Friday, July 31, 2015

VA bureaucrats and who protects their deadly incompetence. Has one VA incompetent born fired?

Obama Threatens to Veto VA Accountability Act

Says the bill would violate VA employees' due process rightsThe Phoenix VA Health Care Center / AP
The Phoenix VA Health Care Center / AP 
President Obama threatened to veto the Veterans Affairs Accountability Act in a statement on Wednesday.
The President called the bill “counterproductive” and said it would create “a disparity in the treatment of one group of career civil servants.” President Obama’s statement also said the bill would “have a significant impact on VA’s ability to retain and recruit qualified professionals and may result in a loss of qualified and capable staff to other government agencies or the private sector.”
“These provisions remove important rights, protections, and incentives which are available to the vast majority of federal employees in other agencies across the government and are essential to ensure that federal employees are afforded due process,” the statement said.
The bill would expand the VA’s ability to fire incompetent or corrupt employees. It is a follow-up to the 2014 Veterans Access, Choice, and Accountability Act, which extended that ability to top executives at the agency. The new bill would go beyond just executives to lower level employees.
James Freeman slammed the veto threat in the Wall Street Journal.
“Perhaps the next Miller bill should instruct the executive branch that potential employees put off by the idea that they might be fired for letting a patient die while they process his paperwork are not ‘top talent,’” he said.
Government unions oppose the bill, while Veterans of Foreign Wars, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, and Concerned Veterans for America support it, Government Executive reports.

July Baltimore murder rate highest in decades

Baltimore has deadliest month in 43 years

BALTIMORE — Baltimore reached a grim milestone on Friday, three months after riots erupted in response to the death of Freddie Gray in police custody: With 43 homicides in July, the city has seen more bloodshed in a single month than it has in 43 years.
The 43rd recorded homicide was Jermaine Miller, 18, who took a bullet to his head just before noon the day before.
With his death on Friday, this year’s total homicides reached 187, far outpacing the 119 killings by July’s end in 2014. Non-fatal shootings have soared to 366, compared to 200 by the same date last year. July’s total was the worst since the city recorded 45 killings in August 1972, according to the Baltimore Sun.
The seemingly Sisyphean task of containing the city’s violence prompted Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake to fire Police Commissioner Anthony Batts on July 8.
Modal Trigger
Newly appointed Interim Police Commissioner Kevin Davis and Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake in early July.Photo: Reuters
“Too many continue to die on our streets,” Rawlings-Blake said then. “Families are tired of dealing with this pain, and so am I. Recent events have placed an intense focus on our police leadership, distracting many from what needs to be our main focus: the fight against crime.”
But the killings have not abated under Interim Commissioner Kevin Davis since then.
Baltimore is not unique in its suffering; crimes are spiking in big cities around the country.
But while the city’s police are closing cases — Davis announced arrests in three recent murders several days ago — the violence is outpacing their efforts. Davis said Tuesdaythe “clearance rate” is at 36.6 percent, far lower than the department’s mid-40s average.
Crime experts and residents of Baltimore’s most dangerous neighborhoods cite a confluence of factors: mistrust of the police; generalized anger and hopelessness over a lack of opportunities for young black men; and competition among dealers of illegal drugs, bolstered by the looting of prescription pills from pharmacies during the riot.
Federal drug enforcement agents said gangs targeted 32 pharmacies in the city, taking roughly 300,000 doses of opiates, as the riots caused $9 million in property damage in the city.
Perched on a friend’s stoop, Sherry Moore, 55, said she knew “mostly all” of the young men killed recently in West Baltimore, including an 18-year-old fatally shot a half-block away. Moore said many more pills are on the street since the riot, making people wilder than usual.
“The ones doing the violence, the shootings, they’re eating Percocet like candy and they’re not thinking about consequences. They have no discipline, they have no respect — they think this is a game. ‘How many can I put down on the East side? How many can I put down on the West side?'”
The city’s official tally of 42 homicides recorded in May included Gray, who died in April after his neck was broken in police custody. The July tally likewise includes a previous death — a baby whose death in June was ruled a homicide in July.
Shawn Ellerman, assistant special agent in charge of the Baltimore division of the Drug Enforcement Administration, said May’s homicide spike was probably related to the stolen prescription drugs, a supply that is likely exhausted by now. But the drug trade is inherently violent, and turf wars tend to prompt retaliatory killings.
“You can’t attribute every murder to narcotics, but I would think a good number” of them are, he said. “You could say it’s retaliation from drug trafficking, it’s retaliation from gangs moving in from other territories. But there have been drug markets in Baltimore for years.”
Across West Baltimore, residents complain that drug addiction and crime are part of a cycle that begins with despair among children who lack educational and recreational opportunities, and extends when people can’t find work.
“We need jobs! We need jobs!” a man riding around on a bicycle shouted to anyone who’d listen after four people were shot, three of them fatally, on a street corner in July.
More community engagement, progressive policing policies and opportunities for young people in poverty could help, community activist Munir Bahar said.
“People are focusing on enforcement, not preventing violence. Police enforce a code, a law. Our job as the community is to prevent the violence, and we’ve failed,” said Bahar, who leads the annual 300 Men March against violence in West Baltimore.
“We need anti-violence organizations, we need mentorship programs, we need a long-term solution. But we also need immediate relief,” Bahar added. “When we’re in something so deep, we have to stop it before you can analyze what the root is.”
Strained relationships between police and the public also play a role, according to Eugene O’Donnell, a professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice.
Arrests plummeted and violence soared after six officers were indicted in Gray’s death. Residents accused police of abandoning their posts for fear of facing criminal charges for making arrests, and said emboldened criminals were settling scores with little risk of being caught.
The department denied these claims, and police cars have been evident patrolling West Baltimore’s central thoroughfares recently.
But O’Donnell said the perception of lawlessness is just as powerful as the reality.
“We have a national issue where the police feel they are the Public Enemy No. 1,” he said, making some officers stand down and criminals become more brazen.
“There’s a rhythm to the streets,” he added. “And when people get away with gun violence, it has a long-term emboldening effect. And the good people in the neighborhood think, ‘Who has the upper hand?'”

