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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.

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.

OpenTheGovernment.org Statement on the Release of the Senate Torture Report's Executive Summary

OpenTheGovernment.org welcomes the long-overdue release of the Executive Summary of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence’s study of the CIA torture program. We were appalled by the 11th-hour attempt to intimidate Senator Feinstein and the Intelligence Committee out of releasing the report, and relieved that she resisted that pressure. The argument that government abuses cannot be revealed because of their severity is incompatible with the First Amendment, the rule of law, and accountable government.

OpenTheGovernment.org’s Statement on the Senate's Failure to Advance USA Freedom Act

OpenTheGovernment.org is disappointed at the Senate’s failure to advance the compromise version of the USA Freedom Act (S. 2685) last night. The bill contained important advances for transparency about surveillance, though they were only a first step towards the disclosures that are necessary to restore democratic accountability.

The Classified Section

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

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