Future wars and violent conflicts will be shaped by the inabilities of governments to function as effective systems of resource distribution and control, and by the failure of entire cultures to compete in the post-modern age. The worldwide polarization of wealth, afflicting continents and countries, as well as individuals in all countries, will prove insurmountable, and social divisions will spark various forms of class warfare more brutal than anything imagined by Karl Marx.
Basic resources will prove inadequate for populations exploding beyond natural limits, and we may discover truths about ourselves that we do not wish to know. In the end, the greatest challenge may be to our moral order.
Resource scarcity will be a direct cause of confrontation, conflict, and war. The struggle to maintain access to critical resources will spark local and regional conflicts that will evolve into the most frequent conventional wars of the next century. Today, the notion of resource wars leads the Westerner to think immediately of oil, but water will be the fundamental need of some states, anti-states, and peoples. We envision a need to preserve rainforests, but expanding populations will increasingly create regional shortages of food--especially when nature turns fickle. We are entering the century of "not enough," and we will bleed for things we previously could buy.
~ US Army War College: The Culture of Future Conflict: Overpopulation & Resource Scarcity will be the Direct Cause of Confrontation, Conflict, and War ~
Federation of American Scientists Secrecy News
6 April 2009
The Director of National Intelligence last week named Roslyn A. Mazer of the Department of Justice to be the next Inspector General of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.
What makes this an intriguing appointment is that from 1996 to 2000 Ms. Mazer was the first chair of the Interagency Security Classification Appeals Panel (ISCAP), which is among the most successful classification reform initiatives of the last half century. At a time when agency Inspectors General may be asked to assume greater oversight over classification policy, she brings an exceptional depth of knowledge and experience to the subject.
One of the ISCAP’s functions is to consider appeals from public requesters for release of information that executive agencies have withheld as classified. Under Ms. Mazer’s leadership from 1996 to 2000, the ISCAP declassified information in an astounding 80% of the documents that were presented for its review.
In fact, Ms. Mazer’s ISCAP was so successful in overturning spurious classification claims that the Central Intelligence Agency begged for relief from ISCAP jurisdiction. The CIA plea was rejected in a 1999 Office of Legal Counsel decision. But in his 2003 executive order on classification (sect. 5.3f), President Bush granted the CIA a veto over ISCAP declassification rulings.
In a 1998 speech to a conference of intelligence agency classification officials, Ms. Mazer criticized what she termed “the Lewis Carroll element of classification policy” which leads to “keeping classified categories of information that everyone already knows.”
During the Cold War, “closed regimes found themselves hopelessly and fatally outpaced by open societies, and ultimately collapsed from exhaustion,” she reminded the assembled intelligence officials. “This is the reason why our democracy endures, why we live under the oldest living constitutional democracy, and why we cannot export democracy like bananas to formerly closed societies.”
“We prevailed over those societies because of our passion for openness, for trusting our citizens more than we empower our leaders. We celebrate our openness. In fact, it is unnecessary secrecy that is timid and cowardly. Openness is courageous. Be courageous. Be as open as you responsibly can,” Ms. Mazer urged.
Ms. Mazer will succeed Edward Maguire, the outgoing ODNI Inspector General who presented his own critique of the ODNI in testimony before a hearing (pdf) of Rep. Anna Eshoo’s House Intelligence subcommittee last week (“IG Report Blasts the Director of National Intelligence,” Secrecy News, April 2, 2009).
Source: Secrecy News
We are supposedly a democracy, but this country's cloak and dagger past remains a major part of its present and future, writes Bryan Rostron
You discover that you're married to someone you’ve never met; worse still, dead. South Africans can find themselves trapped in a bureaucratic nightmare if information held by the state is incorrect. But imagine those records were compiled by secret police.
Mysteriously you’re stymied at every turn, never allowed to know why. It’s also a form of identity theft.
This, in effect is whats happened to many of our most toxic secrets from the past.
They’re still buried in files and our new rulers seem almost as devoted as the old regime to keeping those apartheid-era records as far from our gaze as possible.
“I don’t think we are doing very well, frankly,” says Verne Harris, director of the Nelson Mandela Center of Memory.