Baltimore prosecutor hid, withheld evidence that would exonerate police.

Baltimore Prosecutors Hid Evidence Freddie Gray Tried To Injure Himself During Prior Arrests…

Baltimore State Attorney Marilyn Mosby previously stated she was going to pursue justice for Freddie Gray “by any and all means necessary“. Today, in a motion filed by the defense, the extent of Mosby’s activist intention is again reinforced.
In addition to hiding “Brady evidence“, there is a meeting between Mosby and the medical examiner (prior to the autopsy release – and undisclosed by Mosby) which indicates previous elements of her pressuring the ME to change the cause of death from “accidental” to “homicide”.
mosby you mad broBALTIMORE – Prosecutors have information indicating that Freddie Gray“attempted to injure himself” during a previous arrest, but have intentionally withheld it from their criminal case against the six Baltimore police officers charged in Gray’s apprehension and death in April, the officers’ attorneys said in a court filing Thursday.
“Based upon information and belief, the State’s Attorney’s Office was informed of this fact, yet failed to disclose to the Defendants any statements, reports, or other communications relating to this information,” they wrote.
[…] In their filing Thursday, the defense attorneys said prosecutors have withheld “multiple witness statements from individuals who stated that Mr. Gray was banging and shaking the van at various points” after his arrest April 12, as well as “police reports, court records, and witness statements indicating that on prior occasions, Mr. Gray had fled from police and attempted to discard drugs.”
A spokeswoman for State’s Attorney Marilyn J. Mosby declined to comment. But in a court filing, prosecutors have said they gave defense attorneys all the evidence to which they are entitled last month as part of the discovery process.
The defense attorneys also said that Mosby failed to disclose her office’s participation in a “private meeting” with Assistant Medical Examiner Carol Allan before receiving Gray’s autopsy report, which ruled his death a homicide.
They also said Mosby was told by police that a knife found on Gray was spring-assisted — and thus illegal — before she brought charges against the officers.
In announcing the charges on May 1, Mosby said the knife was legal, and Gray should not have been arrested.
Marilyn Mosby 2The defense attorneys wrote that they have “been forced to spend hundreds of hours collectively investigating the State’s violations in order to understand the full breadth of the harm.”
“While the defense has now obtained some of this evidence through its own sources, the defense has no idea of what else the State has failed to disclose.”
They asked the Circuit Court to sanction prosecutors in Mosby’s office for the alleged omissions and remove them from the case, to exclude evidence that they say was improperly omitted from discovery, to force the release of a long list of withheld information that they say they found through their own investigation, and to compensate them for that investigative work.
[…]  Defense attorneys said in their motion that there are “multiple statements, reports, data and other evidence” — including evidence they say was produced by the police task force — that were not produced by prosecutors in discovery last month or during an “open-file” review of the evidence last Friday.
[…] They also said the prosecution has withheld witness statements, allegedly provided during the grand jury review of the case, that Gray was on his knees at the fifth and last stop in the van ride, and a police re-creation of the route the van took using advanced scanning technology.
They said the evidence could shine more light on when, where and how Gray was injured, potentially helping the defense of one or more of the officers, all of whom interacted with Gray in different ways at different points during his arrest.
Witness statements that Gray was kneeling at the fifth stop of the van, for instance, “would tend to prove that Mr. Gray’s spinal fracture had not yet occurred and therefore would tend to prove the innocence of some, if not all, of the officers involved,” they wrote.
The evidence — including what was said between prosecutors and Allan, the medical examiner — could also raise questions about the actions of Mosby and other prosecutors, they said, supporting an argument that they be removed from the case. (read more)



