Sunday, April 23, 2006

Hybrid Vigor

Well, Earth Day passed without much acknowledgement at the Dark Adapted Ranch, though I did drive my Ford Escape Hybrid a bit on Thursday, so I guess that's some kind of commemoration.

I had a 2001 Toyota Avalon that was five-plus years old, paid for, giving me no problems whatsoever and had a whopping 35,000 miles or so on it. So why did I get a hybrid? That's a complex answer.

First, I'm a gadget freak, and I think I heard someone say that "He who dies with the heaviest toy wins," so a 3,150 lb car would put me ahead there. Second, I'm not a tree-sitting Hummer-torching Enviro-Loonie, but I do hate paying for gas and in-town I was getting about 19-20mpg in the Avalon, maybe 25 on the highway. Third, my driving profile would seem to work very well for a hybrid car, I drive about 7 miles each day to and from work in town with a max speed limit of 45 mph on any stretch. Fourth, I chose the SUV class for a hybrid because I'm too big for the current car-type hybrids, and of the ones available (Toyota Highlander, Lexus R400h, Ford Escape), only the Escape offered an efficient package in my opinion for the way I drive. The Ford Escape is the only SUV hybrid with a 4-cylinder engine, in the other cars the hybrid package is designed to boost performance moreso than economy, and economy was what I was after. Plus, it was cheaper than the other two ($32,095 out the door, sticker price).

So on March 13, 2006 I became a hybrid owner courtesy of Tyler Ford, and me and my silver 2006 Ford Escape Hybrid have been getting to know each other. If you're interested, I have some impressions to share.

A hybrid is a car that has two power sources connected to a common transmission: a gasoline engine and an electric motor. In the case of my car, they are a 2.3-L in-line four-cylinder Atkinson cycle gasoline engine, and a 94hp (max efficency) electric motor powered by a large NiMH battery, the equivalent of 250 D-cell size batteries. The 'gas pedal' is electronically-controlled and the 'hybridness' is largely transparent, a computer decides whether you get power to the wheels from the electric motor, the gasoline engine, or both. The car has a more-efficeient automatic transmission called a continuously-variable transmission, in essence it never changes gears.

The ICE (Internal Combustion Engine) not only drives the car when needed but charges the battery as needed, the battery is also charged when you stop through regenerative braking, turning the kinetic energy of the car into electrical energy for your battery instead of wasting it as heat in the brake pads. The smarts are all in the computer and transmission, and Ford showed the smarts to buy the hybrid system largely intact from Toyota. The difference is that I actually can get my 6'5" frame into a Ford Escape, and would do so with some discomfort in a Prius. You can certainly drive a hybrid as a normal car and never give a second thought to maximizing your fuel-efficency and minimizing your environmental impact. It's been designed to be as transparent as possible, the only difference if you use it this way is that your car shuts off at red lights and fires up again with vigorous acceleration.

But that's not me. At heart, I'm a systems analyst, and there's nothing I like more than being given a complex system to analyze. One of the best computer-gaming experiences I had was getting a game called 'X-COM' without any documentation, then figuring out the rules for myself, the game of deducing the game was as much fun as the game itself. Driving a hybrid is also a game and requires some rules, and here's the ones I have deduced so far:

What game are you playing in your car? For some folks, the game is Shortest Time. For me, it's Highest MPG, and given access to the data if you're driving a hybrid for efficiency you'll probably end up doing that, too. It's funny, I don't get frustrated with other people when my engine isn't running, or when their acceleration is so slow that I can keep up with them on batteries. I have the luxury of Doing Something in my car (saving gas), instead of rushing from place to place to Do Something when I arrive. It's a new perspective for me, and strangely stress-reducing. My attention is on being efficient, not being first. I don't mind red lights, they don't cost me anything if my ICE isn't running. I do corner a little harder than I did before, largely to keep up momentum, and I love to slip past a yellow light because I know there won't be anyone behind me to anger (see next point). It has changed how I drive, and since I Drive to Live instead of Live to Drive, I'm thinking I can let my Car and Driver subscription lapse as well.

