians are only motivated to release information that potentially helps them politically. There is very likely to be information which would be politically dangerous. e.g. information lobby groups do not want know. Anyway what's to say it wasn't a politician who gave the information to Wikileaks?

Re:For the .01% of the people who would read it... (1)

mysidia (191772) | more than 5 years ago | (#26775341)

Truly.. and given the secrecy, how is it possible to know if the info is complete or not?

It may have been a massive, but politically-motivated selective leak.

Re:For the .01% of the people who would read it... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26775461)

For the .01% of the people who would actually read stuff like this, this is fantastic. It's important that the public has access to this, and a shame that no suitable politician has decided to request all the reports and publish the whole lot (is there any reason this is not the case? Contact your representatives!).

I live elsewhere, and have to resign myself to looking into your corner of the world with mild amusement. But even so, I'm pretty sure "suitable politicians" have made moves to do so but it was voted down. Perhaps someone more local can dig up some references.

Re:For the .01% of the people who would read it... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26775861)

There is very likely to be information which would be politically dangerous. e.g. information lobby groups do not want know.

Actually, I've just read through 7 reports on issues that range from the very controversial to the very mundane, and I've yet come across info that could described as "politically dangerous". Most reports rely on--get this--mainstream media (yikes!) and past laws and judicial rulings as source material and basically are just background briefs around the issues in question. What I've noticed, though, is if there seems be a particular "bias" (for lack of a better word) that Congress has towards an issue like say, extending the copyright duration, the CRS report basically reflects that bias. Of course, there are over 6000 reports, so it'll be interesting to see if other people can find some juicy stuff in them.

Re:For the .01% of the people who would read it... (1)

rpillala (583965) | more than 5 years ago | (#26775279)

This sounds like a job for Dennis Kucinich. Say what you want about the man but it doesn't seem possible to embarrass him.

Re:For the .01% of the people who would read it... (0, Flamebait)

poetmatt (793785) | more than 5 years ago | (#26775347)

With a wife like his, what is there to embarass? The man is a walking shit-eating grin, and does a pretty good job as a political figure.

Re:For the .01% of the people who would read it... (1)

patro (104336) | more than 5 years ago | (#26775685)

For the rest of us, this is more in a long line of public information that we'll never read

Governments could even hide information this way. They could publish tons of documents about every tiny detail, so it would be very hard to find the really interesting ones in the flood of information.

Everything would be published somewhere, but no one could find it, so effectively it would be a secret.

Re:For the .01% of the people who would read it... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26775959)

Flood

No, information processing power has caught up. Anything really scary in there can be found in a month because it's just text. Make a special copy for parsing and then do a distributed project.

Re:For the .01% of the people who would read it... (1)

patro (104336) | more than 5 years ago | (#26776053)

No, information processing power has caught up. Anything really scary in there can be found in a month because it's just text.

Well, they could use non-obvious phrases and words in the text, they could use several different phrases for the same concept, etc. so that one couldn't simply search for a word or something.

Re:For the .01% of the people who would read it... (2, Insightful)

Improv (2467) | more than 5 years ago | (#26776075)

There's also the issue that nobody agrees on what's interesting or bad. Because Americans don't talk much about politics in public, we have these little isolated communities that believe that "if only everyone else knew what I knew they'd come over to my side" ranging the spectrum from libertarians to socialists (and also including smaller-issue matters). To some people, the notion of banks using a fractional reserve is part of a huge conspiracy, and to most people reading a fairly standard academic world affairs journal would blow open their perspective on how the world works (if they could manage to sink their teeth into it and understand the implications).

As a people, we very well may be held away from knowledge by conspiracies we can't see, but we're certainly held away from knowledge by not reading things that are perfectly available to us, published in the clear (Middle East Journal and Far Eastern Affairs are examples of good current events journals that would be great for people to read and discuss if they want to understand the world).

you FAiL it (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26774879)

These early then JorDan Hubbard as possible? How are the important smells worse than a polite to bring

CRS? (0, Troll)

binarylarry (1338699) | more than 5 years ago | (#26774881)

Can't Remember Shit?

Sounds like Congress!

Re:CRS? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26775061)

Nicholas Van Orton might be able to tell you...

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0119174/faq#.2.1.8

NSA secretly using Ninnle! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26774913)

Actually this isn't any surprise, although most people think the NSA has been using Windows boxen all this time. But Ninnle users know and appreciate the high security abilities of Ninnle Linux.

I don't care what anyone says (-1, Offtopic)

cortesoft (1150075) | more than 5 years ago | (#26774931)

I love the internet.

