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Federal Prosecutors Tempt the Streisand Effect

timothy posted more than 3 years ago | from the don't-think-of-a-classified-pink-elephant dept.

The Courts 100

decora writes "As the case of NSA IT guru Thomas Andrews Drake nears trial, the fur has been flying between the defense and prosecution lawyers. Earlier this week the judge ordered the sealing of a defense motion because the government claimed it contained classified information. The problem? The document had been sitting on the Federation of American Scientists website for several days. Another problem: the document is marked 'Unclassified' in big bold letters at the top of the page."

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Already lost... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35609876)

Given that this has hit /. I'd say the Streisand Effect is starting to ramp up to full force....

Re:Already lost... (1)

Stenchwarrior (1335051) | more than 3 years ago | (#35609998)

Considering /. basically just re-Tweets the news in the world, I'd say it's more than "starting". I really come here for comments because all the other news forums participants are the general public and not quite as articulate and versed as the majority readers on /. .

Re:Already lost... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35610222)

Slashdot has been re-Tweeting long before "re-Tweeting" was a word. "Re-Tweeting" would be called Slashdotting if life were fair and language went to the pioneers.

Re:Already lost... (1)

icebraining (1313345) | more than 3 years ago | (#35610982)

Slashdotting [wikipedia.org] means a different thing.

Re:Already lost... (2)

sorak (246725) | more than 3 years ago | (#35611376)

Slashdot has been re-Tweeting long before "re-Tweeting" was a word. "Re-Tweeting" would be called Slashdotting if life were fair and language went to the pioneers.

If that were the case, the English language would have never been invented.

Re:Already lost... (3, Funny)

517714 (762276) | more than 3 years ago | (#35611812)

The Fwench have been re-Tweeting for centuries. Silly Wabbit.

Re:Already lost... (1)

kryliss (72493) | more than 3 years ago | (#35614274)

We could always call it sleeting?

Re:Already lost... (1)

mysidia (191772) | more than 3 years ago | (#35612956)

I'm sure the applications for court orders to take down the information from the American Scientists website, Slashdot, and Twitter are already being prepared... or will be, if the lawyers know about the postings.

Re:Already lost... (1)

creat3d (1489345) | more than 3 years ago | (#35613036)

The damage is done!

Furthermore... (1)

cyberfin (1454265) | more than 3 years ago | (#35609882)

The NSA could not “classify” the records as FOUO and cannot “downgrade” them to “unclassified” because they are already unclassified. “Information cannot be classified and FOUO at the same time,”

As the original article suggests, this just highlights the silly classification system of the government.

Re:Furthermore... (4, Informative)

dwillden (521345) | more than 3 years ago | (#35610428)

No it doesn't. FOUO is a handling Caveat not a Classification. It's not a caveat applicable to classified material because their handling is by default different and restrictive. The document is marked unclassified because it is an unclassified document used/created in an environment where classified materials are extensively used or created, thus it needs to be clearly marked so as to not get it confused with or mixed in with classified materials. The information also meets one or more of the requirements for exemption from FOIA requests, thus the FOUO handling Caveat is applied, which mainly means that FAS shouldn't have gotten it in the first place.

Re:Furthermore... (1)

cyberfin (1454265) | more than 3 years ago | (#35610726)

I stand corrected in the original intention of my comment if in fact this is true. However I stand by my use of the word "silly" as the direct effect of the FOUO handling caveat is that it becomes classified [thefreedictionary.com] .

Don't get me wrong; there is a system and it's being used. I'm just saying the system is silly IMHO.

Re:Furthermore... (1)

dwillden (521345) | more than 3 years ago | (#35613670)

Not really, The penalties for leaking or mishandling truly classified information are severe. The penalties for mishandling FOUO are a slap on the wrist and don't do it again. FOUO is primarily to limit access to personal identification information, the most common use is to protect ID theft info such as Birthdates and SSN's and the like, Medical and legal records records are additional classes of exemptions that would be marked FOUO. It doesn't seem like there is a difference, and based on pure dictionary definition there isn't really a difference, but in actual use, meaning and intent there is a substantial difference. Take this case, That document was marked FOUO and should not have been released, but no major investigation is likely to take place to find out how it was leaked. It's treated as an oops, and anyone identified in the document needs to be notified that their personal identifying information is at risk. If it were classified even at the Confidential level, it is actually a National Security crime to release/leak it. There are three Classification levels in the US, Confidential, Secret and Top Secret, all other markings are handling caveats that further define who has authorization to access and utilize the information.

