President Obama’s directive on hostage policy was originally released as PPD-29. However, they soon had to correct this to PPD-30; this had the unintended effect of revealing that there was already a PPD-29… a previously unknown and secret directive.
Nobody knows what PPD-29 is, and none of the big-wigs are talking,
“The only reason we know about it is the sequential numbering of the directives, and realizing they skipped a few,” said Steven Aftergood of the Federation of American Scientists, which tracks the directives.
Of his directives, PPD-29 is the 19th example of directives that have not been released to the public. It is also the 11th where not even the subject is known.
“It’s not only the public that doesn’t have copies. It’s also Congress that doesn’t have copies,” Aftergood said. “It’s a domain of largely unchecked presidential authority. It doesn’t mean it’s bad, but it’s lacking in independent oversight.”
Unlike executive orders, which are publicly known BY LAW, PPDs slip by unnoticed by the public… and get carried out anyway, allowing a president to circumvent a fundamental check on his power.
“The difference is that while executive orders are public by law — they must be published in the Federal Register to be effective —- PPDs are not,” said Harold Relyea, a political scientist who advised Congress on national security directives before retiring from the Congressional Research Service. “It is a kind of secret law. People have to obey it. But it’s a directive that can allocate money, direct people or take a course of action.”
Obama is by no means the first to purposefully avoid the hassle of having to let the citizens criticize his actions (one cannot criticize something that one does not even know exists). All the way back to President Truman, PPDs have been a part and parcel of American politics. They were simply called something else; Bush called them National Security Presidential Directives; Clinton called them Presidential Decision Directives; Nixon called them National Security Decisions (I see Bush decided to play it safe by including BOTH “National Security” AND “Presidential Directive” in there).
The change to the Hostage policy is unknown, and will remain thus. All that is known is that it has affected an ALSO-secret Bush directive. Frustrating.
“You would think that if there’s a new policy it would be a simple matter to explain what the old policy was,” Aftergood said.
Sources; USA Today
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