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Government United States

The Department of Homeland Security Needs Its Own Edward Snowden 190

blottsie writes: Out of all the U.S. government agencies, the Department of Homeland Security is one of the least transparent. As such, the number of Freedom of Information Act requests it receives have doubled since 2008. But the DHS has only become more adamant about blocking FOIA requests over the years. The problem has become so severe that nothing short of an Edward Snowden-style leak may be needed to increase transparency at the DHS.
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The Department of Homeland Security Needs Its Own Edward Snowden

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  • by mythosaz ( 572040 ) on Wednesday July 23, 2014 @02:11PM (#47517003)

    Or, they could become less obstinate in blocking FOIA requests.

    The thermonuclear option isn't always a good idea.

  • by sjbe ( 173966 ) on Wednesday July 23, 2014 @02:23PM (#47517087)

    The problem has become so severe that nothing short of an Edward Snowden-style leak may be needed to increase transparency at the DHS.

    Such a leak is just as likely to have exactly the opposite effect. The Snowden leak hasn't exactly made the NSA any more forthcoming regarding their activities. No, the ONLY thing that is going to force DHS to be more transparent in the long run is a motivated Congress. Oversight of the executive branch is after all their job. But since the Dems and Reps are so busy trying to grab power they can't be bothered. The judiciary is no help since they have their head stuck in the sand over standing [wikipedia.org] that they are worse than useless. So the executive branch can do whatever the hell they like without consequence until at least one of the other branches of government starts doing their damn job. All a leak is likely to do is show them what they need to do the be even less transparent than they already are.

  • by ScooterComputer ( 10306 ) on Wednesday July 23, 2014 @02:25PM (#47517107)

    The simple way to fix this is just shut the DHS down. It was a bureaucracy conceived in panic: poorly engineered and even more poorly implemented. Just shut it down. Turn all the records over to Congress and start over.

    Simple reboot. Fix the glitch. Just like Milton's payroll issue.

  • by bistromath007 ( 1253428 ) on Wednesday July 23, 2014 @02:37PM (#47517205)
    ...Yes? Also, it's not like there's really oversight effective enough to ensure they even comply with a judge's ruling.
  • Amend FOIA (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Joe Gillian ( 3683399 ) on Wednesday July 23, 2014 @02:45PM (#47517263)

    The problem here is that we need Congress to amend the Freedom of Information Act. DHS can hide the way they do because they can claim a "national security" exemption to FOIA - one of the very few things (apart from ongoing criminal investigations and ongoing collective bargaining, among a handful of others) that can be used to block a FOIA request. The national security exemption also tends to be the most often abused, especially by police departments and other law enforcement agencies. A lot of the time, the agencies know they won't win when the people requesting the records appeal, but it's a handy way to stonewall records requests right out of the gate.

    What should happen is that FOIA should be amended to make it clear when the national security exemption does and does not apply, so that it can't be used to hide behind anymore.

  • Re:i bet (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 23, 2014 @02:47PM (#47517281)

    My gramps told me about that, wasn't it associated with some weird diary-keeping movement called "journalism", or something?

  • Re:Dismantle DHS (Score:0, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 23, 2014 @02:49PM (#47517299)

    The left still hates it. It's kind of nice that the right is finally getting on board with how bad an idea it was, even if it *does* often manifest as them blaming Obama for the department's creation.

  • Re:i bet (Score:3, Interesting)

    by jbmartin6 ( 1232050 ) on Wednesday July 23, 2014 @03:09PM (#47517437)
    Frank Herbert wrote in a few of his sf novels about a Bureau of Sabotage that did essentially that, gumming up the efforts of other government agencies
  • Re:Dismantle DHS (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 23, 2014 @03:11PM (#47517451)

    Why is the reality distortion field so strong that hating the tyrannical government, when a right-winger is in power, gets you branded a "leftist"? When a leftist is in power, you're branded a "right-winger"? I hated the DHS under Bush and I think his administration was an abomination. I hate the DHS under Obama and think his administration is an abomination. When I would say the former, 2002-2008, I was branded as partisan pinko commie leftist scum. When I say the latter 2008-present, I'm branded as a racist redneck partisan 1% loving corporatist scum.
    It's really getting tiring. I can't vocalize that I disagree with anything this administration has done without hearing "Well, Bush started it! Where were you when Bush was running over our rights?" I was speaking out against it just like I am now, except back then, they called me you.

  • by Dr. Tom ( 23206 ) <tomh@nih.gov> on Wednesday July 23, 2014 @03:32PM (#47517607) Homepage

    You all remember the recent smallpox discovery at the NIH ... well it turns out they found quite a number of samples of various other things, and their disposition was somewhat odd: some of them went to the FDA, the CDC, or were destroyed, but a number of samples (they didn't say what) were sent to Homeland Security.


    What possible business can H.S. have with vials of deadly diseases?

    'The original smallpox samples, along with ten others that were unclearly labeled, were securely transferred to the CDC’s high-containment facility in Atlanta., the FDA said, and 32 other vials have already been destroyed. The remaining 279 were transferred to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s National Bioforensic Analysis Center “for safeguarding.”'

    http://www.salon.com/2014/07/1... [salon.com]

  • Re:Dismantle DHS (Score:4, Interesting)

    by houghi ( 78078 ) on Wednesday July 23, 2014 @04:30PM (#47518067)

    1st. Left? What left?
    2nd. Created under right and the left hated it, extended under left and the right hated it.
    So you still think you have some say in this?

    Only a fool will think that if you do the same thing over and over again, you will get a different result.
    Voting R one time and D the next time and then R again and back to D is not doing things differently. Building a guilotine and off with their heads if they do not perform as promissed is doing things differently.

  • by radarskiy ( 2874255 ) on Wednesday July 23, 2014 @07:40PM (#47519313)

    "U.S. Secret Service they guard the president and for some mind boggling reason, investigate counterfeit currency. "

    No, they investigate counterfeit currency and for an accidental reason guard the president. At the time that Congress requested a protection detail for the President, the Secret Service was the largest law enforcement agency at the federal level. The FBI had not yet been created.

In the realm of scientific observation, luck is granted only to those who are prepared. - Louis Pasteur