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The Bush Doctrine
May 24, 2006 3:50 PM   Subscribe

President George W. Bush has bestowed on his intelligence czar, John Negroponte, broad authority, in the name of national security, to excuse publicly traded companies from their usual accounting and securities-disclosure obligations. Notice of the development came in a brief entry in the Federal Register, dated May 5, 2006, that was opaque to the untrained eye.
posted by Mean Mr. Bucket (55 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
What's with the county map?
posted by boo_radley at 3:55 PM on May 24, 2006


Holy fucking shit.

I mean, is there no corporate blowjob that cannot be cloaked in the rich dark chocolate coating of "War on Terror"?

The good news is that I retain the capacity for shock.

The bad news is that I have children, and therefore think about what the future may bring rather more than may be healthy.
posted by sacre_bleu at 3:59 PM on May 24, 2006


"At this moment, America's greatest economic need is higher ethical standards -- standards enforced by strict laws and upheld by responsible business leaders.

The lure of heady profits of the late 1990s spawned abuses and excesses. With strict enforcement and higher ethical standards, we must usher in a new era of integrity in corporate America. "


Wonder how using this order will end up clashing with Sarbains-Oxley?
posted by rough ashlar at 3:59 PM on May 24, 2006


Not to defend Bush at all...

But to be clear since Carter the president himself has been able to to excuse companies from SEC reporting regs. The big news here is that Bush is the first president to delegate this authority.

The rule is intended to permit companies involved in top-secret government contracts from having to disclose items that may reveal the terms or purposes of these programs.
posted by JPD at 4:00 PM on May 24, 2006


Next up: the Cabinet and Congress quit goofing around, hang out a red light on the Capitol steps.
posted by Tuwa at 4:02 PM on May 24, 2006


I'm pretty sure we've covered this.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 4:02 PM on May 24, 2006


Double.

Deleted the first time, and it should be deleted again.

When you read the actual statute, passed by Congress in the 70's, its permits this power to be delegated to any head of an agency. There are policy reasons for this law to exist, and it is not even remotely newsworthy and/or nefarious.
posted by dios at 4:03 PM on May 24, 2006


You also botched the links for John Negroponte and "untrained eye."
posted by dios at 4:04 PM on May 24, 2006


Anyone see the Sopranos last Sunday, where Tony says "Dick Cheney for president of the fucking universe" after talking about the lucrative, no-oversight deals going to any and all contractors involved in the New Orleans "re-buidling"?

Yeah, Tony Soprano is on to something.
posted by bardic at 4:04 PM on May 24, 2006


Although, I do give you points Mean Mr. Bucket for not being as sensationalisticly wrong as the last poster of this was.
posted by dios at 4:06 PM on May 24, 2006


Well, the "presidential signing statement" has been around quite a while too. But only our current president has used it to chicken out of vetoes while going on the record to provide loopholes in 700+ pieces of legislation.
posted by sacre_bleu at 4:09 PM on May 24, 2006


Once I just wanted Bush and his handlers out of office. After time, I wanted him impeached and then I wanted him and his fellow evil doers impeached and imprisoned. Now I'm leaning toward the death penalty with Texas-style compassion and speed.
posted by BillyElmore at 4:31 PM on May 24, 2006


Double or no, America really sucks. Give me Iraq circa 1999 any day.
posted by fire&wings at 4:32 PM on May 24, 2006


If Dios and right, and this is not nefarious, it would mark a first for a news story involving John Negroponte.
posted by cell divide at 4:35 PM on May 24, 2006


dios: When you read the actual statute, passed by Congress in the 70's, its permits this power to be delegated to any head of an agency. There are policy reasons for this law to exist, and it is not even remotely newsworthy and/or nefarious.

Certainly there may be sound policy reasons for this to exist. But, it's still newsworthy because one of the central themes that has many people worried about the current state of the executive is concern about lack of accountability. Perhaps it's not nefarious, but one of the few checks we have on this kind of power comes from news and attention.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 4:40 PM on May 24, 2006


Give me Iraq circa 1999 any day.