Re:I don't care what anyone says (1)

CarpetShark (865376) | more than 5 years ago | (#26775567)

You seem to mean that you love free speech, open access to information, etc. Unfortunately the internet USED to be those things, but now it's as much the opposite as it is that. Too many kids are growing up thinking the internet is whatever comes back in an search on MSN, or whatever their XBox tells them they can get "online" when they pay for it with XBox Live Credits.

If it embarrasses politicians, it should be leaked (5, Insightful)

cabalamat3 (1089523) | more than 5 years ago | (#26774955)

If research embarrasses some politicians, it should be leaked, because it suggests that reality is not in accordance with those politicians' beliefs, and that therefore those politicians may make wrong decisions.

If research embarrasses all the politicians in Congress, it's even more important that it be leaked.

McCain (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26775019)

Open government lawmakers such as Senators John McCain (R-Arizona) and Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vermont) have fought for years to make the reports public, with bills being introduced--and rejected--almost every year since 1998.

Oops... maybe I should have voted for McCain.

Re:McCain (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26775153)

maybe I should have voted for McCain.

If he was president, he wouldn't be able to vote for the legislation anymore.

Re:McCain (-1, Flamebait)

LVSlushdat (854194) | more than 5 years ago | (#26775171)

Yeah.. Hindsight is always 20-20, huh, AC?.. Give Comrade Obama and his cronies a couple of years and you'll REALLY be wishing you (and a larger majority of the clueless voting public) had voted for Mr McCain.. I don't care much for McCain, but I care MUCH less for Comrade Obama...

Re:McCain (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26775311)

You are the reason why the rest of the world hates USA.

Re:McCain (2, Informative)

Adult film producer (866485) | more than 5 years ago | (#26775329)

Ya.. maybe you should have voted for McCain.. the same guy that said on during his nomination acceptance speech that he would vote against any bill that was filled with pork. A few weeks later he voted FOR the EESA/TARP after it was ladled up with $150 billion in pork specifically to get it through The Senate! Ya, he's a real stand up guy.

Re:McCain (1)

Tuoqui (1091447) | more than 5 years ago | (#26775331)

Nothing would have stopped them from requesting every single one of these and releasing them all to the public. Actions speak louder than bills.

Not so secret (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26775083)

These are not nearly as 'secret' as the article implies. I used to download and file these in the school law library. Specifically we were collecting intellectual property-related articles, but I had access to hundreds and hundreds of these.

Just because the public isn't widely aware of something doesn't mean its a secret.

Say goodbye to "Wikileaks" (0)

Ottair (1270536) | more than 5 years ago | (#26775167)

They done f*ked with the wrong people now. You thought waterboarding was bad, wait until Pelosi and Reid get a holt of these badboys.

Why not under FOIA? (3, Interesting)

eh2o (471262) | more than 5 years ago | (#26775221)

Why wouldn't these reports be available under FOIA? Considering that its "nominally public domain" already, what exemption would it fall under to bar a request?

Re:Why not under FOIA? (3, Insightful)

genner (694963) | more than 5 years ago | (#26775289)

Why wouldn't these reports be available under FOIA? Considering that its "nominally public domain" already, what exemption would it fall under to bar a request?

You have to know they exist before you can file a FOIA request.

Re:Why not under FOIA? (1)

mysidia (191772) | more than 5 years ago | (#26775379)

You have to know they exist before you can file a FOIA request.

They could FOIA request the list of CRS reports.

Surely the CRS keeps some sort of index, list, database, or catalog of the reports, in order to be able to find a report that a congressman asks for.

So FOIA the catalog, then read the catalog, and FOIA request reports in the list.

I suspect the real issue is the CRS may deem itself not subject to FOIA requests, because of its legislated special privileges as an investigative entity, because the reports are purposed for legislators, and already made openly available as publications (accessible to the public legislators), and release of info might compromise ongoing investigation.

Re:Why not under FOIA? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26775353)

The more that is Classified the easier it becomes to refuse access to any information that may be problematic for the government. So if you want to create an environment where it's easy for the government to control the flow of information, you mark as much secret as possible and deny even the most trivial of FOI requests. /Welcome to the Bush years...

Re:Why not under FOIA? (5, Informative)

YourExperiment (1081089) | more than 5 years ago | (#26775357)

Why wouldn't these reports be available under FOIA?

FTFA:

"The CRS, as a branch of Congress, is exempt from the Freedom of Information Act."

Re:Why not under FOIA? (1)

Kifoth (980005) | more than 5 years ago | (#26775393)

RTFA.

"The CRS, as a branch of Congress, is exempt from the Freedom of Information Act."

Re:Why not under FOIA? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26775507)

Congress has always routinely exempted themselves from the laws that they impose on the rest of us (balance of power thing-Congress wouldn't want the executive branch prosecuting Congress for violations of law).

Congress was and might still be exempt from all laws regarding sexual harassment, equal opportunity in employment, nepotism, etc. This is the way Congress has always operated.

