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Information that would reveal a violation of the law may be properly classified as long as it is not deliberately classified for the purpose of concealing the violation, a federal judge indicated this week.
In section 1.7 of executive order 12958, as amended, on "classification limitations and prohibitions," the President directed that "In no case shall information be classified in order to ... conceal violations of law...."
In other words, according to Judge Lambert, classifiers actually may conceal violations of the law as long as such concealment is not the specific purpose of the classification.
Under Judge Lamberth's interpretation, the executive order provision limiting classification of violations of the law is not a limitation on the types of information that may be classified at all, but rather an unverifiable limitation on the classifier's intention. The provision is not concerned with the consequences of classification (i.e., the fact that criminal activity will be concealed from public knowledge) but instead focuses on the mental state of the classifier. Did he or she specifically intend to conceal violations of the law? If not, the classification may proceed, even if concealment is the inevitable result. And since the classifier's mental state is unknowable by others or may itself be concealed, the executive order's limitation is deprived is of significant meaning.
Interestingly, Secretary Rumsfeld did not use the phrase "in order to" which Judge Lamberth singled out to justify his interpretation of the order as a prohibition only on deliberate concealment. The Rumsfeld paraphrase seems to reflect the prior understanding that classification should not be used "so as to" conceal violations of the law, regardless of the intentions of the classifier.
But if violations of the law may in fact be classified, then it is important for Americans to know that. If Judge Lamberth has made it easier for classifiers to conceal violations of the law, he also put the public on notice that this is how the national security classification system now functions.
Originally posted by OuttaHere
Anyone ever read the Constitution? The powers of the Federal government as enumerated therein are few and limited. Everything else they do is illegal.