Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Information vs It's Secret.....

From Secrecy News:

Secrecy News Blog: http://www.fas.org/blog/secrecy/



"No information may remain classified indefinitely," according to a draft of an Obama Administration executive order on national security classification policy.

As a statement of principle, this may seem tame and self-evident. But until now, no Administration has been willing to make such a categorical statement about the temporal limits of national security secrecy, and it may have significant policy consequences.

An August 4 draft of the executive order (pdf) was prepared by an interagency task force in response to a May 27 memorandum from the President. The draft is still subject to revision, and has not yet been formally transmitted to the White House for review and approval. Release of the "highly deliberative draft" executive order was specifically denied by National Security Advisory Gen. James L. Jones in a September 2, 2009 letter (pdf). But a copy was obtained by Secrecy News. Some aspects of the draft order were previously reported by Bill Gertz in the Washington Times on September 24.

The draft order, which does not represent anything like a transformation of the existing secrecy system, nevertheless has some valuable and innovative features, as well as some disappointing omissions, and a few retrograde steps. See this side-by-side comparison (pdf) between the August 2009 draft and the current executive order.

The draft order states (section 3.3g) that all records are to be automatically declassified no more than 50 years from the date of origin, with the sole exception of records that would identify a confidential human intelligence source. And even such intelligence records must be declassified no more than 75 years from the date of origin, with no exceptions. This is something new. An existing requirement for "automatic declassification" at 25 years would remain in place, but at the 25 year point there are still nine expansive exemptions to declassification. Under the new policy, the exemptions would diminish over time and then disappear altogether.

The draft would require a "Fundamental Classification Guidance Review," involving a continuing review of all agency classification guides in order "to identify classified information that no longer requires protection and can be declassified" (section 1.9). This is a version of a proposal advanced by Secrecy News (e.g., here and here), and among all of the potential changes to the executive order, it was our top priority. If it worked, the fundamental review would introduce a dynamic new element of self-correction into the classification process.

A National Declassification Center would be established to facilitate interagency review of historical records and to resolve quality control issues, presumably leading to more complete and expeditious access to such declassified records (section 3.7).

Other constructive if not bold steps include: new requirements for training of classification officials in avoiding overclassification; a requirement to identify by name those who derivatively classify information originally classified by others in order to improve accountability; a higher threshold for reclassification of declassified information; provisions for review of previously granted exemptions of file series from 25 year automatic declassification.

On the less constructive side, the draft order affirms that "no agency may declassify information that originated in another agency... without the consent of the originating agency" (section 3.1f). This reinforces a cherished view that agencies "own" the information they produce, and that they retain control over its release and dissemination. It is arguably the single most profound conceptual flaw in the classification system, and it immeasurably complicates the declassification and disclosure process. Even the new National Declassification Center will not possess unilateral authority to declassify information, but will only provide "timely and appropriate processing of referrals" from one agency to another.

The draft order does not make any provision for a "declassification database" that would offer easily accessible electronic versions of declassified records, or at least bibliographic data on exactly what has been declassified.

The draft does not provide enhanced oversight or declassification authority to the Information Security Oversight Office.

The draft would perpetuate the veto authority that was granted to the CIA by the Bush Administration over declassification decisions made by the Interagency Security Classification Appeals Panel, but it would transfer that authority from the CIA to the Director of National Intelligence. CIA's seat on the interagency Panel would be reassigned to the DNI.

Beyond the ongoing battles over parochial agency interests that are at stake in the new draft, there seems to be a growing sense that the existing secrecy system, even if it is to be buffed and polished one more time, has finally reached obsolescence.

"As soon as we complete our revision of the existing Order," wrote Gen. Jones on September 2, "I plan to begin discussions... about a more fundamental transformation of the security classification system."


Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Some More Good Books....

From Publishers Lunch Weekly...


Meg Mitchell Moore's THE ARRIVALS, set in Vermont, about three siblings who return to their parents' home for the summer and must contend with the adult problems they've brought with them under their childhood roof, to Reagan Arthur at Reagan Arthur Books, in a pre-empt, in a two-book deal, by Elisabeth Weed at Weed Literary (World English).

