More Openness and Transparency: Obama Regime Prevents Millions of Pages of Military and Intelligence Documents from Being Declassified; Had Been Scheduled for Release by the End of the Year

November 30th, 2009

Via: Boston Globe:

President Obama will maintain a lid of secrecy on millions of pages of military and intelligence documents that were scheduled to be declassified by the end of the year, according to administration officials.

The missed deadline spells trouble for the White House’s promises to introduce an era of government openness, say advocates, who believe that releasing historical information enforces a key check on government behavior. They cite as an example the abuses by the Central Intelligence Agency during the Cold War, including domestic spying and assassinations of foreign officials, that were publicly outlined in a set of agency documents known as the “family jewels.’’

The documents in question – all more than 25 years old – were scheduled to be declassified on Dec. 31 under an order originally signed by President Bill Clinton and amended by President George W. Bush.

But now Obama finds himself in the awkward position of extending the secrecy, despite his repeated pledges of greater transparency, because his administration has been unable to prod spy agencies into conformance.

The documents, dating from World War II to the early 1980s, cover the gamut of foreign relations, intelligence activities, and military operations – with the exception of nuclear weapons data, which remain protected by Congress. Limited to information generated by more than one agency, the records in question are held by the Central Intelligence Agency; the National Security Agency; the departments of Justice, State, Defense, and Energy; and other security and intelligence agencies.

None of the agencies involved responded to requests for comment, saying they could not discuss internal deliberations.

“They never want to give up their authority,’’ said Meredith Fuchs, general counsel at the National Security Archive, a research center at George Washington University that collects and publishes declassified information. “The national security bureaucracy is deeply entrenched and is not willing to give up some of the protections they feel they need for their documents.’’

The failure to meet the disclosure deadline “does not augur well for new, more ambitious efforts to advance classification reform,’’ said Steven Aftergood, a specialist on government secrecy at the Federation of American Scientists in Washington. “If binding deadlines can be extended more or less at will, then any new declassification requirements will be similarly subject to doubt or defiance.’’

One Response to “More Openness and Transparency: Obama Regime Prevents Millions of Pages of Military and Intelligence Documents from Being Declassified; Had Been Scheduled for Release by the End of the Year”

  1. anothernut Says:

    Loved this, the article’s subtitle on the actual Globe page: “Spy agencies foil Obama plan for transparency”. Gee, if stuff like this keeps happening, we won’t be able to ignore the elephant with the words “WE THE PEOPLE ARE NOT IN CHARGE” stamped across its sides that happens to be standing square in the middle of the living room.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.