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Secrecy Report Card Says Government Flunks

The United States government remains firmly committed to keeping us in the dark. So says the 2008 Secrecy Report Card issued this week by OpenTheGovernment.org, a coalition of journalists, consumers, environmentalists, library groups, labor and others devoted to promoting openness in government. The annual report found that government secrecy increased during 2007, based on a number of indicators. Among the findings:

  • Almost 22 million FOIA requests were received, an increase of nearly 2 percent over the prior year.
  • The 25 departments and agencies that handle the bulk of FOIA requests failed to make a dent in their backlogs, although they received the fewest requests since reporting began in 1998.
  • The number of original classification decisions increased slightly after dropping two consecutive years, and the number of derivative classifications increased by almost 13 percent.

In discussing other indicators of rising secrecy, the report says that federal surveillance activity under the jurisdiction of the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court rose again for the ninth consecutive year and has more than doubled since 2000. At the Department of Defense, 18 percent of its acquisition funding went to classified programs, more than double the amount since 1995. For every dollar the U.S. government spent declassifying documents overall, it spent $195 maintaining secrets already on the books.

The report contains many interesting facts about government secrecy on multiple levels, but here is one bit of esoterica that jumped out at me: In 2007, the federal government ordered 128 patents be made secret. Overall, that brings the total number of inventions kept under "secrecy orders" to 5,002.

Posted by Robert J. Ambrogi on September 10, 2008 at 01:06 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

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