Access Journalism, Agnotology, and Breeding for Elite Incompetence

There’s nothing quite like watching systems deliberately made worse, all in the name of better propaganda.

One rapidly escalating trend among officials and government agencies is making more and more information, including decades-old material, either impossible to obtain or accessible only to journalists who are “trusted,” meaning they are deferential to authority and will put the best possible spin on what they are fed.

This is deeply disturbing in a society that tries to maintain the veneer of being a democracy, since it keeps important information from the public and is clearly intended to preserve the image of particular organizations and shield them from what is likely to be well-deserved criticism. Anti-transparency policies are tantamount to anti-accountability.

But at least as bad is the destructive effects on the sponsors of this dissimulation by omission. Yes, they may do better in the short term, but over time, they fall prey to the pathology of believing their own PR. They become convinced that their airbrushed photos and the adoring crowds that are carefully screened for their public appearances accurately reflect their performance and popularity. In more extreme versions, you wind up with Versailles behavior, for instance, when wealthy financiers lash out when anyone dares criticize them, because they’ve come to believe deeply in their own myth-making, that their success is the result of merit, as opposed to luck and conniving. By contrast, in competitive arena like sports, ruthless post-mortems, particularly of failures, are seen as critical for improving performance.

On Thursday, David Sirota recapped the results of a study that showed that the practice of access journalism is far more widespread than even the august Columbia Journalism Review realized. Readers probably assume that “access journalism” consists of giving exclusive interviews or leaks and to pet reporters that have established that they won’t bite the hand that feeds them good stories. From the perspective of the propagandists, this is a virtuous circle: not only can they reward reporters that play ball with them, but their captive correspondents become influential, even dominant, by virtue of having an information advantage.

But there’s another way this game is played: by blocking contact with journalists who dare to do their job rather than take dictation. Sirota explains:

As states move to hide details of government deals with Wall Street and as politicians come up with new arguments to defend secrecy, it was revealed this week that many government information officers block specific journalists they don’t like from accessing information. The news comes as 47 federal inspectors general sent a letter to lawmakers criticizing “serious limitations on access to records” that they say have “impeded” their oversight work.

The data about public information officers was compiled over the past few years by Kennesaw State University professor Carolyn Carlson. Her surveys found that 4 in 10 public information officers say “there are specific reporters they will not allow their staff to talk to due to problems with their stories in the past.”…..

Carlson has conducted surveys of journalists and public information officers since 2012. In her most recent survey of 445 working journalists, four out of five reported that “their interviews must be approved” by government information officers, and “more than half of the reporters said they had actually been prohibited from interviewing [government] employees at least some of the time by public information officers.”

In recent years, there have been signs that the federal government is reducing the flow of public information. Reason Magazine has reported a 114 percent increase in Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) rejections by the Drug Enforcement Agency since President Obama took office. The National Security Agency has also issued blanket rejections of FOIA requests about its metadata program. And the Associated Press reported earlier this year that in 2013 “the government cited national security to withhold information a record 8,496 times — a 57 percent increase over a year earlier and more than double Obama’s first year.”

These practices are yielding other dividends:

Carlson’s data from 2014 shows that three-quarters of journalists surveyed now agree with the statement that “the public is not getting the information it needs because of barriers agencies are imposing on journalists’ reporting practices.”

Yet, despite that lament, the government’s efforts to keep information secret may be having its intended effect on the psychology of journalists.

An Indiana University study published earlier this year found that “the percentage of U.S. journalists endorsing the occasional use of ‘confidential business or government documents without authorization’ [has] dropped significantly” in the last few years. In all, the IU survey found only 58 percent of journalists support using such documents in their reporting.

In a disheartening bit of synchronicity, Lambert flagged a new article from the American Historical Association, Black Holes in the Predecisional Universe: Agencies Gain a New Justification for Secrecy, which describes how the CIA has scored a major legal win that allows it to withhold information, even decades-old information that Presidential libraries want to make public:

The National Security Archive was disappointed, but not surprised, that in a two-to-one decision the DC Circuit Court of Appeals, in May 2014, agreed with the Central Intelligence Agency that a volume of its 30-year-old history of the 53-year-old Bay of Pigs Invasion could “confuse the public” and should thus be kept secret. To win this argument, the CIA successfully convinced Judges Brett Kavanaugh and Stephen Williams (Judge Judith Rodgers identified multiple contradictions in her strong dissent) that any document the agency deems “predecisional” can be withheld ad infinitum.

