Oh! Phooey – We didn’t need to Know Anything, Anyway!
The Bush Administration which has been referred to often “as the most secretive Administration “in recent history is at it once more. Discontented
still, after cleaning out or blocking access to, and reclassifying as secret mountains of information one in the public record has now ventured forth
into a Phase 2 operation of denying access to information the public has a right to have access.
Hard at work, the bureaucratic Radiologues (radical ideologues) Neo-Con minions have devised a methodology to further restrict the public’s access to
non-classified government records. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is imposing extraordinary new access controls on unclassified
information that it deems “Only for official use ".
Since Washington’s bureaucratic foundations require an anachronism for most every thing they do, the test run on “Only for official use “produced
the acronym “OFOU” which when spoken would sound like in common Washington-ese, “Oh, Phoo”.
This was unacceptable so the new status of information classification would become “For Official Use Only” or “FOUO”; which does not sound as good as
the first run but envisage little or no emotive mental images.
The new information policy, which was spelled out in an internal DHS directive last month, imposes several classification-like access restrictions on
is "sensitive but unclassified." Furthermore, DHS employees and contractors must sign a special Non-Disclosure Agreement before receiving access to
unclassified FOUO information. As far as could be determined, no other executive branch agency systematically requires a non-disclosure agreement for
access to unclassified FOUO information.
The new FOUO information policy is actually more far-reaching than national security
classification policy. As written, only the President can appoint officials how have the authority to identify and classify material. Those who have
been so authorized can - either directly or indirectly – authorize others by delegation. Once in practice, any DHS employee or contractor will be able
to designate information as FOUO if it falls
within eleven broad categories. Moreover, managers and supervisors can also designate additional information as FOUO even if it falls outside of
Sure sounds like, now anybody can classify anything they damned well want for any or no reason at all and keep it from public view. And in further
support of my assertions here: the classification system provides for an oversight mechanism through the Information Security Oversight Office. No
provision for oversight of the new FOUO policy is included. (This was probably to save money and lessen the burden on us dumb schmuck whats just pay
the bills. But look! We have a new layer of bureaucracy; it’s the ISOO - the Information Security Oversight Office – to manage this new security
program to save us from ourselves.
This is a recipe for uncontrolled accumulation of restricted records. A copy of the new DHS directive (MD 11042) on "Safeguarding Sensitive But
Unclassified (For Official Use Only) Information," dated May 11, 2004, was obtained by Secrecy News through the Freedom of Information Act. (This
directive is apparently distinct from the pending DHS procedures for protection of "sensitive homeland security information" [SHSI], which are "at
least a month away" from being circulated for external comment, one official said lately.) The acronym, SHSI or pronounced she-she in spite of its
possible sexual connotations was deemed social appropriate for use. This still was a tough call for the folks down in the Office of Bureaucratic
Logical Language (pronounced Oh, Bull) in the Department of Mystification.
Establishing a "sensitive but unclassified" information category has caused concern within the scientific community for several reasons:
• Currently, there is no definition of what constitutes "sensitive" information, so there are no standardized criteria for identifying sensitive
information warranting removal from public access. Work on such a definition is underway at the White House Office of Management and Budget.
• Possible removal of methodology sections in scientific papers and self-censorship by scientists threaten the basis of verification and publication
that science is based upon.
• The progress of research may be impeded if scientific information is removed from the public domain or if access by scientists is otherwise
• Removal of "critical infrastructure information" such as locations of hazardous materials, may compromise public safety and health.