ProPublica

Journalism in the Public Interest

After Spending on Dubious Technology, U.S. Invokes State Secrets to Keep Details Hushed

Despite having clear rules on when not to invoke the state secrets privilege, the Justice Department has been blocking disclosures about a dubious technology that could prove embarrassing for the U.S. government.

As the New York Times reported over the weekend, a computer programmer who claimed his technology could help the U.S. track terrorists received at least $20 million in government contracts for this software, which intelligence officials suspected to be fake even in 2003. While contractor fraud isn’t new, what’s unusual here is that the U.S. isn’t trying to recover those funds or penalize the contractor, Dennis Montgomery.

Instead, it’s fighting in court to keep information about the technology secret, arguing that the details could compromise national security. The Times notes that the clampdown in this case started under the Bush administration and continued under Obama’s Justice Department:

The Bush administration declared that some classified details about the use of Mr. Montgomery’s software were a “state secret” that could cause grave harm if disclosed in court. In 2008, the government spent three days “scrubbing” the home computers of Mr. Montgomery’s lawyer of all references to the technology. And this past fall, federal judges in Montana and Nevada who are overseeing several of the lawsuits issued protective orders shielding certain classified material.

A 2009 memo from Attorney General Eric Holder laid out the circumstances in which the state secrets privilege could be invoked. Preventing embarrassment and concealing inefficiency or error were not legitimate reasons, according to the memo:

The Department will not defend an invocation of the privilege in order to: (i) conceal violations of the law, inefficiency, or administrative error; (ii) prevent embarrassment to a person, organization, or agency of the United States government; (iii) restrain competition; or (iv) prevent or delay the release of information the release of which would not reasonably be expected to cause significant harm to national security.

The Justice Department wouldn’t comment to the Times about its dealings with Montgomery. (Montgomery also declined to comment and when asked at a November deposition whether his software was a "complete fraud," he pleaded the Fifth, the Times noted.)

Use of the technology led to several false starts and dead ends over the years, including a 2003 scare that prompted U.S. officials to order that several international flights be turned around or grounded. It even led to discussion of shooting the planes down, according to the Times:

French officials, upset that their planes were being grounded, commissioned a secret study concluding that the technology was a fabrication. Presented with the findings soon after the 2003 episode, Bush administration officials began to suspect that “we got played,” a former counterterrorism official said.

The C.I.A. never did an assessment to determine how a ruse had turned into a full-blown international incident, officials said, nor was anyone held accountable.

I highly doubt the information about the technology would compromise national security but rather suspect what the government is so worried about is that it would expose how the government is actually using the technology (probably grossly violating human rights and the constitution)...I’m sure it would be quite embarrasing for the government to have this come to the light of the public eye and that’s the real reason they are trying so hard to invoke states secrets…one can only speculate about the government’s true motives.

http://www.organicsurvivalistsite.com

I have been gone through manipulations by “dubious technologies ” and through theses few years of my experience I am the proof of the existence of the technology. It may be laughed off but I am definitely sure that is true and I would like to share the experiences with you readers and spread the word to all over the world.  Why me? Becasue I had held top-secret which I have not recognied the value until the day before yesterday. Please understand I cannot disclose particular names that could lead to find out the organizatios. I myself don’t know exactly who they are.
This new really got me why on this day they hurriedly put them under the carpet!  What is more, public attention is now focusing New Jealands earthquake and sudden WW2 related newscomes out. I t makes me thinlk now thar we may have thechnology to evoke earthquakes, which my husband really makes a fool of me.

I cannot write further more sorry.

I don’t know which is funnier:  Our government’s - and our corporations’ - decision that in-house expertise was a bad thing because it always shows up on the books as a cost and so it is better to hire “consultants” who both you and the consultant know will scam the government or the corporation…

But not you, personally, because both you and the consultant you entered into a public contract and a private “gentleman’s agreement” with know that all the consultant has to do is milk the project until you get promoted or otherwise move on…

And even if you do get busted before you can move on you can tell Congress or the board “Hey, I’m an MBA, not a software architect!” as you’re thinking of your Panama bank account…

Now that’s pretty funny…but so is the message right above this, which uses the exact same rationale of “It is true - but it is too secret to prove to you!”.

lolll…hey, I carried TS with five additional qualifiers…Y won’t you tell me, Y?

Y, Y, Y?

Do I have to call M?

Excerpts from the introduction.

