Justice Department abuses its power to censor on basis of “National Security.”

There’s an entry titled Justice Department Censors Supreme Court Quote up over at The Memory Hole that shows the DOJ isn’t limiting their use of redactions—blacking out parts of documents released under the Freedom Of Information Act—to information that could be considered damaging to national security as is the usual reason given, but to anything they just plain don’t like.

The Justice Department tipped its hand in its ongoing legal war with the ACLU over the Patriot Act. Because the matter is so sensitive, the Justice Dept is allowed to black out those passages in the ACLU’s court filings that it feels should not be publicly released.

Ostensibly, they would use their powers of censorship only to remove material that truly could jeopardize US operations. But in reality, what did they do? They blacked out a quotation from a Supreme Court decision:

 

    “The danger to political dissent is acute where the Government attempts to act under so vague a concept as the power to protect ‘domestic security.’ Given the difficulty of defining the domestic security interest, the danger of abuse in acting to protect that interest becomes apparent.”

The mind reels at such a blatant abuse of power (and at the sheer chutzpah of using national security as an excuse to censor a quotation about using national security as an excuse to stifle dissent).

Indeed, as The Memory Hole article notes, this gives you good reason to question the validity of any redactions that appear on documents after being censored by the DOJ. Is the omitted info a real danger to national security or just something the DOJ would rather you didn’t know about because they didn’t like what it said? One of the more troubling aspects of the current administration has been its tendency to smile and waft its palms while enjoining you to trust them ‘cause they know what’s best for you. This is the sort of thing that really makes my blood boil.

Update: Looks like ***Dave and I are on similar wavelengths this morning as he also has an entry up about it which includes a link to a list of other attempted redactions by the DOJ.

Link found via Boing Boing.

6 thoughts on “Justice Department abuses its power to censor on basis of “National Security.”

  1. I’m shocked that the DOJ hasn’t bothered censoring that article under the same guise.

    How long until they piss off someone with the power, money, and visibility to take them on?

  2. They are stripping our civil liberties away, one by one, a bite at a time.  One little toe over the line here, a small step there.

    Here’s my fear: if Bush gets re-elected, pretty much anyone who speaks out against him will be branded a terrorist.  Using that argument, certain other acts will be passed, or the Patriot Act will be pushed to its limits, and we’ll have a police state.  It’ll be just subtle enough that we don’t object too strenously. By the time we realize what’s happened, Bush has declared a perpetual state of war on terrorism, and has somehow managed to suspend further elections until the situation is resolved.  (I.e. can’t change Commanders in Chief until the battle is won.)

    Hail to the King.

  3. “Answer the question, sir!  Are you now, or have you ever been, a member of a terrorist organization?”

    I don’t know what brought that to mind, Skippy.  Something like that could never happen here.  Could it?

    Hmm, my wife worked for a Muslim Palestinian at one time, I have had two Muslim graduate assistants, and often frequent a coffee shop whose owner is from Morocco.  There’s a link to Al Jazeera on my blog.  The evidence is piling up.  Is anyone safe?

  4. DOF, my mother once did transcription for some Iranian students when she lived in Utah, to earn an extra dollar or two.  I guess that makes my family suspect as well.  Not to mention the fact that my father was the son of Dutch immigrants, and you know how those evil, dope-dealing, morality-corrupting Dutch are.

    For those of you who like a little fear in your tongue-in-cheek Sci Fi, the August issue of Science Fiction and Fantasy magazine had a really interesting story in it, called Peter Skilling. (Don’t remember the author, sorry.)  It was just close enough to home to be a bit frightening.

  5. Hmm, my wife worked for a Muslim Palestinian at one time, I have had two Muslim graduate assistants, and often frequent a coffee shop whose owner is from Morocco.  There’s a link to Al Jazeera on my blog.  The evidence is piling up.  Is anyone safe?

    You Sir, under oath, will you now deny that you are guilty of at a minumum the act of THOUGHTCRIME, and at maximum, the act of associating with BROWN PEOPLE and thinking for yourself!

    How do you plead Sir!?! And I instruct the court to remind the defendant he is under Oath.

    Nevermind, off to G’itmo with him, he is obviously a terrorist, he has read Al Jazeera and like Morroccan Coffee! What nerve! What is wrong with the Party Paper and good American Coffee from hawaii!?!

    feh!

    The issue is that I do not see that as being unplausable here in the US anymore.

    Ever read Heinlein? President Scudder anyone? hmmm…

  6. Should I be worried then? I was raised as a UU and we’ve had several Muslim speakers come and give sermons over the years.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.