Driving a hybrid is like playing 'Operation': If you hear the buzz, you've made a mistake. The ICE always comes on at startup and, depending on engine temperature will run for 3-7 minutes. When it shuts off, you can barely tell, but then you're in 'Bonus Time', where you're making progress down the road without paying ExxonMobil for the privilege. The key at this point is careful throttle management. It's a fly-by-wire throttle, so a careful tread on the pedal is necessary for goosing it along without triggering the ICE again. You can tell you're 'winning' when the tachometer drops to zero, you're losing when that evil needle jumps back up to 1200 rpm or so. A light touch is necessary to stay in Bonus Time. The shudder of the ICE lighting up (it will start in 400 milliseconds if needed) is my new designator of failure.

Your ability to maximize hybrid fuel economy depends on your tolerance for frustrating other drivers. I have received my last speeding ticket, I ought to just get a big sign in the back window that says: HYBRID -- GO AROUND. A hybrid will accelerate and keep speed with other cars in traffic, but if you do that you're not using the batteries most of the time and you're paying the weight penalty of dragging around all the extra hybrid components in the car. There is a balance you need to find between keeping pace with traffic and lowering your environmental output, for me that balance is found in differing route selections. Nobody minds if you glide silently on battery power at 25mph through a residential neighborhood. If you can make the trip on batteries, even a slightly longer trip will be more efficient if you can do it slower and with less reliance on the ICE. I don't feel that I have the right to frustrate people for environmental reasons, so I just try to stay out of their way as much as possible.

Think like a bicyclist. Driving a hybrid will make you access the vertical data you store but never consider when driving a conventional car. Think about your route to a common destination like school or work. Where are the hills? Are they steep or gradual? Is there a route where you can take a more gentle slope? Or one where you can burst up a hill on the ICE rather than grinding slowly up the hill for a longer period of time at a slower rate? I'm still working on local strategies, but for starters I boost up the hill and let off the gas just before the apex, coasting over and down before adding gas to get back up the hill. It's the third dimension of driving that you never think about but may be significant. I have gotten my car up to 45mph on batteries alone running downhill, which is unimpressive unless you drive a hybrid, too.

Not to short, not too long, just right The first 3-7 minutes of any trip, you will be driving a heavier version of a conventional car and probably get slightly worse gas mileage. If your trips are mostly 5 minutes in length, you won't benefit from a hybrid at all. The ideal trips are ones in town, 15-20 minutes or more long at speeds in the 35 mph range. On the highway, my Escape Hybrid got 30.3 MPG at 70mph from my house to my sister's house 135 miles away, but in Dallas that weekend running 20-25 minute trips I had my average fuel economy up to 32, suggesting that I was coming close to the EPA City number of 36 MPG. In practice, I have managed to get 29 mpg in town with my short trips and careful throttle control and route selection, which isn't great compared the the EPA number but is about 50% better than I was getting in my Avalon.

As far as the car goes, it's missing some goodies that I had in my Avalon, like the auto-dimming rearview mirror, the temperature readout (though I'm not yet sure I can't get that info, I just haven't read the manuals) and the HomeLink integrated garge door opener. I have to manually turn the headlights on and off, which took some getting used to after 5 years with a slightly smarter car. The acceleration is a little less, which just means I have to think more. On the other hand, it has a GPS navigation system that is pretty trick, and it handles speed bumps better than my last car. The biggest plus is that I've been driving for 23 days and I'm still at half a tank, I expect to make it into May without filling up. Having been on the highway and in town over the last six weeks, I can't really lodge a complaint. I really like the car.

And I'm not writing this to fill the air with Smug, the Federal Tax Credit that accompanies the car is enough reward, plus the fun of a new game inside the usual game of getting from Point A to Point B. I DO NOT think I am better than you or anyone else, I am not a better steward of the environment, etc. I DO think there is a bright future for hybrids, particularly plug-in hybrids with more powerful lithium-ion batteries. I could probably get to work in a plug-in hybrid on electricity alone. The current hybrids aren't a patch on the potential of the diesel-electric hybrid car. Whether we in the US realize it or not, Europe has seen a renaissance of the small diesel engine and with ultra low-sulfur diesel coming out this year, it's likely we'll have cars with even better efficiency than gasoline hybrids. Diesels are ideal generators as they run most efficiently at fixed rpms and temperatures, and a diesel-electric hybrid car could get real-world 70-80 mpg within the next few years.

The hybrid will go mainstream this year when Toyota offers a Camry hybrid variant as part of the 2007 model year, and if you can afford the difference it's worth a test drive at least. I look forward to your comments!

