Should the 27 Intelligence Report pages be declassified?

I can see reasons both ways. According to a report from “some in the know” in the Los Angeles Times some Saudi officials gave considerable support to Al Qaeda. However, suppose I had this information now, what would I do differently as a result? If information would make a difference to my future actions there might be some point to it, but this is sort of a blame game and futile as to my participation in it. Presumeably those in a position to do something about Saudi-US relations know the facts, if the report is true, and can and will take appropriate action. I realize that the “will take action” part is problematic if there is enough expected net gain in our West Asia political base or personal gain from oil or other business involved for those in positions of authority in our government.

On the other hand, as a Saudi spokesman said, US public perception is important and how can they hope counter a secret indictment?

I’d agree with the Daily Show’s (fair use, 14 meg Quicktime) take on that. It’s a work of art.

But that would reveal our sources and methods! Miss Cleo has enough problems.

Frankly, I don’t believe the information contained in the pages could be all that scandalous. Certainly, revealing the information could compromise some intelligence operations, but I doubt that there’s anything like “Bush Administration officials met with Saud family members to see if Operation Election Win '04 was going as planned on 9/01/01.” Were there anything like a smoking gun in that section of the report, someone would make the information public, either coming out and publicly stating what the information was, or leaking it to the Press.

At best, there’s probably just information indicating who money flowed from, but not if they knew what the money was going to be used for. One of the reasons for keeping it secret, might simply be to scare the shit out of the bad guys, since they won’t know what we know.

The problem with classified information is that we really have no way of knowing whether declassifying it would be in our interests or not.

Obviously, you can think of a million types of information in there that could be extremely damaging if they were revealed. For instance, what if the U.S. has a member of the Saudi royal family in their pocket feeding them information, and the classified section contains info that would identify him? Release it, and there goes a major strategic advantage. Or perhaps there is information in there collected by a Mole in the Saudi government, or from an ongoing operatioin by field agents. We really don’t know.

On the other hand, you can conjure an equal number of scenarios for the information being classified for nefarious purposes - to protect the Bush administration, to protect Saudi friends of Bush’s dad, or simply because the government doesn’t want the American people turning against the Saudis for political and economic reasons.

So in the end, I suspect that this is another issue that will break on party lines, with the Republicans accepting the security rationale, and the Democrats screaming cover-up. And without any more information than that, it’ll just become another political football.

But that ducks the OP question, Sam. Should it or shouldn’t it?

Yes, we don’t know. But we do deserve to, and need to, and you damn well know why. And, given their recent performances, few of us are as willing as you to give them any more benefit of the doubt on any intelligence matters. If you’re content to continue to be lied to or even condescended to, that’s fine for you, but please don’t claim we should all be as ovine.

It does matter that the Saudi government *itself is asking for declassification, and one does have to wonder what internal factions are at play there.

Hey, I didn’t say anything about my personal opinion here. My point is that I don’t have any information that would lead me to an informed judgement, and neither do you. After all, the information we need is classified.

So when you don’t have the information you need, what do you do? You judge the situation based on other things - your opinion of the likelihood that there are nefarious reasons for this based on your opinion of the administration, mostly.

That’s why I said that opinions on this were likely to break along party lines. I didn’t mean to suggest that there was anything wrong with that. I fully understand your position, and I’m leaning towards agreeing with it anyway.

I should point out this though:

Again, this goes both ways. On the one hand, it tends to discredit the idea proposed by some that the Bush administration classified this information to protect the Saudis. If so, it appears to be protection they don’t want. On the other hand, if this information is classified because it’s full of damning information about the Saudis and the Bush Administration doesn’t want them to know how they got it, then it would fully explain why the Saudis so desperately want it declassified.

But like I said, we’re all just guessing here. Sometimes you just have to put your faith in the people who made the decision. But I fully understand why you’d be reluctant to do so.

IIRC, various Congresscritters who have seen the classified pages have said that much of them could be released without compromising national security in the least. So why not?

There’s another consideration – the importance of the matter under discussion and the importance of full public knowledge of it.

The matter under discussion in this case isn’t the CIA replacing some shitty government with another shitty government – it’s the largest attack on civilians ever visited on Americans and the most lethal shot in a war that’s been going on in the attackers’ minds for 20 years and which will be going on in everyone’s mind for many years to come. That, in my mind, trumps almost all “security-related” matters. If a name or the location of a listening post or whatever has to be blacked-out, so be it. But hiding the meat of the report is unconscionable.