“The major reason, I think, has to do with cultures of secrecy. There’s a deadly mix of old apartheid personnel – there are still many strong pockets of them – mixing with the culture of secrecy associated with the liberation (movements) under ground and (in) exile. There’s a meeting of minds between those old and new spooks.”
Intelligence agencies of the democratic era have for years played a cat-and-mouse game with archival experts about the whereabouts, even the existence, of apartheid era security documents.
In many instances, they have simply lied.
Thus no one has any idea of the extent of material available to examine the full history of apartheid. In some cases, the existence of huge caches of vital security agency documents have only been revealed by inadvertent bureaucratic slip-ups.
“The recommendation of the Truth and Reconciliation (TRC) was for an archival audit, but that never happened, so we simply don’t know what documents are out there,” says Piers Pigou, the director of the South African History Archive (Saha)
“But Saha has been able to establish that the military withheld 90 percent of their documents from the TRC, and we found that out entirely by mistake. We asked for three file serious that we knew about and a clerk unwittingly replied: ‘No we have 42 file series.’”
“Vast quantities of incriminating state records were shredded or incinerated in the dying days of the National Party government.”
In their seminal book Unfinished Business – South Africa, Apartheid and Truth, Terry Bell and Dumisa Buhle Ntsebeza state, “In little more than six months in 1993, while political parties of the apartheid state negotiated with the representatives of the liberation movements, some 44 metric tons of records from the National Intelligence Service alone were destroyed. There was so much material that state incinerators could not cope; the furnaces of private companies, such as steel maker Iscor had to also be used. Into these flames disappeared the last vestiges of the voices of thousands of victims.”
Grotesquely, the old regime was not the only authority prepared to obliterate precious documentary records of our recent past.
“In 1996 I as part of a team that walked into a room where both old and new spooks were systematically destroying records of the old Bophuthatswana Intelligence service – a year after Nelson Mandela had ordered a moratorium on destroying documents,” recalls Verne Harris.
The Saha endured years of official “lies, denials and obsfuscation” trying to trace 34 boxes of TRC files, some of which were regarded as highly sensitive, like that of murdered envoy Dulcie September in 1988. Finally, after much duplicity and denials, the Ministry of Intelligence Services admitted possession and – after a three year legal battle – the files were transferred to the national archives. Half of these files are now in the public domain.
The other half can only be accessed through official applications which, claim archival experts, is effectively a “brick wall”
So what is going on? This is not simply a matter of drawing a line under the past. After all, many of those mentioned in the files are still living and, theoretically, have a right to information about themselves.
Secrets, however, are also political currency. Secrets are power.
There will also be compromising information in the files, not only about the nefarious activities of apartheid officials, but about the ambiguous role of some libeation “heroes” as well, possibly even high ranking current politicians.
Speculation about Joe Modise, the deceased former minister of defense, for example, continue to surface, while Peter Makoba, the later former youth leader who made “admissions” during an ANC security investigation, is still treated as a hero in ANC mythology.
The sad truth is that both the old and new bosses have a vested interest in keeping the past hidden.
The paranoia within the ANC, expecially in exile, is well documented. Much of this culture of secrecy and suspicion seems to survive and thrive today. The debacle over allegations by Mo Schaik that Bulelani Ngcuka was an apartheid spy, and the subsequent enquiry which exonerated him, revealed much of this festering, unresolved paranoia.
"Rumour, gossip and insinuation seeped into the inner machinery of the movement, stopping initiatives in thier tracks, always raising questions," wrote Padraig O'Malley in his book Shadows of Difference.
"This was the inevitable result of the movement's having been infiltrated by South African agents, at all levels, and its own awareness of its limited capacity to keep them out."
O'Malley adds: "So deeply had the enemy penetrated the ANC that when the ANC, with the assistance of its own moles in the SB (Special Branch), turned on itself to weed out 'suspects' it did so with the ruthlessness the SB admired. In the process, errors were made, individuals and families ruined, careeers brought to abrupt halts."
"There was a brief, golden era of openness, but since 1999 there has been a distinct closing down," says Verne Harris.
Other countries, mostly former Soviet satellites in Eastern Europe, faced similar dilemmas in the transition from repressive regimes and each dealt with them differently.
