Thursday, June 22, 2017

How a government steals the future of its citizens: by classifying information

Health warning: There is a school of thought out there that believes, or professes to believe, in the sanctity of classified information as indispensable for the security of a nation. If you adhere to this school of thought, the principal argument of this post may anger you, cause a rise in blood pressure, or trigger increased sweating, with secondary consequences including potentially yelling at your wife, husband, children, or pets. So, be good to yourself and your loved ones, and continue to

Of the many time tested ways to control information, governments around the world love classifying information, declaring it secret and locking it up for many years to come.

The practice provides jobs for government officials and contractors, and a large ecosystem of pundits and more or less dubious self styled experts thrive around it. There are leaks, which contribute to the mystique of the practice, add work for lawyers and judges and provide countless hours of entertainment - from the variant called "news" to the expressly fictional TV series and movies,

Critics are vocal about over classification, lack of transparency, an ever expanding national security apparatus, extreme prison sentences or even the threat of the death penalty for unauthorized disclosure.

The blogster's simple mind finds all of it interesting, some of it necessary, much of it ludicrous, and has tried to dig as deeply into the meaning of the practice as the limitations of said mind allow.

The result is: much of the practice of classifying information amounts to theft.

What the government steals is your future.

Because you don't have the best possible information when you go to the voting booth to cast ballots for another four or five years of government.

Of course, you can rightly say that being fully informed about everything is impossible. Even sneaker and with an air of righteousness, you could turn around and ask the blogster why it refuses to give its name.

More likely, you will understand we are talking about very different matters. The blogster's name or gender are unimportant, they do not - or should not - have any impact on your life.

But when your government, for example, refuses to release information which confirms that it toppled an elected government, we are looking at potentially world wide consequences.
Just weeks ago, the US finally released information which confirmed that Western governments overthrew the government of Iran in 1953.

Go figure.

We stole not only the future of the Iranian people but also possibly our own because our citizens might well have voted differently had they known this in a timely manner. The typical duration of keeping information classified, mostly around 30 years minimum, much longer for some, or in some countries, is really all the proof you need to judge the importance of "available in a timely manner".

Media professionals are acutely aware that the timely availability of information is crucial to have a well informed public.

Regarding a more recent affair, the plan of the majority parties in the German parliamentary investigation of the NSA to classify the dissenting opinion of the opposition is simply another attempt to steal some of the country's future. The minority opinion was published by all things digital web site netzpolitik, so damage is limited.

But there are numerous other past and current instances we not being told about.***

The world is a complicated place, and the blogster struggles with its* own limitations, so make up your own mind.

* Given that every enlightened human will say it should not matter whether the author of a post is male, female, or some other version of homo sapiens, the K-Landnews decided to use the truly gender neutral form "it". 

** You have read about the dog on the editorial board of several medical publications, right?  

*** In case, you are inclined to consider this little post a baseless or stupid rant, the K-Landnews TheEditor* would like to point out that the post was written by a person** with several years of experience in and around highly classified information.  

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