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Pray for the May

I am not merely waxing (pathetically) poetic in this post, I am revealing one of my semi-Hero powers, that of turning finely-cast light ceramic disks into fragments, with an average score that would garner me a 'C' were it a 100-point quiz. I am a Sporting Clays shooter on occasion, and occasionally a successful one as shown here:
That's me (the lummox in the red shirt on the right) and my brother (to my left) posing with Averill (far left) and Patrick (the Todd Robbins-looking dude in the middle) DeLoache as the winning team for the First Annual ACU Shoot for Success, a Sporting Clays tournament held last year.

Sporting Clays has been described as "golf with a shotgun", and given my wild inaccuracy at golf this would not seem to be the sport for me. Compared to others who are artists with a 12-gauge, it isn't. My brother is the Bwana Devil with a shotgun, with no training and no practice he broke 78 clays out of 100, but then again he has the nervous system of a cat. His skill is really remarkable to people who shoot regularly who find out that he, in fact, does not. In typical terse and self-depreciating fashion, he passes off finding and hammering flying clays that escape many others. "It's a shotgun. I shouldn't EVER miss," he says, and all I can think is that if he's this good with firearms untrained, there are Jihadis in Al-Anbar that should be thanking their god that he's not in a Marine uniform and parked behind a Barrett M107 and within a mile of them. But I digress.

Shooting with the DeLoaches was really neat, they showed up to support the other beneficiary of the Shoot, the Texoma Youth Camp. With this hybrid team of ACU and Texoma supporters it seemed inevitable that we would win...after the fact. There were some shooters there that dwarfed us in talent, one twenty-something whippersnapper broke 92, but the reason our whole team won was that our whole team did fairly well -- Averill shot 77 (with a 20-gauge no less), My Bro broke 78, I got 70 and Patrick, who was 15 at the time, got 56 with a pump gun, no less. You meet the nicest people on the shooting range, and that day was no exception. When we won, the collective response was pretty much, "Whoa, that's random." It was a very pleasant surprise.

The 2006 ACU Shoot For Success tournament will commence on May 6, 2006, at the Elm Fork Shooting Park in Dallas, a gem of a shooting range in the Trinity River bottomlands just a few miles from downtown Dallas (and people wonder why I love Texas?).

My brother and I will be there in the dust of that parking lot awaiting you. Do you have the Mediocre As Shooting Skills Go Stuff to beat us? We, and the ACU COBA, the Texoma Youth Camp and the V.W. Kelly Scholarship Fund would like you to register to find out. And then show up on May 6 to see if you can pry the First Place Team prize from our slightly sweaty and shaky hands. It's for a good cause, the ammo is included in the registration fee and so is lunch. You're going to eat on May 6th, right? So register to eat lunch and consider the shooting as free entertainment. You don't have to be really good or even in practice to enjoy it -- the Bro and I proved that you CAN win without practice, hard work or (in my case) natural ability.

If we can, so can you.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

And The Pulitzer Goes To...

My kids love prizes and awards. The big brainwave we had for The Boy's recent birthday was giving little trophies as part of the goodie bag. We built and raced these little AA-powered Tamiya race cars, and everyone got a trophy. I suppose it's part of the feel-good, self-esteem culture we have, but it put smiles on kids' faces and when you're a kid, getting the prize is the big thing. Shoot, my son proudly displays my brother's Little League trophy from 1978. Kids love to win prizes, but when you become an adult (unless you're a world-class athlete), the primacy of the prize seems to diminish.

It's becoming less and less important to me who wins prizes these days, because the things you have to do to win them seem less about what you do than which cause you support. When prize committees stop rewarding work and start Sending A Message, it's time to quit paying attention to them.

I mean, take Yasir Arafat, the 1994 Nobel Peace Prize winner.

(Pardon me while I do the same double-take I do whenever I read that. *mind boggles* OK, I'm back.)

Given the current situation in the Middle East, and the right mess Arafat led his political party into (not to mention the theft of funds to help what can easily be considered among the most destitute group in the world), now we have Hamas as the leader of the Palestinian Authority and peace seems as far away as it ever has. Iran doesn't need to fire missiles into Israel when it's clients Palestinian Islamic Jihad and Hamas can just hand-deliver warheads to falafel stands in downtown Tel Aviv. Isn't this kind of like giving the 1999 Lifetime Business Ethics Award to Andy Fastow, Jeff Skilling and Ken May? And don't get me started on Jimmy Carter. Good man, very principled, but not noted for foreign policy skill besides being able to get an Israeli who wanted peace and an Egyptian who wanted peace to sign a peace accord, in part by bribing the crap out of both parties ever since. The Nobel Prizes have an undeniable political tint these days, which makes them increasingly unserious in my mind.

