Posts Tagged ‘Afghanistan’


FOI Daily Dose: Soldiers blow the whistle on Army’s ‘money pit’ intelligence network

One week ago Democratic U.S. senators from Virginia Mark Warner and  Tim Kaine introduced a bill to expand protections for military whistle-blowers and sexual assault victims. Yesterday, a Politico article gave legislators another reason to consider the bill: to protect junior-level soldiers who want to blow the whistle on costly and inefficient battle technologies.

Three soldiers told Politico the Army’s multi-million dollar battlefield intelligence network (DCGS-A) is “a huge, bloated, excessively expensive money pit” too complicated and unreliable to use on the ground level. But the whistle-blowers felt compelled to conceal their identities because top Army commanders praise the system as a high-tech breakthrough that satisfies the long-term need for inter-operable intelligence sharing.

Politico notes that soldiers complaining about the intelligence network have used it routinely in Afghanistan and say it doesn’t work well for their “here and now” needs — especially in remote locations where bandwidth is scarce.

Former-Marine-turned-congressman Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., says it’s yet another example of how Army bureaucracy is out of touch with realities on the ground in Afghanistan, and he’s blowing the whistle on commanders for choosing an intelligence system that won’t be fully operational for several years over a system that meets soldiers’ needs. As a member of the House Armed Services Committee, Hunter plans to propose an amendment during the upcoming National Defense Authorization Act debate that could cut some of the intelligence network’s funding.

Kara Hackett is SPJ’s Pulliam/Kilgore Freedom of Information intern, a freelance writer and a free press enthusiast. Contact her at khackett@spj.org or on Twitter: @KaraHackett.

FOI DAILY DOSE: N.J. phone records made more public, Kundra unveiled .gov task force, ACLU asked to return classified doc

N.J. court requires public officials to reveal cell phone call locations

Location, location, location.

That can’t stay secret when it comes to cell phone records, according to a New Jersey court ruling.

Public officials using taxpayer-funded cell phones must disclose the destination of the calls they make because such information is helpful to the public interest, according to the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press.

The court case, Livecchia v. Borough of Mount Arlington, arose after after the borough redacted the locations of calls made by public officials when it filled resident Gayle Ann Livecchia’s records request.

Livecchia and other citizens can use the phone call locations, which must now be disclosed, to find out whether government employees are improperly using their work cells.

Federal task force to evaluate gov websites

Federal CIO Vivek Kundra revealed the names of 17 people who will comprise a .gov task force that will slim down government websites and evaluate potential policy adjustments for running such Web properties in the future.

Those appointed include IT professionals from various federal offices, according to a Government Tech blog post.

This task force complements President Obama’s “Campaign to Cut Waste,” which aims to cut unnecessary expenditures.

This includes paring down the 2,000-plus federal URLs in use.

Here’s a list of 1,759 top Web domains for the executive branch, as well as a Q&A page on the project that includes a list of all task force members.

Gov demands ACLU return classified doc

The federal government wants a judge to order the American Civil Liberties Union to return a classified document that was released to the organization detailing how employees decide which Afghanistan detainees are Enduring Security Threats.

The ACLU must respond to the government’s court filings by July 29, according to the Washington Post’s Checkpoint Washington blog.

The ACLU wants to post the document, which it says was improperly classified, to its website.

The Pentagon gave the organization the document, along with several others, in compliance with a court order requiring their release. The ACLU notified the government about the Afghanistan detainee document on May 25.

– Morgan Watkins

Morgan Watkins is SPJ’s summer Pulliam/Kilgore Freedom of Information intern and a University of Florida student. Reach her by email (mwatkins@spj.org) or connect with her on Twitter (@morganwatkins26).

 

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