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View Full Version : Gonzo & Rove Discover the UK's Official Secrets Act (this can't turn out well)



Nicholas Carey
04-21-2007, 04:32 PM
According to Harper's Weekly, the shrubbery has discovered the UK's Official Secrets Act (http://www.harpers.org/archive/2007/04/horton-20070421ymwmeldhvami) and wishes the US had one. To that end, they've hatched a plan to redefine our own Espionage Act by judicial fiat ("legislating from the bench," so to speak) into a near clone of the Official Secrets Act, enabling the government to easily gag the press. Gonzo's wet dream. Here's the gist of the article (see above link for the full article):
In June, a case is slated to go to trial in Northern Virginia that will mark a first step in a plan to silence press coverage of essential national security issues. The plan was hatched by Alberto Gonzales and his deputy, Paul J. McNulty—the two figures at the center of a growing scandal over the politicization of the prosecutorial process. This may in fact be the most audacious act of political prosecution yet. But so far, it has gained little attention and is poorly understood.
In the summer of 2005, Alberto Gonzales paid a visit to British Attorney General Peter Goldsmith. A British civil servant who attended told me “it was quite amazing really. Gonzales was obsessed with the Official Secrets Act. In particular, he wanted to know exactly how it was used to block newspapers and broadcasters from running news stories derived from official secrets and how it could be used to criminalise persons who had no formal duty to maintain secrets. He saw it as a panacea for his problems: silence the press. Then you can torture and abuse prisoners and what you will—without fear of political repercussions. It was the easy route to dealing with the Guantánamo dilemma. Don't close down Guantánamo. Close down the press. We were appalled by it.” Appalled, he added, “but not surprised.”
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Rather than approach Congress with a proposal to enact the British Official Secrets Act—a proposal which would certainly be defeated even in the prior Republican-led Congress—Gonzales decided to spin it from whole cloth. He would reconstrue the Espionage Act of 1917 to include the essence of the Official Secrets Act, and he would try to get this interpretation ratified in the Bush Administration's “vest pocket” judicial districts—the Eastern District of Virginia and the Fourth Circuit.
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In May 2005, they had found the perfect case. Lawrence Franklin, a key aide to Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Douglas Feith, passed a classified policy memorandum to two employees of AIPAC, a lobbying group geared to advocate Israeli interests with the U.S. Government. It seems clear that Franklin and the two AIPAC employees had a common object, which was to invite critical public attention to U.S. policy towards Iran.
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[they] concluded that the AIPAC case would provide the perfect opportunity for the Gonzales project—converting the Espionage Act into the equivalent of the British Official Secrets Act. The core of the extraordinary theory advanced by McNulty can be found in these words from one of its recent briefs:
The government respectfully submits that an 'ordinary person exercising ordinary common sense' [...] would know that foreign officials, journalists and other persons with no current affiliation with the United States government would not be entitled to receive information related to our national defense.By this theory, any receipt by an unauthorized person of classified information and correspondence concerning it is converted into an act of espionage, and thus made prosecutable.

The object of this exercise has been broadly misunderstood by many who have followed it—and particularly by Iraq War critics who delight in a perceived slap-down of AIPAC. But this is tragically short-sighted. If the prosecution succeeds, the Bush Administration will have converted the Espionage Act of 1917 into something it was never intended to be: an American copy of the British Official Secrets Act. It is likely to lead quickly to efforts to criminalize journalists dealing with sensitive information in the national security sector, as well as their sources.

Let's imagine America with the Gonzales-McNulty contortion of the law in effect. We'd never know how the Bush Administration came to embrace torture as a tactic in the war on terror. We'd know nothing about the torture-by-proxy system developed with key administration allies such as Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and Yemen—not to mention the system of “blacksites” established by the CIA in Eastern Europe, the Middle East, and Southeast Asia. We wouldn't know that the administration was violating the FISA statute with a massive surveillance program. And to paraphrase Donald Rumsfeld, that's just the known unknowns.

This would be a dream world for Karl Rove and Alberto Gonzales. And a nightmare for the rest of us. And the AIPAC case could, if it succeeds, bring the nation much closer to its realization.

Vince Brennan
04-21-2007, 06:54 PM
"To-mor-row be-longs to meeee..."

Wild Dingo
04-21-2007, 08:08 PM
Id have thought ol Bush was doin a fine job of f***ing with your constitution bringing in new laws and generally doing whatever he wants without him needing anything like this?

I wonder if hes realized that hes got this war happenin in the middle east and if he intends to "stay the course" (as he keeps telling us all) he had better do something soon about his tenure... otherwise hes gonna have to trust that someone else will do it for him?

Cant? mmmm I wonder... I can imagine hes probably got a swag of yes men/women goin absolutely troppo trying to figure that one out

Welcome to the new world order

Mrleft8
04-21-2007, 08:47 PM
Id have thought ol Bush was doin a fine job of f***ing with your constitution bringing in new laws and generally doing whatever he wants without him needing anything like this?

I wonder if hes realized that hes got this war happenin in the middle east and if he intends to "stay the course" (as he keeps telling us all) he had better do something soon about his tenure... otherwise hes gonna have to trust that someone else will do it for him?

Cant? mmmm I wonder... I can imagine hes probably got a swag of yes men/women goin absolutely troppo trying to figure that one out

Welcome to the new world orderIt's already figured out Shane.... Now they just have to implement the plan....