Re:Furthermore... (2)

stewbacca (1033764) | more than 3 years ago | (#35610866)

It's not silly at all. The prosecutors were just dumb to not know the rules. The NSA properly marked the document as UNCLASSIFIED//FOUO then the dumbass attorneys wanted to say "it's classified!" when it clearly isn't, since FOUO is a handling instruction (not a classification) that is used for unclassified information only.

The point of FOUO is to exempt information from Freedom of Information Act. It doesn't meet the standards for the lowest classification of CONFIDENTIAL, but deserves shielding from public view, usually things like Names, Addresses, Phone Numbers, Military Unit schedules, etc.

Who is this guy, and what did he do? (2)

theshowmecanuck (703852) | more than 3 years ago | (#35612658)

I tried reading the link article about the whatever it was prize, and fell asleep about two paragraphs in. Can someone provide a link to something that explains his significance? Something that is to the point. Something that doesn't ramble on about his grade school or who changed his diapers?

Found (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35609888)

Found:
1 Yoda doll; covered in what appears to be grease or crisco and bears the inscription "Property of Cmdr. T.". If this is yours please respond.

fighting with fur balls (at all) does not help (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35609928)

censorship (including physical/facility attacks/vandalism) by per/pro secution seems to be all the rage now at keeping.secrets.gov?

some found this (edited) post particularly 'threatening'?

passiveness symptom of north&south sindrone? (Score:mynutswon; now a coveted goal)

not really. not hurting/killing anyone at all, is a universal tenant. as well as incredible dna advances being exhibited by our bips, we note that some thought to be passive/docile are some of the most spiritually empowered of our decaying empire. many fatal abnorms (including introversion, total withdrawal) of the once/still great civilizations, are the results of generational religiously based abuse/training; physically (including sex), psychologically, & spiritually. so there's abstract thinking that we weren't meant to get beat up, buggered, taught to hate, pass it on, in secret, expanding, stuff like that?

-- wee key (diaper) leaks group, perishability & play-dates pending world disarmament, & our survival/failure to be captured/killed etc...

Reply to This Parent
Flabbergasting (Score:0)

tried star gazing, hand waving, still confused? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35610008)

it's difficult to grasp an unseen power (any doubts?), particularly when it's being 'filtered'. we're still doing the math, but it looks like almost any one of us could become energetic enough to power detroit, cairo, tokyo etc... indefinitely. no wonder there's too many (georgia stone math) of us for some to be comfortable with our #s?

our geography is going to change more over time, less coast world wide. sorry.-- wee key (diaper) leaks group, perishability & play-dates pending world disarmament

Re:fighting with fur balls (at all) does not help (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35617116)

Me thinks you spend too much time on http://timecube.com/ ...blathering idiot.

Unclassified until Deemed Classified? (4, Interesting)

rwv (1636355) | more than 3 years ago | (#35609938)

My knee-jerk reaction would be that somebody not familiar with the technical details may have marked this incorrectly and then posted it. Just because the top of the page says unclassified doesn't mean an honest mistake couldn't have occurred to cause it to get labeled incorrectly. If wouldn't surprise me if they are trying to protect one individual number within that document with the new (more protective) classification.

Re:Unclassified until Deemed Classified? (1)

QID (60884) | more than 3 years ago | (#35610000)

Exactly, just because it's public information doesn't make it unclassified--and all of the fines and punishments still apply. That's why all sorts of businesses banned people from going to WikiLeaks, they don't want to wind up with classified data on their systems and all of a sudden your whole network is suddenly classified, and you can imagine what a shitstorm that turns into. It's also possible that the "Unclassified" label on the documents is incorrect; people make mistakes, after all.

Re:Unclassified until Deemed Classified? (1)

TheCarp (96830) | more than 3 years ago | (#35610410)

Sounds like the sort of thing you want top spread far and wide then. When stupid regulations that have no hope of ever achieving their intended effect are enforced, they deserve to be shown for how ineffectual and ridiculous they are. It is peoples duty to spread such documents as far and wide as possible whenever they come about.