The claim that the entire universe of “predecisional” documents–including any claimed “draft”–should be withheld from the public is in line with the agency’s information withholding strategy. The agency has found that it is much easier to withhold entire universes of documents than argue the merits of classification to protect US national security on a case-by-case, document-by-document basis.

The CIA got its first taste of “universal withholding” when Congress passed the 1984 CIA Operational Files Exemption. Unlike other Freedom of Information Act exemptions, which can be applied after agencies search and locate requested documents, the Operational Files Exemption creates a universe of documents that the CIA does not even have to search for. This means that if a historian requests records for, say, Operation Phoenix, the CIA-led assassination program conducted during the Vietnam War, the CIA will reply–less than completely forthcomingly–that its search has returned no results. Admiral William McRaven, the Joint Special Operations Commander who oversaw the Osama bin Laden raid, knew about this transparency black hole: he ordered the FOIA-complying Department of Defense to purge its computers of all files on the Navy SEALs raid on bin Laden and send them to the CIA, where the Operational Files Exemption would keep them “safe” from search and review for release.

Of course, very few historians would argue that FOIA requests should disclose the names of undercover CIA operatives, their foreign sources, or many intelligence methods. But when the CIA’s use of this exemption is examined, it is clear that it goes far beyond these reasonable protections. The agency has stretched the limits again recently to begin arguing that even histories of the Clandestine Service, including its actions in Italy and Hungary more than six decades ago, are exempt from search and review under the Operational Files Exemption. By definition, a history cannot be an “operational file,” yet that is what the CIA is allowed to claim to FOIA requesters.

Troublingly, the CIA’s withholding of its Bay of Pigs history is an attempt to keep another universe of documents from disclosure: those it claims are “predecisional.” The CIA is seeking this expansion because key figures within the US government have begun reviewing the CIA’s classification decisions and overruling the agency’s claims for the need of secrecy. The Interagency Security Classification Appeals Panel (ISCAP), housed at the US National Archives, overrules government classification claims in more than 70 percent of the documents it reviews (including those of the CIA).

To avoid being overruled by ISCAP, the CIA has employed two tactics. First, it uses the Operational Files Exemption so that requesters cannot officially identify classified documents for ISCAP to review and overturn. Second, it has begun to stop withholding some documents because they are classified (which ISCAP could overturn) and instead withholds them because they are “predecisional” (which ISCAP has no authority to overturn). The CIA’s shell game is an affront to those who strive to compile an accurate history of US intelligence, foreign policy, and national security history.

The CIA also strives to obstruct the declassification efforts of holders of releasable universes of documents, including the presidential libraries. At the presidential libraries, the CIA has installed a Remote Archives Capture (RAC) system where it claims authority to digitize all documents at the libraries and first crack at keeping them secret–often using the Operational Files or “predecisional” exemptions–before letting the library, and other agencies, review the documents for release. The RAC system was installed, at least partially, in reaction to the presidential libraries acting with too much autonomy in their declassification decisions and in releasing to the public documents the CIA wished to keep secret.

We seem to be well on our way to having Ministries of Truth fixing history to fit current policy. After all, it isn’t a big step to go from excising unwelcome facts to inserting more flattering ones.

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  1. The Dork of Cork

    A darkly absurd interview of the “Irish” CB gov.
    He first states Ireland is a closed economy and would have seen a boom bust anyway – then he talks about external links………….
    Ireland remains a epic capital dumping ground because global capital is far too concentrated to be used in any way which would increase life support.
    A fantastic example of where this global masonic extraction of purchasing power scheme goes to die.

    Ireland remains a petri dish for these bastards.

    1. OMF

      Dork! What did I say? You can’t rant about Ireland here unless it’s on-topic, and it’s not. (Apologies everyone; the website recently started practicing “access comments”, hence the Dork non-sequitur. Mods, delete as appropriate.).

      1. EoinW

        I welcome any insights on Ireland – on topic or off. There has to be more to the place than 4 GAA games a week, LyricFM and Belfast weather updates.