So when Eric Lichtblau and James Risen of the New York Times share the Pulitzer for National Reporting, pardon me while I swallow my gorge. They got someone at NSA to spill one of the most secret programs in the nation. Approaching the White House for comment, the WH asked them in the interest of national security to not report their findings. They didn't, at least until James Risen had his book written, then the New York Times "had" to report the story, since Risen was going to reveal national secrets in any event. I actually bought Risen's book, and it's in the hopper for reading at some point, but the thing that really galls me (besides all the self-righteous harrumphing and demand for an investigation into the Plame affair from the NYT, followed by kudos (and now a Pulitzer!) for revealing an actual secret) is that the reporting was horrifically incomplete. They didn't reveal what actually was happening, just that something was happening. They compromised national security by just by reporting the program, but not enough to do anything but raise spectres of faceless dudes in off-the-rack suits and clip-on ties pawing through your email and IM logs.

Is this a pen register-trap-and-trace? An automated text searcher? Are the communications recorded? If so, for how long? How much of the Internet is involved? Are strictly domestic communications involved? How about if a US party initiates contact, is that it? Hmmmm? Lichtblau and Risen offer only Cheshire cat smiles and silently polish their Pulitzers. Their reporting amounts to nothing more than a Rorschach test for the reader's feelings about government. If you, like me, think that security is the most basic human right, reading about this only confirms what you hoped was going on anyway. If you think Chimpy McBushHitler is really that interested in all of your comments and IMs about what a jerk he is and is going to come punish you in some way (and to be fair, the government can punish you like few others), it's intimidating to say the least. And infuriating, I would imagine, if you didn't like the PATRIOT Act to begin with.

Lichtblau and Risen's reporting is enough to raise questions, and the answers are fill-in-the-blanks with your worst fears or best expectations. The fact that international calls and 'net traffic routed through US switches and routers can be intercepted is enough to make it harder for us to track terrorist communications, and this current crop of n'er-do-wells is not stupid. Their reporting is the equivalent of announcing in 1942 that the US had broken the Japanese Naval Codes, or that the British had automated the cracking of three-rotor Enigma codes used by the Germans. THAT the breach has been made is enough to make smart conspirators change their SOP, and with easily downloadable tools like PGP, cracking those messages is exponentially harder. The simple thing is to use lines that are not routed through the US and are therefore (presumably) much less easy for the US to intercept.

Dana Priest of the Washington Post won the Pulitzer for Beat Reporting, she was the one who published the Most Secret Story of the Year, until the NYT dropped the bombshell about the NSA. Her revelation was about the CIA's network of secret prisons to keep high-value folks like Khalid Sheikh Mohammed off the radar. Personally, I could care less if the guy is dead in a ditch somewhere after having every neuron sucked dry of each scintilla of information about Al Qaeda's networks and operations. If the planner of 9/11 ever breathes free air again, it's too soon for me. That he's kept free from people who intend to provide him the best defense in an American court that money can buy is good enough.

The only thing that elevates Priest's story above Lichtblau and Risen's in my mind is that is has a Beginning and a Middle and somewhat of an End. Lichtblau and Risen's story only has a Beginning, and the Beginning was damage enough, thank you very little. I honestly fail to see the overarching public good served in either story, especially for the NYT story given the very gray area that FISA occupies with respect to the Constitutional powers and duties of the Office of the President. Every President beginning with Carter right after FISA was signed has generated an Executive Order that says, in essence, "I reserve the right to ignore that law when necessary, since I'm the President and the FISA statute is in the Gray Zone." And given the still-opaque nature of how the warrantless program works, the reporting doesn't provide any complete answers, just raises unhelpful questions that the President can't address without further compromising national security. It may be an important story, it may not. But given that further answers can't be forthcoming without committing more felonies, it just sits eating like acid at the foundations of public trust.

