February 7, 2000To the Editor:
New York Times
Letters to the Editor
Classified Material: Handle With Care
You say "any mishandling of classified national security information is a serious matter" (editorial, Feb. 2). This would be true only if all classified information posed a potential national security threat.
Government agencies classify information for many reasons, of which national security is only one. Others include the desire to shield questionable programs from controversy and the habits of cold-war secrecy.
The corruption of classification policy is symbolized most vividly by the continuing classification of the total intelligence budget, as if disclosure of this single number could threaten United States security.
Washington, Feb. 2, 2000
The writer is director of the Project on Government Secrecy, Federation of American Scientists.
Copyright 2000 The New York Times Company