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[] Bush-Order: Security through Obscurity in CIP,

Bush order covers Internet secrets 

By Declan McCullagh 
Staff Writer, CNET
March 26, 2003, 12:11 PM PT

President Bush has signed an executive order that explicitly gives the
government the power to classify information about critical
infrastructures such as the Internet. 

Bush late Tuesday changed the definition of what the government may
classify as confidential, secret and top-secret to include details about
"infrastructures" and weapons of mass destruction. The new executive
order also makes clear that information related to "defense against
transnational terrorism" is classifiable. 

In his executive order, which replaces a 1995 directive signed by
President Bill Clinton, Bush said that information that already had been
declassified and released to the public could be reclassified by a
federal agency. Clinton's order said that "information may not be
reclassified after it has been declassified and released to the public." 

David Sobel, general counsel to the Electronic Privacy Information
Center, said it was unclear why the Bush administration decided to
include the term infrastructure. An existing category of scientific,
technological or economic matters relating to national security might
have covered information about the Internet and other critical
infrastructures, Sobel said. 

"It's a mystery to me why there was a feeling that the old order needed
to be revised and expanded," Sobel said. 

The definition of what may be properly classified typically becomes an
issue when a lawsuit is filed under the Freedom of Information Act
seeking to force the government to divulge documents that it claims are
secret and properly classified. Bush's decision gives the U.S. Justice
Department, which defends agency classification decisions in court, more
leeway in fighting such lawsuits. 

Clinton's 1995 order said one of the seven categories of information
that could be classified was: "vulnerabilities or capabilities of
systems, installations, projects or plans relating to the national

Under Bush's order, that definition has been expanded to:
"vulnerabilities or capabilities of systems, installations,
infrastructures, projects, plans or protection services relating to the
national security, which includes defense against transnational

Steven Aftergood, an analyst at the Federation of American Scientists
who tracks government secrecy, says the change in definitions "creates
an opening that could be exploited in the future, but in practice the
previous policy would have permitted much of the same thing."

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