July 3, 2005

LESS ACCESS, WORSE ANALYSIS:

Increase in the Number of Documents Classified by the Government (SCOTT SHANE, 7/03/05, NY Times)

Driven in part by fears of terrorism, government secrecy has reached a historic high by several measures, with federal departments classifying documents at the rate of 125 a minute as they create new categories of semi-secrets bearing vague labels like "sensitive security information."

A record 15.6 million documents were classified last year, nearly double the number in 2001, according to the federal Information Security Oversight Office. Meanwhile, the declassification process, which made millions of historical documents available annually in the 1990's, has slowed to a relative crawl, from a high of 204 million pages in 1997 to just 28 million pages last year.

The increasing secrecy - and its rising cost to taxpayers, estimated by the office at $7.2 billion last year - is drawing protests from a growing array of politicians and activists, including Republican members of Congress, leaders of the independent commission that studied the Sept. 11 attacks and even the top federal official who oversees classification.


It's one of the few areas where the Administration is headed in exactly the wrong direction. Secrecy is always counterproductive. With the possible exception of active assets in nations that are currently unfree, nearly no information should be classified. Treat intelligence the way we do any other market and open it up.

Posted by Orrin Judd at July 3, 2005 7:56 AM
Comments

I disagree, the press is only upset about this because it limits their ability to play gotcha. They are the enemy. Starve them out.

Posted by: Robert Schwartz at July 3, 2005 5:10 PM
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