Steven Aftergood writes in Slate about the growth in rules dubbed “Sensitive Security Information” as a result of the Homeland Security Act of 2002 — government rules that we have to follow but aren’t allowed to know the details of.
- “Before the Law stands a doorkeeper” begins Franz Kafka’s famous parable, which tells of a man who seeks “admittance to the Law” but who is denied access by the doorkeeper—something he did not expect.
The Law, he thinks, “should surely be accessible at all times and to everyone.”
Federal employees can’t be prosecuted for revealing the contents of such information (only fired), but they’ve been threatened with prosecution nonetheless.
And the TSA has used federal funding as a carrot and stick to impose secrecy rules on local police departments.
- “If I hadn’t seen this contract I wouldn’t have believed it could happen in America,” Police Chief William McCarthy told the Des Moines Register. Its non-disclosure requirements were so stringent that it might have prevented officers from “reporting the arrest of a drunk at the airport” without first consulting TSA, he said. Similar agreements have been signed with police departments in other cities around the country.
It’s enough to make me a civil libertarian.