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On Friday afternoon, with Boy King in the Lone Star state for his daughter's wedding, the White House finally released its new Executive Branch rules for designating and disseminating what used to be known as "sensitive" information.
Yes, citizens. Today's memorandum: What was once known as "Sensitive But Unclassified" (SBU), is now referred to as "Controlled Unclassified Information" (CUI). Please make a note of it in your party syllabus.
Memorandum For The Heads Of Executive Departments And Agencies
SUBJECT: Designation and Sharing of Controlled Unclassified Information (CUI)
(1) This memorandum (a) adopts, defines, and institutes "Controlled Unclassified Information" (CUI) as the single, categorical designation henceforth throughout the executive branch for all information within the scope of that definition, which includes most information heretofore referred to as "Sensitive But Unclassified" (SBU) in the Information Sharing Environment (ISE), and (b) establishes a corresponding new CUI Framework for designating, marking, safeguarding, and disseminating information designated as CUI. The memorandum's purpose is to standardize practices and thereby improve the sharing of information, not to classify or declassify new or additional information. ...
Read on and enjoy. Preferrably before breakfast.
Last edited by PressCoverage; 05-11-2008 at 04:55 AM..
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In other words when my reign is over, keep your f..ing mouths shut or we will come after you and lock you up in Leavenworth or send you to Bangor to make sure that all signs of Steven King are removed to protect the troops.
“We like to say that dependability is more important than ability,” Bill Belichickism....
Friday's memo doesn't even pretend to rein in secrecy. Quite the opposite, it looks like the Bush administration used the crafting of new rules as an opportunity to expand the range of government secrecy.
As the semantic shift in the name change indicates (SBU to CUI), the new rules have policy implications that go beyond mere information-sharing. The new term ('controlled') indicates the intended outcome (i.e. secrecy), whereas the old term ('sensitive') had provided a justification for keeping 'Unclassified' material secret. That suggests immediately that the Bush administration wants the CUI classification to justify itself - to cut off by definition any appeal for publication of a document.
The timing of the rules' publication is the second clue that something more may be at issue than the mere tidying up of terminology. There was a long delay between the time the WH received the draft rules and when they were made public. Already in late December the DoD said it anticipated WH approval of the rules "shortly", and indeed it created a task force to implement the rules. A draft of the rules had been finalized in 2007 by "an interagency panel chaired by Ambassador Thomas McNamara, program manager of the Information Sharing Environment, an office under the Director of National Intelligence." McNamara has always emphasized in testimony to Congress that his goal was to simplify categories of "sensitive" classification so as to permit "the great majority of the information which is now controlled" to be left wholly unrestricted: "that is the system that we are trying to put together, a rational limited set of categories that…can be applied to controllable information, but leave most of it as fully unclassified.”
That may have been McNamara's goal, but it does not really describe the new rules as published on Friday. Instead, the memo rather strikingly creates open-ended grounds for classifying information as "Controlled". Here is its definition of the term CUI (all emphases are mine):
"Controlled Unclassified Information" is a categorical designation that refers to unclassified information that does not meet the standards for National Security Classification under Executive Order 12958, as amended, but is (i) pertinent to the national interests of the United States or to the important interests of entities outside the Federal Government, and (ii) under law or policy requires protection from unauthorized disclosure, special handling safeguards, or prescribed limits on exchange or dissemination. Henceforth, the designation CUI replaces "Sensitive But Unclassified" (SBU).
"Pertinent" is about as vague as a limitation can get. In any case, Bush declares here that the CUI designation is to be used when his policies "require protection from unauthorized disclosure". It's a big rubber stamp for anything the President wants to keep from anybody, including the public. I can think of any number of obnoxious "policies" that this administration would have reason to believe required protection from disclosure. Later on the memo adds the normal clause stating that classification cannot be used to conceal illegal acts and embarrassing information. Its effect however, as regards the Bush administration, is slight since so many top officials appear to have no sense of shame and anyhow they're quite determined that everything the President orders is legal ipso facto.