Cheney’s office, according to Leonard, took secrecy to excessive lengths — attempting to classify as much as possible, and often bypassing the system altogether by inventing classification markings. Even documents as ordinary as Cheney’s talking points were marked Treated as Top Secret/SCI or Treated as Top Secret/Codeword.
“That’s not a recognized marking,” said Leonard. “I have no idea if it was the intent, but I can guarantee you what the consequences of those markings are. When any of this material eventually does end up at a presidential library and access demands are being made, or it’s being processed for release, when some poor archivist sees material marked Handle as SCI, it’s going into the bottom of the pile, and it is going to get much more conservative review. Whether it was the intent to retard the eventual release of the information, I know that’s going to be a consequence of it.”
D.B. Grady, “Why We’ll Never Get a Full Account of the War in Iraq”
As a political reporter for GQ, I’ve been jokingly asked whether I ever posed for the magazine and loudly called a porn star by a senior think-tank fellow at his institute’s annual gala. In my prior job as a Hill reporter, one of my best source relationships with a member of Congress ended after I remarked that I looked like a witch who might hop on a broom in my new press-badge photo and he replied that I looked like I was “going to hop on something.” One journalist remembers a group of lobbyists insisting that she was not a full-time reporter at a major publication but a college coed. Another tried wearing scarves and turtlenecks to keep a married K Street type from staring at her chest for their entire meeting. The last time she saw him, his wedding ring was conspicuously absent; his eyes, however, were still fixed on the same spot. Almost everyone has received the late-night e-mail—“You’re incredible” or “Are you done with me yet?”—that she is not entirely sure how to handle. They’re what another lady political writer refers to as “drunk fumbles” or “the result of lonely and insecure people trying to make themselves feel loved and/or important.” … Sometimes they reach the level of stalking: One colleague had a high-profile member of Congress go out of his way to track down her cell-phone number, call and text repeatedly to tell her she was beautiful, offer to take her parents on a tour of the Capitol, and even invite her to go boating back home in his district.
This speaks depressing volumes about many individuals who are deeply invested in the political machinations of nation-states.
Even if Aaron’s intention was in fact to distribute the journal articles (to poor people! for zero profit!), that in no way condones his treatment.
But the terrifying fact I’m trying to highlight in this particular blog post is this: According to the DOJ’s testimony, if you express political views that the government doesn’t like, at any point in your life, that political speech act can and will be used to justify making “an example” out of you once the government thinks it can pin you with a crime.
Talk about a chilling effect on freedom of speech.
Chilling of speech is very, very real. And the things we’re learning in the aftermath of Aaron’s death only amplify concerns.
While such research is done in a number of countries, Canada seems to be a hotbed of boredom studies. James Danckert, an associate professor of psychology at the University of Waterloo, in Canada, recently conducted a study to compare the physiological effects of boredom and sadness.
To induce sadness in the lab, he used video clips from the 1979 tear-jerker, “The Champ,” a widely accepted practice among psychologists.
But finding a clip to induce boredom was a trickier task. Dr. Danckert first tried a YouTube video of a man mowing a lawn, but subjects found it funny, not boring. A clip of parliamentary proceedings was too risky. “There’s always the off chance you get someone who is interested in that,” he says.
Rachel Emma Silverman, “Interesting Fact: There’s a Yawning Need for Boring Professors”
I found the third paragraph particularly amusing as someone who often finds watching parliament interesting. I guess I’d be one of the ‘problem’ participants!