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DoJ Answers FOIA Request After Six Years With No Real Information

Unknown Lamer posted about a year and a half ago | from the proof-aliens-exist dept.

Censorship 107

An anonymous reader writes "In response to a Freedom of Information Act request about Google's 2007 complaint against Windows Vista search interference, the Department of Justice has after six years released 114 partially redacted pages and 60 full pages of material. Yet these 'responsive documents' consist of public news articles and email boilerplate. All the substantive information has been blacked out."

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Most Transparent Administration Ever (4, Informative)

Freddybear (1805256) | about a year and a half ago | (#43411167)

You can see right through them.

Re:Most Transparent Administration Ever (4, Funny)

Whalou (721698) | about a year and a half ago | (#43411247)

From TFA:

I wanted to get back to you on some of the more pressing issues...probably the most important of which is REDACTED."
This goes on for an entire page. It's a gray box of nothing.

They are a bit more transparent than before, they are using gray boxes instead of black to redact text.

Re:Most Transparent Administration Ever (1)

bondsbw (888959) | about a year and a half ago | (#43411403)

People, it's 2013. Learn to use the alpha channel.

Re:Most Transparent Administration Ever (3, Insightful)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | about a year and a half ago | (#43411697)

Gray uses less ink than black. They're trying to be the good guys -- green.

Similarly, I'll bet our government is considering charging the families of the executed the cost of the bullet, or drugs, like other countries do, to help reduce the deficit.

Re:Most Transparent Administration Ever (2)

telchine (719345) | about a year and a half ago | (#43411313)

Well, it's quite obvious really, it's been REDACTED

Great Black Hope (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43411735)

In my family, there are a few die hard Baby Boomer ex-hippie Democrats. They live in Berkeley, BTW.

They were so exited about Obama and I admit, I was too because the old rich White guys haven't done anything for me either so I thought. "Maybe this guy will shake things up."

My Gen X cynicism has kicked in and it's the same old same old.

My Baby Boomer Berkley relatives? They think Obama sucks. now - But STILL better than ANY Republican.

They are searching for the next Great Liberal Hope.

Of course, the Dems will fuck it up and the Reps will get a second wind in '16 - assuming they smarten up and drop the whole "Social Values" horse shit.

Reps: Smaller Government, lower taxes, less regulations - where it's warranted, and less government in our private lives will get you into the Whitehouse again - see. Barry Goldwater's writings for ideas. His time has come postmortem.

Re:Great Black Hope (2)

Dishevel (1105119) | about a year and a half ago | (#43411977)

While I do not believe in laws forcing "Social Values".
Social Values in and of themselves are not "Horse shit".
The lack of Social Values in our culture has cost us dearly. It will continue to cost us.

Re:Great Black Hope (2, Insightful)

rickb928 (945187) | about a year and a half ago | (#43412165)

All legislation is someone's morality.

if you don't get that yet. you're losing.

Re:Great Black Hope (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43412697)

While I do not believe in laws forcing "Social Values".
Social Values in and of themselves are not "Horse shit".
The lack of Social Values in our culture has cost us dearly. It will continue to cost us.

Because "Social Values" have become a euphemism for "some people should have fewer rights than others".

Republicans would have a better change of getting into positions of power to undo some of the modern-era problems if they wouldn't insist, every election, on calling a percentage of the population worthless because of who/how many people they like to fuck.

Re:Great Black Hope (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43412773)

Fuck the Republicans.
Fuck the Democrats as well.
Neither one of those parties give a shit about any of us.
What has to change is the people.
When you know someone who is a shit worker and gets fired and sues the company. Get rid of them as a friend. Shame them.
When you know a person suing a company because the dangerous product was dangerous. Get rid of them as a friend. Shame them.
When you know someone who is collecting food stamps and does not need them. Get rid of them as a friend. Shame them.
When you know someone who is having their third kid on the states dime. Get rid of them as a friend. Shame them.

When you do not do these things YOU are the problem.

Tolerance is not acceptance.

Re:Great Black Hope (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43413999)

Amazingly, you don't put your name on this so that we might shame you for such a ridiculous statement. So I won't put mine on this one either.

Re:Great Black Hope (1)

jadv (1437949) | about a year and a half ago | (#43412713)

One man's social values are another man's misguided "horseshit". Unless you clearly describe the "social values," the expression itself is meaningless. Gay rights activists think gay marriage is a social value, but go and ask a rabid Tea-Partyish Bible thumper from Alabama what he will call it.

Re:Great Black Hope (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43412813)

The real issue with gay marriage has nothing to do with marriage or gay.
It is government.
The government has NO BUSINESS in Marriage.
Marriage is a religious institution.
Civil Unions on the other hand can be given specific rights as the Feds or the State deem.
Civil Unions should have to be applied for by Homosexual and Heterosexual couples alike.

Easy.

If some churches want to "Marry" gay couples in the eyes of the Lord then they may. If not then that is all good as well.
Once you separate government from the issue there is no problem.

Re:Great Black Hope (1)

i kan reed (749298) | about a year and a half ago | (#43412555)

Look, you won't find that because by-and-large the United States is a conservative nation, at least as far as regular voters go. Democrats skew conservative, and republicans skew crazy. This is amplified by a mixture of natural(your self-reported cynicism probably won't let you believe that) and intentional gerrymandering. I would take something like a 65% democrat voting country to make real progress on social and economic issues from a liberal perspective. You will never find your "great liberal hope" without a more substantial shift in population.

Re:Great Black Hope (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43412757)

>> it's the same old same old

As I recall, Republicans blocked literally everything they could so that they could make the "he got nothing done" claim at election time?