  2. Ben Johannson

    Since when is it CIA’s business to decide information should not be released if it may “confuse” someone? The implications of that statement alone should make one lose sleep.

    1. Ulysses

      I guess its “confusing” to realize that propaganda and reality don’t always match.

      “This process of continuous alteration was applied not only to newspapers, but to books, periodicals, pamphlets, posters, leaflets, films, sound-tracks, cartoons, photographs — to every kind of literature or documentation which might conceivably hold any political or ideological significance. Day by day and almost minute by minute the past was brought up to date. In this way every prediction made by the Party could be shown by documentary evidence to have been correct, nor was any item of news, or any expression of opinion, which conflicted with the needs of the moment, ever allowed to remain on record. All history was a palimpsest, scraped clean and reinscribed exactly as often as was necessary. In no case would it have been possible, once the deed was done, to prove that any falsification had taken place. The largest section of the Records Department, far larger than the one on which Winston worked, consisted simply of persons whose duty it was to track down and collect all copies of books, newspapers, and other documents which had been superseded and were due for destruction.” (G Orwell, 1984, chap.4)

      1. Ben Johannson

        I’m amazed they’re now open about it. Arguing potential confusion is equivalent to stating they don’t want Americans thinking in an unapproved manner; something we knew, but in-your-facing-it suggests sky-high overconfidence their position is unassailable.

    2. Ned Ludd

      It would be confusing to let people know how often the CIA lies to the public, ignores information that runs counter to its interests, and makes disastrous decisions. Consequently, any “predecisional” documents will be suppressed, so people are not confused by decisions that ignore important facts; nor will people find themselves perplexed by intelligence and facts being “fixed around the policy”.

    3. Brindle

      CIA wants to keep some remaining JFK assassination files secret forever:

      —-Blakey isn’t optimistic about getting all of the documents from the intelligence agency.

      “They held stuff back from the Warren Commission, they held stuff back from us, they held stuff back from the ARRB,” he said. “That’s three agencies that they were supposed to be fully candid with. And now they’re taking the position that some of these documents can’t be released even today.—

  3. barutanseijin

    If we don’t know what they’re doing and they’re not going to tell us, the prudent thing to do would be to pull the plug on their funding.

    1. jsn

      Jimmy Carter was the last President to try that. OSS veteran Bill Casey became campaign manager for Ronald Reagan, negotiated a deal with Khomeini re: hostages in Iran and behold, the copters on Carters attempted extraction mission malfunctioned. If your going to fuck with the Praetorian Guard, you’re going to have to kill them.

    1. Worker-Owner

      By reputation, I guess that you might mean they want to protect the living who, as there are no statutes of limitations on murder, might still be at risk of prosecution.

  4. cnchal

    We are well past the point of believing anything any government “official” tells us, even when something is true.

    The CIA is in the secrets business, so it is only natural for them to limit exposure and become a black box, where what they say is the truth, whether it’s a lie or not, and to conceal from the public, criminal government activity, or just plain stupidity. Nobody wants to be exposed as a criminal or an idiot. Better hide those things.

    Most people couldn’t give a rats ass about it. Dancing with the Stars is more important than the eventual imposition of a totalitarian police state.

    1. ambrit

      History shows us that we are already well down that infamous “slippery slope.” If the theory that our “modern” times function at a faster pace than earlier times, usually based on the speed of technology, then the end game is within sight. The faint consolation we have is that such systems always self destruct. The existence of opposing systems is an accelerating factor for such decline. That is why the elites, whether by design or blind instinct, are trying to evolve some sort of “One World Order.” International finance fits the bill perfectly. “Dollar Uber Alles” anyone?

  5. MartyH

    The more I read (Peter Dale Scott, Christopher Simpson, etc.) the more I believe in the untruth of the government and Paul Craig Roberts’s “presstitutes” (corporate media). One wonders if Orwell wasn’t just an especially insightful historian in 1984. Aldous Huxley certainly wasn’t speculating by the time he wrote Brave New World Revisited.

    It is way too late.

    1. Generalfeldmarschall von Hindenburg

      It’s been over at least since the CIA absorbed half the SS.