There's no shortage of countries with similar conditions today, so go ahead. Or were you just using an impoverished nation as a convenient prop? I mean, I dislike Bush as much as the next American, but we continue to live in luxury while much of the world starves, so let's not pretend we'd really trade places.
posted by scottreynen at 4:41 PM on May 24, 2006


1999 Iraq would be OK if you could be Saddam, or even Qusay or Uday.

Beyond them, I bet it sucked.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 4:46 PM on May 24, 2006


Certainly there may be sound policy reasons for this to exist.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 4:40 PM PST on May 24


And as soon as good, sound policy comes out the administration, then we'd have a reason to trust 'em.
posted by rough ashlar at 4:52 PM on May 24, 2006


The new secrecy doctrine you don't know about
posted by overanxious ducksqueezer at 4:52 PM on May 24, 2006


scottreynen - Convenient prop. I've no idea how bad it must be to live in America, to have your phonecalls recorded, to live in fear, to have dropped from being the beacon of the world to some sort of flailing, paranoid, corrupt and destructive political wild west last seen in in Georgia or some other backwater. I'm just guessing.
posted by fire&wings at 5:19 PM on May 24, 2006


how bad it must be to live in America, to have your phonecalls recorded, to live in fear, to have dropped from being the beacon of the world to some sort of flailing, paranoid, corrupt and destructive political wild west last seen in in Georgia or some other backwater.

Huh. That really doesn't describe the America I live in at all. Maybe my phonecalls are being recorded. I don't know. But I definitely don't live in fear. I wasn't aware that America was ever truly the "beacon of the world." I thought that was Western Europe. I mean, the corruption and evil of our government bothers me a lot, but one of the reasons that they get away with it is that it really doesn't affect the lives of the citizens perceptibly. Sure, high gas prices and taxes, I guess, but the causal relationship, while undeniable, is not obvious to most people.
posted by JekPorkins at 5:38 PM on May 24, 2006


cell divide: hah!
posted by sonofsamiam at 6:10 PM on May 24, 2006


The rule is intended to permit companies involved in top-secret government contracts from having to disclose items that may reveal the terms or purposes of these programs.

Yeah, and the news story kind of leaves us hanging when it comes to that:

"It couldn't be immediately determined whether any company has received a waiver under this provision."

Usually reporter-speak for "I was on deadline and didn't have the time to look it up," but the news happened on May 5th and this was posted on the 23rd. Sheesh.

Double or no, America really sucks. Give me Iraq circa 1999 any day.

That's hilarious.
posted by Alexandros at 6:16 PM on May 24, 2006


Double or no, America really sucks. Give me Iraq circa 1999 any day.

I've no idea how bad it must be to live in America, to have your phonecalls recorded, to live in fear, to have dropped from being the beacon of the world to some sort of flailing, paranoid, corrupt and destructive political wild west last seen in in Georgia or some other backwater. I'm just guessing.

Your sense of perspective is seriously out of whack. You may be spending too much time on the internet. I'm just guessing.
posted by pardonyou? at 6:26 PM on May 24, 2006


I mean, the corruption and evil of our government bothers me a lot, but one of the reasons that they get away with it is that it really doesn't affect the lives of the citizens perceptibly. Sure, high gas prices and taxes, I guess, but the causal relationship, while undeniable, is not obvious to most people.

Sometimes it's really frustrating being American, as our society seems so completely mesmerized by television, crass materialism, manufactured fear, and the many other distractions of American life. Heap on the antidepressants, tranquilizers, meth, corn syrup and other goodies, and you've got a very docile citizenship. People are consumers, everything is for sale, dignity, self-respect, you name it. Ignorance is both encouraged and rewarded, deceit is the price of doing business. Religious fundamentalism is rampant, which never really seems to work well for peace and tranquility.

High gas prices? Not with respect to most of the rest of the world - US prices have been rather reasonable compared to, say, Europe or Japan. High taxes? Tell that to a Swedish citizen.

The people who died on 9.11, their families, the soldiers being blown into oblivion in Iraq, their families, they don't need to intellectualize the political mechanisms of what has happened to their country. They pay the price for it every day. Our current actions overseas insure more strife, more danger for all parties concerned, and the lost lives of many innocents. If you step outside of political rhetoric and wishful thinking, you see a serious, dire emergency. The American people should be up marching on Washington, but they are caught up in the machine, and the consumer is consumed by the hour. People have been convinced that large scale change is not doable, so move along now. Complacency is easier than commitment to significant change.

By the time the US wakes up and realizes what's happened, it will truly be too late. The blatant actions of the current administration, their brazen disregard for rationality, truth and sanity, their crimes will haunt future generations on all sides. These bastards are essentially giving the keys to the corporations - they need to bury the money laundering and other wasted, burned stacks of dollars for the future, and this move makes it legal. Bush is making Negroponte the fall guy in case it all implodes, and the fact that he's putting the power outside of the Oval Office is also unprecedented, scary stuff. It's another sign that the Neocons really, truly assume they can do whatever they want, all in the name of National Security.