Re:Unclassified until Deemed Classified? (3, Interesting)

jank1887 (815982) | more than 3 years ago | (#35610744)

Putting classified info on an unclassified network doesn't make your network classified. It puts you in violation of proper classified material storage, and is referred to as a classified spillage. The network should be protected (taken offline) and cleaned. But it doesn't become classified any more than a filing cabinet at your desk would become classified if you put a classified report in it.

Also, the combination of certain Unclassified pieces of information could render the information classified. So putting two unclassified reports together, or portions thereof, could make the overall report sensitive enough that is should be classified. Sometimes people cut and paste then skip the security review because both items were previously declared unclassified. It would be silly if they were both 'Unclassified, Public Release Approved' if simple combination of two public documents could change that. But that's what proper security review is for, to identify things that shouldn't be public release approved. Could be that's what happened here, and on later review they're realizing it shouldn't have been declared (if it was properly declared) Unclassified.

Re:Unclassified until Deemed Classified? (1)

naasking (94116) | more than 3 years ago | (#35621548)

Rather, I think the opposite should happen: once classified material becomes public, it should automatically become unclassified. You cannot put a genie back in a bottle, and trying beat it back in by punishing otherwise law-abiding citizens is plain stupid.

Re:Unclassified until Deemed Classified? (1)

stewbacca (1033764) | more than 3 years ago | (#35610884)

Repeat after me: classifications aren't derived from the content of the document, rather, from the methods used to acquire the information in the document.

Re:Unclassified until Deemed Classified? (3, Informative)

Jumperalex (185007) | more than 3 years ago | (#35611734)

Repeat after me: you are wrong. Content can most certainly determine classification with no regard to the method. Troop movements (dates, locations) aren't classified because of the source, but because if the enemy knows the info they can act. What you are thinking about is intelligence data which is *typically* classified due to the source because it might give the enemy clues about how to prevent further intel gathering. But sometimes, the over riding concern still is letting the enemy know that we know it at all, and not how we know it. Other things like weaknesses in weapon systems, Tactics Techniques and Procedurs (TTP) are also classified because of the content and not some "method of acquisition".

Re:Unclassified until Deemed Classified? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35612852)

Repeat after me: you are wrong.

You are wrong.

Re:Unclassified until Deemed Classified? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35612934)

OK, JumperAlex. I'll bite. You are wrong.

Re:Unclassified until Deemed Classified? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35614026)

Repeat after me: you are wrong.

Ok: "You are wrong."

Re:Unclassified until Deemed Classified? (1)

EndlessNameless (673105) | more than 3 years ago | (#35613746)

In case you didn't accept Jumperalex's explanation, you are wrong.

Classification is based on the threat posed by the acquisition of the information by a hostile entity.

Sometimes, otherwise non-sensitive information received from a particular source may be classified if it could expose the source.

E.g., if there's a concern that Tidbit A would only be known to Alice and Bob, we cannot let Alice know that we know---because she will know that Bob leaked. So even if Tidbit A doesn't merit a higher classification on its own, the risk it poses to Bob could lead to its classification.

Classifications are *always* derived from the content of the document, specifically the risk associated its widespread distribution. The higher the risk is, the higher the classification level.

Re:Unclassified until Deemed Classified? (1)

stewbacca (1033764) | more than 3 years ago | (#35615172)

Yes, you are correct. I got ahead of myself and was thinking of compartmentalized classifications. The caveats are what protect the "means and methods", not the classification levels (but certain caveats also make the classification automatically set to SECRET or TOP SECRET).

Re:Unclassified until Deemed Classified? (1)

Lord_Byron (13168) | more than 3 years ago | (#35621594)

I'm sorry, but you still don't quite have it. Classified Sources And Methods Information (SAMI) can be protected as Sensitive Compartmented Information (SCI) or any other Special Access Program (SAP). These types of information are marked with a compartment name. However, per DCID 6/5 [fas.org] there is also non-SCI SAMI, which is marked with a label that controls dissemination but does not require SCI or SAP access. This marking is similar to other caveats like PROPIN (proprietary information) or RELROK (Releasable to the Republic of Korea).

So you could have something like SECRET//MAJIC//RELROK for secret (causes serious damage to national security) UFO info that can be given to Korea, but that doesn't necessarily tell anyone how we got the UFO data. It's classified, it's compartmented, but it's not SAMI. OTOH, you could have SECRET//-//SAMI that does tell how the goods were got, but anyone with a secret clearance & a need to know can have. Also classified, but no compartment, and sources. I guess you could have UNCLASSIFIED//-//SAMI, but I'm not sure & can't imagine anyone would bother

Note: All information in this post was prepared from unclassified sources, authorized for public release.

