Several paragraphs in the Presidential Policy Directive on cyberware — those about "emergency cyber actions" — will trouble civil libertarians and companies in the U.S. The reason is not so much the content of the paragraphs but the fact that the government felt it necessary to hide them.
Actually, the words "emergency cyber actions" are themselves classified!
Who wouldn't be suspicious of a SECRET document that spells out the fact that the government, acting under the national command authority, will act to shut down part of the internet if there's an existential threat?
I'm going to reprint the (S/NF) paragraphs in full because they seem to be something we'd want the government to do.
The caveats themselves (and the fact that THEY are secret) suggest that the government will truly revert to something like this in an absolute emergency.
And there is no reason why they can't admit that fact and then allow, encourage, and foster the debate that will result from it. Laying out these general rules, and then making them state secrets, endows them with a power that they ought not have.
And so forth. What the classification of this information says to the American people is: We don't trust you, so we are not going to give a basis for stuff we might do in the future that might make you trust us less.
Good job, secret-keepers.
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- Watch out, China — America is working on dogfighting drones
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- How to be the most productive person in your office — and still get home by 5:30 p.m.
- How liberals are unwittingly paving the way for the legalization of adult incest
- Why the Chinese military is only a paper dragon
- Why America won't have enough money to battle ISIS
- The troubling persistence of eugenicist thought in modern America
- Bill O'Reilly and Stephen Colbert are accidentally having a serious debate on ISIS
- 6 things the happiest families all have in common
- How the Simpsons/Family Guy crossover revealed the worst of both shows
Subscribe to the Week