Twitter phenom Matt Stewart's humorous epic of one dysfunctional family's quest for fame and power in present-day San Francisco, written in a loose parallel of the French Revolution, to Denise Oswald at Soft Skull, by Lisa Grubka at Foundry Literary + Media (NA).
Foreign: sabou@foundrymedia.com


Executive producer and show runner of TV's "24," Howard Gordon's THE OBELISK, a thriller that follows Washington insider Gideon Davis as he becomes embroiled in a vast global conspiracy involving oil, terrorism, pirates, and politics, to Stacy Creamer at Touchstone Fireside (and Pocket for paperback), for publication beginning in fall 2010, plus a sequel at Richard Abate at 3 Arts Entertainment (world).


Whitbread award winner Susan Fletcher's story of a condemned witch as she describes her role in a gruesome massacre to a man who, despite being initially convinced of her guilt, begins to see the truth, to Jill Bialosky at Norton, in a very nice deal, for publication in Fall 2010, by Grainne Fox at Fletcher & Company on behalf of Vivienne Schuster at Curtis Brown, UK (NA).

A bestseller in South Korea, Shin Kyong-sook's PLEASE LOOK AFTER MOM, chronicling a family's shock and despair following the matriarch's disappearance, as the mystery of one Mom illuminates the mysteries of all moms, to Robin Desser at Knopf, in a pre-empt, for publication in May 2011, by Barbara Zitwer at Barbara Zitwer Agency (US). UK/Commonwealth rights to Arzu Tahsin for Weidenfeld & Nicolson, also in a pre-empt.

The Sixteen Pleasures and The Fall of a Sparrow author Robert Hellenga's SNAKEWOMAN OF LITTLE EGYPT, the story of an anthropology professor who becomes fascinated with a community of evangelical snake-handlers in rural Illinois, and falls in love with a woman from there who's recently shot her preacher husband, to Nancy Miller at Bloomsbury, by Henry Dunow at Dunow, Carlson & Lerner (World).


Author of THE FAMILY Jeff Sharlet's C STREET, an new investigation into religious fundamentalism and American politics, to Geoff Shandler and John Parsley at Little, Brown, for publication in 2010, by Kathleen Anderson at Anderson Literary Management (world).

Author of THE ASSASSINS' GATE George Packer's untitled book offering new perspective on post-Obama America, and INTERESTING TIMES, a collection of essays written since 9/11 (NA), for publication in November 2009, to Jonathan Galassi at Farrar, Straus, for publication in 2011, by Kathleen Anderson at Anderson Literary Management (world, excl. UK).

Spy for the CIA against the Iranian government Reza Kahlili's A TIME TO BETRAY, the story of life in Iran in the time of the last shah, the spirit that led to his overthrow in 1979, the rise of Ayatollah Khomeini, the way the ayatollah and his mullahs stripped people of their freedom, and the way some people chose to engage in a fight that continues to this very day, to Anthony Ziccardi of Pocket, by Peter Miller of PMA Literary & Film Management.


Boston University journalism professor Mitchell Zuckoff's SHANGRI-LA: The Epic True Story of a World War II Plane Crash Into the Stone Age, a story of war, survival, heroism and a near-impossible rescue mission three months before the end of the war, as an American pilot crashes in New Zealand mountains inhabited by the Dani tribesman, with the three survivors ultimately saved in dramatic fashion, to Jonathan Burnham and Claire Wachtel at Harper, for publication in spring 2011, by Richard Abate of 3 Arts Entertainment (world).


Caitlin Kelly's RETAIL THERAPY, an eye-opening account of working in retail, from an author who, finding herself unemployed at 50, got a job at the mall and a new perspective on work and life, to Courtney Young at Portfolio, in a very nice deal, for publication in Spring 2011, by Kathleen Anderson at Anderson Literary Management (World).


Former NFL quarterback Rodney Peete's NOT MY BOY!: A Dad's Journey with Autism, a look inside his journey raising an autistic son, a look that provides inspiration and help for families facing big child-raising challenges, to Barbara Jones at Hyperion, at auction, for publication in April 2010, by Jason Anthony at Lippincott Massie McQuilkin and Jennifer Gates at Zachary Shuster Harmsworth Literary Agency (world English).