Re:Most Transparent Administration Ever (5, Insightful)

Thruen (753567) | about a year and a half ago | (#43411985)

Considering the delay was six years, the request took place during the Bush administration, and under his administration it was never answered. So what exactly is your point? It's high time we stopped making these into republican-democrat issues when it's really much broader than that. One guys points out Obama lies, another points out Bush lies, and we all just point fingers claiming the other party is worse instead of realizing they're both pulling the same shit. Wrong is wrong, it's not any worse because the guy you didn't vote for did it this time, especially when the guy you DID vote for was doing the exact same thing right before him.

Re:Most Transparent Administration Ever (1)

bryan1945 (301828) | about a year and a half ago | (#43413901)

It is also more than the President. Sure, each one gets to appoint his cabinet, and the cabinet heads might put in some new upper level folks, but the rest of the departments are still the same drones as before. It's not the Pres or the department heads that are taking forever, it's the drones that just don't give a fuck. I wouldn't be surprised if it was one guy/gal's only job to redact this one document, and did so at a pace of 1 page per day. Then spent 7 hours having monkey sex in various broom closets with interns.

Re:Most Transparent Administration Ever (1)

qwak23 (1862090) | about a year and a half ago | (#43417629)

In this day and age it was probably youtube videos as opposed to monkey sex in the broom closets. But yeah, same deal.

All Governments Lie! (1)

Eugriped3z (1549589) | about a year and a half ago | (#43414897)

If Mr. Thomas "Editor-at-Large" Claburn wants to claim he's doing investigative journalism, he has a long way to go before he's in the same league as Edward R. Murrow, I.F. Stone (The Life and Times of Rebel Journalist) [ifstone.org] I.F. Stone, or Si Hersh. Granted, the issues here don't seem like they have the same importance, but he does have a point.

If states see fit to argue successfully in federal court that their citizen's rights are impinged upon by a multi-national corporation, you might be tempted to believe that it would be in all our best interest to have the opportunity to understand how and why the decision was reached as well as to perform the public service of monitoring the offender's compliance with the orders of the court. We have certainly seen this play out in the context of "sex offenders." Why not corporate monopolists?

The legal standard used for sealing federal court records might provide some direction. [uscourts.gov] Or perhaps it could and should be argued that in any case involving of a company with the size, power and reach of Microsoft, particularly with respect to it's opportunity to do harm in the scope of its control over a product like Windows which has nearly monopolistic market share and ubiquitous effects on the citizenry at large, the public has a right to know and an interest in the outcome of the case as well as the judgment of the court and the terms any settlement.

On the other hand, you might just as well believe, as Mitt Romney does, that Google and Microsoft deserve to be treated just like people... oh, wait... wouldn't that imply that since they have been shown to be utterly disrespectful of any reasonable expectation of privacy, along with your ISP, your POTS and wireless telecomm providers and your local police department, they should be listed and tracked on a serial offenders list? And they should be required to update government with any change of address? (You'll just have to use the NYSE or Lexis/Nexis.)

Sigh... It's too overwhelming. Even global commerce just isn't that important. I mean, how is it that any of the investment banks that nearly brought the world's system of economic exchange to and end can settle any case with the federal government, have the terms of deal sealed and avoid admitting any wrong doing? I guess we'll just never know...

-- Time to put on your critical thinking caps kiddies!! --

Re:Most Transparent Administration Ever (1)

Kilo Kilo (2837521) | about a year and a half ago | (#43415535)

So how many signatures will we need on this petition in order to get another bullshit response? 10 million?

Give 'em a break. (5, Funny)

preflex (1840068) | about a year and a half ago | (#43411249)

Yossarian's working for the DOJ now?

All the officer patients in the ward were forced to censor letters written by all the enlisted-men patients, who were kept in residence in wards of their own. It was a monotonous job, and Yossarian was disappointed to learn that the lives of enlisted men were only slightly more interesting than the lives of officers. After the first day he had no curiosity at all. To break the monotony he invented games. Death to all modifiers, he declared one day, and out of every letter that passed through his hands went every adverb and every adjective. The next day he made war on articles. He reached a much higher plane of creativity the following day when he blacked out everything in the letters but a, an and the. That erected more dynamic intralinear tensions, he felt, and in just about every case left a message far more universal. Soon he was proscribing parts of salutations and signatures and leaving the text untouched. One time he blacked out all but the salutation "Dear Mary" from a letter, and at the bottom he wrote, "I yearn for you tragically. A. T. Tappman, Chaplain, U.S. Army." A. T. Tappman was the group chaplain's name.

When he had exhausted all possibilities in the letters, he began attacking the names and addresses on the envelopes, obliterating whole homes and streets, annihilating entire metropolises with careless flicks of his wrist as though he were God. Catch-22 required that each censored letter bear the censoring officer's name. Most letters he didn't read at all. On those he didn't read at all he wrote his own name. On those he did read he wrote, "Washington Irving." When that grew monotonous he wrote, "Irving Washington." Censoring the envelopes had serious repercussions, produced a ripple of anxiety on some ethereal military echelon that floated a C.I.D. man back into the ward posing as a patient. They all knew he was a C.I.D. man because he kept inquiring about an officer named Irving or Washington and because after his first day there he wouldn't censor letters. He found them too monotonous.

--Joseph Heller, Catch-22*

It's a dirty job, but someone's gotta' do it.

Re:Give 'em a break. (1)

Sun (104778) | about a year and a half ago | (#43411315)

It's a dirty job, but somebody said we had to do it.

Re:Give 'em a break. (4, Interesting)

Sarten-X (1102295) | about a year and a half ago | (#43411421)

Pretty much. FOIA itself is a joke. The government is a big enough beurocracy that a six-year delay seems pretty quick to me, so I don't expect the purported transparency actually changed behavior at all. However, since some information might eventually come out, nobody with concerns can voice them to anybody else without risking a big scandal (and their career) later. That undermines any internal oversight, since nothing can be handled discreetly in an official capacity. Sure, we can ask for information now, but there won't be anything there to find, and the result is that nothing will improve. Mistakes, bad judgement, and outright evil will still happen, and now it's even less likely to stop.