GNAA (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26775295)

if You move a table and shouting that to the crowd in

Even though these are not super secret... (1)

solweil (1168955) | more than 5 years ago | (#26775325)

from http://www.opencrs.com/ [opencrs.com] "American taxpayers spend over $100 million a year to fund the Congressional Research Service, a "think tank" that provides reports to members of Congress on a variety of topics relevant to current political events. Yet, these reports are not made available to the public in a way that they can be easily obtained."

Wikileaks Publishes $1B of Public Domain Resear... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26775359)

NIGGUH WHUT?

Everything is so much clearer (1)

spicate (667270) | more than 5 years ago | (#26775391)

With helpful reports like this one [wikileaks.org] available, it's no wonder that our Congress is the most responsive and insightful bunch of legislators in the world.

Re:Everything is so much clearer (2, Insightful)

Awod (956596) | more than 5 years ago | (#26775769)

"Congress is concerned with the health of the U.S. economy, which affects the living standards of all Americans. The 2001 recession was unusually mild and brief by historical standards. At 120 months, the expansion that preceded it had been the longest in U.S. history. Is this a coincidence? A body of research concludes that it is not. Since 1984,"

*sigh*

Of course, always blame it on 1984..

Anyone have a torrent? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26775395)

This seems like the perfect thing to download and have my search app index. Then whenever I wanted to read about what my Congressman 'knows' about things like FOSS or the IRA, I could find it very quickly. I'm also not sure why FOSS and the IRA are the first two things to come to by mind.

So, what's so interesting? (3, Interesting)

ugen (93902) | more than 5 years ago | (#26775541)

So now that these reports are "released", how many of you, slashdot readers that post in this thread, actually read at least 1 of them in its entirety? How many read 2? 5? Hands, anyone?

I did go to the site. I read 3 reports on a topic that interests me. What I found was a dry, relatively correct, summary of public and well known information. These reports are created so that each congressman (or whoever else may need them) does not have to read every single newspaper, web site or send his staff on a search of basic statistics. The information is not obtained in ways that are inaccessible to you and me, and reports do not seem to provide any particular insight not already available to those who follow the topic (for example I found nothing of interest in these reports, everything was well known to me, because I follow this topic on my own).

There are hundreds of thousands of reports like these prepared in each large (or small) organization on variety of themes. They are not specifically released because, frankly, it is pointless to do so. While some sort of a website with these reports would be a symbol of opennes, it would likely have very little practical applicability. The only people who need these reports are those who need information on topics that they don't personally care very much about (so they don't want to do their own research) but do need for whatever reason to know what's going on. That means:
1) politicians
2) students, in particular during midterms and finals :) :)

1st group has access anyway and 2nd could benefit from doing a bit of research on their own.

Feel free to rate this flamebait.

Re:So, what's so interesting? (1)

midicase (902333) | more than 5 years ago | (#26775897)

"These reports are created so that each congressman (or whoever else may need them) does not have to read every single newspaper, web site or send his staff on a search of basic statistics."

Just as well. I spooks me to this day when Tom, Katie and other anchors as stunned to learn that [some] politicians do not get their information from news outlets. They have their heads buried so deep that they can't fathom the possibility of bias such as Dan and the Bush memos:
http://articles.latimes.com/2004/sep/21/nation/na-cbs21 [latimes.com]

When a politician needs information I am glad they have a source outside of the media (though it does not means it is any less biased).

Strategy and Economic advantage (0)

Tim12s (209786) | more than 5 years ago | (#26775543)

While interesting, I do think that this should be kept private.

There are a few good reasons to make this public

1. Historians, universities and students will have access to quality material for analysis and correlation.

2. The public will be able to scrutinize and correct incorrect reports ensuring that congress have the correct information.

But consider that you give away your thought processes and the foundations of your strategies to those opponents that should not be privy to your thoughts.

Let's start with these (5, Informative)

sTeF (8952) | more than 5 years ago | (#26775657)

Computer Software and Open Source Issues: A Primer, December 17, 2003 [wikileaks.org]

The use of open source software by the federal government has been gaining attention as organizations continue to search for opportunities to enhance their information technology operations while containing costs. For the federal government and Congress, the debate over the use of open source software intersects several other issues, including, but not limited to, the development of homeland security and e-government initiatives, improving government information technology management practices, strengthening computer security, and protecting intellectual property rights. Currently, the debate over open source software often revolves primarily around information security and intellectual property rights. However, issues related to cost and quality are often raised as well.

Intellectual Property, Computer Software and the Open Source Movement, March 11, 2004 [wikileaks.org]

This report considers the impact of intellectual property rights upon open source software. It provides an introduction to the open source movement in the software industry. It reviews the intellectual property laws, including copyrights, patents, and trade secrets. After identifying issues of interface between open source software and the intellectual property laws, the report concludes with a discussion of possible legislative issues and approaches.

