Government Secrecy

The Project on Government Secrecy works to reduce the scope of government secrecy and promote public access to certain types of government information by seeking reform of national security classification and declassification policies. The Project seeks  to foster government accountability and contribute to ensuring an informed electorate. 

The Project aims not only to challenge improper classification of government information but also to publish informative and policy-relevant records that the press and the public can use. The Project publishes previously undisclosed or hard-to-find government documents of public policy interest, as well as resources on intelligence policy through the Secrecy News Blog, as well as multiple portals which can be found below. 

The Project is directed by Steven Aftergood, who works with a diverse collection of like-minded groups and individuals to help advance government accountability.

Government Secrecy Links

Government Secrecy

Do Embedded Reporters Sign Non-Disclosure Agreements?

Puzzled by references to non-disclosure agreements signed by reporters who are embedded with U.S. military forces, Secrecy News requested a copy of such a non-disclosure agreement from the Pentagon. But there isn’t one. “The Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs has advised this Office that there… Read More

When Is Intelligence Considered “Collected”?

A layman might suppose that in the United States a telephone conversation cannot be intercepted by an intelligence agency such as the NSA except in compliance with the laws and guidelines governing intelligence collection. But it’s more complicated than that because “interception” is not considered “collection,” according to a Department… Read More

The Mystery of the Two James Baker Statements

In a 2002 statement presented to the Senate Intelligence Committee, James A. Baker of the Justice Department Office of Intelligence Policy and Review questioned the constitutionality and the necessity of a proposal by Senator Mike DeWine to lower the legal threshold for domestic intelligence surveillance of non-U.S. persons from “probable… Read More

NSA Declassification Plan

The National Security Agency has 46 million pages of historically valuable classified records more than 25 years old that are subject to automatic declassification by the end of December 2006, according to a new NSA declassification plan. Another 4.5 million pages of 25 year old records have been categorically exempted… Read More

Handbook on Making Intelligence Accountable

To promote intelligence accountability in new democracies and elsewhere, a new publication addresses the principles of intelligence oversight and presents draft legal provisions to govern intelligence. The document is being published in seven languages from Albanian to Ukrainian. See “Making Intelligence Accountable: Legal Standards and Best Practice for Oversight… Read More

Classification Laws Apply to Everyone, Judge Says

In a startling pronouncement that can only heighten tensions between the press and the government, a federal judge said last week that the laws governing classified information apply to anyone who is in receipt of such information, including reporters who are the recipients of “leaks.” “Persons who have unauthorized possession,… Read More

White House Rebuffed 2002 Effort to Relax FISA Standard

The Bush Administration rejected a Congressional initiative in 2002 that would have lowered the legal threshold for conducting surveillance of non-US persons under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act from “probable cause” that the target is a terrorist or agent of a foreign power to “reasonable suspicion.” Administration officials said at… Read More

CIA Limits Web Publication of Critical Reports

The Central Intelligence Agency has selectively declined to publish on its web site at least three unclassified reports produced by the Center for the Study of Intelligence that present an unflattering picture of the Agency, US News reported this week. See “A Tangled Web Woven,” by David E. Kaplan,… Read More