Then, of course, there's the redaction. By allowing any redaction, FOIA releases are little more than publicity stunts. because the public will always question what's redacted - even if it's just all the adverbs. When the redactions are substantial, but justified, there's no real way to communicate to the public that they've stumbled on something important. In all courses, FOIA responses cast more doubt on the government, whether it's legitimate concern or not.

Re:Give 'em a break. (2)

DarkOx (621550) | about a year and a half ago | (#43411615)

I think the better question is Why does the DOJ ever need to have secrecy in a civil matter after the case has been settled.

I can see for some criminal matters, I can see it for stuff that pertains to a current inquiry or a case that is currently working thru the court system. I can't see what possible legitimacy could exist for secrecy around a closed civil matter in our "free society." Its really hard to imagine any reasons other than covering for missdeeds.

Re:Give 'em a break. (3, Interesting)

Dishevel (1105119) | about a year and a half ago | (#43412033)

I think the better question is Why does the DOJ ever need to have secrecy in a civil matter after the case has been settled.

Because you can not see the deal that was struck.
The DOJ found that Microsoft was "Really Fucking Guilty" on this one. (Legal term)
So they made Microsoft promise to give massive back doors to all their software then agreed to enter the mobile market so that could be back doored as well.
Then to keep Googles mouth shut about it they gave Google complete ownership of Kansas City and Austin.

Re:Give 'em a break. (1)

DarkOx (621550) | about a year and a half ago | (#43414033)

I would have characterized that as "covering for misdeeds" but yes perfectly plausible. So I come back to why should this be considered tolerable behavior. Why is okay for the government to have a domestic surveillance program? Why are supposed to be perfectly okay sitting by and letting the "Justice" department trade legal favors to strong arm private companies to help them spy?

Seems like another government department doing things it was never supposed to be doing in the first place. Guess we need to cut the budget some more. Stave the beast, is the only thing that works.

Re:Give 'em a break. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43414325)

None of this will be solved until the people start to once again depend on themselves, their family, friends and local community for their safety net.
The government does not do this well.
As long as we as a people say "the government should do this" or "the government should do that" we will always have these problems.

Re:Give 'em a break. (5, Informative)

khallow (566160) | about a year and a half ago | (#43411751)

That undermines any internal oversight, since nothing can be handled discreetly in an official capacity.

Internal oversight is a bad joke. There's the huge, obvious conflict of interest - foxes are in charge of watching the henhouse. And there are no repercussions when it fails.

Let's give a particularly notorious example using the current administration. Back in 2010 and 2011, in the "Fast and Furious" gunwalking scheme, the ATF (Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, a US federal law enforcement bureau) enabled the smuggling of about 2,000 high quality firearms into Mexico without any sort of precaution, either a plan to prevent their use in crime or passing on a warning to Mexican law enforcement so that they could deal with the problem. I say "enabled" because among other things, they encouraged legitimate gun dealers to sell those firearms to the smugglers in question and then allowed those firearms to cross the border into Mexico unchecked (and who knows what else the smugglers carried at that time!).

By the summer of 2011, it was apparent that these firearms were turning up at crime scenes, including murder, because they had a report to that effect which indicated several hundred of these weapons had already turned up at crime scenes. This includes murders and probably includes US crime scenes. Yet the program was continued (that is, criminals were allowed to continue to smuggle firearms into Mexico that the US had a really good idea would be used in crimes in the US and Mexico) till a US law enforcement agent was killed in a firefight involving two weapons from this program.

Here's the problem. In the US and probably in Mexico, if you provide a weapon which is used in a crime, knowing that it'll get used for crime, then you are an accessory to that crime. In particular, a number of those crimes were murders. What we have here is a fairly straightforward case of ATF agents committing (probably a large number of times) the felony of accessory to murder and similar crimes. Or maybe criminal negligence, if you're feeling kind to people who may be partly responsible for a couple hundred deaths.

So what came of the "internal oversight"? Nobody higher up the food chain remembers anything even though there's evidence that they were informed of the progress of the program on occasion. Similarly, the people directly involved work somewhere in DC now. The head of the ATF had to resign without any other consequence. There's no indication that the Department of Justice will ever investigate the activities of Fast and Furious much less prosecute anyone for the crimes committed.

That's the reality of "internal oversight". It doesn't get done unless the people with external oversight apply enough pressure. That's where FOIA comes in. It allows you to learn enough about what happened that you can apply that pressure.

Re:Give 'em a break. (1)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | about a year and a half ago | (#43411861)

There is one consequence: For a few months, every right-wing blog and news site carried articles blaming Obama personally for the whole fiasco.

Re:Give 'em a break. (3, Insightful)

Dishevel (1105119) | about a year and a half ago | (#43412087)

To be fair once he cited "Executive Privilege" over the information pertaining to "Fast and Furious" he proved one of two things.
Either ...
A: He was deeply involved and there were documents involving "Fast and Furious" and the White House.

or

B: The White House had nothing to do with "Fast and Furious" and he lied to Congress to protect Holder.

So either way he is just another scumbag politician that should have very bad things happen to him.

Re:Give 'em a break. (1)

Sarten-X (1102295) | about a year and a half ago | (#43413041)

or C: The White House is still deeply involved with a related ongoing operation.

Re:Give 'em a break. (1)

khallow (566160) | about a year and a half ago | (#43416649)

Nonsense. That's no reason not to investigate felonies that resulted in the death of a federal law enforcement officer.

Re:Give 'em a break. (1)

bryan1945 (301828) | about a year and a half ago | (#43413963)

or D: Anal probing aliens. Always with the probing.

Re:Give 'em a break. (1)

Bartles (1198017) | about a year and a half ago | (#43413223)

It's pretty hard for a President to claim credit for anything, when everything is someone else's fault.