Re:Unclassified until Deemed Classified? (1)

thaylin (555395) | more than 3 years ago | (#35610040)

What about when it is marked unclassified not once, but twice, each page for 6 pages.. That is 12 times someone "accidentally" marked it unclassified?

Re:Unclassified until Deemed Classified? (2)

kevinNCSU (1531307) | more than 3 years ago | (#35610108)

Since the marking is always applied twice per page, one at the top and one at the bottom, someone who applied the wrong classification to the document would of course do so twice per page so that argument doesn't really hold water as far as determining whether they made a mistake or not. A student who reached the wrong conclusion on a test in his work, and the bubbles in that wrong answer again on an answer key, doesn't suddenly make his answer correct by writing it twice.

Re:Unclassified until Deemed Classified? (1)

rwv (1636355) | more than 3 years ago | (#35610130)

Well... classification markings usually lead towards being a "shotgun surgery" afterthought that's required for certain documents. If your shotgun is loaded with Unclassified bullets, then everything will come out Unclassified when you pull the trigger. If you don't know that you need to retrieve your Classified bullets from the Information Security department, you'll be prone to make a mistake. At the same time, there's pressure to keep things at the least restrictive classification level possible (because managing classified material is burdensome and (hence) expensive). At a minimum, governments like at least one classification marking on every page of a document so that if an individual page falls out of a binder onto the street (contrived example, but you get the point) it's clear how it should be handled.

Re:Unclassified until Deemed Classified? (1)

random coward (527722) | more than 3 years ago | (#35616830)

"At the same time, there's pressure to keep things at the least restrictive classification level possible (because managing classified material is burdensome and (hence) expensive)."

That is the official policy. The reality is the opposite. Pournelle's Iron Law of Bureaucracy [jerrypournelle.com] would explain why there is more pressure to classify stuff than leave it unclassified. After all that will protect and expand the bureaucracy. The fact that FOUO exists and is used on everything now proves the point; Now we classify unclassified material as not appropriate for citizens.

Re:Unclassified until Deemed Classified? (1)

jank1887 (815982) | more than 3 years ago | (#35610688)

that's a MS Word default header/footer. Still a single action of applying the wrong classification.

Re:Unclassified until Deemed Classified? (1)

stewbacca (1033764) | more than 3 years ago | (#35610912)

Every page inside of a document is marked top and bottom with the highest classification level of that individual page (and actually each paragraph within the page). So either nothing is classified on THAT page (most likely the case), or these 6 pages come from a higher classified document (also most likely the case).

Why people "contribute" to slashdot and have no idea what they are talking about confounds me to this day.

Re:Unclassified until Deemed Classified? (1)

Subliminalbits (998434) | more than 3 years ago | (#35610482)

I can see how a classified document might get a FOUO marking, but if the document has UNCLASSIFIED across the top of the pages, it is extremely unlikely that is a mistake. Everyone I know who works with classified information is extremely careful about that.

Re:Unclassified until Deemed Classified? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35611054)

For my 5 years in the Navy, every plan of the day (issued daily) was marked unclass FOUO. FOUO does not mean classified.

Re:Unclassified until Deemed Classified? (3, Informative)

stewbacca (1033764) | more than 3 years ago | (#35611094)

I can see how a classified document might get a FOUO marking...

Well you'd be wrong. Only unclassified documents can get FOUO. Classified information, by definition, is exempt from the Freedom of Information Act so FOUO would never occur with classified info.

http://www.dtic.mil/whs/directives/corres/pdf/520001r.pdf [dtic.mil]

Paragraph AP3.2 -- AP3.2.1.1. "For Official Use Only (FOUO)" is a designation that is applied to unclassified information that may be exempt from mandatory release to the public under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)...

Re:Unclassified until Deemed Classified? (1)

Eevee (535658) | more than 3 years ago | (#35612412)

Well, you are equally wrong. While it may be true that a properly marked classified document would never have FOUO, we're dealing with people. And people do things out of force of habit. Or they don't proofread what they've done. So I can easily see someone tacking FOUO on the end of the classification string just because they do it all the time. Or doing a replace on UNCLASSIFIED instead of on UNCLASSIFIED//FOUO, resulting in a mangled classification string.

