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.
In a show of bipartisan and bicameral support for greater access to information, Congressional leaders have requested the Government Accountability Office conduct a comprehensive review of federal agency compliance with the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).
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:
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.”
The Inspector General for the Office of the Direct of National Intelligence (DNI) has released its annual report on over-classification. Like most reports by government agencies on this subject, it acknowledges certain, minor bureaucratic problems with the way the classification system runs. But the Inspector General found “no instances” of violations of Section 1.7 of the Executive Order governing classification, which states:
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 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.