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

Protection of Classified Information by Congress (CRS)

The rules and procedures for protecting classified information in Congress — which differ in the House and the Senate — are described in another new CRS report. See “Protection of Classified Information by Congress: Practices and Proposals,” updated January 11, 2006. Read More

Kinetic Energy Kill for Ballistic Missile Defense (CRS)

A new report from the Congressional Research Service presents a skeptical overview of the development of kinetic energy interceptors — anti-missile missiles — for defense against incoming ballistic missiles. “The data on the U.S. flight test effort to develop a national missile defense (NMD) system are mixed and ambiguous. There… Read More

Patriot Act Reauthorization: A Legal Analysis (CRS)

The existing controversy over reauthorization of the USA Patriot Act — portions of which will “sunset” if they are not renewed — acquired a new dimension with the disclosure last month of an NSA domestic surveillance operation. Some now argue that the Patriot Act should not be reauthorized before the… Read More

Congressional Oversight in Theory and in Practice

The rudiments of Congressional oversight — its legal basis, its functions, and the diverse forms it takes — are concisely described in a newly updated report from the Congressional Research Service. “Congressional oversight refers to the review, monitoring, and supervision of federal agencies, programs, activities, and policy implementation…. Congress’s oversight… Read More

NSA: Redacting With Confidence

The National Security Agency has issued new guidance to assist officials in redacting (censoring) documents in Microsoft Word format and producing unclassified Adobe Portable Document (PDF) files without inadvertently disclosing sensitive information. “MS Word is used throughout the DoD and the Intelligence Community (IC) for preparing documents, reports, notes,… Read More

The Legal Significance of Presidential Signing Statements

When he signed the 2006 Defense Appropriations Act, which included a prohibition against torture of detainees in U.S. custody, President Bush issued a signing statement implying that he could disregard the new prohibition in his capacity as commander in chief. “The executive branch shall construe [the statute], relating to detainees,… Read More

Justice Dept Issues White Paper on NSA Surveillance

The Department of Justice renewed its legal defense of warrantless domestic intelligence surveillance by the National Security Agency in a 42 page white paper transmitted to Congress yesterday. The white paper essentially reiterates at greater length the previous defenses articulated by the Bush Administration: (1) the surveillance action was authorized… Read More