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Secrecy, Leaks, and the Real Criminals

Ali Soufan is a long-time FBI agent and interrogator who was at the center of the U.S. government's counter-terrorism activities from 1997 through 2005, and became an outspoken critic of the government's torture program.  He has written a book exposing the abuses of the CIA's interrogation program as well as pervasive ineptitude and corruption in the War on Terror.  He is, however, encountering a significant problem: the CIA is barring the publication of vast amounts of information in his book including, as Scott Shane details in The New York Times today, many facts that are not remotely secret and others that have been publicly available for years, including ones featured in the 9/11 Report and even in Soufan's own public Congressional testimony.  

Shane notes that the government's censorship effort "amounts to a fight over who gets to write the history of the Sept. 11 attacks and their aftermath," particularly given the imminent publication of a book by CIA agent Jose Rodriguez -- who destroyed the videotapes of CIA interrogations in violation of multiple court orders and subpoenas only to be protected by the Obama DOJ -- that touts the benefits of the CIA's "tough" actions, propagandistically entitled: "Hard Measures: How Aggressive C.I.A. Actions After 9/11 Saved American Lives."  Most striking about this event is the CIA's defense of its censorship of information from Soufan's book even though it has long been publicly reported and documented:

 

A spokeswoman for the C.I.A., Jennifer Youngblood, said . . . ."Just because something is in the public domain doesn't mean it's been officially released or declassified by the U.S. government."

Just marvel at the Kafkaesque, authoritarian mentality that produces responses like that: someone can be censored, or even prosecuted and imprisoned, for discussing "classified" information that has long been documented in the public domain.  But as absurd as it is, this deceitful scheme -- suppressing embarrassing information or evidence of illegality by claiming that even public information is "classified" -- is standard government practice for punishing whistleblowers and other critics and shielding high-level lawbreakers.

Read the rest here.

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