“He kind of talked about the parameters of what he can do and what he thinks he can do to help,” Jackson said. “I wanted to know his conditioning.” Jackson said the Lakers would wait to see what comes out of Odom’s and Luke Walton’s visits to the doctor today before determining whether to pursue Pippen. The Lakers would have to release a player to add Pippen to the roster. Brown back in fold Not even 2 1/2 minutes into the third quarter of Sunday’s game, Jackson had seen enough to make a switch. He brought Kwame Brown in for Andrew Bynum, then went on to play Brown the bulk of the second half. PHOENIX – The prospect of a season-ending injury to Lamar Odom seemingly would increase the Lakers’ interest in signing Scottie Pippen, who wants to make a comeback at age 41. And Lakers coach Phil Jackson said he talked last week to Pippen about his plans. “I did get in touch with Scottie,” Jackson said, “but it was just kind of preliminary talk about how he’s doing, where he’s at and how he feels.” Pippen, who last played for Chicago in the 2003-04 season, has said he would like to play for a championship contender. The Lakers, sixth in the Western Conference standings and facing an uncertain future without Odom, might not fit the bill. Brown finished with six points and eight rebounds in 28 minutes in his second game back from an ankle injury. He played nearly 19 minutes in the second half, with Jackson saying afterward that Brown “looks like he’s getting back and ready.” Brown reprised his role from last season’s playoffs, when he was the “Inside Man” in the Lakers’ game plan against the Suns. Yet Jackson wasn’t ready to commit to making the anticipated change of starting Brown and bringing Bynum off the bench. “He looked all right to me,” Jackson said of Brown. “That’s the best front against a guy like (Amare) Stoudemire with his quickness and his power. It’s just going to depend on the opponents and what type of game we’re going to have.” Bynum made all three shots he took but threw away two passes in the post and was called for traveling. Jackson removed Bynum after watching as the 19-year-old gave Steve Nash room to shoot coming off a pick-and-roll. “He’s going to contribute,” Jackson added of Bynum. “He’s still going to play half the game or so for us.” 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!
More than 1 million pages of historical government documents – a stack taller than the U.S. Capitol – have been removed from public view since the September 2001 terror attacks, according to records obtained by The Associated Press. Some of the papers are more than a century old. In some cases, entire file boxes were removed without significant review because the government’s central record-keeping agency, the National Archives and Records Administration, did not have time for a more thorough audit. “We just felt we couldn’t take the time and didn’t always have the expertise,” said Steve Tilley, who oversaw the program. Archives officials are still screening records, but the number of files pulled recently has declined dramatically, he said. The records administration began removing materials under its “records of concern” program launched in November 2001 after the Justice Department instructed agencies to be more guarded in releasing government papers. The agency has removed about 1.1 million pages, according to partially redacted monthly progress reports reviewed by the AP. The reports were obtained under the Freedom of Information Act. After the September 2001 attacks, the records administration signed a secret deal with the Pentagon and CIA to review and permit the removal of tens of thousands of pages from public view that intelligence officials believed had been declassified too hastily. In the aftermath of disclosures about that program, archives officials promised not to enter into any more secret agreements with federal agencies. They also promised to publicize withdrawals and establish procedures for reclassifying documents. A subsequent audit of the disputed program found one of every three sampled documents should not have been reclassified. The newer program, however, has been operated wholly by archives officials, and its scope apparently dwarfs the removal of CIA and Pentagon records. In a memo to employees, John Carlin, then archivist of the United States, said the “records of concern” program would “reduce the risk of providing access to materials that might support terrorists.” A later memo explained that “relatively current, accurate and detailed information on a structure, organization or facility that is crucial to protecting national defense, the country’s infrastructure, symbolic monuments and personal identity are records of concern.” The director of an online coalition for freedom of information issues, Patrice McDermott of OpenTheGovernment.org, urged officials to create a public registry of withdrawn documents. She said officials should work toward releasing more than 400 million pages of backlogged files rather than removing smaller numbers of papers. “This is a questionable use of tax dollars,” McDermott said. Other researchers said the project, while well-intentioned, reinforces a culture of secrecy that became more pronounced after the September 2001 terror attacks. “You want government to be vigilant when it comes to security, but you also want them to behave responsibly,” said Steven Aftergood, who runs the government secrecy project for the Washington-based Federation of American Scientists. “You can’t have a situation where secrecy becomes the default mode.” Many of the removed records might be useful to terrorists, according to the AP’s review. Archivists removed records from the U.S. Surgeon General’s Preventive Medicine Division, which studied biological weapons created between 1941 and 1947. Other records withdrawn don’t appear to be useful to terrorists. Archivists removed information from a 1960 Bureau of Indian Affairs report on Alaska’s Tlingit and Haida tribes because it included Social Security numbers. A 1960 map of the Melton Hill Reservoir in east Tennessee – now known mainly as a spring-training site for collegiate rowing teams – was removed from view, as were 1967 architectural drawings for the Lyndon B. Johnson Presidential Library in Austin, Texas. In e-mails and memos obtained by the AP, archives employees made it clear they were trying to minimize the number and scope of removals. Archives officials generally have received passing marks from secrecy experts who have been aware of the program, said Tom Blanton, director of the National Security Archive, a George Washington University-based research institute. But Blanton also said the effort appears to be a case of misplaced priorities. “Government’s first instinct is to hide vulnerabilities, not to fix them,” said Blanton. “And that doesn’t make us safer.” 