Not good.
posted by dbiedny at 6:31 PM on May 24, 2006 [1 favorite]


what would become of "the blue" without the thin blue line? thanks MeFi cops! you're keeping us safe in these troubled times. the ever-vigilant officer dios, in particular, seems to be gunning for a promotion. perhaps we can reward you with an emeritus position? surely, we cannot hoard one with skills such as yours all to ourselves. we need to share the dios wealth with other sites, much as bevets is "shared" across the internets.
posted by Hat Maui at 6:36 PM on May 24, 2006


is there no corporate blowjob that cannot be cloaked in the rich dark chocolate coating of "War on Terror"?

I will always treasure this moment.
posted by Dunwitty at 7:07 PM on May 24, 2006


I will wager a bet that Halliburton is exempt from reporting proper accounting reports via SEC standards. This will be the final page on a few billion lost to the winds.

I have no problem with secret programs, say something like Lockheed Martin developing a new plane for ultra-espionage and the Senate subcommittee knows about it - but I fear in this particular case the statute will be used in less palatable ways - something akin to how the Humvees were armored going into the Iraq war - shoddy and suspicious at the expense of those outside of management.
Translation - pockets will be lined and unethical behavior is to be hidden.

Full disclosure: I don't trust the Bush administration.
posted by fluffycreature at 7:10 PM on May 24, 2006


When you read the actual statute, passed by Congress in the 70's, its permits this power to be delegated to any head of an agency.

Dios, it apears that while it has been legal since the 1970s, this is the first time that the power has actually been delegated.
posted by delmoi at 7:29 PM on May 24, 2006


I fear in this particular case the statute will be used in less palatable ways

Like this?
http://www.oyez.org/oyez/resource/case/1535/
posted by rough ashlar at 7:31 PM on May 24, 2006


A genuine question for those criticizing the statute: should defense contractors have to disclose their work on top secret government contracts in their 10-K or other financials? Doesn't that defeat the purpose of the secret designation?
posted by monju_bosatsu at 7:37 PM on May 24, 2006


Yea hat maui! thought i was alone in being driven crazy by what you so astutely put your finger one. so relieved now.
posted by Gaius Gracchus at 7:57 PM on May 24, 2006


should defense contractors have to disclose their work on top secret government contracts in their 10-K or other financials? Doesn't that defeat the purpose of the secret designation?

Indeed it defeats the purpose of their secrecy and illustrates its anti-democratic essence. It also illustrates why companies make so much money from subterfuge and weapons defense contracts. They are in bed with the government and there are no controls over wasted budget and miss-applied funds.
Everyone wins apart from the tax payer and those interested in democracy. Oh, and positive scientific endevour.
Secret service, spying and covert operations more often than not work counter to the aims of stability and a healthy society. But there is a whole bunch of money to be made here and no shortage of paranoid/psychotic rich and powerful people to facilitate this.
posted by asok at 8:03 PM on May 24, 2006


A genuine question for those criticizing the statute: should defense contractors have to disclose their work on top secret government contracts in their 10-K or other financials? Doesn't that defeat the purpose of the secret designation?

I'm not willing to accept on faith that secret government contracts are necessary to preserve the security of America. Can you give me any reason I should adopt this assumption? If not, my answers to your questions are yes and yes.
posted by scottreynen at 8:06 PM on May 24, 2006


Can you give me any reason I should adopt this assumption?

Sure. Nuclear weapons and technology. Reason enough?
posted by JekPorkins at 8:09 PM on May 24, 2006


Sure. Nuclear weapons and technology. Reason enough?

So if Japan or Germany knew we were going to bomb them with our secret nuclear technology, they would have done what exactly? I'm afraid I'm still not seeing the danger in government transparency.
posted by scottreynen at 8:36 PM on May 24, 2006


A genuine question for those criticizing the statute: should defense contractors have to disclose their work on top secret government contracts in their 10-K or other financials? Doesn't that defeat the purpose of the secret designation?

Of course they should. In what way does knowing that Lockheed Martin received $34B from the DoD for "Program A" endanger our national security? Even if Al Queda knew that the DoD was spending $34B developing an infrared-sonic-ray-flying-laser, what advantage, exactly, does that give them?

It's like the ridiculous notion that the NYT harmed our national security by printing a story about phone taps -- because, you know, Al Queda would *never* have guessed that.