    2. christine

      No, it’s not. Humanity’s history is the story of adaptation to new conditions. This country has lived as “the promised land” and operated in a vacuum of specialness for way too long. Connecting with the rest of the world would go a long way toward fixing what hails our country but… that requires learning other languages and mingling with other populations, 7 billion worth. God forbid our tax dollars would be used for that purpose! So much better to wage wars we can no longer win and look for whodunnits!
      Well… adaptation can be accomplished very rapidly: since anything you stop feeding will eventually die, now is the time to stop feeding into insanity. Russia, China, India got it. Movers, doers, shakers. The US are still revisiting the past on websites such as this one and dutifully paying taxes instead of taking action to move forward. If this country is done, it’s because people allowed it to happen.

      De-Dollarization Accelerates – China/Russia Complete Currency Swap Agreement
      The last 3 months have seen Russia’s “de-dollarization” plans accelerate. First Gazprom clients shift to Euros and Renminbi, then the UK signs currency swap agreements with China, then NATO ally Turkey cuts ties and mulls de-dollarization, Switzerland jumps in the currency swap agreements, and BRICS create their own non-US-based funding vehicle, and then finally this week, Russia’s oligarchs have shifted cash holdings to Hong Kong. But this week, as RT reports, Russian and Chinese central banks have agreed a draft currency swap agreement, which will allow them to increase trade in domestic currencies and cut the dependence on the US dollar in bilateral payments. “”The agreement will stimulate further development of direct trade in yuan and rubles on the domestic foreign exchange markets of Russia and China,” the Russian regulator said.

  6. abynormal

    “The American “press” is the vital, arrogant, fatal, dominant X in black propaganda. When it comes to the CIA and the American press, one black hand washes the other. To gain access to CIA officials, reporters suppress or distort stories. They sell their black souls for scoops. In return, CIA officials leak stories to them. At its most incestuous, reporters and CIA officers are blood relatives. At one point, **The New York Times correspondent in Vietnam, James Lemoyne, just happened to be the brother of the CIA’s counter-terror team chief in the Delta, Navy Commander Charles Lemoyne**.”
    “in 1964, CIA officer Nelson Brickham worked in the Sino-Soviet Relations Branch, where he managed black propaganda operations designed to cause friction between the USSR and China. At the heart of these black ops were false flag recruitments, in which CIA case officers posed as Soviet intelligence officers and, using actual Soviet cipher systems and methodology, recruited Chinese diplomats, who believed they were working for the Russians. The CIA case officers used the Chinese dupes to create all manner of mischief.” (maybe it’ll be different this time hehehee)
    September 16, 2013:

    1. Carolinian

      Not to get this debate started again but what was done during the Cold War not necessarily the same as what is being done today. In between were the Church Committee and some new laws. While it’s true that Casey revived some of the agencies old practices, the Reagan crew also ignited a major scandal with Iran Contra. I’m not sure we should assume the CIA is the same freewheeling outfit it was in the old days.

      That said, Brennan could well be Casey 2 given his arrogance and mendacity. And no question that 9/11 also gave the spooks a lift. One has to be vague because it is all so opaque. Perhaps the correct term should be Dark State rather than Deep State.

      1. abynormal

        its a wheel that came off the track moons ago. of course its different today than cold war era…allies, when we can spot them, are traded at bot speed.’)

  7. sufferin' succotash

    “…the DC Circuit Court of Appeals, in May 2014, agreed with the Central Intelligence Agency that a volume of its 30-year-old history of the 53-year-old Bay of Pigs Invasion could “confuse the public” and should thus be kept secret.”

    Huh? What are we supposed to be confused about? That the invasion failed? That the CIA set it up?
    Or maybe that the Agency was flat-assed wrong about the popular anti-Castro uprising that was supposed to be triggered by the invasion?

    1. ambrit

      Probably that a lot of the people implicated in the killing of John F. Kennedy were involved in the Bay of Pigs fiasco too. Look up the history of the CIA training base for the Bay of Pigs ‘invaders’, ur, Freedom Fighters, at Lacombe Louisiana.

        1. ambrit

          My Lord;
          Thank you for supplying that link. I’m a Technanderthal, alas.
          Your most humble and obedient servant,

    2. scraping_by

      “Confuse the public” is a direct translation of “contradict the cover story.” Because there’s always a cover story, even if it’s “nothing happened.”