Re:Unclassified until Deemed Classified? (1)

stewbacca (1033764) | more than 3 years ago | (#35615088)

Except most classifications are applied via computer programs that won't let you apply invalid classification combinations. Sure, human error comes into play, but the only human error here is the prosecution erroneously saying that the FOUO document is classified, when no FOUO documents are classified. They in fact are all unclassified so the prosecution just looks like they don't know what they are talking about. And they don't, because every low level Private in intel learns classification guidelines in one of the first classes, then use it for the rest of their careers.

Re:Unclassified until Deemed Classified? (1)

smelch (1988698) | more than 3 years ago | (#35611102)

And nobody ever drops a baby either. Never.

Re:Unclassified until Deemed Classified? (2)

GodfatherofSoul (174979) | more than 3 years ago | (#35612540)

This power has been abused severely by the executive over the last 10 years or so. There are plenty of cases were "national security" roadblocks are thrown up just to hamper the other side of a court case. About 5 years or so ago, Bush retroactively *reclassified* lots of documents [google.com] that had been declassified by Clinton. But, some of them were already in the public record. It turned out that much of the effort was about saving people from embarrassment for horribly wrong decisions or predictions ("oh, the Soviets won't back the Vietnamese if we go to war...").

Ok sure (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35614706)

Now legally define "an honest mistake" and everything will be fine.

Foreign agents have downloaded it!!!! (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35609940)

I'm in Canada. I have downloaded the document. I await the black helicopters...

Re:Foreign agents have downloaded it!!!! (2, Funny)

Tiger Smile (78220) | more than 3 years ago | (#35610018)

Careful there buddy. We just took over all your boarders. Don't think we wont send the black helicopters. :)

Re:Foreign agents have downloaded it!!!! (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35610056)

We just took over all your boarders.

I guess this means the OP has rooms for rent.

Re:Foreign agents have downloaded it!!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35612232)

or will have a really hard time taking over a ship by docking with it and sending ground troops.

Re:Foreign agents have downloaded it!!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35610076)

I doubt the guy is from Canada anyways. In Canada we would never refer to government helicopters as "black helicopters", we would refer to them as "racialized helicopters".

Re:Foreign agents have downloaded it!!!! (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35610178)

I thought the current default US position was to deny entry to foreigners, not to take them in as boarders and give them helicopters to fetch their friends. Don't tell Mexico, they'll feel left out.

Make your time. (1)

Hartree (191324) | more than 3 years ago | (#35610362)

All your boarders are belong to us.

Re:Make your time. (1)

Fulcrum of Evil (560260) | more than 3 years ago | (#35614166)

all your boarders smell bad. Is your shower busted?

What's this "foreign" crap? (1)

Infiniti2000 (1720222) | more than 3 years ago | (#35610380)

Since when is Canada not a state in the U.S.? :)

Re:What's this "foreign" crap? (2)

Abstrackt (609015) | more than 3 years ago | (#35610672)

Since when is Canada not a state in the U.S.? :)

Since we were on top. ;)

Re:What's this "foreign" crap? (1)

Coren22 (1625475) | more than 3 years ago | (#35611012)

I prefer the woman on top anyways, so all good.

Re:What's this "foreign" crap? (1)

hduff (570443) | more than 3 years ago | (#35612466)

Since when is Canada not a state in the U.S.? :)

Since we were on top. ;)

That leaves Mexico on the bottom.

[insert inappropriate humor below]

Re:What's this "foreign" crap? (1)

Kakari (1818872) | more than 3 years ago | (#35616996)

That reminds me of this one time in college....

Re:Foreign agents have downloaded it!!!! (3, Funny)

sorak (246725) | more than 3 years ago | (#35611394)

I'm in Canada. I have downloaded the document. I await the black helicopters...

In Canada, does the government show up in black Zambonis? :)

Nothing to see here (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35609960)

please move along

Streisand Effect? (4, Funny)

UncHellMatt (790153) | more than 3 years ago | (#35610198)

They're tempted to have a big nose and be immensely popular with homosexuals?

