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Last month the House Committee on Homeland Security published a report of its task force on combating terrorist and foreign fighter travel. In a footnote, the Committee cited a related report from the Congressional Research Service and, unexpectedly, provided a link to the report on the FAS website (footnote 23).
This was incongruous because Congress has gone out of its way to resist online public distribution of CRS reports, and the cited report was obtained and posted by Secrecy News without authorization. But having an online source for such CRS reports evidently proves useful to Congress nonetheless.
This zone of incongruity is the natural habitat of Secrecy News. It is where declared policies go unmatched by actual practices, and where official promises of transparency are unrealized in fact.
Sometimes we can help to reduce the distance between rhetoric and reality, and to nudge the process along, with measurable results. Thanks in part to a recurring government-wide review of classification guidance that was conceived by FAS in 2009 (and which we advocated at the time as “the single most productive secrecy reform action that could now be undertaken”), the annual number of new national security secrets created last year was the smallest on record, and amounted to just 13% of what it had been a decade earlier.
Anyway, you know best whether this work is of value to you or not. If it is, and if your circumstances permit, we could use your help to carry on.
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