Re:Give 'em a break. (1)

khallow (566160) | about a year and a half ago | (#43416615)

For a few months, every right-wing blog and news site carried articles blaming Obama personally for the whole fiasco.

Given he is the Commander in Chief, what is the problem? Did he resolve this scandal? No. Therefore, he is personally responsible. That's how responsibility works.

Re:Give 'em a break. (1)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | about a year and a half ago | (#43416783)

The 'commander in chief' thing only applies to the military. This was a law enforcement operation. It was managed by a rather large number of officials, some federal and some state, including a few appointed by Obama (I'm not going to look up names, too tired right now). So he may have some responsibility, but only by proxy and by inaction. By the same logic you use, you could say he is responsible whenever the post office loses a letter.

Re:Give 'em a break. (1)

Sarten-X (1102295) | about a year and a half ago | (#43413009)

Nobody higher up the food chain remembers anything even though there's evidence that they were informed of the progress of the program on occasion. Similarly, the people directly involved work somewhere in DC now. The head of the ATF had to resign without any other consequence. There's no indication that the Department of Justice will ever investigate the activities of Fast and Furious much less prosecute anyone for the crimes committed.

And that's exactly the problem. Being "informed of the progress" isn't the same as actually knowing what's happening. Rather than a general attitude of "let me think about this", the standing order is "don't let me know about this". Rather than increasing transparency in government, wrongdoing is just forcibly hidden.

I say we ditch FOIA and submit every report to an ethics oversight department, whose members are (re)elected by the public, not affiliated with any political party, and must by barred from related jobs for several years. Requests for information can go to that department, and that department would do any necessary redacting.

Re:Give 'em a break. (1)

khallow (566160) | about a year and a half ago | (#43416753)

I say we ditch FOIA and submit every report to an ethics oversight department,

Why? What do we get for this aside from more lack of oversight. The ethics oversight department would just become another ineffective layer of internal oversight.

You need people who are completely independent of government. They're not paid by government. They're not appointed by government or elected by the public. There's no way to subvert the process by choosing who gets to have oversight and who doesn't. FOIA gives you that, but only if government is forced to honor FOIA requests.

Re:Give 'em a break. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43414859)

That undermines any internal oversight, since nothing can be handled discreetly in an official capacity.

Internal oversight is a bad joke. There's the huge, obvious conflict of interest - foxes are in charge of watching the henhouse. And there are no repercussions when it fails.

Let's give a particularly notorious example using the current administration. Back in 2010 and 2011, in the "Fast and Furious" gunwalking scheme, the ATF (Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, a US federal law enforcement bureau) enabled the smuggling of about 2,000 high quality firearms into Mexico without any sort of precaution, either a plan to prevent their use in crime or passing on a warning to Mexican law enforcement so that they could deal with the problem. I say "enabled" because among other things, they encouraged legitimate gun dealers to sell those firearms to the smugglers in question and then allowed those firearms to cross the border into Mexico unchecked (and who knows what else the smugglers carried at that time!).

By the summer of 2011, it was apparent that these firearms were turning up at crime scenes, including murder, because they had a report to that effect which indicated several hundred of these weapons had already turned up at crime scenes. This includes murders and probably includes US crime scenes. Yet the program was continued (that is, criminals were allowed to continue to smuggle firearms into Mexico that the US had a really good idea would be used in crimes in the US and Mexico) till a US law enforcement agent was killed in a firefight involving two weapons from this program.

Here's the problem. In the US and probably in Mexico, if you provide a weapon which is used in a crime, knowing that it'll get used for crime, then you are an accessory to that crime. In particular, a number of those crimes were murders. What we have here is a fairly straightforward case of ATF agents committing (probably a large number of times) the felony of accessory to murder and similar crimes. Or maybe criminal negligence, if you're feeling kind to people who may be partly responsible for a couple hundred deaths.

So what came of the "internal oversight"? Nobody higher up the food chain remembers anything even though there's evidence that they were informed of the progress of the program on occasion. Similarly, the people directly involved work somewhere in DC now. The head of the ATF had to resign without any other consequence. There's no indication that the Department of Justice will ever investigate the activities of Fast and Furious much less prosecute anyone for the crimes committed.

That's the reality of "internal oversight". It doesn't get done unless the people with external oversight apply enough pressure. That's where FOIA comes in. It allows you to learn enough about what happened that you can apply that pressure.

What percentage of illegal straw purchases do you suppose they _normally_ prevent?
You want us to believe ALL OF THEM, right up until they practically wheel-burrowed guns into Mexico themselves...

The idea is like trying to track a drug mule to the bigger fishes instead of busting them all at first opportunity.

This trick for rooting out organized crime is HARDLY a new one, it just involves OMG teh GUNZ!

Re:Give 'em a break. (1)

khallow (566160) | about a year and a half ago | (#43416691)

What percentage of illegal straw purchases do you suppose they _normally_ prevent? You want us to believe ALL OF THEM, right up until they practically wheel-burrowed guns into Mexico themselves...

Please stop before you embarrass yourself further. Sting operations are ancient tradition in US law enforcement. And this "gunwalking" is just a variation of the classic sting operation.

But you don't continue the sting operation, if peoples' lives are at stake. You don't kill people so that you can make a case.

Re:Give 'em a break. (1)

Eugriped3z (1549589) | about a year and a half ago | (#43415451)

Internal oversight is a bad joke. There's the huge, obvious conflict of interest - foxes are in charge of watching the henhouse. And there are no repercussions when it fails.

Oh, you mean like FINRA, the financial industry regulatory authority, Inc., which bills itself as, "the largest independent securities regulator in the U.S." Whose chief mission is to protect (investors by maintaining the fairness of) the U.S. capital markets." It's actually private corporation, itself. And if you know anything about the nature of law and ownership, the implication is clear. Their responsibility is to their shareholders. How do they do this? By "acting" like a "self-regulatory organization," providing the mediators which your brokerage contract requires you to use in lieu of your right to sue. The one you sign away when you contract with any brokerage firm.