/me ducks

Re:Streisand Effect? (1)

ibib (464750) | more than 3 years ago | (#35610496)

Boring response:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Streisand_effect

Re:Streisand Effect? (1)

Amorymeltzer (1213818) | more than 3 years ago | (#35610538)

Surely you meant "/me ducksauce [youtube.com] ?"

PS - Ooh ooh ooh ooh oh oh oh oh

Re:Streisand Effect? (1)

Ecuador (740021) | more than 3 years ago | (#35612244)

No, it means they will get their very own fire-breathing mecha versions in South Park!

Re:Streisand Effect? (1)

countertrolling (1585477) | more than 3 years ago | (#35612258)

This is so "Prince of Tides [jt.org] "!

Let's see them explain this one... (1)

MikeRT (947531) | more than 3 years ago | (#35610214)

because the government claimed it contained classified information

If I were the defense attorney, I'd be drafting a subpoena right now for the federal staffers who wrote up the document(s) to have them answer three questions:

1) Is this the document you wrote: yes or no.
2) Are these the same classification markings you applied to it: yes or no.
3) Has this document been otherwise tampered with since it left a secure federal facility: yes or no.

If the answers are yes, yes and no respectively, all that'd be left to say on that charge is:

The document was marked unclassified.
The document was disseminated properly.
The document has not been tampered with.
The document is unclassified.

QED, mofo.

Re:Let's see them explain this one... (2)

AJH16 (940784) | more than 3 years ago | (#35610316)

That would prevent them from attacking him on the basis of that release, however this was a sealing of a defense motion. ie, the government indicated that the original document was misclassified and was trying to correct that so the normally public court document needed to be sealed. If that's all they are doing, there is nothing to see here.

Re:Let's see them explain this one... (3, Insightful)

SharpFang (651121) | more than 3 years ago | (#35611364)

Of course the document has been deemed misclassified only after it has been found essential to the defense.

Re:Let's see them explain this one... (1)

AJH16 (940784) | more than 3 years ago | (#35612422)

Someone can correct me if I'm wrong, but it was my understanding that sealing it simply means that it is prevented from becoming public record, not that it can't be used for defense.

Re:Let's see them explain this one... (2)

AHuxley (892839) | more than 3 years ago | (#35611594)

nothing to see here?
Its rare to see the NSA in court. It was historically very rare to see the NSA in the press or books.
Recall "Computer ills hinder NSA 2 technology programs, weapons for the war on terrorism, have proved duds"
http://articles.baltimoresun.com/2006-02-26/news/0602260086_1_cryptologic-agency-technology-programs [baltimoresun.com]
http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2010/04/nsa-executive-charged/ [wired.com]

Re:Let's see them explain this one... (1)

AJH16 (940784) | more than 3 years ago | (#35612400)

I was simply refering to the poster of the article that seemed to be inferring that the NSA was up to something sinister by trying to keep a (mis)classified document from becoming public record from a court case. This isn't really all that special and certainly not conspiratorial unless there is some other evidence to suggest this.

Re:Let's see them explain this one... (1)

nomadic (141991) | more than 3 years ago | (#35616366)

The defense attorney probably has better uses of his or her time than to fight for the rights of the public to see the document. The defense attorney can see the doc. That's the important part.

A quick primer on classifications (5, Informative)

braeldiil (1349569) | more than 3 years ago | (#35610536)

It doesn't appear the government has asserted the document is classified - that's a term of art meaning that the release of the data would compromise national security in some way. Instead, they've declared that the data was marked For Official Use Only, which means the data is unclassified, but not for wide dissemination.

Let's break it down. We have classified information, which is data that, if released, would affect the national security. This determination is made by the President or directly appointed representatives only - I think Deputy Secretary of the Army/Navy/whatever is the lowest level with classification authority. Everyone else is merely applying the policies as determined by the originating authority. So I, as a low-level contractor, cannot unilaterally decide to classify a piece of information. Instead, I apply a predetermined set of rules (does it come from system A or mention topic B) to data I sort, and mark it appropriately.

For classified data, there are three broad groupings - Confidential, Secret, and Top Secret. Secret has a subcategory of NoForn - not to be shared with foreign governments. Top Secret has a bazillion "code-word" subcategories - my favorite was Cosmic Top Secret.