Some countries not wanting to destablise national reconciliation, kept secret police files closed for years. Yet this frequently led to a proliferation of rumour and smears -- which, without access to records, could be neither substantiated nor dismissed. Gradually most former Soviet satellites began to open up secret records under a process known as "lustration", taken from the Latin word for ritual purification.
In Poland there are constant new revelations. Last year the Archbishop of Warsaw stepped down after admitting to being an informer during the Communist era. Even Lech Walesa, the founder of Solidarity and Polands first democratically elected President had to fight charges that he'd been a collaborator. He was cleared, but the taint lingered.
For many former dissidents information in their secret files was extremely painful: perhaps their husband, wife or lover had been informing on them.
Others had to fight for years to clear their names. One of the best known Czech dissidents is Jan Kavan, whose exploits in smuggling material in and out of Prague were legendary. After the Velvet Revolution, Kavan became an MP.
Then it was discovered that his 500-page secret police file claimed that, while he was the London representative of the Union of Czechoslovak Students, he held meeetings with an attache at the embassy who was an agent of the STB, the Czech equivalent of the KGB.
Kavan refused to resign and, after seven years of court cases, cleared his name.
In fact, one counter allegation in the Czech Republic is that some right-wing politicians, many of whome took no part in the resistance against Soviet tyranny, used STB files to make highly selective leaks to smear more liberal politicians, most of whom had been anti-Soviet dissidents like Kavan.
The problem, clearly, is how far can any secret police document be trusted?
"A key difficulty is how much credence one gives to the content of such files -- and to be sensitive to concerns over privacy and confidentiality," agrees Pigou. "I believe the critical factor, however, is a competent information approach that can balance the need for openness with appropriate exemptions.
"At Saha we recognize there is such a thing as a legitimate secret -- we just don't feel that those making these vital decisions in South Africa employ an appropriate balance in their overall attitudes about access," he said.
Personal files that have come to light in South Africa reveal some of the crudity and ignorance of security police judgements.
Barry Streek, the late jounalist, accessed his record (File 3016), to discover a 1971 recommendation, signed by the minister of justice, urging that he be restricted without delay on the basis that: "Streek is clearly a supporter of communism. His whole ideology is one of opposition to and the undermining of the current authority."
In addition to suspect, unnamed sources, there are also the dubious motives of the security handlers themselves. There is always a temptation to build a case (and their own reputation), not to mention the possibility of personal animus. In former Soviet satellites it has been shown that, as Communist regimes crumbled, secret police deliberately and maliciously placed "poison pills" in dissidents files, knowing that later this could ruin their reputation.
Perhaps the most sensational case in Poland, after secret police files were fully opened in 1995, was that of Malgorzata Niezabitowska, a goverment spokeswoman and former Solidarity leader. She denied collaboratinig and insisted she had only been interrogated once for six hours.
"The core of the system was a lie and the systems executors were professionals," said Niezabtiowska. "The knew very well how to make lies look like truth, by mixing both in words and in documents."
A court verdict later ruled she had been registered as a spy but that there was no evidence she was aware of this fact. Clearly there is a great deal of ambiguity contained in all secretive documents.
The first, most complete, revelations were from East German Stasi files after the fall of the Berlin Wall.
A major reason for this is that the collapse of the East German regime was rapid and total. West Germany virtually took over, it was like a successful invasion. In most other countries, South Africa included, there's been a more fraught transition: many sensitivities -- and therefore secrets -- had to be balanced and placated. Yet how can we continue, 15 years after our first democratically elected goverment, to accept this protracted silence about so many apartheid-era documents?
The obstruction appears to be a mix of disinterest, incompetence, but above all officialdom's enduring love of secrecy for its own sake.
Pigou points out: "Our Freedom of Information Act is premised on the right to access, except in specific cases. But most bureaucrats consider us an irritation and their starting point tends to be, 'we have no intention of giving you this information... and you can go blue in the face to make your point.' That's not how it was meant to be.
Concealment is the trademark of secret policemen. Not democracy.
Brian Rostron's new novel Black Petals (Jacana) is about a South African archivist who stumbles across a surveillance file on himself -- and doesn't recognise this person at all.
Source: The Sunday Independent, March 15 2009: Sunday Dispatches: Page 13: The Secret Files that Still Haunt SA, by Bryan Rostron