C'mon, people, grow up.
posted by srt19170 at 8:50 PM on May 24, 2006


As is too usual on MeFi, the import of this post has been blown about like the winds from a gasoline-powered Los Angeles leaf-blower...(1999 Iraq? WTF?)...but, yeah, this could indicate some seriously fucked-up planning going on. And one out of one hundred thousand Americans will read about it. Most of those will, of course, be the ones who will profit from their ability to operate in secrecy.

Halliburton water-coolers don't need Prozac; the water-drinkers are doing just fine, thank you.

And... czars?! Czar Negroponte. Boy howdy, what a happy republic/democracy we live in when our El Presidente can appoint, willy-nilly, "czars" to "oversee" established federal agencies. (The NSA and the CIA, which is no loner looking like the shadowy danger it did to us in the 60's!)

Sorry, this is really not looking good.
posted by kozad at 8:51 PM on May 24, 2006


Anybody who for a moment supposes that ANYTHING Bush does is in the public's interest should have their voting rights revoked for life.

Nothing these people do is for our country. Everything they do is to further their agenda. Their agenda is making their buddies richer. Their agenda is amassing power.

What this will boil down to, ultimately and predictably, is another move by the Bush administration to cover their asses and cloak their activities.
posted by rougy at 9:26 PM on May 24, 2006


I hate to whiz on an ongoing flame war, but I'd like to point out that the entire post is a verbatim copy of the first paragraph of the news story it points to. Folks, if you're quoting something that's not yours, either indent or quote it rather than just giving it the old Ctrl-X Ctrl-V.

Better yet, do like others around here an post something in your own words?
posted by drmarcj at 10:21 PM on May 24, 2006


Rougy:

So who was the last president who did do something for the public interest? Jefferson?
posted by sideshow at 12:30 AM on May 25, 2006


Not to put words in Rougy's mouth, but here's my answer. George Washington: when they offered him a throne, he declined. Or maybe Nixon when he created the EPA. Hmmm... And he went to China. He was way cooler than Bush.
posted by overanxious ducksqueezer at 2:57 AM on May 25, 2006


I'd like to point out that the entire post is a verbatim copy of the first paragraph of the news story it points to.

This happens a lot on the blue. I don't see it as a problem and I don't think I've read any comments, until now, saying it is a problem.
posted by effwerd at 3:57 AM on May 25, 2006


Rougy:

So who was the last president who did do something for the public interest? Jefferson?


I've believed for a long time now that the last truly good and honest man to sit in the Oval was Ike. Maybe Carter, too.
posted by spirit72 at 5:53 AM on May 25, 2006


Ahhhhhhhhh. You people are not thinking. THIS IS NOT A STORY. The only implication of this is that instead of Negroponte going to Bush and saying: "Mr. President can you approve this permission for (LMT, BA, NOC, GD, etc) to not present a discussion of these projects in their 10-K/Q." and getting a "Sure Blackbridgy" and a big scrawled X on the bottom of the page, Negroponte just signs it himself.
posted by JPD at 5:55 AM on May 25, 2006


I've believed for a long time now that the last truly good and honest man to sit in the Oval was Ike.

Yeah, except for that whole Mossadegh thing. And the failure to try to handle McCarthy in any meaningful way.

This is not to denigrate Ike, who I also believe was an upstanding and decent man. I just think that mere occupancy of that office forces decent men do indecent things. The less moral fibre they have, the more cravenly they act.
posted by psmealey at 6:15 AM on May 25, 2006


So who was the last president who did do something for the public interest?
LBJ
posted by kirkaracha at 6:23 AM on May 25, 2006


I can't stand the president, but this is not a big deal. The securities laws require for massive amounts of disclosure about what a company is working on, how the project is going, what kinds of problems they are running into, and what kinds of profits or losses they expect. You just can't do that kind of disclosure if you're working on a secret program. And just saying "we're working on secret program X" would not be good enough to satisfy the securities laws absent an exception like the one discussed in the FPP. The securities laws require "qualitative disclosure," meaning more than just how much money you're making on any given program, but also what sorts of problems/risks you anticipate on the program.
posted by Mid at 6:30 AM on May 25, 2006


A genuine question for those criticizing the statute: should defense contractors have to disclose their work on top secret government contracts.....

Sure. Disclose it as something like "Contract / Government / 18461-J-4". I'm sure there will be a lot more numbers an /'s in the real thing, but such is life. If everything was coded this way, from repaving Hwy. 38 to anti-satelite weaponry it would be absolutly non-revealing.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 8:21 AM on May 25, 2006


A genuine question for those criticizing the statute: should defense contractors have to disclose their work on top secret government contracts in their 10-K or other financials? Doesn't that defeat the purpose of the secret designation?

