The debate over public policy is often distorted by disinformation. The true facts are hidden or selectively emphasized in order to shape a narrative. One of the many examples is the Iran nuclear deal. Before you declare yourself for or against it, ask yourself: what does the public know about it? That question turns out to be surprisingly hard to answer.
The Wall Street Journal notes that much of what the deal is about is hidden in Closed Covenants. ”The Obama Administration insists there’s nothing secret about the Iran nuclear deal, even as it claims not to have read two crucial side deals Tehran has struck with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). “Confidential agreements, but no secrets” is the way top U.S. negotiator Wendy Sherman describes the deals, which are thought to concern the military dimensions of Iran’s nuclear programs.”
Try parsing that distinction. And while you’re at it, consider that there might be additional separate agreements we haven’t heard about. We raise the possibility after speaking with Rep. Mike Pompeo, the Kansas Republican who sits on the House Intelligence Committee, and who more-or-less stumbled on the two side deals when the deputy director of the IAEA disclosed their existence to him and Sen. Tom Cotton (R., Ark.) in a meeting in Vienna.
“When you ask [the Administration] if there are other [side deals], you don’t get a yes or no answer,” Mr. Pompeo tells us. The Congressman adds that he and his colleagues have been frustrated by the Administration’s failure to answer their questions even in classified sessions. What does Mr. Pompeo know about the two side deals the Administration does acknowledge? “Nearly nothing,” he says, “and we’ve been briefed four times.”
To the infamous phrase “fake but accurate”, used to describe manufactured news supposed to prove a “wider truth” has been added “definite but unknown”, otherwise known as “you have to pass it to find out what’s in it”. Then there’s “unclassified but secret”. Tim Mak of the Daily Beast explains how that works with regard to the Iran deal. (emphasis mine)
The Obama administration delivered 18 documents to Congress on July 19, in accordance with legislation requiring a congressional review of the nuclear deal. Only one of these documents is classified, while the remaining 17 are unclassified. …
Most staffers were hesitant to discuss—let alone share—a number of these documents, even though they’re not classified, because they require security clearances to view. By mixing a classified document with unclassified documents, critics of this arrangement contend, important facts are being kept from the public just as Congress is deciding whether to support or oppose the Iran deal. …
“Many in Congress view the administration’s tactic of co-mingling unclassified documents with classified documents and requiring congressional staffers to have secret clearances just to view certain unclassified documents as an attempt by the administration to limit open debate,” a second senior Republican congressional staffer said.
Similar tactics are being employed to limit the amount of information available in the case of the Planned Parenthood scandal. The abortion organization has obtained an injunction from a California judge prohibiting the release of videos where its employees describe what they do. “StemExpress says the video was recorded illegally; California law prohibits recording “confidential communication” without all parties’ consent. The company filed a lawsuit Monday accusing CMP of invasion of privacy and receiving stolen property, among other claims. It then sought a temporary restraining order, fearing CMP was about to release clips of its meeting with StemExpress.” The judge has performed the civilian equivalent of classifying the videos.
In the case of the controversy surrounding the propriety of Hillary Clinton’s use of a personal email server to conduct official business, secrecy is used both as sword and shield. The discovery of four emails containing what government investigators believe is classified information has raised the possibility that Hillary may have mishandled even more sensitive information and set off a hunt to find the rest of them. Hillary denies using her private account for any secret correspondence.
To resolve the problem, someone tried to find the rest, which turns out to be problematic because they are on a secure thumb drive held by Clinton’s private attorney.
Hillary Clinton’s private lawyer has a thumb drive containing classified information from as many as five U.S. intelligence agencies — but the State Department told POLITICO the law firm is taking “appropriate measures” to secure the files.
The agency declined to detail steps made to protect the sensitive information in attorney David Kendall’s possession, but the issue is raising concern among Republicans on Capitol Hill who’ve criticized Clinton’s handling of the email controversy. The thumb drive has copies of emails Clinton kept on a private server while she served as secretary of state, a trove now known to contain classified documents. …
The agency told POLITICO that Clinton “does have counsel with clearance.” Kendall, a prominent Williams & Connolly attorney who defended former CIA director David Petraeus against charges of mishandling classified information, declined to comment.
Now it’s where the public can’t get at it. All the completely “unclassified” information that went through Hillary’s server has now been transformed into something altogether different. The classification vs declassification business has become so busy that sometimes the players get into head-on collisions. Planned Parenthood for example, had access to the mysterious Hillary email account.
Emails released Friday by the State Department include one that a Planned Parenthood executive sent to then-Sec. of State Hillary Clinton at her private email address, email@example.com.
Laurie Rubiner, the vice president of public policy and advocacy for Planned Parenthood Federation of America, emailed Clinton on July 31, 2009, asking her to discuss abortion during a state trip to Kenya.
“Kenya has one of the strictest anti-abortion laws in Africa — it is illegal unless a woman’s life is at risk and criminalizes both the woman and the provider,” wrote Rubiner, who, before working at Planned Parenthood, served as legislative director on Clinton’s senate staff.
“I went to Kenya last month to work with the coalition that has formed to strategize against the Constitutional amendment and to work toward a less restrictive abortion law,” Rubiner continued in her note to Clinton. “I also visited several of our clinics and providers in Nairobi and in nearby villages where Planned Parenthood has programs to train providers in post abortion care.”…
“I know it is asking a lot, but if there is any way that you could draw attention to this issue when you are in Kenya, you would be even more of my personal hero than you already are,” she said.