Or would you use the Constitution as an example by acknowledging that only reason state citizens actually elect their U.S. senators directly results from the 17th Amendment. That didn't get passed 'til after the Robber Barons (not exactly a pejorative term when you really think about it) had so egregiously harmed the public interest that the Sherman Anti-Trust Act was passed. Then Roosevelt 'had' to go after Standard Oil since Rockefeller hid behind "the Oil & Gas Legislature" in Ohio, which he owned. It was journalists like Stone, Sinclair Lewis and Ida Tarbell who blew the whistle and stirred reaction.

Internal oversight is only a joke if you let it be. Nothing stands alone if you're right there next to it.

Re:Give 'em a break. (1)

khallow (566160) | about a year and a half ago | (#43416713)

Internal oversight is only a joke if you let it be.

Hence, the reason for FOIA. So you can know enough to not let that happen. I might add that in the Fast and Furious case, external oversight was blocked. This is precisely the situation where internal oversight breaks down.

No surprise (5, Insightful)

john82 (68332) | about a year and a half ago | (#43411355)

News Flash:

"A recent study has determined that Democrat administrations in Washington are just as bad as their Republican counterparts. There's just as much lying, corruption, scandal, debt, malfeasance and general stupidity. In fact, other than their respective logos, there appears to be no difference at all.

Film at 11."

Re:No surprise (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43411417)

And yet over 90% of the lemmings on the street continue to goose step to the one party drum.

Re:No surprise (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | about a year and a half ago | (#43411521)

But the other team has a different colour banner, so they must be worse!

Re:No surprise (-1, Troll)

DocSavage64109 (799754) | about a year and a half ago | (#43411711)

I'm sure you are joking, but just in case someone believes you: false equivalence [wikipedia.org] .

Re:No surprise (1)

StillNeedMoreCoffee (123989) | about a year and a half ago | (#43412201)

Under no circumstanses is that true. The Democrats want to protect Social Security and Medicare, keep education and jobs a priority. The Repubs only want to stall and stall and filabuster and pillage (keep subsidies, Haliburton, oil .. etc)

So fundimentally the parties are different, in real ways that effect real people. Well the Repubs positively effect only a percent or two and the Democrates maybe the remaining 98-99%.

There is a difference. They are both in politics and that is a dirty game but I think the Google information even pre-dates this administration doesn't it?

Re:No surprise (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43413397)

The Democrats want to protect Social Security and Medicare, keep education and jobs a priority

Everybody, even that other party, has a fantasy where Social Security is possible. But when you say Democrats want SS, I think you're giving them too much credit. If they really wanted it, they would propose a plan to make it sustainable. They never have.

Even Republicans, which I'm convinced are 40 points lower IQ on average, who can't even grasp what science is, truly among the very stupidest people in the country, are good enough at math and wise enough about the inevitable failure of pyramid schemes, to know it's unworkable. The bar is that low, the difficult of seeing the absurdity is that easy, that even Republicans can understand it. Don't tell me Democrats are even stupider; they're not. And that means when they say they favor SS, they're lying. So let's drop this bullshit about them being better. Asking people to choose between stupid (R) or dishonest (D) is a bullshit choice. Stupid and dishonest are effectively the same.

Medicare is currently the same, since it's spoken of in terms of how something gets paid, rather than how much is paid. It's theoretically sustainable if we get reasonable about what costs it's expected to bear, but no Democrat proposes such a thing. Democrats' version of Medicare is the same as Social Security. Which is also the same as 80% of Republicans; where the remaining 20% of Rs make the mistake of giving up rather than trying to fix it. Mostly no difference between those two parties on this issue. IMHO you even lose a tenth of a point here, as Republicans are slightly more likely to fix Medicare than Democrats are. The Tea Party (!?) ones are probably the country's best hope (they're still wrong, just more likely destined to eventually see the light) on this particular issue, and that's a SAD indictment of this stupid evil fucking country.

Jobs are a bullshit talking point altogether, anti-progress and not a legitimate part of anyone's platform. Democrats and Republicans both fail equally, by claiming to be "for" jobs. Whether they're lying or not doesn't matter, as they each announce the harmful intent to keep us all wageslaves. Fuck them both and fuck whatever differences they claim to have from each other.

Education is interesting. You're right that there's a difference. Both parties get it totally wrong in different ways. Rs have the right idea of getting the federal government out of it (which has the potential to fix things; slashing the federal education budget will in fact be the necesssary foundation of a pro-education platform), but then they go to the states and demand shocking stupidity, ignorance, and dishonesty, combined with violations of the First Amendment. Scum. Ds get it wrong in wanting the feds to remain involved, siphoning resources away from the states for waste, so that things can't easily ever be improved. But then working within the flawed premise, they approach things honestly and with a good attitude, without the anti-knowledge platform of the Republicans. I don't like saying who I hate more, but must admit it's the Republicans, so score one point for your argument, which after the Medicare thing puts your net score at 0.9. But it's a weak, weak point. It's not like the Democrats are good for education, though. We're certainly not ever going to improve education by people voting for them.

Re:No surprise (1)

bryan1945 (301828) | about a year and a half ago | (#43414019)

You both are fools if you believe what you just wrote.
#1) Get elected
#2) Stay elected
#3) Rake in that money and perks

They don't give a shit about us at all. OK, maybe 1 or 2 do. Woohoo, color me purple.

Re:No surprise (2)

T.E.D. (34228) | about a year and a half ago | (#43412209)

News Flash: "A recent study has determined that Democrat administrations in Washington

Apparently it was a Fox News Flash

Re:No surprise (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43412729)

Dr. King would be proud to see that the first African-American US president is fully equal to all the white men of any political persuasion that preceded him. Now all we need is a lying woman as POTUS and the sexes will finally be equal.

