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Oversight, national security and democracy
Editors: and

Who constructs, controls and preserves the Official Record is often key to documenting and understanding events. However, partly because of its potential to contain evidence of controversial policies and malfeasance, its construction, control and preservation in the arena of national security is inherently contested: with those seeking greater openness and (democratic) accountability arguing 'sunlight is [...] the best of disinfectants’, and others, not always unreasonably, urging stricter information control because, to their mind, sound government arises when advice and policy are formulated secretly. Across seven chapters, this edited volume explores the intersection of the Official Record, oversight, national security and democracy. Via key US, UK and Canadian case studies, all of which are backed up with primary documentation, this volume is designed to help higher-level undergraduate readers and above explore the Official Record in the context of the national security operations of democratic states. All chapters are research-based pieces of original writing that feature a Document Appendix containing primary documents (often excerpts) that are key to a chapter’s narrative. In short, via engagement with a broad range of primary material, this volume interrogates the boundaries between national security, accountability, oversight and the Official Record.

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The constitutionality of killing US citizens
Christine Sixta Rinehart

Between November 2002 and January 2015, the United States’ drone (Remotely Piloted Aircraft, RPA) war killed approximately twelve United States (US) citizens with armed Predator or Reaper RPA. Targeted killing or the assassination of foreign citizens is not new for the US. However, the targeted killing of US citizens by their own government abroad, let alone killing with RPA, is a relatively new concept. Four US citizens were killed during the George W. Bush Administration. Eight are known to have died in US RPA strikes during President Barack Obama’s Administration. A ninth US citizen claims he was targeted but survived five strikes. This chapter engages with the US official and public records to explore the killing and targeting of US citizens by RPA strikes. In part it explores the tension between the legal justification found in the Official Record and the due process provided to US citizens in the US Constitution. The chapter begins with discussions of the intelligence cycle and its critics and the process of RPA strikes as they relate to the intelligence cycle. Next, the data on US citizens killed and/or targeted, or who claim to have been targeted, by RPA strikes is presented. Key aspects of the evolution of targeted killing from Bush to the administration of President Joe Biden are then highlighted, before the concepts of due process, imminence and feasibility are discussed in the final section.

in The Official Record
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Assassination and the US Official Record from the Cold War to 9/11
Luca Trenta

This chapter focuses on the place of assassination in US foreign policy, in its language and in the Official Record. Through a documentary analysis, the chapter highlights how multiple Administrations worked to preserve assassination as a policy option while engaging in a concerted effort to remove assassination from the Official Record. The chapter starts with an analysis of the 1950s and 1960s by exploring the individuals targeted and the language used by the US government. It highlights the pervasiveness both of assassination and of circumlocutory language, innuendos and euphemisms to describe assassination operations. It also showcases efforts by US officials to distance the US government from assassination, tampering with the Official Record. Starting with the explosive CIA ‘Family jewels’ collection, the next section explores the so-called ‘season of inquiry’. It looks at the Ford Administration’s reaction, including the Rockefeller Commission, the effort to stymie the Church Committee’s investigation and its interim report on assassination. It analyses the establishment of Executive Order 11905 which included a ban on assassination. The vagueness of the ban enabled the Reagan Administration to reinterpret it in ways that permitted the pursuit of its preferred policies. Finally, the influence of the Reagan Administration’s interpretations of the ban in the years prior to 9/11 is explored. The chapter concludes that these political and legal developments permitted the removal of assassination from the language of US foreign policy, opening the way for the proliferation of so-called ‘targeted killings’.

in The Official Record
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Ecumenical Protestants, Conversion, and the Holocaust

Tracking the Jews analyses the beliefs, ideas, concepts, arguments and policies of the people who tracked the Jews in an unprecedented conversionary initiative during the years immediately before, during and after the Holocaust. From the rubble of World War I to the ashes of World War II, it reconstructs from more than twenty thousand pages of archival documents the vision and motives of ecumenical Protestant architects, builders and supporters of the initiative, as well as major opposers. The narrative moves in chronological time with unfolding events and developments, back and forth between Budapest, Warsaw, London, New York, Geneva, Berlin, Vienna and other locations on a landscape of rapidly accelerating Nazi persecution. In charting the path on which the conversionary initiative was becoming ecumenical expert on the ‘Jewish problem’, it locates and follows a second social-issue trajectory as the two intersect and converge in conversionary purpose on a war-laden refugee landscape. With Nobel Peace Laureates of 1930 and 1946 on either end of a richly populated field of involvements, it marks the path taken from a 1925 call for Christian experts on the Jewish problem to the 1948 World Council of Churches founding statement on Jews, which recognised the extermination of six million Jews, while calling attention to the ‘continuing presence of a people which did not acknowledge Christ’. In so doing it brings into focus on each end of its chronological structure the theological conception of the ongoing existence of ‘the Jews’ as an unsolved problem for Christianity.

