Today, transparency, accountability, and human rights organizations and experts called on the Biden administration to take on national security classification reform ahead of the 20th anniversary of the September 11th terror attacks in the fall. In a letter to the president, the coalition urged Biden to take on excessive national security secrecy that has sanctioned abuse of power and civil liberties and human rights violations. Comprehensive reform would prevent future abuses by ensuring classification protects sensitive information instead of protecting the government from embarrassment or accountability.
According to the letter: “We ask that you initiate a bottom-up review and modernization of the classification system as a whole, to ensure that national security classification is truly serving national interests, rather than simply hiding government information – either intentionally through abuse of the system or unintentionally due to outdated technology and expanding backlogs.
The primary goals of this review should include the following: 1) to limit the coverage, scope, and duration of classification, 2) to update and streamline the classification system to fit today’s environment and identify resource needs for Congress to meet, 3) to ensure the responsible use of classification and declassification authorities government-wide, by both original and derivative classifying entities, and 4) to strengthen oversight of classification policy and implementation, particularly to ensure both are subject to robust checks-and-balances and accountability mechanisms.”