Congress has just passed one of the worst bills ever devised. It is the Intelligence Authorization Act of 2001, which quietly adds powers to the Executive Branch that will extend unprecedented powers to the presidency and all but destroy the cause of intelligence reform.
It could not send out a clearer message: this congress intends to give the executive branch and the intelligence community unprecedented power to keep and enforce secrecy. Make no mistake, in a free society, secrecy is cancer, and our republic has the disease.
What makes this bill so terrible is that it includes a provision that criminalizes the disclosure of any information that the executive branch says is properly classified. It does not need to provide any review, any explanation. It has full criminal enforcement rights, any they are effectively placed beyond scrutiny.
Rep. Bob Barr said "this will create--make no mistake about it- -with not one day of hearings, without one moment of public debate, without one witness, an official secrets act. For those who do not know what an official secrets act is, it is something that we have never had in this country...Our regard for constitutional civil liberties, our regard for the first amendment...has, in every case in which an effort has been made to enact an official secrets act, beaten back these efforts."
No longer. Rep. Nancy Pelosi said on the House floor, "this provision marks the first time that Congress has placed the full force of criminal law behind the executive branch's classification system."
At the present time, the government is working as never before to create a draconian and easily enforceable system of secrecy, unlike anything we have had before--stronger, more dangerous and infintely more arbitrary even than what existed during the cold war. In fact, given that the cold war is over, we should be ending the secrecy, not extending it.
Why are we extending it? Because there is still something to hide, something enormous and terrible, that seems to the powers that be to require the suspension of our freedoms in order to ensure its security.
What is it? I think it takes four forms.
The first is, the more the government discovers about the unspeakable horrors that the intelligence community engaged in during the Cold War, the more it feels the need to provide itself with means of concealment that will enable it to continue classification protection and ensure the compliance of whistle-blowers.
The second is waste. Secrecy is used to conceal massive amounts of waste. Take, for example, the Air Force's Aurora super-fighter. This program was begun back before there was such a thing as a black budget, and was listed for years as a line-item in the Air Force's budget. It then went into the black budget. Later, it became listed in the authoritative Jane's All the World's Aircraft. It was said to be the most expensive aircraft ever built. When it was being tested in the early nineties, residents west of Edwards Air Force Base were complaining to their congresspeople about strange booms-- the sonic booms of the accelerating Aurora.
Then, suddenly, the booms stopped. The program was abruptly shut down because of cost overruns and insurmountable problems with the aircraft. The Air Force now denies the existence of the Aurora. Why? Because BILLIONS were thrown away on an impractical design. The debacle is concealed from the public by the classification system. And that is only one small example.
The third reason for secrecy is the privacy issue. Foreign governments, companies and individuals live in a US intelligence fishbowl. The privacy of American citizens is effortlessly and undetectably easy to invade. If the public realized the true extent of this penetration--which goes far beyond the horrors of old systems like Echelon--and the degree to which human privacy worldwide has been turned into a fiction by the joint efforts of the United States, Great Britain and Australia, there would be an international uprising against these countries, and it would be led by the American people themselves.
The fourth reason is the most important, at least to me. It is an open secret among the many congressmen and senators I know that UFOs are real. The reason I know so many people in politics is that they are aware of this and they want to find out more. So they come to me. The evidence is overwhelming, and the efforts of the United States to conceal it is a tragedy and an act of world-historical evil. If the reason they keep this particular secret is that they are under some sort of duress, they need to risk defiance. Better to have an informed, aware and resistant public than what we have now, which is a helpless public and secret defiance, supported by a culture of denial that is orchestrated by the intelligence community.
Because of this culture of denial, most thinking people still believe the absurd fiction that UFOs aren't real. They are real, and what their occupants are doing to us and our world is likely to be the most important thing now happening, probably BY FAR.
You will not see much of anything in the media about the Intelligence Authorization Act for FY 2001. It wil hardly be reported. The reason is simple. The American media has been so corrupted by its traffic with the intelligence community that it is no longer free. The much-vaunted Washington Post and New York Times are full of former and probably current intelligence officers who enforce national security by, among other things, spinning stories to their editors in such a way that problems like this simply do not come to the attention of their paper's decision makers. The CIA has admitted that it uses assets in the US media. It has never said that it has stopped.
To read the House debate on the Intelligence Authorization Act, click here.
This bill is going to become law, almost certainly, according to Barry Bitzer, Congressman Steven Schiff's former press secretary. It is part of a massive reauthorization bill that will not be vetoed. Before his untimely death due to an unusual cancer, Congressman Schiff made an aggressive effort to force the government to reveal the truth about the Roswell Incident, and he would have considered this pro-secrecy and anti-American bill a slap in the face of freedom.
Ironically, it is Representative Heather Wilson, who now represents the First District of New Mexico in his place, who spearheaded the new bill. She has denied that it amounts to an official secrets act. To see her statement, click here.
So, what can you, the individual citizen, do?
The most important thing is to serve notice to the congress that you know about this and you care about your freedoms.
Here's one way: Call your congressman or representative and tell them to make reconsideration of HR 4392 one of the first orders of business when the next congress convenes. For the House, call 202-225-3121 and ask for your representative. For the Senate, call 202-224-3121 and ask for your senators.
Get involved and get informed about the critical secrecy issues facing our country. One of the best ways is to subscribe to the Federation of American Scientists Secrecy News. To find out more about FAS and the Secrecy News, click here.
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