Telecommunications Japans Telecommunications Deregulation: NTTs Access Fees and Worldwide Expansion, August 9, 2000 [wikileaks.org]

The United States and Japan are negotiating over Japan's costly rates for telecommunications companies to hook into the telephone network owned by the Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Company (NTT), Japan's dominant provider of telecom services. The U.S. has argued for a 41 percent cut in the rates, while Japan has insisted on a 22 percent cut. NTT also is attempting to acquire Verio, an Internet service provider in the United States.

Telecommunications Act: Competition, Innovation, and Reform, June 7, 2007 [wikileaks.org]

Both houses of Congress have begun debating how to modify the 1996 Act, most of which resides within the Communications Act of 1934, as amended. That debate focuses on how to foster investment, innovation and competition in both the physical broadband network and in the applications that ride over that network while also meeting the many non-economic objectives of U.S. telecommunications policy: universal service, homeland security, public safety, diversity of voices, localism, consumer protection, etc.

Patent-related The Obviousness Standard in Patent Law: KSR International Co. v. Teleflex Inc., May 31, 2007 [wikileaks.org]

The Patent Act provides protection for processes, machines, manufactures, and compositions of matter that are useful, novel, and nonobvious. Of these three statutory requirements, the nonobviousness of an invention is often the most difficult to establish. To help courts and patent examiners make the determination, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit developed a test called "teaching, suggestion, or motivation" (TSM). This test provided that a patent claim is only proved obvious if the prior art, the nature of the problem to be solved, or the knowledge of those skilled in the art, reveals some motivation or suggestion to combine the prior art teachings. In KSR International Co. v. Teleflex Inc. (550 U.S. ___ , No. 04-1350, decided April 30, 2007), the U.S. Supreme Court held that the TSM test, if it is applied by district courts and patent examiners as the sole means to determine the obviousness of an invention, is contrary to Section 103 of the Patent Act and to Supreme Court precedents that call for an expansive and flexible inquiry, including Graham v. John Deere Co. of Kansas City, 383 U.S. 1 (1966).

Patent Reform in the 110th Congress: Innovation Issues, February 21, 2008 [wikileaks.org]

This study provides an overview of current patent reform issues. It begins by offering a summary of the structure of the current patent system and the role of patents in innovation policy. The report then reviews some of the broader issues and concerns, including patent quality, the high costs of patent litigation, international harmonization, and speculation in patents, that have motivated these diverse legislative reform proposals. The specific components of this legislation are then identified and reviewed in greater detail.

U.S. Patent and Trademark Office Reforms: Regulatory Impacts Upon Innovation and Competition, April 4, 2008 [wikileaks.org]

This report reviews the USPTO rules that would restrict claims and continuing applications. It begins by offering a summary of the patent system and the role of patents in innovation policy. The context, details, and legal challenges to the new USPTO rules are then explained. The report then offers both the policy justifications for the new rules, as well as concerns that patent professionals and other observers have expressed over their effectiveness and impact. The report closes by identifying congressional issues and options.

Intellectual Property Rights Violations: Federal Civil Remedies and Criminal Penalties Related to Copyrights, Trademarks, and Patents, October 31, 2008 [wikileaks.org]

This report provides information describing the federal civil remedies and criminal penalties that may be available as a consequence of violations of the federal intellectual property laws: the Copyright Act of 1976, the Patent Act of 1952, and the Trademark Act of 1946 (conventionally known as the Lanham Act). The report explains the remedies and penalties for various intellectual property offenses.

Patent Reform: Innovation Issues, January 17, 2007 [wikileaks.org]

This study provides an overview of current patent reform issues. It begins by offering a summary of the structure of the current patent system and the role of patents in innovation policy. The report then reviews some of the broader issues and concerns, including patent quality, the high costs of patent litigation, international harmonization, and speculation in patents, that have motivated these diverse legislative reform proposals. The specific components of this legislation are then identified and reviewed in greater detail.

How many of these are new? (1)

RockMFR (1022315) | more than 5 years ago | (#26775763)

I've been googling titles of random reports and have yet to find anything that wasn't already available to the public. Has anyone found one that is new?

Re:How many of these are new? (1)

RockMFR (1022315) | more than 5 years ago | (#26775823)

Let me correct myself. A lot of these are available for free. It seems the rest are available for purchase from Penny Hill Press. From my calculations, it would only cost $50,000 for someone to buy all of these. Is that what is going on here?

Maybe What's Shocking is the Cost? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26775847)

As many are pointing out, there doesn't seem to be anything especially new in these reports. But nearly a billion dollars for almost 7,000 reports? That's almost $150k per report. I sure hope the CRS does more than just this...

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