It's obvious to anyone who's paying attention that the US secrecy system, by which government documents are classified "secret," "top secret," etc, is totally broken. J. William Leonard, who served as GW Bush's secrecy czar, called it "dysfunctional" and warned that it "clearly lacks the ability to differentiate between trivial information and that which can truly damage our nation’s well-being."
So why is the Obama administration, which promised to be the "most transparent in history," arguing for more secrecy? Good question -- it's one the EFF wants to know the answer to.
The controversy over leaks has spilled into the Presidential race, and instead of pointing out the obvious and systemic problems of withholding too many secrets, Mitt Romney and President Obama are arguing about who would be a more secretive president.
Meanwhile, the government is busy creating still more secrets under a bigger umbrella. Spending on classification is now approaching $11 billion, double what it was ten years ago. That’s also a 10 percent increase from last year and a 30 percent increase since Obama took office. And as the New York Times pointed out, that total “does not include the costs incurred by the Central Intelligence Agency, the National Security Agency and other spy agencies, whose spending is—you guessed it—classified.”
Additionally, a new intelligence report to Congress shows that the US issued a staggering 4.8 million classified security clearances last year—which comes out to about one in every 50 Americans. That number is a 3 percent increase on the year before, and as Steven Aftergood remarked, the 2010 number “astonished observers because it surpassed previous estimates by more than a million.”
As Secrecy System Veers Into Absurdity, Politicians Argue For More
The week, the US CBP published a notice in the Federal Register proposing a change to the Form I-94 Arrival/Departure Record paperwork that visitors to the US fill out when they cross the border, in which they announce plans to ask travellers to “please enter information associated with your online presence.”
Texas’s prison system must provide safe drinking water to its inmates, a judge in Houston federal court ruled Thursday. The Associated Press reports on a case that saw Texas fight all the way to court to continue supplying arsenic-laden water to prisoners— a position U.S. District Judge Keith Ellison wrote violates “contemporary standards of decency.” […]
“The U.S. government wants to use an obscure procedure—amending a federal rule known as Rule 41— to radically expand their authority to hack,” the EFF says. “The changes to Rule 41 would make it easier for them to break into our computers, take data, and engage in remote surveillance.
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