Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Overclassification Taken To The Next Lunatic Step

We looked at this story when it broke last week (see Feds Trying New Tactic Against Leaks).

It now turns out that the "Secret" material that the government was trying to protect by issuing a subpoena to the ACLU for a classified document in their possession related to information that should never have been classified in the first place.

Overclassification taken to the next lunatic step.

Federal prosecutors yesterday dropped their demand that the American Civil Liberties Union turn over all copies of a "secret" document the organization had obtained, after the government was roundly criticized for using a grand jury subpoena in an attempt to seize the material. ...

The ACLU hailed the government's retreat as a victory. "This was a legal standoff with enormous implications for free speech and the public's right to know, and today the government blinked," said ACLU Executive Director Anthony D. Romero. "The Bush administration's attempt to suppress information using the grand jury process was truly chilling and is unprecedented in law and in our history as an organization." ...

The 3 1/2 -page document, which the ACLU had maintained would be only "mildly embarrassing" to the government, was an "information paper" prepared by a judge advocate for the 101st Airborne Division. It told soldiers not to photograph enemy prisoners of war and detainees.

The document is dated Dec. 20, 2005, more than a year after the military was scandalized by photos of prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib in Iraq.

SECRET information is information which, if disclosed without authorization, could reasonably be expected to cause serious damage to the national security.

The "don't take pictures of prisoners" instruction doesn't fit that criteria.

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