There is also a category of unclassifed information that should not be in wide release. This is information that would not impact national security, but should still be controlled. The classic example is Personally Identifiable Information (PII). Leaking your address and social wouldn't impact national security, and neither would leaking your medical records or job evaluations. But I think we'd all agree this information should be kept out of the public eye, so it's marked FOUO. Not classified, but still not for dissemination.

The other category of FOUO information tends to be operational details for a command. This would include unit movements, detailed meeting schedules, specific evaluation criteria, etc. The stuff that, in a corporation, would be tagged Company Propriatary.

Finally, there is unclassified information that is treated as classified. This is generally any build media used for classified systems. The media itself isn't classified - it's straight from the vender. But once we have it, we treat it as if it's classified at the level of the system it was used to build. That way, no one can modify the unclassified source material without already having access to the classifed data.

Re:A quick primer on classifications (4, Insightful)

Hatta (162192) | more than 3 years ago | (#35611010)

It doesn't appear the government has asserted the document is classified - that's a term of art meaning that the release of the data would compromise national security in some way.

By "compromise national security" you mean "embarrass the US government", right?

Re:A quick primer on classifications (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35611810)

By "compromise national security" you mean "embarrass the US government", right?

Mod parent down for Flamebait. Embarrassment can have implications on national security. How other nations view us can change how other nations interact with us, and that is certainly an interest of national security. You're being short-sighted.

Re:A quick primer on classifications (1)

WNight (23683) | more than 3 years ago | (#35616492)

But when it's true it's not a bad thing. The world is served by knowing what you are like.

Re:A quick primer on classifications (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35612578)

It doesn't appear the government has asserted the document is classified - that's a term of art meaning that the release of the data would compromise national security in some way.

By "compromise national security" you mean "embarrass the US government", right?

Things are classified so that others don't know about it. There are many reasons for it, but some include the reason "because general public is stupid and would panic if they had known". Other reasons is because the information is potentially criminal. Other reason is the information is frank assessment of some situation - in politics if you want people to have frank ideas, their ideas need to be kept private. The reason is "general public is stupid..." etc etc etc.

Finally, unlike in China, people don't go to jail for speculating bullshit about someone in government. So media has become the great source of disinformation, like FOX News, CNN, etc. Basically there is no news, there is just "opinions". There are still a few impartial sources, like BBC, and some (even on inside) are trying very hard to break it.

Re:A quick primer on classifications (1)

Hatta (162192) | more than 3 years ago | (#35615738)

There are many reasons for it, but some include the reason "because general public is stupid and would panic if they had known".

Which is a blatantly anti-democratic justification. If you're not going to trust the public, why not just come out and declare a military dictatorship?

if you want people to have frank ideas, their ideas need to be kept private

How convenient. If you want to cover up crimes, their ideas need to be kept private too.

Re:A quick primer on classifications (1)

c++0xFF (1758032) | more than 3 years ago | (#35614650)

Spoken like someone who has never had access to classified data.

Why do some people insist that the only reason documents get classified is to cover something up? Oh yeah -- because that's what tends to get leaked and that's what Hollywood likes to use in their scripts.

If you ever get a security clearance, you'll realize just how absurd these sorts of statements are.

Re:A quick primer on classifications (1)

AK Marc (707885) | more than 3 years ago | (#35615318)

The vast majority of classified documents are "embarrassing" as in the communications released recently. There were problems with the security of many people caused by those leaks. However, none of those people were in the US (stretching it, you could assert that there could be some Americans in those foreign locations, but that isn't national security to protect every person, just the nation).

Things which are actual national security have timeliness. Troop movements aren't a national security issue after the troops are gone (presuming there isn't a trail of updates that indicate a future location). But once classified, the documents remain so indefinitely for the most part. What would make sense would be a system that marks documents as classified for the shortest period possible. If the issue is still of national security, then re-classify it. Otherwise, let it go. There should be monthly releases of formerly classified documents. But there aren't. And ones that are marked for release are usually tagged for release when the actors are likely dead (some of the docs from the '60s coming out recently). That's not for "national security" nor even embarrassment of the US, but just classifying documents to prevent embarrassment of individual actors in incidents of interest. So your assertion that it's only for national security is proven wrong by almost every release of classified data.

Re:A quick primer on classifications (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35634744)

Most people with clearances don't have access to material embarrassing to the government. The stuff I had access to was so boring (and out of date) that NOBODY would want to read it, much less show it to somebody else, and nobody would want to pay for it.

