Reducing Secrecy

Knowledge is the Key to Control: The White House Surveillance Panel on the Need for Greater Transparency

The Final Report of the Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technologies was released this past Wednesday (December 18). The Review Group was established by President Obama to make a report and recommendations “to protect our national security and advance our foreign policy while also respecting our longstanding commitment to privacy and civil liberties, recognizing our need to maintain the public trust (including the trust of our friends and allies abroad), and reducing the risk of unauthorized disclosures.” 

A Simple 'Explainer' of Some Classification Terms

The release of the report by the President's review group on the National Security Agency's (NSA) mass surveillance programs will, we hope, spur a deeper discussion about government secrecy, including issues with our classification system. To help people who might not be as familiar with some of the terms regularly used by those who work on classification policy, we have put together some basic slides to explain the differences between information that is properly marked and appropriately classified and between original and derivative classification. We have also put together a slide explaining overclassification. Click "Read More" to see the slides.

Facing Surveillance and National Security as a Member of the OGP

As a co-founder of the Open Government Partnership, the United States is perfectly placed to model open government’s potential and to set a high bar of ambition for member countries’ action plans. The US’ plans, successes, failures, and neglects are placed in a glaring spotlight. A statement of concern addressed to the new OGP co-Chairs from more than 100 civil society organizations from across the globe called out a significant threat to open government found in many OGP member countries: the secret surveillance of the communications of millions.

Groups Challenge Obama: Commit to Curb Secret Law

On October 21 OpenTheGovernment.org released a letter signed by 45 national security and transparency organizations urging President Obama to commit to making publicly available authoritative legal interpretations that are currently secret -– in order to begin to address domestic concerns that laws are being implemented in ways beyond what was thought allowable and to rebuild faith with our international partners. Among the groups joining the effort are the ACLU, the Constitution Project, Win Without War, Human Rights Watch, EFF, and the Liberty Coalition.

Secrecy Report 2013 --The Tip of the Iceberg

WASHINGTON, October 1, 2013 – Today’s release of the 2013 Secrecy Report, the 9th annual review and analysis of indicators of secrecy in the federal government by OpenTheGovernment.org, comes amid shocking revelations that cast doubt on the accuracy and the meaningfulness of the government’s statistics about surveillance. As is highlighted in the introduction to this report and in comments provided to OpenTheGovernment.org by former-Representative Mickey Edwards (R-OK), the government’s insistence on keeping interpretations of the law secret and a lack of oversight by Congress and the Judicial Branch helped set the stage for a surveillance program that is much broader than previously believed.