NYT reporter Charles Duhigg's THE POWER OF HABIT: What the New Science of Habit Formation Can Teach Us About How We Live, Work, Spend, Build and Succeed, to Andy Ward at Random House, in a pre-empt, by Scott Moyers at The Wylie Agency.


Sunday, September 20, 2009

Crazy Like A Fox...the book...

From the co-author:


The publication of my book, Crazy Like a Fox: One Principal’s Triumph
in the Inner City, is almost here!

On September 1, the New American Library (a division of Penguin) will
release the hardcover version, which will be available at Barnes &
Noble, Borders, other major chains, and independent bookstores. You
can also order the book online.

For those of you unfamiliar with the content of Crazy Like a Fox: One
Principal’s Triumph in the Inner City, here’s a brief description:

“Litter-strewn and rundown with unsupervised students and horrible
test scores and attendance rates, American Indian Public Charter
School (AIPCS) in Oakland, CA, hung rightfully on the brink of
closure. Dr. Ben Chavis said he'd like to take over the school, then
referred to as ‘the zoo.’ Was Chavis crazy? After being appointed
principal, he raised the bar with an approach that would make most
educators tremble and set the school apart as one of the finest middle
schools in all of California.”

I worked for Dr. Ben Chavis in Oakland as a teacher and administrator
for four years, and during that time I developed the book idea. After
trying different stylistic approaches, I wrote the story of AIPCS’s
remarkable turnaround in Chavis’s own no-nonsense voice. In essence, I
wrote his memoir. As a result, Crazy Like a Fox is like a “celebrity”
book with author credits of “By Dr. Ben Chavis with Carey Blakely.”


Thursday, September 17, 2009

Interesting & Surprising Books...

From Publishers Lunch Weekly...


Former advertising executive John Verdon's debut novel THINK OF A NUMBER, about a super-intelligent killer who lures potential victims by taunting them to think of random numbers, and then, by seeming to read their minds, directs their actions toward a diabolical outcome, as well as two additional novels featuring the same protagonist, pitched as a cross between Thomas Harris and Michael Connelly, to Rick Horgan at Crown, at auction, for three books, for publication beginning in the summer of 2010, by Molly Friedrich at Friedrich Agency (NA).

Daniel Johnson's ELECTRIC, taking place in Detroit in the early 1900s; the stories explore a forgotten part of the Car and whole Industrial Revolution, to Daniela Rapp of St. Martin's, in a nice deal, in a two-book deal, by Cherry Weiner at Cherry Weiner Literary Agency.


Stephen J. Cannell's next two books in the Shane Scully series, again to Charles Spicer at St. Martin's, by Robert Gottlieb at Trident Media Group.


Dana Haynes's CRASHERS, in which a jetliner crashes in the lush lovely Willamette Valley of Oregon, triggering a response from the NTSB team of "crashers"-the investigators; usually they have months to find the cause of the crash; this time it's 70 hours, to Keith Kahla at Minotaur, in a two-book deal, for publication in Spring 2010, by Janet Reid at FinePrint Literary Management (world).Film: Brendan@fineprintlit.com


Another 17 books by James Patterson, covering publication through 2012, including eleven adult titles for hardcover publication by Little, Brown and paperbacks by Grand Central, with new installments in the Alex Cross, Michael Bennett, and Women's Murder Club series, and his previously-announced collaboration with Scandinavian crime writer Liza Marklund, plus six titles for young readers from Little, Brown Children's, including new titles in the Maximum Ride, Daniel X and forthcoming Witch & Wizard series, but also including stand-alone novels, summer thrillers, nonfiction books, and "other surprises," by Robert Barnett and Deneen Howell at Williams & Connolly (NA).


Former SNL star Molly Shannon's TILLY THE TRICKSTER, introducing Tilly, a mischievous trickster who loves April Fool's Day; when Tilly takes one of her pranks too far, hard lessons are learned (but only kinda), to Tamar Brazis at Abrams Children's, by Tina Wexler at ICM (NA).

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day author Judith Viorst and Caldecott Honor-winning illustrator of The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales Lane Smith's LULU AND THE BRONTOSAURUS, to Namrata Tripathi at Atheneum, by Robert Lescher of Lescher & Lescher for Viorst, and Steven Malk of Writers House for Smith.