The Bush administration has a secrecy fetish. In most cases, it’s harmless enough, if not the stuff of which Good Government is made. In this case it has to be overcome. I believe that Congress has the power to compel things to become unclassified. If they have that power, they should exercise it and do so in a way that is specifically embarrassing to the administration. If they don’t, they should impeach and remove Bush. And if Cheney won’t release it, impeach and remove him.

We’re in a war on terror here. There’s no more fucking around, and if reputations are tarnished or allies lost, too bad.

“It’s like jazz… it’s the notes they don’t play.” Heh.

Seriously, I agree with manhattan. The Bush Administration have been telling us what we should believe for almost two years, without telling us why we should believe it. As I’ve been saying for a long time, it’s time for this administration to put up or shut up.

The secrecy is not in our best interests… it is in theirs.

Manhattan: You’re making the assumption that the real tradeoff here is the protection of reputations vs the war on terror.

If that were the case (and it may well be), then I would agree with you 100%.

But how do you know? What crystal ball have you got that allows you to look into those documents? What if the war on terror itself is harmed by releasing that information? What if the people who funded al-Qaida have been turned and are now working with the U.S.? Do you want al-Qaida to know about that?

Like I said, I tend to agree with you, and I would fully understand those who claim that the Bush administration has lost the confidence of the people in matters of secrecy, and should not be given the benefit of the doubt. I won’t argue against that.

I would just ask you to consider the possibility that it really would be a bad idea to release some of this information. Even the Democrats on the intelligence committee who want it released say that ‘95%’ of it could be released. That would imply that even they agree that 5% of the material is too sensitive to make public. I imagine reasonable people could argue about that number. Maybe it’s 5%, maybe it’s 50%, or maybe it’s all of it. I’m not going to guess, because I can’t tell what’s in classified information.

I would say the blood of 3,000+ Americans DEMANDS that the 27 pages be released, but then, I’m a bleeding heart liberal. Not a conservative who doesn’t care about American dead.

Attsa no good, Evil, attsa not no kind of no good.

Let them wave the bloody shirt. We’ve got facts, they can have the spin.

The honest conservatives are the key. When they come around, The Gang of Faux are toast.

Well, Sam, if rjung’s post previous to yours is correct, then that may be the answer to your question. If what he said is so, would that change your mind on this particular point?

Perhaps rjung or someone else could find the original “cite” for his recollection…?

I’m not into bringing knives to a gun fight. If you cared about the values you support, you would think a lot less about technique and more about winning.

I quite understand your sense of urgency.

It is the honest we need to persuade, and the honest are persuaded by truth. I know some honest conservatives, I wouldn’t for a moment suggest that they don’t care about American dead, any more than they would suggest that I am motivated by unpatriotic goals.

Scoundrels are not persuaded, of course. But when the tide changes they simply float away, like a turd on the sea shore. They are moved by fear and greed, they have no opinions worth changing.

I know there are honest conservatives, more importantly, I know there are honest folk in the middle whose opinions matter more than those on the extremes because there are so many of them.

But the Pubbies are winning by appealing to the idjits. They aren’t swayed by logic, they’re swayed by emotion. Nothing works like waving the bloody flag, for them. And we shouldn’t yield them all to the Pubbies by refusing to get down and bare knuckle it with them.

Leaper: I addressed that in my next message. And let me reiterate once again - I don’t have a position on this. I know you guys want to keep pigeonholing me as being a Bush apologist, but it just isn’t the case. Especially on domestic/civil rights matters, I think this administration is going seriously astray. Enough so that if I were American, I’d be seriously looking for an alternative to vote for. As long as it was a serious candidate, and not one of the gang of lightweights currently running for President on the Democratic side.

As I said, I would lean towards releasing this information. If any of you will recall, I was one of the ones calling for an investigation of the Saudi connection soon after 9/11. If there’s damning information in there, the American people should know about it.

All I’ve been doing in this thread is adding a note of caution about releasing classified material sensitive to national security at a time of hostilities.

Sam, you’re right in that we’re all just guessing here. The difference between you and the rest of us is that you’re content not to know the facts; content to give the benefit of all doubt, reasonably or not, to those who have shown themselves unworthy of it. Perhaps you could explain why you feel that way - the rest of us can guess that, too.

And now, the words I didn’t expect to say on any subject: I agree with Manhattan. We need to know, and have a right to know, what our employees are doing in our names.

Thanks for saying that, Elvis. I couldn’t quite bring myself to do it, but (the Unamed One) is spot on.

Probably the beneficial effect of our influence.