Undercover investigator David Daleiden tells CNN the reason StemExpress is trying to suppress the video he took of its CEO on May 22 is because the company doesn’t want anyone to know it bought whole intact dead babies from Planned Parenthood.

Daleiden said on CNN, “In a meeting with their top leadership, they admitted that they sometimes get fully intact fetuses shipped to their laboratory from the abortion clinics they work with, and that could be prima facie evidence of born alive infants. And so that’s why they’re trying to suppress that videotape and they’re very scared of it.”

On May 22, Daleiden and his team had lunch with StemExpress CEO Cate Dyer and other senior personnel from the company that is the main buyer of freshly killed baby parts from Planned Parenthood. As the Center for Medical Progress has released videos, four so far, it is certain that anyone who met with Daleiden, who was posing as CEO of a fictitious company called BioMax, would become worried about what they might have said. Apparently StemExpress talked about things that may shock America and any future stockholders of the as-yet privately held company.
StemExpress filed a lawsuit against Daleiden earlier this week in hopes of stopping the video and other material from being distributed. They are claiming the meeting was confidential and that Daleiden signed a confidentiality agreement. A Superior Court Judge in Los Angeles rejected one claim by StemExpress outright on Monday evening, but ordered a very narrow temporary restraining order related to that one video on Tuesday.
It is now clear why StemExpress is fighting so hard to suppress the video.

On May 22, Daleiden and his team had lunch with StemExpress CEO Cate Dyer and other senior personnel from the company that is the main buyer of freshly killed baby parts from Planned Parenthood. As the Center for Medical Progress has released videos, four so far, it is certain that anyone who met with Daleiden, who was posing as CEO of a fictitious company called BioMax, would become worried about what they might have said. Apparently StemExpress talked about things that may shock America and any future stockholders of the as-yet privately held company.
StemExpress filed a lawsuit against Daleiden earlier this week in hopes of stopping the video and other material from being distributed. They are claiming the meeting was confidential and that Daleiden signed a confidentiality agreement. A Superior Court Judge in Los Angeles rejected one claim by StemExpress outright on Monday evening, but ordered a very narrow temporary restraining order related to that one video on Tuesday.
It is now clear why StemExpress is fighting so hard to suppress the video.

How ridiculous will the Balkanization of America become. When you insist on group identification and group rights rather than individual rights and respect for individuals based on their own attributes rather than membership or lack thereof in some favored or disfavored collective, this is the level of absurdity that results.
by KEVIN D. WILLIAMSON July 26, 2015

Never mind the atomic ayatollahs, it’s a trans/drag girl fight! Somewhere in Iran, a team of very studious, serious, and likely bespectacled men is working, diligently and tirelessly, to build a nuclear weapon. Perhaps it will be detonated in Jerusalem. Perhaps it will be detonated in New York City, and perhaps these men describe their work, with grim humor, as “the Manhattan project.”