Keep your prizes, people. If that's what it takes to win, it doesn't sound like a game I want to be played. And I hope that somewhere down the road, the leakers of two of the most secret things in the US Government get a number and some custom jumpsuits to remind them of their roles in the 2006 Pulitzer Prizes, for the rest of their natural lives.

UPDATE 4/24/06: The alleged leaker of the Dana Priest article, Mary O. McCarthy, has been fired from her CIA job after apparently confessing to being Priest's source. She was an analyst assigned to the CIA's Inspector General's office, doubly ironic because the IG's office is where whistleblowers are supposed to go first. No matter how you spin it, the WaPo is not a part of any government oversight system.

The only government the CIA seems capable of bringing down anymore is our own.

A good, if long, article in Commentary regarding the New York Times article, the NSA program and the Espionage Act of 1950. Summary: if the NYT goes to court, they'll lose.

Monday, April 17, 2006

The Ballad of Bill Hobbs

The top of the list to the right of ACU-X Bloggers belongs to Bill Hobbs, a friend from ACU. Bill was a serious journalism person, I was a tourist drawing cartoons for the paper on occasion (and "borrowing" Letraset from Craig Leese on occasion -- if I see you I owe you $5, Craig). I appreciated Bill for many reasons, not the least of which was that as a skinny, too-tall freshman in the fall of 1986 still adjusting to life in West Texas, Bill was friendly and actually took the time to talk to a non-JMC major who happened to be spending long hours composing the student newspaper with him. Bill graduated about a year later, and moved to Nashville.

Well, come to find out when I belatedly discovered blogging and Instapundit, the Don Corleone of right-ish bloggers also knew of Bill Hobbs and featured him in his blogroll (for non-bloggers, a list of blogs you recommend). Come to find out that Bill was a freelance journalist now and a major blogger in Nashville and Tennessee. Kinda cool to make those connections.

Bill let his site lay fallow on January 10, 2006. He was employed by Belmont University in Nashville as a PR person, and decided that maintaining his busy blog was one of the things he could jettison, even though he had maintained it for four-plus years. I hadn't seen much from or about Bill, until I saw the sickening headline on Instapundit: BILL HOBBS HAS LOST HIS JOB FOR BLOGGING.

"Bummer" doesn't begin to cover it. A decent recitation of the events is available here, an even more detailed one is available here, the nut of the story is that Bill posted a cartoon on a blogpage he started, then immediately abandoned. Later, when he started a blog about the Tennessee Governor's race, the earlier blog was listed as one of his on his Blogger Profile and a former press aide for Al Gore, Mike Kopp, chose this abandoned article to use as a platform to attack the Bryson campaign, which apparently does not employ Bill Hobbs. Another blogger who works for 'Nashville Scene', an 'alternative weekly' like the 'Dallas Observer', used Kopp's blog to bash Bill yet again, and call out Belmont, a Baptist college, about its employ of this hateful, spiteful un-Christian person.

Well, Bill isn't hateful. He's not spiteful. He's not un-Christian. And for reasons that are not yet clear, he's no longer employed by Belmont University, as of today.

Why do I say all this?

1. I like Bill personally and wish him well. The chances of him reading this are slim, but if you do, get a tip jar up on your site somewhere and for you, one of my Blogfathers, I will brave the perils of PayPal and chip in.

2. Bill is an important blogger to me, and likely to a few folks in Tennesee, but it's not like this 'Bill' is Bill Frist. Why Nashville Scene needs to take time out of its day to confront Bill and Belmont about an abandoned blog is not clear to me, other than that Bill has an opinion about the TN governor's race that they don't agree with. Congrats, Nashville Scene. I'm betting this will backfire badly on you, but hey, you're old media so your life ain't so great to begin with. Glenn Reynolds refers to bloggers as 'a pack, not a herd'. I don't live in Nashville and don't have a dog in this hunt, but I wouldn't be surprised to see an organized pack of bloggers casting a gimlet eye at each and every one of your actions in the future. Don't think of it as vengance, think of it as proactive defense on the part of people who don't agree with you. You never can tell which blogger with a different opinion they'll target next.

3. It's unspeakably ironic that "freedom of the press" has been applied by the Nashville Scene in an effort to embarass Bill and Belmont. I don't know the terms of separation of Bill from Belmont. It's entirely possible he was dissatisfied for some reason and this is a good opportunity to leave, or he's falling on his sword to save the school bad press (this, specificially, is not working at the moment), or Belmont pulled the trigger itself. In any event, it's unfortunate that someone's opinion outside of work should impact their job in this way. And as for a "Well, we didn't want him to lose his job" defense, freedom entails responsibility as well. What exactly was the expectation of what would happen in regard to this incident?

