[ISN] Bush order covers Internet secrets

From: InfoSec News (isnat_private)
Date: Thu Mar 27 2003 - 01:49:09 PST

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    By Declan McCullagh 
    Staff Writer, CNET News.com
    March 26, 2003
    President George W. 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 
    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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