Meanwhile, in Glasgow, the West is not concerned with men strapping on their armor, but about whether some men who strap on wigs and brassieres are offensive to other men who strap on wigs and brassieres. Our Kat Timpf reports that Glasgow’s biggest gay-pride festival banned and then unbanned performances by some drag queens (but only some! A bit more on that in a bit) from its annual march.

Drag queens have been a part of gay life in the Western world for many years, from New York’s Halloween parade to London cabaret acts. Under pressure from transgender activists, the Glasgow festival banned so-called cisnormative drag queens — drag queens who are, underneath the makeup, men who enjoy dressing up as women rather than men who believe themselves to be women, i.e., good old-fashioned weirdos without the delusional psychotherapeutic window-dressing — on the basis that their costumes lampoon femininity, which offends transgendered women, i.e., men who believe themselves to be women. That a theatrical group of almost exclusively gay men should have non-nonconformist attitudes toward femininity is not entirely surprising; what is almost surprising — but not quite — is that we are expected to take seriously the proposition that we must suppress this affront to the feminine identity because it offends women who have penises and testicles.

The organizers of the “LGBTQIA+” (what, no asterisk? Oh, the bigotry!) festival explained:
The decision was taken by transgender individuals who were uncomfortable with having drag performances at the event. It was felt that it would make some of those who were transgender or questioning their gender uncomfortable. It was felt by the group within the Trans/Non Binary Caucus that some drag performance, particularly cis drag, hinges on the social view of gender and making it into a joke, however transgender individuals do not feel as though their gender identity is a joke. Sexuality has been many things over the course of human history: an “orientation,” a taste, an inclination, an indulgence — only in the dreary, ugly, neo-puritanical days of the early 21st century is it a “caucus.”

Sexuality has been many things over the course of human history: an “orientation,” a taste, an inclination, an indulgence — only in the dreary, ugly, neo-puritanical days of the early 21st century is it a “caucus.” I’ve always been of the opinion that what a man likes to do with his own caucus is pretty much his own business, assuming consent and the absence of barnyard animals or construction equipment, but that is far too happy-go-lucky an attitude for these times.
Read the rest here

Congress Permits VA To Raid $3.3 Billion From Choice Card Program

The Department of Veterans Affairs received the go-ahead from Congress to raid $3.3 billion from the Choice Card program in order to ensure that regular facilities stay open.
The Senate Thursday pushed through a plan approved by the House which allows VA Secretary Robert McDonald to make use of Choice Card funds for normal operations, Military Times reports. The Choice Chard program was initially established following revelations of abysmal wait times and manipulated waitlist data.
In effect, the Choice Card allows veterans to receive care from private providers if they have to wait more than 30 days for an appointment at a VA facility, or if they live more than 40 miles from a facility.
The program has had a rough start. First, officials chose to interpret the legislation to mean that if a veteran lives within 40 miles of any facility, regardless of whether it provides the necessary care, then that veteran cannot access the program. Some lawmakers, like GOP Rep. Bradley Byrne, have called the move “very self-serving on the VA’s part.” (RELATED: VA Choice Program Still Excluding Vets Who Need Help Most)
Second, many veterans are kept in the dark about the program’s existence. Undercover footage of a veteran’s experience at a VA facility in Georgia recently showed an employee saying the Community Based Outpatient Clinic in Oakwood wasn’t accepting any more patients. The veteran, 33-year-old Chris Dorsey, was not informed about the Choice Card program. (VIDEO: VA Employee Tells Veteran That They Aren’t Accepting New Patients)
Officials at the VA have maintained that veterans do not make much use of the program, but when Veterans of Foreign Wars conducted a survey of its members in March, the organization found that 43 percent of respondents had no idea the program even existed, but 92 percent said they were interested. Among veterans who qualify, VFW found only 19 percent were accepted because of poor staff training. (RELATED: Report: VA Choice Program Keeps Out 80 Percent Of Eligible Veterans)
Lawmakers are frustrated, with some critics arguing the VA waited until the last minute to mention a budget shortfall so that they would be able to deplete the Choice Card program.
“We’re in this situation, quite frankly, because of gross ineptitude in planning that can only be characterized as malpractice in management,” said Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal, according to Military Times. “Congress cannot be expected to continue to bail out VA because of mismanagement.”
Approval for repurposing Choice Card funds via the highway bill extension comes with certain conditions. Officials must submit biweekly reports to Congress on how they’re using the funds. Additionally, the legislation allows veterans living within 40 miles of a facility to make use of the Choice Card program if the facility doesn’t provide the care needed.