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! The pulled records include the presumably dangerous, such as nearly half an enormous database from the Federal Emergency Management Agency with information about all federal facilities. But they also include the presumably useless, such as part of a collection about the Lower Colorado River Authority with papers 114 years old. About 80 cubic feet of naval facility plans and blueprints – on microfilm, about 200,000 pages – were withdrawn because agency officials said they didn’t have time to go through each individual document. In all, archivists identified as many as 625 million pages that could have been affected under the security program. In their haste to remove potentially harmful documents from view, archives officials acknowledged many records were withdrawn that should be available. The public can still request to see parts of withdrawn documents under the Freedom of Information Act and may in some cases be allowed to see whole files that were removed. The archives program comes less than one year after the records administration was under fire for allowing public documents to be reclassified as secret under a separate program.
The Indian media are in a tizzy over the “humiliation” of Meera Shankar, India’s ambassador to the United States, who was subjected to a “pat-down” by Transportation Security Administration agents at the Jackson-Evers International Airport in Jackson, Miss., in early December.India’s External Affairs Minister S M Krishna protested that her treatment was “unacceptable” and his ministry lodged a formal protest. Javed Ashraf, joint secretary (Americas) in the Ministry of External Affairs, fulminated, “We understand and respect every country’s security procedure, but we also expect that normal diplomatic privileges and courtesies are extended to the ambassador and diplomats.” He exhorted the U.S. State Department and TSA to “sensitize all its agents at all its airports to cultural and religious sensitivities of foreign diplomats.”Earlier, TSA agents insisted on inspecting the turban of Hardeep Singh Puri, the Indian ambassador to the United Nations. Puri refused, citing the agency’s religious exception, which allows individuals to pat down their turbans and have their hands tested for possible explosives instead.In the face of the diplomatic furor, the TSA has stood its ground, insisting that foreign diplomats in the United States are subject to security screening. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano asserted that Shankar’s pat-down search was “appropriate” and TSA spokesman Nicholas Kimball said that Shankar’s body search “followed proper procedure.” “United States airport security policies accommodate those individuals with religious, medical or other reasons for which the passenger cannot or wishes not to remove a certain item of clothing,” Kimball said in reference to Puri’s inspection. “For religious headwear, a passenger can pat the item down themselves and then have their hand tested for traces of explosive residue.” Although TSA officials initially resisted Puri’s protestations, he was ultimately allowed to pat down his turban himself.Ashraf hinted at retaliatory action, noting that India respects the privileges of foreign diplomats in the country and extends diplomatic courtesies to them: “Such incidents naturally lead to calls for review of privileges and facilities given in India (to foreign diplomats).” India’s Central Industrial Security Force (CISF), which handles airport security, is exceptionally deferential to foreign diplomats and execuses them from security screening once they identify themselves. In the UK, the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) maintains a diplomatic list of “very high ranking people” from other countries who are exempt from airport security checks.The increasingly intrusive and often irrational airport security measures in the United States are a public menace and deserve to be thoroughly reviewed and revamped. However, it would be unwise and counter-productive for the public welfare to exempt foreign diplomats from them. The excesses and abuses of the system are best exposed when celebrities and public officials are caught in its crosshairs. The Indian government demonstrated little outrage after scores of its innocent citizens were caught up in the backlash of the post 9/11 whirlwind and indeed these same oppressive TSA practices.Instead, hopefully, this real-life experience might sensitize Indian diplomats to the humiliation and pain experienced by thousands of citizens seeking consular services every year at the hands of inept, indifferent and callous Indian consular officers. And by all means, Ashraf should make good on his threat to revoke the courtesies extended to foreign diplomats in India so that U.S. officials can experience their oppressive security measures first hand.Diplomats and government officials might thus be sensitized to the daily grind and humiliation their policies subject ordinary people on a daily basis. Related Items