      Cover stories are built like onions, one layer behind another, a fallback story behind every cover story. The spooks are saving themselves work by keeping the public from peeling away the discredited layer.

  8. fresno dan

    “There’s nothing quite like watching systems deliberately made worse, all in the name of better propaganda.

    One rapidly escalating trend among officials and government agencies is making more and more information, including decades-old material, either impossible to obtain or accessible only to journalists who are “trusted,” meaning they are deferential to authority and will put the best possible spin on what they are fed.”

    “…..on what they are fed.” Speaking of “FED” – that gives me the opening to bring up my obsession with “craponics” – So the FED would say the redacted, omission laden, propagandized information we are “fed” is a hedonic improvement??? – – using the FED’s reasoning that the terabyte volume of government BS spewn forth daily to obfuscate reality is an improvement as there is so much more at a lower cost….

  9. Paul Tioxon

    An ongoing project since 1976 starting in Sonoma State University it has since established itself as an independent foundation and networked to universities and faculties across the nation. Thousands of students have gone through media literacy programs making it one of the more successful Alternative Institutions founded in the 1970s. You may have seen their annual list of most censored stories and annual book with media analysis.

    At a larger scale of analysis, our Western Civilization, the rise of capitalism brought with it the rise of the political power of property holders who worked to further their interests in the face of state domination by monarchy. Of course today, the bourgeoisie interests are co-extensive with the state, leaving any public criticism at its most weakened since there was any public capacity at all to act in an influential role to conduct policy. Preceding Chomsky and Edwards “MANUFACTURING CONSENT” was Jurgen Habermas in his critical analysis: “STRUCTURAL TRANSFORMATION AND THE PUBLIC SPHERE”. Note that Habermas is talking structural meaning an inate feature, without which the relationships of the remaining components change with one another and are dependent upon all of the components to work together as a system. This would be the large scale social change that is frequently the object of critical analysis here on NC and the bright line that public policy needs to cross to have the claim to hopeful change. Less than structural change, or less than structural analysis, and we have only some of the nuts and bolts of civil society, the state and the economy, but not enough to see the world as different place today for a the vast majority of people, than it was yesterday before any social changes. Enough social changes can accumulate to build up a critical mass of meaningful differences to achieve widespread social transformation, or structural change.

    Because change is inevitable, it is the management of the rate and extent of the change, to keep it from becoming structural, that we witness those with dominating political power scramble in ongoing basis. The CIA, using shyster legal technicalities, to precede the what can be placed for open review by the public is an example of the management of social change by those with power. The fact that our secret society of federal government can be observed in its maneuvers to preempt the release of federal documents into the public realm, shows that the CIA and other secret intelligence agencies have not fully recovered their capacity to operate without any knowledge by most anyone, even the president or congress. This is a good sign.


    Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere
    Jurgen Habermas


    Habermas sets out to define the term “public sphere.” The terms “public” and “public sphere” have a variety of meanings. However, ordinary and scientific language cannot replace these terms with more precise ones. Despite the disintegration of public opinion, society still studies it.

    Public means open to all, but also relates to the state. The public is a critical judge. The public sphere is a specific public domain, set against the private. The German word “Offentlichkeit” comes from the French adjective meaning “Public”. There is no seventeenth-century word for the public sphere because it did not exist before the eighteenth century. In Germany, the public sphere emerged as part of civil society, the realm of commodity exchange and labor governed by its own laws.

    Notions of public and private go back further than that, however. They are Greek categories with Roman additions. In ancient Greece, the polis-oikos division existed. Political life took place in the polis; the public sphere existed as a realm of discussion and common action. Citizens were free of productive labor, but their status depended on their role as the head of the oikos, or household. The Greek public sphere was the sphere of freedom and permanence, where distinction and excellence were possible.

    Since the Renaissance, this Greek model was important and influential. Medieval categories of public and private came from Roman law. But they developed only with the rise of civil society and the modern state. For more than 100 years, the foundations of this sphere have been decomposing. Publicity is still important. By understanding it, we can understand a key category of our society.