White House Says Planned Parenthood Videos Are Fake, Cites Planned Parenthood. This from an administration that has lied about everything.

White House Says Planned Parenthood Videos Are Fake, Cites Planned Parenthood

The White House expressed its firm belief Thursday that recently-released videos attacking Planned Parenthood are “fraudulent.” Their source: Planned Parenthood.
Josh Earnest, the White House press secretary, was speaking with reporters when they raised the matter of the videos released by the Center for Medical Progress which appear to show Planned Parenthood officials discussing the sale of fetal organs for profit, a violation of federal law. He claimed the videos were released in a “fraudulent way” with “not a lot of evidence” behind them.
“There is ample reason to think that this is merely the tried and true tactic that we’ve seen from extremists on the right to edit this video and selectively release this edited version of the video that grossly distorts the position of the person that’s actually speaking,” Earnest said. (RELATED: Planned Parenthood President: Our Critics Are Extremists)
But Earnest indicated that the reason he thought the videos were fraudulent was because, well, Planned Parenthood had told him as much. (RELATED: Hillary Calls Planned Parenthood Videos ‘Disturbing’)
“Planned Parenthood has indicated that’s exactly what occurred here,” he said. “And any review of the policy that PP says they implement indicates the views expressed in the videos, or at least the way they’re pictured on the videos, is entirely inaccurate.”
In other words, Earnest said, because the images on the videos don’t correspond to Planned Parenthood’s official policies, they must be untrue. Earnest even encouraged reporters looking for more information to simply contact Planned Parenthood.
Earnest admitted he did not know if President Obama had actually watched any of the videos.
“I do know he has been following this story in the news,” he said.
Even if Obama had not watched the videos, though, Earnest said he was sure the president would oppose any effort by Republicans to cut off federal funding for Planned Parenthood.
“The President certainly will not support another effort by Republican to try to defund an organization that offers important and needed healthcare services to women across the country.”

Think the unions don't control Democrat legislators? Try this outrage on for size.

Look who thinks the ‘Shaw-skank’ deserves her pension

She’s headed to prison after pleading guilty to providing the tools that allowed two convicted killers to bust free, setting off a three-week manhunt. But when she gets out, Joyce Mitchell will still be able to collect her state pension.
There’s no legal way to deny Mitchell her taxpayer-funded retirement.
But future Joyce Mitchells will be just as lucky — and for that, you can thank Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie and his fellow Democrats.
Following angry complaints from their lords and masters, the government-worker unions, Assembly Dems reneged on an agreement to pass a proposed constitutional amendment retroactively stripping corrupt public officials of their pensions.
The unions figured out that the amendment wouldn’t cover just elected and top appointed officials. It could hit any state worker “convicted of a felony related to public office.”
As well it should.
But the unions weren’t about to expose their rank-and-file members to possible pension forfeiture. So they pressed Heastie to instead pass a watered-down version.
Yet, as Assembly GOP leader Brian Kolb notes, Mitchell “used her position in the prison” to help David Sweat and Richard Matt escape Clinton Correctional Facility.
Joyce Mitchell’s actions terrified millions of New Yorkers — who shouldn’t then be forced to subsidize her retirement. But Assembly Democrats are just fine with it.

Detroit teachers go unpaid...

Detroit teachers livid as they go unpaid, shortchanged


DETROIT – While some teachers might complain about the size of their paycheck, Detroit Public School teachers are hardly surprised when they don’t get a check at all.