To be fair: this was always an exclusion, so it is difficult not to see this as a non sequitor. The criticism so far is not directed at the application of this exemption to defense contractors but to any generic publicly-traded company, for any reason that requires little or no explanation or accountability before Congress.

Given the ongoing collusion of this administration with numerous business interests, including the oil industry and subsidary support contractor sectors, and given the history of the person with whom exemption power now lies, the skepticism about where this exemption will be applied — not least the reasons why — seems to be the genuine root of complaint.
posted by Mr. Six at 8:54 AM on May 25, 2006


scottreynen: I'm afraid I'm still not seeing the danger in government transparency.

I second this. Anymore attempts at secrecy in the name of the "war on terror" by this administration deserves serious and skeptical scrutiny. And sorry but THEY did this to themselves. They have an established pattern of fear-mongering lies, manipulation and constitutional nose-thumbing.

There's some strange stuff about the timing of this. Porter Goss suddenly "resigned" the same day this was signed. How will this impact oversight and accountability in reagrds to Halliburton. And How will this effect the peoples ability to look into the constitional legality of the the NSA / Telcos wiretapping scheme and data mining effort.

Can anyone catagorically state with conviction that it doesn't make you somewhat suspicious that these companies will perhaps never have to state exactly how the gov. money was spent?

posted by Skygazer at 9:04 AM on May 25, 2006


Sideshow -

"So who was the last president who did do something for the public interest?"

That sort of rankled my feathers because it seems to be a passive justification for Bush's actions.

Clinton cut taxes for low-income families and reduced the previous administrations’ $600 billion deficit, helped with student loans, and tried to keep a leash in the energy sector.

Carter helped us with SALT II and created the Department of Energy and advocated solar energy.

Nixon, when he wasn’t being a complete prick, helped make peace with China and established the EPA.

None of these men was a saint. But compared to GWB, they were.

Bush has not done one fucking thing for the working class of this country. He never will. Everything he has done has been for his own interests and for the interests of his class.

When something goes wrong in our country that doesn't have to do with warfare, Bush spreads his arms and says "What do you expect me to do about it?"

If shitting on America would make Bushists richer, make no mistake, they would do it.
posted by rougy at 12:39 PM on May 25, 2006


Because delegated authority never gets abused by the private sector...

“In addition to refusing to explain why Bush decided to delegate this authority to Negroponte...”

Good news for you “opacity in government” fans.

“Negroponte's office did not respond to requests for comment.”

Because, fuck you, you don’t have a right to know.

“What you might hide is investments: You've spent umpteen million dollars that comes out of your working capital to build a plant in Iraq," which the government wants to keep secret. "That's the kind of scenario that would be plausible," Coffee said. “

I love speculation. It’s the best way to get to the bottom of something.
Maybe national security interests are at stake. Maybe there are excellent policy reasons for this law and it’s completely begnin.
But we wouldn’t know it because the Fed just said “fuck off” to the media and didn’t explain shit about dick.

The story here isn’t that BushCo is secretly blah blah blah (we don’t have any proof that they are - er, in this matter) or that Bush is a bad guy, but this particular thing is innocuous - the story is the media seems to have run into a brick wall on this and an elected leader delegated power to an appointee that concerns private money that interacts with YOUR TAX DOLLARS and some of you don’t want to know shit about it.

I’d echo what sacre_bleu but add that the real crime is no one feels the need to explain to taxpaying citizens what is being done in their name.

Maybe it’s totally to our benefit. But who knows? Not me because these guys won’t say anything about it.

That seem like the kind of government you want? Please mail me your wallet (with credit cards) and I will invest the money for you.
How? No comment. Just trust me.
posted by Smedleyman at 3:39 PM on May 25, 2006


That seem like the kind of government you want? Please mail me your wallet (with credit cards) and I will invest the money for you.
How? No comment. Just trust me.


No, no, no. That's not how you abuse our trust at all. You have to say you'll spend our money on abstract ideals like democracy and security, and only refuse to answer questions when asked what that means specifically, and if we keep asking, accuse us of being opposed to those abstract ideals. Then I'll mail you my wallet to demonstrate that I am most certainly not anti-democracy.
posted by scottreynen at 4:01 PM on May 25, 2006


gather ye rosebuds while ye may, dios.
posted by modernerd at 2:58 PM on May 26, 2006


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