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.
Immediately after the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence voted favorably on Gina Haspel’s nomination to be CIA Director, Senator Ron Wyden issued a strong statement condemning the secrecy of the nomination process, calling it a “blatant CIA cover-up”:
In her confirmation hearing today, Gina Haspel fueled fears that as CIA Director she would repeat the mistakes of the past and further undermine congressional oversight, transparency, and the rule of law. During her questioning by members of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Haspel confirmed several troubling aspects of her involvement in CIA torture, refused to directly condemn the torture program, and even offered new information that called her judgement into further question.
Open the Government Questions for Gina Haspel Confirmation Hearing
Open the Government Applauds Requirement in Defense Bill Stipulating Better Reporting on Civilian Casualties Caused by U.S. Military Forces
Last week, the CIA announced that it was declassifying and releasing a new trove of documents from the government’s files on Osama bin Laden, ostensibly in the interest of transparency and public education.
So far, the Trump Administration has shown a willingness to accelerate the use of military force overseas, while continuing and sometimes expanding on the excessive secrecy of its predecessors. As the number of civilian casualties from U.S. strikes grows at a shocking pace, government transparency and Congressional oversight may be the surest way to advance accountability in U.S. use of military force.
Speaker Paul Ryan this week secretly removed a provision from the House version of the FY2018 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that would have reinstated a degree of Congressional oversight on military engagement authorized by the White House.
Excessive secrecy has been a hallmark of the use of lethal force by the United States since the September 11th attacks, both in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and in drone strikes and other operations outside areas of active hostilities. The Trump Administration has so far continued to reject transparency around military actions, in some ways further shrouding the military and the drone program in secrecy.