“We need something that will effectively, regularly pay the teachers what they’re owed. They do the work. They need the pay. They need it on-time, with bills to pay. All they get now is a runaround,” Detroit Federation of Teachers President Steve Conn told Click on Detroit.
Conn raised a ruckus in the media this week after some of his members were shorted hundreds of dollars in their paychecks, while others didn’t receive a pay check at all. And it’s not the first time.
The socialist union boss blames Republican Gov. Rick Snyder, of course, because Snyder has sent in emergency financial managers to divert DPS from its crash course with total financial and academic failure, though the first EFM was sent in by former Democratic Gov. Jennifer Granholm.
“There’s been nothing but a steady degrading and dismantling of any kind of structures within the system, including just regularly and accurately paying our teachers,” Conn told Michigan Radio. “There’s no fairness for the teachers in the DPS payroll system, and it’s continuing to drive teachers out of the district.”
Conn said that when district officials do resolve payment issues, teachers are paid on debt cards, which “are even harder to deal with” because of withdrawal limits and fees, according to the radio station.
“When I went online to look at my pay stub, I saw it was short by a whole week,” Regina Dixon, a teacher at Coleman A. Young Elementary, told The Detroit News.
“I was upset because I have obligations I need to meet. So I went down there today and was told they had to put the money on a debit card, so I have to go back on Friday after 3 p.m. But it’s inconvenient to have to go back, and there may be a long line,” she said.
“It’s a shame we have to go through this, especially with the so-called transformation of the schools.”

“It’s disheartening because I worked for my money and I want it,” Charles Wright Academy teacher Marcie Taylor said. “I’m calculating how much to pay for bills, and I help my mother, who is sick, but now my check is short.”
Taylor said it’s at least the second time the district has paid her on a debit card because of payroll problems.
“A lot of us are working paycheck to paycheck because our pay has decreased,” she said. “We’re getting paid less because our health insurance went up. I’m paying $200 per paycheck for insurance. Now I have to call about my bills and ask if I can pay them on Friday because I wasn’t paid all my money on time.”
DPS spokeswoman Michelle Zdrodowski told the News “a variety of technical issues arose that affected a cross-section of DPS employees” but did not elaborate on the problems.
Zdrodowski contends the pay issues are not tied the district’s massive money problems.
DPS “has run a deficit in nine of the past 11 fiscal years, with a net accumulated deficit of $1.28 billion during that period. Four state-appointed emergency managers have been named in the past six years, with Darnell Earley being appointed in January,” the News reports.
Zdrodowski also disputed Conn’s claim that some teachers did not receive any pay check, and said district officials are addressing pay problems on a case-by-case basis. DPS employs about 3,000 teachers.
“I don’t know the exact number (affected); we’re still calculating,” Zdrodowski told CBS Detroit Tuesday. “But we’ve been, you know, working with the coalition of unions and with our employees to resolve the payroll issues as quickly as we can.”
“We’re confident that we’ll have them all addressed between today and Friday,” she said.
In a DFT press release on “more payroll foul-ups,” Conn contends that there’s a lot more pending payroll issues than the most recent snafu.
“This is at least the second major payroll problem in that many weeks. And on top of those problems, DPS still owes hundreds of teachers numerous special payments for workshops and earned bonuses,” he wrote, according to the News.

The Iran Nuke Documents Obama Doesn’t Want You to See. King Obama and the Democrats like insects of the night don't want the light of scrutiny to shine on their schemes. Obamacare redux.

