Re: DoD paper says we should self censor

From: Marco Langbroek (marco.langbroek@wanadoo.nl)
Date: Sun May 29 2011 - 11:53:36 UTC

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    The main body of the paper includes the following segment about satellite 
    trackers like us:
    
    > While these revelations have an impish quality, an argument can be made that they impose greater discipline on the government to protect sensitive information, if only to avoid embarrassment. The same cannot be said for the amateur satellite trackers who gleefully publish the orbital inclinations of classified U.S. satellites. This phenomenon led a commission on the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO), which operates the nation’s spy satellites, to note that “public speculation on how NRO satellites are used has aided terrorists and other potential adversaries in developing techniques of denial and deception to thwart U.S. intelligence efforts.”65 Despite this admonition, the practice continues, most recently in 2010 when the orbit of the Pentagon’s classified X-37B spacecraft was revealed less than a month after its launch.66
    >
    > Though the damage that results from these revelations may be quite severe, those who make them often belong to professions whose ethic sometimes requires disdain for government secrecy. In other cases the disseminators are everyday citizens with a penchant for mischief. In recent years, neither group has been particularly amenable to pleas for discretion.
    
    So there you have it: we are "everyday citizens with a penchant for mischief".
    
    Interestingly, Boyd never asked us whether we do self-censor. He 
    assumes/pretends we do not (and thus creates a nice Bogey-man out of us). An 
    assumption that is wrong.
    
    OT: What is even more worrysome than the (ill-informed, biased) depiction of our 
    activities in the paper, is the general attitude towards and broadness of groups 
    it targets (prominently including scientists) and the way it advocates the 
    social ostracation of people in these groups who "do not comply":
    
    > Concurrent with this campaign should be the stigmatization of those who recklessly disseminate sensitive information. This censure would be aided by the fact that many such people are unattractive figures whose writings betray their intellectual vanity. The public should be quick to furnish the opprobrium that presently escapes these individuals.
    
    This is an attitude (and proposed policy) that smacks of a very infamous episode 
    in US history: that of McCarthyism in the 1950-ies. What Boyd is proposing, is 
    well on the way to a reinstatement of blacklists and senate hearings and other 
    forms of social ostracation, targetting scientists, journalists etc. (and us 
    satellite hobbyists, and potentially other groups of citizens), denounced as 
    "reckless"/"a danger to the country" (i.e., "not complying with us, the security 
    folk"). It is fundamentally anti-Democratic and a rife potential for abuse.
    
    - Marco
    
    -----
    Dr Marco Langbroek  -  SatTrackCam Leiden, the Netherlands.
    e-mail: sattrackcam@wanadoo.nl
    
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    -----
    
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