Eric Jay Dolin's FAR EASTERN FORTUNE: THE AMERICAN CHINA TRADE IN THE AGE OF SAIL, a history of 80 years of nautical, commercial, and cultural adventure that laid the groundwork for today's complex relationship with China, to Robert Weil at Norton, for publication in 2011, by Russell Galen at Scovil Galen Ghosh Literary Agency (NA).
Foreign: barorint@aol.com


Santa Monica-based interior designer Tim Clarke with Jake Townsend's COASTAL MODERN, a photography book of residences that demonstrates how to achieve the sense of comfort and ease of a beach house in an elegant, sophisticated, and modern way, by the designer who started his career working with Michael S. Smith and who has now designed homes for Ben Stiller, Portia de Rossi, James Spader, Matthew Perry, and more, to Aliza Fogelson at Clarkson Potter, by Jason Anthony at Lippincott Massie McQuilkin (World).

Tim Gunn's GUNN'S GOLDEN RULES: Life's Little Instructions for Making It Work, applying old-world values to modern situations, from the lost art of etiquette to practical advice, showing how to navigate life and unflappably rise to any occasion, to Patrick Price at Simon Spotlight Entertainment, for publication in June 2010, by Peter Steinberg at The Steinberg Agency (world).


Gourmet.com blogger W. Hodding Carter's WITHIN OUR MEANS, in which the author and his family of six aims to live on their actual yearly income instead of the more than three times that amount they have been, growing their own food, raising chickens and goats, hunting and fishing, converting their car so that it runs on French fry oil, chopping wood to fuel a stove and giving up luxuries like coffee, wine and processed foods, to Kathy Pories at Algonquin, by Sally Wofford-Girand of Brick House.

Ozzy Osbourne's I AM OZZY, the heavy metal pioneer's outrageous story in his own words, for the very first time, to Ben Greenberg at Grand Central, by Diane Spivey at Little Brown UK.


Travel + Leisure editor Luke Barr's PROVENCE 1970, a narrative portrait of the brief but seminal moment in world food history when, in the fall and winter of 1970, Julia Child, Simone Beck, James Beard, Richard Olney, and Barr's great aunt, M.F.K. Fisher, lived as neighbors together in the south of France -- cooking, eating, talking, writing, and forever changing the culture of American cuisine -- to Doris Cooper and Emily Takoudes at Clarkson Potter, at auction, by David Kuhn at Kuhn Projectss (world).


Astronomer, NPR host, and Farmer's Almanac science editor Bob Berman's THE STRANGE HEARTBEAT OF SUN, contemplating the sun's fascinating, fundamental role in crop yields, weather vagaries, human health, life on Earth - and other unexpected facts arising from scientists' 400 year-old study of Earth's closest star, to John Parsley at Little, Brown, in a pre-empt, by Al Zuckerman at Writers House (World).


Sunday, September 13, 2009

Running for Congress....


Just had a phone call from Budd McLeroy. Budd is an Army Master Sgt, Iraq vet, former firefighter, and did it all with one leg. You'd never know because if there's anything he's not, it's disabled. He's also a Republican.

In any case, he's an old friend. He'll be pulling his papers and entering the race for Congress, running against Dem Bob Filner. Both are from the Chula Vista area, just south of the city of San Diego, CA.

I've never known Budd to back down from anything, so if he says he's going to run for Congress, he surely will.

I wished him luck, but as a Democrat, I hope he loses. But narrowly.


Thursday, September 10, 2009

A Selection of Books...

From Publishers Lunch Weekly...



Jacob Ritari's TAROKO GORGE, the story of three Japanese girls who go missing and the international cast of characters left to figure out what happened, to Fred Ramey at Unbridled Books, in a nice deal, for publication in spring 2010, by Eve Bridburg at Zachary Shuster Harmsworth Literary Agency (world).


Fiction author of AGAINST GRAVITY and winner of the Faulkner Society's annual award Lucy Ferris's THE WOMAN WHO BOUGHT THE SKY, set in Albany, New York 100 years before the American Revolution, in which a woman who to keep her family secure stays in an unhappy marriage and turns away the love of her life rather than risk losing precious, hard-worn land holdings, to David Hartwell at Tor, by Al Zuckerman of Writers House (NA).