The Iran Nuke Documents Obama Doesn’t Want You to See

Seventeen unclassified Iran deal items have been locked in ultra-secure facilities ordinarily used for top secret info. Why is the Obama administration trying to bury this material? 
Scattered around the U.S. Capitol complex are a series of Sensitive Compartmentalized Information Facilities, or SCIFs, which are typically used to hold Top Secret information. 
But today in these deeply secure settings are a series of unclassified documents—items dealing with the Iran nuclear deal that are not secret, but that the Obama administration is nevertheless blocking the public from reading.
The Obama administration delivered 18 documents to Congress on July 19, in accordance with legislation requiring a Congressional review of the nuclear deal. Only one of these documents is classified, while the remaining 17 are unclassified.
Yet many of these unclassified documents cannot be shared with the public or discussed openly with the press. The protocol for handling these documents, set by the State Department and carried out by Congress, is that these unreleased documents can only be reviewed ‘in camera’—a Latin term that means only those with special clearance can read them—and must be held in various Congressional SCIFs.
Most staffers were hesitant to discuss—let alone share—a number of these documents, even though they’re not classified, because they require security clearances to view. By mixing a classified document with unclassified documents, critics of this arrangement contend, important facts are being kept from the public just as Congress is deciding whether to support or oppose the Iran deal.
“The unclassified items… should be public. This is going to be the most important foreign policy decision that this Congress will make,” a Republican Senate aide told The Daily Beast. “This is the administration that once said it would be the most transparent administration in history. They’re not acting like it.”
“Many in Congress view the administration’s tactic of co-mingling unclassified documents with classified documents and requiring Congressional staffers to have secret clearances just to view certain unclassified documents as an attempt by the administration to limit open debate,” a second senior Republican Congressional staffer said.
Among the 17 unclassified documents are important texts related to the Iran nuclear deal: One document, titled “Elements of Iran’s R&D Plan,” is based on the “safeguards confidential plan [between] Iran and the IAEA,” a State Department official said, and so it can’t be released publicly. The document describes how Iran’s research and development on its nuclear program, including on its centrifuges, could progress over time.
Other unclassified documents may be diplomatically sensitive: One is a letter from the foreign ministers of France, Germany and the U.K. to Secretary of State John Kerry; another is a letter from Kerry to the three foreign ministers and his Chinese counterpart as well. 
The set includes a discussion paper written before the final agreement, on how sanctions would be dealt with in the interim. Yet another is a draft statement by the U.S. government, to be issued on a future Iran deal implementation day. 
Bloomberg View’s Eli Lake and Josh Rogin previously reported the existence of the 18 documents submitted by the Obama administration to Congress, as well as some descriptions of what the set contained.
The Iran nuclear deal is unlike other arms control agreements “because it’s so complex and has so many moving parts,” said Jeffrey Lewis, Director of the East Asia Nonproliferation Program at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies. “It goes into jaw-dropping detail.” So it’s not a complete surprise that there might be some sensitive ancillary documents to go along with the arrangement. Iran might not want the particulars of its nuclear research program in full public view, for instance.
The unreleased, unclassified documents are informative for Congress but not for public consumption, the State Department contends.
“Some of the documents are the types of documents which, like State Department cables and other internal USG documents, we would not post publicly but would share with Congress in appropriate circumstances. Others are documents that, while not part of the [Iran nuclear agreement] itself, pertain to it and we were clear with the other P5+1 members and Iran that we would be sharing those documents with Congress, and we have,” a State Department official said.
Added the official, “Congress has every document that we have, and every Member of Congress and every staff [member] with the necessary security clearance can review all of the documents.”
Some Democrats were supportive of the administration’s hush-hush approach. The documents are part of a sensitive diplomatic process involving Iran’s nuclear program, they argue, so it’s not surprising that there are some restrictions to the level of transparency the government will allow.
“The essential elements to make the decision on the deal are out there,” a senior Democratic aide said. “I don’t think there’s a lack of transparency or discussion on [the Iran deal], because you’ve had very detailed briefings and every member of Congress has been able to view these documents… The way they are stored is consistent and not unreasonable, and I don’t think there’s anything nefarious.”
“This is the administration that once said it would be the most transparent administration in history. They’re not acting like it.”
Open government advocates, on the other hand, were appalled that unclassified documents this important were being kept both from public view—and, in a real way, from serious Congressional scrutiny.
“Keeping unclassified documents in a SCIF is overkill, even if the documents are sensitive or confidential. They simply don’t need the kind of sophisticated protection against clandestine surveillance that SCIFs are intended to provide,” said Steven Aftergood, a senior research analyst at the Federation of American Scientists, working to reduce government secrecy.
“The primary obstacle to congressional review that is created by this arrangement is the requirement to physically be present in the SCIF. Members of Congress cannot review the material in their offices, or share it with trusted colleagues or with subject matter experts. It is a significant hindrance to review,” he added. 
Congress passed a law called the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act, also known as Corker-Cardin, requiring the administration to formally submit the Iran nuclear deal, an unclassified verification assessment with any secret annexes, and other relevant materials to Congress. 
The intention of that provision was for unclassified materials to be freely available so that an open debate on the public interest could occur. Members of Congress are pointing out that this is not what is happening—and are urging the Obama administration to allow their release.
“A lot of both documents and discussion that have been held in a classified setting doesn’t have classified characteristics to it… to the extent that many [documents aren’t classified,] they should be made totally public, as far as I’m concerned, so that the public can evaluate for themselves,” Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez told The Daily Beast.
Republican Sen. Bob Corker, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, agrees. His spokesperson told The Daily Beast that he “believes that the administration should make these unclassified documents available to the public so the American people can see the details of the Iran nuclear deal.”
—with additional reporting by Alexa Corse and Noah Shachtman