Re:No surprise (1)

Sloppy (14984) | about a year and a half ago | (#43413067)

But if I vote third party, instead of supporting a Republican or a Democrat, then the danger is that Democrat or a Republican might win! Surely, that would be an even worse disaster, than the lesser evil of a Republican or Democrat winning.

Laugh it up, but that really is most peoples' excuse for voting for those parties.

Re:No surprise (3, Informative)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | about a year and a half ago | (#43413753)

Laugh it up, but that really is most peoples' excuse for voting for those parties.

It's actually not a bad excuse - plurality voting guarantees [wikipedia.org] that it will be one or the other. I don't know about you, but I donated to the Approval Voting Video [indiegogo.com] on IndyGoGo.

Re:No surprise (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43414145)

-7 and -1 are both negative numbers! Therefore, it doesn't matter whether I vote for -7 or -1. QED.

The only thing worst than government secrets... (3, Insightful)

mwvdlee (775178) | about a year and a half ago | (#43411419)

The only thing worst than government secrets is badly regulated government transparency so you can no longer legitimately complain about a lack of transparency but only about quality of service.

Re:The only thing worst than government secrets... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43412531)

I would think the quality of transparency is still a legitimate point to raise concerns about.

Indeed you can argue that it's always been a question of the quality of transparency.

That the dial's been turned only a few notches in the right direction shouldn't be confused with being worse than before, it is an improvement.

The mistake was to think the dial had no more movement left in it to begin with. ...

Which reminds me:

http://what-if.xkcd.com/35/

Re:The only thing worst than government secrets... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43413301)

Until that transparency is 100%, any complaints are still legitimate.

Amount of redactions is not surprising (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43411425)

Why is anyone surprised at the amount that was redacted? There are two things to keep in mind.

1) Anything pertaining to the explicit monitoring of Microsoft's compliance would be considered "on-going" and would be redacted by the DOJ

2) Anything related to Google (i.e. the so called innocent party) can be redacted at Google's request prior to release of a document, provided that Google lawyers can come up with a potential harm scenario.

3) Anything related to Microsoft (i.e. the guilty party) can be redacted at Microsoft's request prior to release of a document, provided that Microsoft lawyers can come up with a reasonable scenario that shows significant harm.

Given the amount of money firms like Google and Microsoft spend on lawyers, the FOIA requester should consider himself lucky because I'm sure hitmen would be much cheaper and you wouldn't feel as dirty when you paid them.

Re:Amount of redactions is not surprising (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43411749)

That's three things.

Re:Amount of redactions is not surprising (1)

khallow (566160) | about a year and a half ago | (#43411963)

There always is a day of reckoning.

So when will Obama be inaugurated? (3, Informative)

Vinegar Joe (998110) | about a year and a half ago | (#43411465)

"My Administration is committed to creating an unprecedented level of openness in Government. We will work together to ensure the public trust and establish a system of transparency, public participation, and collaboration. Openness will strengthen our democracy and promote efficiency and effectiveness in Government." - Barack Obama

http://www.whitehouse.gov/the_press_office/TransparencyandOpenGovernment [whitehouse.gov]

Re:So when will Obama be inaugurated? (1, Insightful)

kelemvor4 (1980226) | about a year and a half ago | (#43411499)

He already has been. The result here is that the federal government is more transparent than it has ever been before. It's not as open as some of us would like. Still, it's definitely a huge improvement over previous administrations.

Re:So when will Obama be inaugurated? (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43411637)

Still, it's definitely a huge improvement over previous administrations.

In what ways? Please be specific.

Re:So when will Obama be inaugurated? (1)

Lithdren (605362) | about a year and a half ago | (#43413827)

How about they actually answered to FOIA request?

Useless as it is, atleast it's a response. This started when Bush was in office from what I understand. They never even bothered to respond.

Re:So when will Obama be inaugurated? (1)

LateArthurDent (1403947) | about a year and a half ago | (#43416359)

How about they actually answered to FOIA request?

Useless as it is, atleast it's a response. This started when Bush was in office from what I understand. They never even bothered to respond.

I'm not a Bush fan, but the Obama administration has rejected about 50% more FOIA requests than the Bush administration [latimes.com] . The article is from 2010, and I can't seem to find updated numbers. If you've got them, and the trend has reversed itself, then I'll stand corrected.

Re:So when will Obama be inaugurated? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43411641)

Care to cite something? You sound like you're a hopeless cult member, drinking the kool-aid.

Re:So when will Obama be inaugurated? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43411643)

Did you drink the kool-aid? His administration has prosecuted more whistleblowers than any president in history.

Re:So when will Obama be inaugurated? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43411669)

Wow. Just wow.

How does that state spooge taste, slave?

Re:So when will Obama be inaugurated? (1)

khallow (566160) | about a year and a half ago | (#43411983)

The Clinton administration was much more open.

Re:So when will Obama be inaugurated? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43412061)

The Clinton administration was much more open.

Well, his flies were, as was an intern's mouth...

Re:So when will Obama be inaugurated? (1)

Dishevel (1105119) | about a year and a half ago | (#43412117)

You got nothing. Right?

Re:So when will Obama be inaugurated? (2)

Thruen (753567) | about a year and a half ago | (#43412473)

Well, considering Bush in his first year issued an executive order limiting the FOIA (first time it was limited since Reagan) and Obama repealed that executive order in his first month in office, I think we're still doing better. Is it perfect? No. But to say it isn't any better is just showing how unfairly biased you are. Things should be and could be better, but there's no one guy to blame here. I pointed out Bush's limiting of the FOIA but he wasn't the first guy to lie to the American people either, it's been going on for as long as the country has existed. Disagree with Obama because of the mistakes he's made, because he has made them, instead of holding him to some insanely high expectation that he would somehow magically change the way our government has worked for centuries.

