"Its pretty basic stuff - secrecy invites
"The National Declassification Center
listing of 134 record collections that have undergone
declassification review." - FAS
"In 1997, 20 officials in the US government were
empowered to wield the top secret stamp.
In 2006 there are 1,300." -
"In recent years, the executive branch has asserted
the privilege more frequently and broadly than before, typically to seek
dismissal of lawsuits at the pleadings stage.
Facing allegations of
unlawful Government conduct ranging from
surveillance, to employment discrimination, to
against whistleblowers, to torture and 'extraordinary rendition,' the Bush
administration has invoked the privilege in an effort to shut down civil suits
against both government officials and private parties.
A strong public
emerged that sees the privilege as a tool for
Executive abuse." - Senate
Judiciary Committee Report 110-442
"In too many cases, claims of
state secrets have
succeeded in keeping important cases out of court entirely or preventing courts
from considering evidence vital to the outcome of a case," said Rep. John
Conyers, Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, at a January 29, 2008
hearing on "Reform of the State Secrets Privilege"
1948 Three employees of the
Radio Corporation of
America (RCA), an Air Force contractor, are killed when a B-29
Superfortress crashes in Waycross, Georgia.
The widows of three crew
members who die in the crash of a B-29 Superfortress bomber requested
accident report on the
The Air Force denies the request and files affidavits with the
Supreme Court claiming that the withheld reports contain information about the
They describe secret electronic equipment on board that
has to be protected from disclosure.
Supreme Court, citing
the Air Force claim, rules in favor of the Air Force establishing the
decision in United States vs
Reynolds sets as the cornerstone of
national security secrecy policy,
the "state secrets
privilege", which relies on false government information to provide the
precedential basis for asserting that there are "military matters which, in the interest
of national security, should not be divulged."
Eventually the Air
Force accident report are declassified.
They contain nothing whatsoever
about a secret mission or sensitive
Air Force accident report highlights negligence in
training crew members, negligence
in maintenance of the aircraft and pilot error.
There is absolutely no
mention of classified secrets' in the accident report.
flying crews had not been established for the experimental flights of 3150th
Civilian passengers and crew were not briefed
prior to take off on emergency procedures.
The commanding officer
failed to exercise adequate supervision.
The pilot inadvertently hit
the feathering switch on engine #4 when hitting the feathering switch of engine
Technical orders, as to maintenance, were not complied with so the
aircraft was not considered to have been safe to fly.
that granted the US government the 'state secrets privilege' was based on false
and misleading information provided by a US government agency, the Air Force.
The US government has used the state secrets
privilege to cover up government negligence and mistakes that would be
embarrassing to government officials and that might prove government officials
"A court that automatically accepts the governments argument
about 'state secrets',
without ever looking at the documents in question, aligns the judiciary with
the executive branch and eliminates any chance of a fair trail." - Louis
April 27, 1961 "The very word "secrecy" is
repugnant in a free and open society; and we are as a people inherently and
historically opposed to secret societies, to secret oaths and to secret
We decided long ago that the dangers of excessive and
unwarranted concealment of pertinent facts far outweighed the dangers which are
cited to justify it." - John F.
Kennedy, Waldorf-Astoria Hotel New York City
1989 Erwin Griswold confesses in a
Washington Post Op-Ed article that
there was no
actual national security damage from the publication of the Pentagon
William Jefferson Clinton signs
Executive Order 12958 which mandates that
25-year-old documents be automatically declassified unless exempted for
national security or other
September 11, 2001
"Since 911 government agencies have
restricted access to unclassified
information in federal agency libraries,
EPA libraries, archives, Web sites,
and official databases.
Once freely available, a growing number of these sources are now barred
to the public as "sensitive but unclassified" or "for official use only."
No comprehensive catalog of deleted information exists.
information blackout serves the interests of
the Bush crime family, who is
allergic to criticism or
information blackout is a disservice to the American people.
information policies are conditioning Americans to
expectations of government accountability and
to doubt their
Information is the oxygen of
democracy." - Steven
"They're doing everything to remove our
history, to damage the Freedom of
I have always called jokingly the
United States of Amnesia will be
worse than an amnesiac, it will
have suffered a lobotomy, there will be
no functioning historical memory of
our history." - Gore
March 2003 George Walker Bush affirms and amends
Executive Order 12958.
Executive Order 12958 goes too far by allowing any information that involves
'scientific, technological, or economic matters relating to
security' to be classified.
It can be argued that any and all
information relates to any one of these three categories - 'scientific,
technological, or economic' should and can be withheld since
national security includes
profitability of federal
economic matters that relate to
medical products and
could be connected to
October 1, 2003 The
United States vs Reynolds case is refiled as Herring v. United
States in the United States District Court for the Eastern
District of Pennsylvania.
The trial court finds no fraud in the
government's claim of privilege.
"Over time, the desire to protect
military secrets has started to look a good deal like the impulse to cover up
embarrassment and gain insulation from liability." - Barry Siegel
subsidiary Kellogg, Brown and
Root routinely stamps information, such as the number of meals served, as
"There's over 50% of the information that, while it may
meet the criteria for classification, really should not be classified in terms
of what we lose." - Information Security Oversight Office director
William Leonard at an August 24, 2004 hearing of the House Government Reform
The Army Corp of Engineers has stamped "secret"
information on flooding dangers in
Information on 140 Superfund sites, sites contaminated with
highly toxic materials, have been stamped "secret".
22, 2004 The 911
Commission Report decries the level of government secrecy as
a national security
August 2004 A DoD official
testifies before Congress that perhaps 50% of classified documents did not need
Annual financial costs attributable to the national security classification
system reached a record high of $9.2 billion according to a new report from
the Information Security Oversight Office.
Court of Appeals
for the Third Circuit upholds Herring v. United States in new
litigation, in which
District Court determines "there was no fraud because the documents,
read in their historical
context, could have revealed secret information about equipment
being tested on the plane and, on a broader reading, the claim of privilege
referred to both the mission and the workings of the B-29".
becomes apparent to any person who has experience with classified material that
there is massive over classification and that
the principal concern
of the classifiers is not with national security, but with governmental
embarrassment of one sort or another."- Erwin Griswold, who as United
States solicitor general prosecuted the New York Times in
the Pentagon Papers case in 1971
The truth is
quite ugly. If the US government allowed the
State Secrets Privilege to
be overturned it would be bankrupt and out of
midnight December 31,
700 million pages of secret government documents - 400
million formerly classified pages at the National Archives, another 270 million
at the FBI, 30 million from other
agencies became unsecret.
Fifty archivists can process 40 million pages
in a year so they will need a hundred years to process 400 million.
backlog, inside the National Archives II facility in College Park, measures
160,000 cubic feet inside a massive classified vault with special lighting and
climate controls to preserve old paper.
Row upon row of electronically
operated steel shelves hold hundreds of thousands of document boxes buffered to
fight destructive acidity.
Documents are to be scrutinized and processed
according to classification instructions written on them by staffers of any one
of several agencies.
Jeanne Schauble holds the Orwellian title of
director of the Initial Processing and Declassification
Archivists, overwhelmed by the number of
documents that arrived at the facility, face a mumbo jumbo of competing
declassification instructions from various agencies with arcane rules and
layers of document review.
February 9, 2009
Douglas N. Letter, a justice department
lawyer for the Obama
administration, surprises a panel of federal appeals judges with
an argument for preserving
state secrets to continue to shield those involved with rendition and torture
under the George W. Bush administration.
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