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Reducing Secrecy

Excessive secrecy has long been a problem in the fields of national and homeland security because it limits information sharing and leaves us less safe as a nation. Both the 9/11 Commission and the congressional Joint Inquiry into 9/11 recommended reforms to reduce unnecessary secrets. OpenTheGovernment.org works with our partners, the Administration, and Congress to put policies in place that both protect constitutional rights and ensure national security by better protecting real secrets and improving information sharing.

ACLU v. Clapper Shows that Secret Courts are No Substitute for Real Judicial Review

A unanimous panel of the Second Circuit Court of Appeals yesterday ruled that the NSA’s nationwide collection of Americans’ phone records is illegal, unauthorized by section 215 of the PATRIOT Act or any other statute.

Sunshine Week’s Transparency Legislation; CISA Threats Move Forward

This Sunshine Week, members of Congress stepped up to introduce legislation to increase openness and accountability in all branches of the federal government. Senators Dick Durbin and Chuck Grassley introduced legislation to require the Supreme Court’s open proceedings to be televised. Similar legislation passed the Senate Judiciary Committee in 2012 and 2010. Rep. Gerard Connolly introduced identical legislation (HR 94) in February.

CISA is Back, and It’s Still Terrible on Transparency

Cybersecurity legislation is much needed, but previous versions of the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (CISA) all had one thing in common: harsh blows to government transparency. In July, OTG took issue with the Washington Post’s support of the legislation, noting that CISA fails to protect privacy, would block crucial information from the public, and threatens journalists and whistleblowers. The recently- released 114th Congress’ Intelligence Committee version of the bill contains the same worrisome provisions.

Groups to President Obama: Stop Ignoring the Torture Report

On January 28, OpenTheGovernment.org and 8 other groups wrote to President Obama, asking his administration to stop ignoring the nearly 7000-page torture report by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, and reject Senator Richard Burr’s unprecedented request for the report’s return. The letter states in part:

SSCI Chairman to CIA: We'll Hide Your Documents if You Hide Ours

Shortly after he became chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence in January, Senator Richard Burr told reporters in his home state that he had no intention of trying to rewrite the committee’s 6700-page, $40 million torture report. Burr said that despite his disagreements with the report, he wanted to “look forward and do oversight in real time.”

Overclassification: The First Step is Admitting You Have a Problem

The Inspector General for the Office of the Direct of National Intelligence (DNI) has released its annual report on over-classification.

The Need for Secrecy Reform to Prevent CIA Abuses

The Guardian has published an op-ed by OpenTheGovernment.org's national security fellow, Katherine Hawkins, on the need to reform the classification system to prevent abuses like those documented in the Senate torture report.  An excerpt is below, and the full text is available on the Guardian's website.

To Fix House Intelligence Oversight, Change the Rules

OpenTheGovernment.org joined a diverse group of 50 organizations, whistleblowers, and former Congressional staffers calling on Speaker John Boehner and Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi to support changes to the House of Representatives’ rules, to allow effective oversight on national security matters.

The Classified Section

Check out our new blog, The Classified Section, for analysis of national security secrecy.

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