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Congress hears about over- and pseudo-classification

Christopher Shays (R-CT), Chairman of the Subcommittee on National Security, Emerging Threats, and International Relations, convened an oversight hearing on March 2, 2005 to examine the proliferation of categories of information that are not classified but are withheld from public disclosure.

Rep Henry Waxman wrote a letter in support of Shay’s hearing. Waxman’s letter cites more than a few occasions that govt information has been improperly classified to block its release and cover up “potentially embarrassing facts rather than to protect legitimate security interests.”

Here is one little tidbit from testimony of Thomas Blanton, Director, National Security Archive:

national security secrecy is skyrocketing, but like the ballistic missile defense system, it cannot tell the real threat from the decoys. Let’s start with the core statistics, or least the most recent ones available, provided by ISOO in last year’s report to the President. New classification decisions are up from 9 million in 2001, to 11 million in 2002, to 14 million in 2003. If you look at that ISOO data all the way back to the first year in which it was collected – 1980 – you will discover that the 2003 number of new secrecy decisions is the highest ever recorded, higher even than the peak years of the Cold War in the mid-1980s.
–Testimony of Thomas Blanton, Director, National Security Archive

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