Obama Would “Reverse Policy of Secrecy”

10.03.07 | 1 min read | Text by Steven Aftergood

Democratic Presidential candidate Senator Barack Obama “will reverse this [Bush Administration] policy of secrecy,” his campaign stated this week, and he addressed the subject in a high-profile address at DePaul University on October 2.

“I’ll lead a new era of openness,” he said.

“I’ll turn the page on a growing empire of classified information, and restore the balance we’ve lost between the necessarily secret and the necessity of openness in a democratic society by creating a new National Declassification Center.”

The Obama campaign said the proposal was based upon a recommendation of the 1997 Moynihan Commission on Secrecy, and that the Center would “serve as a clearinghouse to set rules and regulations for declassification for federal agencies, and to make declassification secure but routine, efficient, and cost-effective.”

“We’ll protect sources and methods, but we won’t use sources and methods as pretexts to hide the truth. Our history doesn’t belong to Washington, it belongs to America,” Sen. Obama said.

This appears to be the most extensive discussion of secrecy and transparency issues in the presidential campaign to date. The subject was briefly addressed by Senator Clinton in her online campaign literature.

As far as could be determined, no Republican candidate has spoken out against current secrecy policy or advocated increased transparency. However, former Senator Fred Thompson issued a report on government secrecy that urged greater openness when he was chairman of the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee in 1998 (Sen. Rept. 105-258).