4. Freedom of opinion from the political left is apparently limited to freedom to agree with the tenets of the left. You're not just wrong if you don't, you're a horrible, awful, evil person and you should be destroyed.

I have admired Bill and Glenn Reynolds' bravery in posting under their own names on widely read pages on the Internet. My security is largely in anonymity (and if you were wondering and feeling frisky, an alarm system, a concealed carry permit, semiautomatic weapons and personal alertness), that and I'm easily self-employable and a partner in my radiology group. Bill shows anyone who's a blogger the dangers of deeply-held expressed opinion if you don't work for yourself, or have tenure, like Professor Reynolds. Bill didn't get attacked by a newspaper over his cartoon, he was attacked because he was felt to be effective in getting out a message. To a certain extent, that's an honor.

Bill has a short post on his blog:

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
- Romans 8:28 -

God Bless, Bill.

Check his blog more frequently, I am sure we haven't heard the last from him.

UPDATE: Lucas in the comments makes a pertinent point. Allow me revise and extend point 4:

4. Freedom of opinion from the political extremes is apparently limited to freedom to agree with the positions of the extremes. You're not just wrong if you don't, you're a horrible, awful, evil person and you should be destroyed. I tend to notice it more when it comes from the left, but from whatever direction it's generally unhelpful for political discourse to assume your opponent does not have the public interest at heart and is simply a bad person. Interpersonally, this behavior is a conversation-killer. Politically, this is part of the wedge driving the country into fractious groups.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Welcome Lucas

In case you missed him down at the bottom of the 'ACU-X Bloggers' list, I've added Lucas Hendrickson to the list. Lucas blogging is probably a lot like the classic busman's holiday, he's been the music editor of CitySearch Nashville and you can momentarily choke Google searching for his name, quotes and articles he's written. He's a prolific writer, a Class A Dude and a fondly remembered friend from ACU. Check out his blog.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Bush Leak? Um, no.

Breathless, the lefty blogosphere(to wit(less)) runs with the AP Story that implicates Bush as "leaking" information from the then-classified National Intelligence Estimate to Lewis 'Scooter' Libby, who then passed it to reporters to counter Joe Wilson's article in The New York Times. According to Libby's defense filings, the release of this information was authorized by President Bush some time before July 8, 2003.

People are in a tizzy because they believe the President is thus shown to be 'leaking classified information'. Well, as it turns out, at least some of what's classified depends on who owns the material, and the NIE is an Executive Branch work product. Consistent with Separation of Powers, the Executive has control of what is and isn't classified in its purview. For the President to leak something classified by statute or by Congress would be inappropriate, for sure, but that doesn't seem to be what happened here.

Of course, anyone who tuned in to Brit Hume's interview of Vice-President Cheney on Wednesday, February 15, 2006 (transcript here) would already know this:

Q On another subject, court filings have indicated that Scooter Libby has suggested that his superiors -- unidentified -- authorized the release of some classified information. What do you know about that?

THE VICE PRESIDENT: It's nothing I can talk about, Brit. This is an issue that's been under investigation for a couple of years. I've cooperated fully, including being interviewed, as well, by a special prosecutor. All of it is now going to trial. Scooter is entitled to the presumption of innocence. He's a great guy. I've worked with him for a long time, have enormous regard for him. I may well be called as a witness at some point in the case and it's, therefore, inappropriate for me to comment on any facet of the case.

Q Let me ask you another question. Is it your view that a Vice President has the authority to declassify information?

THE VICE PRESIDENT: There is an executive order to that effect.

Q There is.


Q Have you done it?

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, I've certainly advocated declassification and participated in declassification decisions. The executive order --

Q You ever done it unilaterally?

THE VICE PRESIDENT: I don't want to get into that. There is an executive order that specifies who has classification authority, and obviously focuses first and foremost on the President, but also includes the Vice President.

What can be classified can be de-classified, and parts of the NIE were declassified on July 18, 2003.

Tempest in a teapot. But it's fun to watch it bubble. Note which of your friends freak out about this, and mark them as unserious people.