tv John Boltons Book Government Prepublication Reviews CSPAN June 28, 2020 8:45pm-9:01pm EDT
>> so thinking about it 2012 and 2015 and then in 2016 so i had to ask. thank you for your time. >> thank you for having me. >> one of the issues with the john bolton book the room where it happened was the prepublication review by the government. the director of the national security archive at george washington university and joining us on book tv to talk about the prepublication review system. how did this develop? >> and in the 1970s where former cia agents sent in a manuscript of his experience with the cia they came back and said there is 339 passages
you have to delete to review the national security information. they went to court and fight. and at the end of the day the publisher put out the book with white spaces for the 30 in bold spaces and at than object lesson and that is the review board process. >> but to go through that review process he did submit before publishing the book. to.
and risking his realty the supreme court upheld the seizure of all royalties because he did not give the book to the cia for review. now smith and the government argued and admitted his book did not contain any classified information it was the abandonment of the south the one - - south vietnamese and the government admitted to violate his contract and the supreme court arguments without even fully briefing to take away his royalties and the irony it is that book tv would love this, years later when researchers and just as powell drove that opinion because he so with his former
clerks to talk about woodward the number one bestseller and you take it out on poor frank but that is our president that the government could take away. >> is there a formal system in place for prepublication review? >> yes but it differs from agency to agency. it is so decentralized it is capricious and pretty arbitrary. quoting from the judge's opinion that just came out bolton went through four months of face-to-face online review with the senior person at the national security council decades the government experience lots of prepublication review and has done it for other people and
by april 27 the book was cleared. he made all the changes asked for and on the 27th of april, government admits this, she told bolton your book is cleared. and this is where john bolton's lawyers argued bringing a guy with no prepublication review experience. and working in the white house and then the senior person and according to his affidavits to the judge with classified information that was still there and the manuscript and the government went to the judge and said you cannot do
this he holds a secret hearing it's the strangest part of the whole prepublication review. he gets to talk to the judge in private without the other counsel or plaintiff and to say this is classified. and i'm pretty dubious. and to publish on the website dubious secrets releasing one version of a document and then another version of the document. it is so subjective in my gut tells me you trust the senior person with the most experience doing and regular order. and you look with suspicion. >> single back to what you said if john bolton submitted
his book to the process and it was approved and where is the danger of losing royalties? >> what the judge said that he never got that approval in writing and the judge said it is pretty reasonable for someone so senior in the white house a recent experience and the intelligence material the government might want a second review the justice department had to admit this is the first time the senior justice lawyer could ever remember the government requiring a second review. but from the secret hearing that there was clarification the manuscript i read two thirds of the book and i
cannot see where that classified information would be. they said it is a subjective claim unfortunately and that shows you how messed up the publication review process is. >>cspan2: as an expert on the national security world and freedom of information request, have you been surprised at the things over the years that have kept out of the book? >> very much so and i mentioned earlier the merced e-book you can see the layers of censorship like the white space and then you see how subjective it is but the problem i think where the case goes to the line between the most highly protected political speech is the most
important dynamic for democratic self-governing and the line between the national security claim can get pretty blurred the supreme court took away frank smith right to comment on this disaster happening in vietnam. here with john bolton, the intervention of the second layer of review, looks to be pressure on him not to say such embarrassing things about president trump. so unfortunately it is a judgment call and the government doesn't have any kind of adjudication mechanism there is no link to government that can look at what the government claims is secret or john bolton says shouldn't
be. that's a great irony and tell he left office, john bolton , was an original declassification party. he left in september still in office with a 500 page manuscript? he stamped his name on it and said it is declassified and he had the authority to do it. so this is the surreal reality of national security secrecy that he will be caught in for some months given the court case. >> is as happened another administrations? >> very much. we post on her website and eloquent set of complaints from a former cia director turner. he's trying to get his memoir to the prepublication review process and is complaining. weight. i gave a public speech it was cleared by the security office. but now the review board says no it's classified.
but it's in the public domain. what you thinking? he talks about how the review added two years to the publication process and that's what john bolton was most worried about to keep bringing in people to force another review and hold up the book until is not a bestseller anymore. >> you talk about the fact different agencies treat the prepublication review differently. where are the most stringent reviews and the least? >> most tend to be with the intelligence community. thirty years ago the department of defense only required one tenth of
employees of soldiers or active-duty to sign nondisclosure now it covers everybody. from agency to agency completely different results from these reviews. a case study is the hillary clinton e-mail. the state department did a review of all of her e-mails and said there is no classified items in here. it was sent over the unclassified system it is not a national security secret. the cia got involved in said weight we are mentioning drone strikes that's huge you cannot have that in an unclassified e-mail. we don't have all of those released yet but according to a members of congress have said about those drone strikes those were new york time stories and aides were sending her those stories and they are thinking has front page of the new york times it can be classified that within the cia rules any mention of those
programs are classified so you see this incredible difference between agencies. but i will tell you have a document on her website where two different versions, ten days apart national security's secret and then ten days later only the middle part is blacked out? the punchline it is the same reviewer ten days apart looking at the same document coming at diametrically different opinions over national security. that's a part that raises questions as citizens there is no independent arbitration of these claims. there are real secrets i am not a fan of julian assange and things that everything should go up on the wall the real secret to get people killed or give bad guys the capabilities.
the most of what the government holds is a subjective call. judges are not prepared. when they get these classified representations from the government and their chamber chambers, what are they going to say? i can to create open i will not trust you? know. it's very hard for the judge to go against the government. i'm hoping the bolton case brings attention to the process may be the next congress will take a look at setting up a more consistent , standard process to get rid of these anomalies with the same standards for everybody and move these political speeches out to the public. >> any liability for the publishers? >> no. the judge clearly said that right up front that is
well-established for years going back to the pentagon papers all the government has a right to now is to continue to go after john bolton to get that to take away his royalty. >> you people are interested to see your work where do they go? >> to the and as archive just search national security archive. once you are on the website type on the phase secrets and you will see thousands of what i'm talking about. different blacked out portions it is an object lesson for all of us as citizens when the government says it is secret we should ask questions. >> thank you for joining us on book tv. >> it's a pleasure to be with you