Re:So when will Obama be inaugurated? (4, Informative)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | about a year and a half ago | (#43412711)

Except that the facts say that fewer FOIA requests have actually been responded to under Obama than under Bush. Obama has said all the right things about transparency, but the people who work for him haven't actually done anything. Perhaps you remember that days after taking office Obama issued and executive order closing Guantanamo within a year. It is still open. What you talked about in your post is the same thing. Obama issued a high profile order and then no one followed through (actually the people responsible for following through in the case you mentioned did the exact opposite of the high profile order).

Re:So when will Obama be inaugurated? (1)

Thruen (753567) | about a year and a half ago | (#43414069)

I'm curious as to your sourcing. A quick browse through the last eleven years of FOIA reports shows the backlog at the end of every year under the Obama administration has been lower then the the lowest year under the Bush administration, unless they're lying on their reports. It might also be worth noting the highest backlog under Obama was his first year in office, where Bush's first year was his lowest, indicating the trend is the opposite of what you imply. If fewer requests are being answered, then it must mean fewer have been made, because a smaller number are going unanswered. I do remember Guantanamo, and I understand the difference between a giving an order and having it followed (not that it excuses Obama entirely) but that's not the same thing I was talking about, the order I referred to seems to have been obeyed, I'd venture to guess that's one of the reasons the backlog is so much smaller now. So without excusing his administration for their wrongdoings, it seems things have been more transparent under Obama.

Re:So when will Obama be inaugurated? (1)

Thruen (753567) | about a year and a half ago | (#43414101)

Wish I could edit. Twelve years of reports, not eleven.

Re:So when will Obama be inaugurated? (1)

LateArthurDent (1403947) | about a year and a half ago | (#43416419)

I'm curious as to your sourcing. A quick browse through the last eleven years of FOIA reports shows the backlog at the end of every year under the Obama administration has been lower then the the lowest year under the Bush administration, unless they're lying on their reports. It might also be worth noting the highest backlog under Obama was his first year in office, where Bush's first year was his lowest, indicating the trend is the opposite of what you imply. If fewer requests are being answered, then it must mean fewer have been made, because a smaller number are going unanswered. I do remember Guantanamo, and I understand the difference between a giving an order and having it followed (not that it excuses Obama entirely) but that's not the same thing I was talking about, the order I referred to seems to have been obeyed, I'd venture to guess that's one of the reasons the backlog is so much smaller now. So without excusing his administration for their wrongdoings, it seems things have been more transparent under Obama.

Here's a source [latimes.com] , although I'll admit it's old (the article is from 2010).

You seem to have more updated numbers, so can you clarify the context? If a request is outright denied, does that count as a 'response' and is cleared from the backlog? Because, if so, the backlog is just a measure of how fast the replies happen, not of the actual government transparency.

Of course! (1)

macbeth66 (204889) | about a year and a half ago | (#43411481)

It must have been a National Security issue.

Re:Of course! (1)

AHuxley (892839) | about a year and a half ago | (#43411611)

Bringing Skype to the USA :)

foia has always served as (3, Interesting)

nimbius (983462) | about a year and a half ago | (#43411495)

a pittance for the common man. much as cloistered monks of the dark ages, we the peasants arent meant to understand their knowledge. We merely consume their decrees and avoid asking questions.

in reality actual freedom of real information is virtually patented by the wikileaks group. the knowledge they provide is indispensable in tracking and understanding the policies and procedures of how our government works. this knowledge has sparked revolution, incited protest, and called for real policy and leadership change. it has become consequently forbidden and persecuted.

Re:foia has always served as (0)

telchine (719345) | about a year and a half ago | (#43411759)

Hey Julian, good to hear from you. How's life in the embassy treating you?

The best government money can buy (1)

LordThyGod (1465887) | about a year and a half ago | (#43411531)

There are a lot of checks and balances to make sure that all those that donate money to one cause or another, are taken care of. And that takes time.

Re:The best government money can buy (1)

Xest (935314) | about a year and a half ago | (#43411855)

When you say "checks and balances" are you sure you don't mean "cheques and bank balances"?

How is this news? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43411571)

Were you expecting anything different?

The real problem (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43411577)

I blame George Bush

FUCKE4r (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43411727)

channel, you might GNAA on slashdot, more. If you feel be fun. It used neaRly two years to deliver what, stupid. To the bring your own

FOIA (2)

alexo (9335) | about a year and a half ago | (#43411833)

Any law that does not prescribe personal sanctions for non-compliance isn't worth the paper it is written on.

Typical of FOIA requests (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43411867)

In practice a FOIA is supposed to be simple... pay a fee, request the information, and in a reasonable amount of time for the department to do due diligence you get the information. Apparently though from my Dad's experience working for their union (he was a secretary for their union for helicopter pilots) the Air Force foisted what seemed like (and still does) unreasonable health requirements for their training staff, that were not required of other government contracted helicopter flights. They filed a FOIA with the Air Force for the information and the Air Force promptly dragged their feet, for months and months until it was time for the regulation to go into effect. The union was forced to take legal action against the Air Force, and it was only at the hearing to request a stay on the policy that the AF submitted any reason or rationale for the policy, giving the union no time to respond.

Without any legal ammo, a FOIA request can be easily stalled by whatever government department.

FOIA just as bad as the White House petition BS (5, Insightful)

girlinatrainingbra (2738457) | about a year and a half ago | (#43411999)

Unfortunately for us citizens of the U.S.A., the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) serves exactly the same purpose that the White House Petitions page "We the People" serves: no purpose other than to coddle the masses and trick them into believing that they are being listened to...
.
Then they respond to us with "cute little children, we promise not to build any death stars,... really..." rather than even bother to answer substantively to any questions about real matters. It's just another bureaucratic layer they can point to and say: "look, the process is this, why don't you just follow the outlined process, and wait your time, and we'll get back to you. don't call us, we'll call you."
.
It's a damn shame that people really believe this is supposed to work rather than just to mollify, pacify, and distract while government's business as usual continues to happen away from our eyes and our heart's wishes.

