America's secrecy system is totally, utterly, completely screwed up

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


  1. The brutal reality is that the public doesn’t give a damn about government overclassification & excessive secrecy…and it’s that apathy that has helped make possible the creation of what I call “the Cult of the National Security State”, which has spawned 1) industrial scale warrantless surveillance, 2) mindless use of ionizing radiation scanners at airports,  3) a national war-by-drone fetish. As the saying goes, “People get the government they deserve”.

    1. We’re not getting 1984, and we’re not getting Brave New World, we’re getting something somewhere in the middle.

      1. I hear that Ron Paul wants to legalize Soma; but support for orgy porgy in public schools is being held up by christian reactionaries…

  2. I don’t agree with the premise, but as someone with TS/SCI maybe I’m biased? I’ve been working with classified info for 13 years, and I very, very rarely see what I’d consider misclassified information. Maybe a handful of times. I’m not sure what the problem is supposed to be.

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