Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

Undoing Public Disclosure, One Small Move at a Time

I am appalled. I have scoured the TV News, have looked through newspapers – not a word! I steam at corruption in Kuwait and Qatar and Saudi Arabia, and then a small NPR Report on yesterday’s news alerts me to a measure, passed in Congress, WITHOUT A WHISPER!

(oh? I was shouting? Sorry. Carried away. Outraged) You can access the NPR station and listen to the entire repulsive report by clicking here.

Congress Repeals Financial Disclosure Requirements For Senior U.S. Officials

by EYDER PERALTA

April 12, 2013 4:11 PM

A tourist takes cover underneath an umbrella while snapping a photo of the U.S. Capitol on March 6, 2013 in Washington, DC.

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Joining the Senate, the House of Representatives approved a measure today that repeals a requirement that top government officials post financial disclosures on the Internet.

The House, like the Senate, acted quietly without a vote. Instead, they sent the measure to the president’s desk by unanimous consent.

The provision was part of the Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge Act (Stock), which became law in March of 2012. The act was intended to stop members of congress from profiting from nonpublic information.

As NPR’s Tamara Keith reported, at the time, Sen. Joe Lieberman called the law “the most significant congressional ethics reform legislation to pass Congress in at least five years.”

The Washington Post explains:

“That law mainly addressed conflict-of-interest policies for members of Congress and their staffs, but it also included a requirement that the financial disclosure forms filed by some 28,000 high-ranking federal employees be posted online.

“While those forms are public records, they must be requested individually from employing agencies. The Stock Act envisions online posting first on agency sites and later in a central, searchable database.

“The posting requirement was delayed three times out of concerns about the potential for identity theft and other crimes against career employees, as well as security risks to the government.”

The Sunlight Foundation, which advocates for a more open government,called today’s repeal an “epic failure.”

The foundation explained that instead of addressing specific security concerns, Congress has acted broadly.

For instance, they note, the president, vice president, members of Congress, congressional candidates and individuals subject to Senate confirmation are still required to make their financial disclosures public. But the change in law now makes the posting of those disclosures on the Internet optional.

Sunlight adds:

“Not only does the change undermine the intent of the original bill to ensure government insiders are not profiting from non-public information (if anyone thinks high level congressional staffers don’t have as much or more insider information than their bosses, they should spend some time on Capitol Hill) but it sets an extraordinarily dangerous precedent suggesting that any risks stem not from information being public but from public information being online.

“Are we going to return to the days when the public can use the Internet to research everything exceptwhat their government is doing? Will Congress, in its twisted wisdom, decide that information is public if journalists, academics, advocates and citizens are forced to dig through file cabinets in basements in Washington, DC to find it? And does anyone think that makes us safer?

“As my colleague Tom Lee noted, ‘This approach is known as ‘security through obscurity.’ Essentially, the idea is that rather than fixing a system’s flaws, you can just make the system opaque or unusable or unpopular enough that those flaws never surface.'”

Update at 5:35 p.m. ET. 30 Seconds:

NPR’s Tamara Keith tells us the House procedure took exactly 30 seconds.

Correction at 5:29 p.m. ET. An earlier version of his post said the House followed the Senate. In fact, the Senate voted Thursday and the House voted today.

Advertisements

April 14, 2013 Posted by | Bureaucracy, Character, Civility, Communication, Community, Crime, ExPat Life, Financial Issues, Kuwait, Lies, Middle East, News, NonFiction, Political Issues, Statistics, Transparency, Values | , , | Leave a comment

“I Joined the Navy Because of the Blue Angels”

Unknown

One of our recent house guests was here visiting when it was announced that the 2013 Blue Angel season was cancelled. It was a stunning blow to the Pensacola community – we ALL love the booming roar of those jets screeching over our houses when they practice. All heads look up. It might sound annoying, all that noise, but it isn’t – it’s exciting! We’re proud to be home to the Blue Angels.

“You know, I joined the navy because of the Blue Angels,” he said.

No. I didn’t know that.

He saw them when he was a boy, living in Idaho (yearning to escape Idaho) and they ignited his imagination. He didn’t need to BE a Blue Angel, but he wanted to be a part of what they were a part of.

When cutting budgets, we all gotta do what we gotta do. Budget cuts suck, no matter what level you are on. But losing a Blue Angel season – ouch! That really hurts!

April 14, 2013 Posted by | Beauty, Bureaucracy, Cultural, Education, Entertainment, Events, Financial Issues, Living Conditions, Pensacola, Work Related Issues | , , , , | 4 Comments