    In the middle ages, the public-private contrast from Roman law was familiar, but had no standard usage. The attempt to apply this distinction to the feudal system shows that ancient and modern public and private spheres did not exist. Various higher and lower powers existed, but there was no definite way for private people to enter the public sphere. The tradition of ancient German law did have a contrast comparable to the Roman tradition: that of common and particular. This was exactly reversed in feudalism; the common man is private, exemplified by the private soldier. One cannot show sociologically that the public sphere existed in the middle ages, but a publicity of representation did exist. This was a status attribute and not a social realm. The holder of office or power represented or displayed himself. The lord and master had an “aura” that he displayed before his subjects. Lordship was represented before the people. Representation was not about political communication but about social status.

    Only after modern states had destroyed feudal power, helped by the development of a capitalist economy, could court sociability develop into the eighteenth century idea of a “good” society. For the first time, public and private spheres became separate in the modern sense. Bureaucracy, the church, and the army also became public institutions, separate from the increasingly private sphere of the court.

    A new social order developed with the emergence of early finance and trade capitalism. Capitalism stabilized the power structure of the society of estates and worked toward their dissolution. The instruments of this dissolution were the traffic in commodities and news created by capitalist trade. Long-distance trade led to the development of trade fairs that required horizontal economic relationships at odds with the vertical estates system. The traffic in news also developed. This traffic became public in the seventeenth century, and became revolutionary only in the mercantilist phase, which was a new stage of capitalism. Merchant companies opened up new markets and required political guarantees; the modern state developed in time with mercantilism. Increasingly sophisticated tax systems developed, along with permanent armies and administration. The public now referred to a state apparatus with a monopoly over legitimate coercion. The opening of foreign markets served the development of domestic economies. Trade in commodities causes a revolution in production.

    Civil society was born as the corollary of the depersonalized state authority. Activities formerly confined to the household framework emerged into the public sphere. Economic activity became private but was oriented towards the public commodity market. The very idea of economics also changed; it ceased to relate to the household/oikos, and took its modern form.

    The press took on an important role; political journals developed. The traffic in news was related to commercial need; news became a commodity. Also, new states began to use the press for state administration and intelligence. A new stratum of the bourgeois developed within the public, which included officials, doctors and lawyers. Craftsmen and shopkeepers fell in social status. The bourgeois reading public became the real carrier of the public. Their important status in civil society led to tension between town and court. States encouraged an awareness of publicness and the public sphere of civil society. The interplay between state regulation and private initiative was important in early capitalism. Broad strata of the population were affected by the regulations of mercantilist policy. Official interest in private households constituted the development of a critical sphere; administrative contact between domestic and public authority provoked the critical judgment of the public making use of its reason. The public could assume this function, as all it needed was a change in the function of the press, which had turned society into a public affair. As early as the seventeenth century, periodicals existed that mixed criticism with news. Critical reasoning made its way into the press in the eighteenth century. Private people prepared to compel public authority to legitimate itself before public opinion.

    (read the final analysis at the link below)

    1. susan the other

      imo. None of this history excuses our capitalist-imperialist attitude. Do we actually think that nobody else knows what works for them? What living in harmony with nature might mean long into the future? My guess is only half of the “CIA” has a chauvinist attitude; the other half is open minded. But “CIA” is as predecisional as any number of any other memes. And we are caught up in an outmoded government of secrecy that appears to be unable to recognize its ass from a hot rock. “Predecisional” is a word not yet in the dictionary! Akin to pre-emptive truth. Or Meta. But not with the scientific integrity of “epigenetic.” But might well function that way. What we need to do before we start killing people is look at what actually works. Like a patient living organism does. Capitalism does not work. If it did, it would have. Simple. We are the ones fighting progress. Socialism is what works now.

  10. Carolinian

    Another way the govt manipulates the press: preempt a damaging scoop by giving story to a friendlier reporter.

    After the AP story ran, The Intercept requested a conference call with the National Counterterrorism Center. A source with knowledge of the call said that the government agency admitted having fed the story to the AP, but didn’t think the reporter would publish before The Intercept did. “That was our bad,” the official said.