1940–1944
Carolyn Sanzenbacher

Chapter 4 interrogates the voices and silences of both trajectories by placing under a spotlight the back-room dynamics and politics of arriving at official organisational responses as Nazi aggression spread across Europe between 1940 and 1944. It examines the many-dimensioned role of refugee information pouring into the ecumenical network through Geneva, and it does so in the light of WCCIF attempts to stir a course of neutral silence on divisive issues, while advancing ecumenical unification of the churches. The strategic location of WCCIF on the crossroads of neutral Switzerland, along with London connections to the League of Nations High Commission, allowed for a continuous flow of privileged information through the ecumenical channels of Geneva, London and New York. Information flowed into WCCIF from constituency sources in Germany and all occupied and satellite countries, as well as unoccupied France, neutral Spain, Portugal and Sweden, World YMCA, International Red Cross, British Ministry of Information, World Jewish Congress, Jewish Agency and the Emergency Committee of Christian Organizations, known as ECCO. For ICCAJ, beyond work for the WCCIF refugee office by soliciting material and spiritual aid for non-Aryan Christians, the predominant response was the theoretical management of geographic mission fields for postwar reoccupation. Jewish refugee populations were tracked to determine redistribution figures; conferences were convened on the just division of the global mission field; and restoration of human rights for Jews was studied in the context of ensuring that Christianity retained the rights to postwar evangelisation of surviving Jews.

in Tracking the Jews
Ulf Zander

Some musical works that build on Raoul Wallenberg’s actions and fate form the point of departure for an argument aimed at problematizing a previously predominant view of the Americanization of the Holocaust. According to that view, adaptation to the conceptions of US audiences mostly involves simplification and a reduction of nuance. With an eye on increasing interest in Wallenberg in the 1970s, the chapter analyses how he became an important factor in American foreign policy and popular culture. The chapter discusses examples of creative negotiation between information about his life drawn from scholarly studies on the one hand and representations of Wallenberg on the other, especially with reference to the American television serial Wallenberg: A Hero’s Story and the Swedish-Hungarian feature film Good Evening, Mr. Wallenberg.

in Raoul Wallenberg
Hubert Buch-Hansen
,
Max Koch
, and
Iana Nesterova

In recent years, discussions in the degrowth literature have increasingly revolved around issues related to degrowth business. Such discussions have sought to understand what business would be like as part of a degrowth society, if it can indeed be part of it, and what, if any, roles business can play in transformations towards such societies. The chapter provides reflections on degrowth and business, suggesting that the latter constitutes an important actor on the roads to degrowth. Subsequently, various matters related to scale and diversity are considered before the chapter analyses what practices businesses would need to implement to render them consistent with degrowth. The chapter ends with a contemplation of whether a degrowth business is necessarily a non-growing business – the conclusion being that this is not the case.

in Deep transformations
Hubert Buch-Hansen
,
Max Koch
, and
Iana Nesterova

Degrowth transformations cannot but start out from what currently exists, that is, capitalist societies. Thus, an understanding of capitalism is a prerequisite for theorising such transformations. Drawing on selected ideas of Karl Marx, supplemented with insights from a range of other social theorists, the chapter unfolds such an understanding. In doing so, it focuses on the capitalist growth imperative and on capitalism in relation to work, consumption and nature. It also takes up the question of whether egoism and greed are universally dominant human attributes. This issue is of key importance as deep social change beyond capitalism is only conceivable to the extent that human beings are able to manifest and nurture existing human qualities which transcend egoism and greed. The chapter argues that indeed human beings have that capacity.

in Deep transformations
Hubert Buch-Hansen
,
Max Koch
, and
Iana Nesterova

Civil society is where ideas challenging the growth paradigm could come to prevail and where a shift away from the current consumer culture could happen. Civil society is a space in which more citizens can experiment with alternative, sustainable forms of living. It is the site of degrowth activism, the site in which the degrowth movement can form alliances with other movements. And civil society is the realm in which broad consent to, and a demand for, profound eco-social transformations could arise, prompting policymakers to adopt more ambitious policies. In short, changes in – and emanating from – civil society are an essential part of degrowth transformations. Enriching the book’s theoretical perspective, the chapter conceptualises civil society and reflects on its scales and diversity in degrowth transformations. Moreover, it highlights the importance of individual self-transformation for civil society to become a sufficiently potent driving force towards degrowth.

in Deep transformations
Open Access (free)
The four planes of degrowth
Hubert Buch-Hansen
,
Max Koch
, and
Iana Nesterova

The theoretical perspective developed in the book suggests that for degrowth transformations to occur, actions in the sites of civil society, business and the state are necessary – and they are necessary also on all scales, including the local, the national and the transnational. For degrowth to materialise, in other words, activities of agents positioned everywhere are required. In conceptualising degrowth in terms of deep transformations, we also highlight that it would necessitate profound changes on all planes of social being: material transactions with nature, social interactions between people, social structure, and people’s inner being. The concluding chapter connects a number of the key arguments made in previous chapters and relates the perspective on deep transformations more systematically to the four planes. In this context, a new, holistic definition of degrowth is proposed. The view of human beings underpinning the perspective is also further explored before various issues meriting further contemplation and interdisciplinary dialogues are identified.

in Deep transformations