Re:FOIA just as bad as the White House petition BS (1)

Alsee (515537) | about a year and a half ago | (#43413231)

I certainly agree that the responses to the White House Petitions pages are laughably empty. However I strongly suspect that the petition system has been significantly influential in indirect ways. I think the subjects of some of those petitions have been seeping into Washington-insider chatter. I believe they have been raising public awareness and motivation and organization on a number of subjects. Occasionally some of the petitions are directly raised in media coverage, and I believe in some cases create or influence media coverage of their subjects.

Consider the Marijuana issue. Just a few years ago virtually no politician would go anywhere near the subject, except to rant on how All Evilz Teh Drugz Are, and utter some inane comment that marijuana money was somehow all going to fund Teh Terrorists.

And then the Whitehouse Petition system started, and the number one thing anyone ever knew or said about it was that the system was just a big joke because the top three petitions at any given time were ALL about marijuana. Marijuana petitions made the system a joke, it was just that crazy internet stuff and just a bunch of stupid kids and potheads constantly harassing the Whitehouse with a stream of "junk" petitions. And it got people talking about it... even if only to complain about the annoyance of "gag" marijuana petitions.... and it just didn't go away. Politicians started to notice that there were a LOT of people who really supported this. And the media ran stories on it.... and at first the news stories were ridiculing the petition system for being clogged with all these ridiculous marijuana petitions. And all the people joining these petitions were amazed and delighted to find themselves supported by over hundred thousand voices.

Not long ago it was considered political suicide for any politician to publicity say anything tolerant of marijuana. Even comment like as "I didn't inhale" was considered national scandal or epic proportions. Now, relatively suddenly, pot has gone from political leprosy to acceptable and even kinda hip. For the first time national polling shows majority support for marijuana legalization.

Maaaaaaaybe all this still would have happened without the Whitehouse petitions system. But I doubt it. At least, I can't imagine could have happened anywhere near as fast as it did.

So yeah, I think the petition system is having an effect. The responses to them are completely lame, but that's not really the point. The politicos are hearing about the petitions, gossiping about them, sometimes mocking them, and the ideas are seeping into the atmosphere. Major media reporters are reading them, even when they don't cover them directly. And the people participating in the petitions are thinking about this stuff and talking about this stuff and acting on this stuff.

Petitions accomplish jack-squat directly, but they are a focal point having a real influence on the political thought, media thought, and public thought.

-

Obama administration's plan for open govt is (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43412205)

Talk the talk, and walk a different walk.

It seems to be working for them so far.

Why redact anything (1)

T.E.D. (34228) | about a year and a half ago | (#43412345)

Serious question here: Why is anything redacted? These are things like emails between Microsoft and government anti-trust lawyers. There is no possible issue of National Security here. So what's the excuse for blacking anything out?

Here's an example from TFA:

"Skip: your Thursday email stated:"

REDACTED

"To which GeneB replied:"

REDACTED

"Skip Stritter wrote:"

REDACTED

That's not information. It's routing data

Re:Why redact anything (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43412699)

Perhaps Microsoft did not want their emails published? It's not evident that they intended the emails to be public.

Re:Why redact anything (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43416997)

That's fine. According the the IRS, they have no expectations of privacy anyway, so they're welcome to want whatever they like with no assurances of ever getting it.

Re:Why redact anything (1)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | about a year and a half ago | (#43412735)

The answer is easy. They are afraid there is something in there that someone could use to understand what they are doing in some other area. They don't know what, so to be safe they redacted everything that might possibly shed light on why they did what they did. They figure if they can stall long enough when people finally start to figure out what they did wrong they can just say "Well, what does it matter now?" and brush the whole matter under the rug.

Re:Why redact anything (1)

bryan1945 (301828) | about a year and a half ago | (#43414125)

It would be funny if they were just a series of dick jokes or something similar.

This... (1)

Hickory Dichotomy (2836451) | about a year and a half ago | (#43412503)

The FOIA is all just smoke and mirrors. There is no "freedom of information" as long as they continue to redact anything. The gubment only will tell you what they want and nothing more. It is no longer of, by or for the people unless you are a "corporation person" with lots of campaign contributions. Lies and deceit are all I see coming from DC, both parties and the POTUS.

yes, simplistically, yes. (2)

bussdriver (620565) | about a year and a half ago | (#43413693)

The two parties are a good cop/bad cop act. They both must please their bosses by screwing you. The difference is that one is the bad cop and sadly some people are Stockholm Syndrome types and mistake them for the good cop; these people are Republicans. The people who are aware can feel SMUG and secure (and even smarter) knowing they are not being fooled, as they "help out" the good cop so he can help them...

My question is, which one is more stupid? the masochist one or the gullible one?
The good cop can get you a plea where you only get half the punishment (but still are punished) so is that good? From 1 perspective, yes. from another... half time in fuck-me-in-the-ass prison is too much time for a crime you didn't commit.

Rationalizing people caught in the trap will just dismiss people who point out the emperor has no clothes as fools. "Of course politicians lie, that is how one succeeds in politics." Dismissing: perfect, the enemy of good.

What we must learn to do is how to effectively counter these rationalized defenses instead of merely state all the same imperfection arguments that, even when cogent, are lumped into the same old defense mechanisms and dismissed.

How we get out of the trap once we know we are stuck inside it? - that is another problem I don't have an answer for. You don't get out of the interrogation room by yourself. 3rd parties are like protestors that don't make the news unless they are beat down and slandered.

Wikileaks (1)

Luthair (847766) | about a year and a half ago | (#43413003)

... this is why we need them, to combat the ever increasing secrecy of governments around the world..

Goose and gander stuff..... (1)

n3tm0nk (2725243) | about a year and a half ago | (#43413261)

Hmmm. I suppose I should redact all of the relevant information if the IRS ever audits me, due to security concerns of course....
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