Re:A quick primer on classifications (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35619420)

Right. And HIPA isn't there to protect you -- just to keep you from getting embarrassed.

Re:A quick primer on classifications (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35616928)

I always liked the sound of "Stone Ghost"...

"...the fine line between liberty and security" (2)

Beryllium Sphere(tm) (193358) | more than 3 years ago | (#35611158)

Why do people keep treating freedom and security as being in conflict?

This is America. Security is the defense of freedom.

There have been many governments in history, and still are today, where liberty has been extinguished. They were and are not safe to live under.

Re:"...the fine line between liberty and security" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35612790)

but 9 times out of 10, more security=less liberty.

Re:"...the fine line between liberty and security" (1)

SpaceLifeForm (228190) | more than 3 years ago | (#35613948)

When bad guys have infiltrated and control the MIC and DOJ, then the alleged defense of freedom actually becomes an attack.

Most people are not paying enough attention to notice.

Re:"...the fine line between liberty and security" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35623808)

The freedom to keep and bear arms, for example, is essential to security at the personal and family level.

Heck, around here, the cops have the 'right' to go on strike, and could at any moment.

In other news... (1)

Kaenneth (82978) | more than 3 years ago | (#35611210)

Barbra Streisand is sueing anyone who uses the term "Streisand Effect".

Incorrect Info All Around (3, Interesting)

stewbacca (1033764) | more than 3 years ago | (#35611314)

So much wrong in the summary and all the linked stories. I expect more from slashdot.

First, FOUO is a handling instruction, not a classification. There are only 4 classification levels (unclassified, confidential, secret, top secret), and there are hundreds of handling instructions and classification combinations. FOUO, however, can only be used with UNCLASSIFIED, and merely exempts unclassified information from Freedom of Information Act.

Second, the individual pages of that letter is marked UNCLASSIFIED//FOUO top and bottom, but that is only the highest classification of the particular single page in question. If these pages are in a larger document with higher classifications, they indeed take on the highest classification of the overall document. We don't know, because the title page with the classification authority is not present. My guess is that it comes from a document of higher classification.

Finally, the analyst is guilty of leaking information that has handling instructions of FOUO--information that is not to be disseminated to the public. This means he is not authorized to release this information. It's a security violation. Not as severe as leaking classified information, but still a violation.

Re:Incorrect Info All Around (1)

echucker (570962) | more than 3 years ago | (#35613640)

I expect more from slashdot.

You must be new here. Checks UID... Yup!

Re:Incorrect Info All Around (1)

Just Some Guy (3352) | more than 3 years ago | (#35614016)

You must be new here. Checks UID... Yup!

He still has a point, n00b.

Re:Incorrect Info All Around (1)

stewbacca (1033764) | more than 3 years ago | (#35615120)

I always found this inside joke to be not so funny. I've been on here for at least 2-3 years now, regardless of how many digits my UID has.

Re:Incorrect Info All Around (1)

nomadic (141991) | more than 3 years ago | (#35616478)

2-3 years isn't that long...

Re:Incorrect Info All Around (1)

stewbacca (1033764) | more than 3 years ago | (#35616548)

Yeah, well 2-3 years of inside jokes and bad car analogies feels like about 20-30 years.

Now Works at the Apple Store... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35611448)

According to TFA, he currently works at the Apple Store. Anybody know which Apple store he works at, because I'd like to shake his hand.

Re:Now Works at the Apple Store... (1)

malakai (136531) | more than 3 years ago | (#35612374)

Perform a felony and you can shake his hand in prison.

This guy had a pet project which lost to a larger 'all encompassing' project. Typical corporate IT bullshit, but happens to be in the NSA. He tried to leak enough information to the Baltimore Sun to get the larger project killed, and his put on the fast track.

In the end, both projects were killed, and he just looks like an asshat for leaking classified information.

This guy ain't no hero.

And why go to the newspapers, there's always some opposition somewhere in congress, why don't these whiners go to the opposition? They won't be committing a crime, and likely the opposition will leak the incriminating evidence to the newspaper for them.

Just More Douchebaggery (1)

hduff (570443) | more than 3 years ago | (#35612410)

Just more douchebaggery, obfuscation and flimflamization on the part of lawyers.

And redundant.

Lawyers.

Who Signs the Judge's Paycheck? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35617104)

Just asking, ya know.

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