    Asked by The Intercept editor John Cook if it was the government’s policy to feed one outlet’s scoop to a friendlier outlet, a silence ensued, followed by the explanation: “We had invested some quality time with Eileen,” referring to AP reporter Eileen Sullivan, who the official added had been out to visit the NCTC.

    1. hunkerdown

      The Intercept learned their lesson, at least. They get exactly 30 minutes to respond.

      Personally, I don’t see any problem in printing “The NCTC could not be reached for comment.” just because the phone is across the room and I can’t reach it from here.

  11. LifelongLib

    Another reason we need journalists like I. F. Stone. AFAIK he never relied on interviews, leaks, or FOIA (not even sure that existed in his time) but simply combed patiently through published official records, uncovering hidden truths and contradictions. They can’t stop you from doing that.


    These guys should study, Irving Janis, Groupthink. This secrecy is a recipe for disaster. In science there is an acroynm, CITOAKE, criticism is the only known antidote for error.

  13. Jessica

    In an information-centric economy, the impacts of corrupting the flow of information are far more severe and systemic than in a capital-centric industrial economy.

  14. Clifford Johnson

    Is all the above a legitimate exercise of the government’s “bully speech” perogatives? Or does it actionably violate First Amendment provisions re freedom of the press / freedom of speech / the right to know?
    Under the (recently minted) “government speech” doctrine, government speech is immune to First Amendment suits, period — there are, as yet, no exceptions to the doctrine, which many academics deplore, especially since “[i]t is almost impossible to concoct examples of viewpoint discrimination … that cannot otherwise be repackaged ex post as ‘government speech.’ ” Sutcliffe v. Epping Sch. Dist., 584 F.3d 314, 337 (1st Cir. 2009) (partial dissent). For a review of the doctrine, see Government Speech in Transition by Prof. Helen Norton at

    For a case that posits an exception to the doctrine, where the speech comprises hard-fact misrepresentation intended to suppress a disfavored political viewpoint, see my article “Ninth Circuit Leaves Door Open To Suit Against GAO Re Coins Act” at

  15. TwistedHoro

    Hey Yves, am a supporter. Just thought I should let you know about something. On my I-phone, where I have nakedcapitalism on my browser there have recently been 2 identifiable instances where when I had it off screen then put it on screen, it was in what appeared to be Chinese for a brief second. My techi friend is confused about the matter and figures spyware, just thought I’d let you know. This seemed to be an ideal thread for it too. Any insight would be greatly appreciated


  16. kevinearick

    Parden my French, but…

    Thank you for this article…but lets have no more of this kind, that get to the heart of the matter, lest they all blow up together… …and have a nice day.

    remember when I used to write like this?

    ps. So, I told you my wife drives a fairly big rig for the foodbank right?

    Morons who have trouble with level straightaways have no business on mountain switchbacks…and learn how to use a f*ing strap…truck driver my a*…that’s how you guys end up in newspapers..Don’t even talk to me about San Francisco and Sacramento..

    Signing out…until next time.

  17. David

    “…By contrast, in competitive arena like sports, ruthless post-mortems, particularly of failures, are seen as critical for improving performance.”

    Unfortunately, sport reflects the norms of society. Matches are fixed, players are doping, and the federations that are supposed to police this are, instead, protecting the cheaters who will bring in the most money. It’s the same game on a different field.

  18. Kunst

    Germany and Japan were defeated in World War II, which made their internal documents available more or less contemporaneously. Likewise East German records after reunification, again more or less, since the successors/victors had their own reasons for not making everything public. The Soviet Union, Maoist China, and post-WW2 America, no such luck. All of the guilty, including those building on the prior guilty, will have to be long dead before this kind of stuff is available to historians. By then, collective amnesia will have set in, the kind that skips over the detail and real meaning of America’s atrocities, such as those inflicted on Native Americans and African-Americans. After the war, ordinary German citizens were marched through the concentration camps and made to look at what that they said they didn’t know was there, or at least they didn’t know the details. But they were part of the system and benefited from the system while it lasted. Had Germany won, they would never have questioned the benefits of ruling over or exterminating all those inferior non-Germans. America will be a story like Rome, with excesses that can only be marveled at, never really understood.

  19. TwistedHoro

    Facebook is now wiping my posts in regards to this link when I try to link it through on Huffington Post.

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