THE JUGURTHINE WAR
The senators were mainly a landed aristocracy, and were actually forbidden by law to engage in overseas commerce – although this law may often have been evaded.  Commerce, banking, contracts for public works, and later the business of tax-farming (for the state maintained only the barest skeleton of permanent officials), were in the hands of the non-senatorial class known as the Equestrian Orders, or Equites*.  The expansion of the empire greatly increased the wealth and importance of this class, and in the latter half of the second century B.C. they were trying to promote their interests still further by enlarging their political influence and obtaining a share of public administration. In course of time this led to a prolonged struggle between the Equites and the Senate.
In the preface to his Conspiracy of Catiline, Sallust has much to say of the contrast between the virtuous Romans of antiquity and the depravity of their successors.  No doubt he exaggerates it, like other preachers on similar themes.  But it is probable that the political calamities in the last century of the Republic did result to some extent from a deterioration in public and private morality, itself consequent upon the unprecedented opportunities of amassing wealth.  War booty, indemnities, overseas trade, money-lending, the proceeds of taxes and the profits of their collection, and sometimes the illegitimate gains of provincial administration, all contributed to the enrichment both of the state and of individual citizens.  There is evidence dating from the latter half of the second century B.C. of increasing extravagance and corruption among the ruling class at Rome, especially of direct and indirect bribery of the electorate.  The Senate voted more and more money for providing the lavish public games in which the Roman populace delighted, and the magistrates who presided over the festivals added to their magnificence by spending huge sums out of their own pockets on gladiatorial shows and other such spectacles.  Worse still, candidates for office resorted more and more as time went on to shameless bribery of electors, in spite of several laws which made this practice punishable.  Although the general standard of provincial government seems to have been satisfactory, there were some bad cases of governors who enriched themselves by conniving at illegal exaction on the part of tax-collectors; and to deal with such offences the fir4st permanent criminal court was instituted in 149 B.C. (quaestio de repetundis,i.e. a court of inquiry concerning the recovery of property wrongfully extorted).
Literally, “Cavalrymen” – originally men whose means enabled them to serve in the army as cavalrymen at their own expense.  But in the second century B.C. the Order included all men registered by the censors as having property sufficient to qualify them for such service, and not belonging to the Senatorial Order – i.e. men of substance who had not held a magistracy entitling them to membership of the Senate.  The required amount of property was probably laid down by law.

THE BEGINNING OF THE REVOLUTION
The first serious clash between the Senate and those who sought to challenge its effective control of government arose out of the economic situation in Italy.  There had been a time when most the country was farmed by smallholders.  But long periods of compulsory military service had resulted in many holdings’ being ruined by neglect, and the growth of large-scale agriculture had rendered it more difficult to make small farms pay – except for corn-growing in the more fertile areas.  Meanwhile, the land owned by the state (ager publicus), which had been much enlarged during the Hannibalic war by confiscations from disloyal communities, was leased out in big lots – not
  Excerpts from
THE JUGURTHINE WAR
The senators were mainly a landed aristocracy, and were actually forbidden by law to engage in overseas commerce – although this law may often have been evaded.  Commerce, banking, contracts for public works, and later the business of tax-farming (for the state maintained only the barest skeleton of permanent officials), were in the hands of the non-senatorial class known as the Equestrian Orders, or Equites*.  The expansion of the empire greatly increased the wealth and importance of this class, and in the latter half of the second centurs B>C> they were trying to promote their interests still further by enlarging their political influence and obtaining a share of public administration. In course of time this led to a prolonged struggle between the Equites and the Senate.
In the preface to his Conspiracy of Catiline, Sallust has much to say of the contrast between the virtuous Romans of antiquity and the depravity of their successors.  No doubt he exaggerates it, like other preachers

Dear Y,  Go clean your house and cook dinner. Before your husband comes home. And stop making earthquakes.

Rebecca nailed this one.  The men at the top don’t like it when their toys are divulged.  They don’t want citizens to know how manipulated and exposed they are.

James B Storer

Feb. 23, 2011, 10:11 a.m.

I am not a journalist, but I believe that freedom of the press cannot be abridged if a democratic society is to survive.  I suspect that ninety percent of stuff hidden under “national security threat” are outdated and pose no possible threat to national security today, anyway.  Also, if there is a leak it seems that the government may be at fault for faulty record keeping and the reporter should not be hassled and threatened for his or her diligence.  Further, if the information has gotten into the hands of the press, doesn’t it seem likely that the group who would endanger us with the information has already gotten possession of it?

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