Tricia Springstubb's FOX HEART, pitched as in the vein of Kate DiCamillo, the story of a girl's extraordinary summer, when her neighborhood and family change forever, to Donna Bray at Balzer & Bray, at auction, in a two-book deal, for publication in Fall 2010, by Sarah Davies at the Greenhouse Literary Agency (NA).
Foreign: info@rightspeople.com


Stephanie Perkins's ANNA AND THE BOY MASTERPIECE, in which American Anna Oliphant spends a year in a Parisian boarding school and falls for her multi-national classmate, plus a companion novel, LOLA AND THE BOY NEXT DOOR, to Julie Strauss-Gabel at Dutton Children's, in a very nice deal, at auction, for publication in Fall 2010, by Kate Schafer Testerman at kt literary (World English).



Author of Black Gold: The Lost Archives of Jimi Hendrix Steven Roby and journalist Brad Schreiber's BECOMING JIMI: From Southern Crossroads to Swinging London, the Making of a Musical Genius, a look at the seminal five-year period of Jimi Hendrix's life, from 1962 to 1966, in which he played on the "chitlin' circuit" -- cutting his chops playing with such legendary acts as Little Richard, Ike and Tina Turner, Sam and Dave, Wilson Pickett, the Isley Brothers and dozens of bar bands -- in the segregated Deep South, followed by cult buzz in coffeehouses in Greenwich Village, and finally contrasting with the superstardom he would soon find in London, to Ben Schafer at Da Capo, by Matthew Carnicelli at Trident Media Group (world English).


Former WSJ economics reporter and now US economics editor for The Economist Greg Ip's untitled book on economics, to Debra Englander at Wiley, in a pre-empt, by Howard Yoon of the Gail Ross Literary Agency (world).


Pulitzer Prize-winner, Philadelphia Daily News writer and author of TEAR DOWN THIS MYTH Will Bunch's REBELS WITHOUT A CLUE: The Threat to America from an Armed, Apocalyptic Right-Wing Minority, a chronicle of a new American dystopia of extreme talk and extreme actions in the Obama era, to Matt Harper at Harper, at auction, for publication in 2010, by Will Lippincott at Lippincott Massie McQuilkin (NA).


Actor and screenwriter Marianne Leone Cooper's THE RUNNING MADONNA, a loving memoir of raising her son Jesse, a nonverbal child afflicted with cerebral palsy, with her husband, actor Chris Cooper, to Priscilla Painton at Simon & Schuster, by Colleen Mohyde of Doe Coover Agency.

Emmy award-winning actress who played Mary Ingalls Melissa Anderson's memoir of "Little House on the Prairie," to Erin Turner of Globe Pequot, by Laura Dail at Laura Dail Literary Agency (World English).


Shing-Tung Yau and Steve Nadis's THE SHAPE OF INNER SPACE: Surveying the Geometry of the Universe's Hidden Dimensions, an argument, by the leading mind behind the mathematics of string theory, for the fundamental importance of geometry to our understanding of our universe, to T.J. Kelleher at Basic, in a good deal, for publication in Fall 2011, by John Brockman at Brockman (NA).

Psychologist Matthew Hertenstein's PREVISIONING: Thin Slicing and the Surprising Truth About the Power of Prediction, a look at how we can use subtle clues to predict human behavior, from who'll get divorced to who'll win an election, to T.J. Kelleher at Basic, in a very nice deal, for publication in Summer 2011, by Shannon O'Neill at The Sagalyn Agency (World).


John Glatt's story of the abduction of Jaycee Lee Dugard in 1991 by registered sex offender Phillip Garrido, to Charles Spicer at St. Martin's, by Peter Miller of PMA Literary & Film Management.


Sunday, September 06, 2009

We want HEALTH CARE...

But one thing seems to be forgotten:



Got that? So...come Wed evening, the President is going to speak to Congress and PROPOSE.

Once that's done, guess what the Congress is gonna do. It's gonna DISPOSE. And there's no way in hell to know what the outcome will be until the votes are counted.

If Health Care with a public option doesn't pass it will be the fault of the Congress, not the President. He can only sign or veto.