"Its pretty basic stuff - secrecy invites
"The National Declassification Center
listing of 134 record collections that have undergone
declassification review." - FAS
"In 1997, 20 officials in the US government were
empowered to wield the top secret stamp.
In 2006 there are 1,300." -
"In recent years, the executive branch has asserted
the privilege more frequently and broadly than before, typically to seek
dismissal of lawsuits at the pleadings stage.
Facing allegations of
unlawful Government conduct ranging from
surveillance, to employment discrimination, to
against whistleblowers, to torture and 'extraordinary rendition,' the Bush
administration has invoked the privilege in an effort to shut down civil suits
against both government officials and private parties.
A strong public
emerged that sees the privilege as a tool for
Executive abuse." -
Senate Judiciary Committee Report 110-442
"In too many cases, claims of
state secrets have
succeeded in keeping important cases out of court entirely or preventing courts
from considering evidence vital to the outcome of a case," said Rep. John
Conyers, Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, at a January 29, 2008
hearing on "Reform of the State Secrets Privilege"
1948 Three employees of the Radio Corporation
of America (RCA), an Air Force contractor, are killed when a B-29 Superfortress
crashes in Waycross, Georgia.
The widows of three crew members who die
in the crash of a B-29 Superfortress bomber requested accident reports on the
The Air Force denies the request and files affidavits with the
Supreme Court claiming that the withheld reports contain information about the
They describe secret electronic equipment on board that
has to be protected from disclosure.
Supreme Court, citing the
Air Force claim, rules in favor of the Air Force establishing the State Secrets
decision in United States vs
Reynolds sets as the cornerstone of
national security secrecy policy,
the "state secrets privilege", which relies on false government information to
provide the precedential basis for asserting that there are "military matters which, in the interest
of national security, should not be divulged."
Eventually the Air
Force accident reports are declassified.
They contain nothing whatsoever
about a secret mission or sensitive
The declassified Air Force accident reports do
highlight negligence in training crew members, negligence in maintenance of the
aircraft and pilot error.
There is absolutely no mention of
classified secrets' in the accident reports.
Permanent flying crews
had not been established for the experimental flights of 3150th Electronics
Civilian passengers and crew were not briefed prior to take
off on emergency procedures.
The commanding officer failed to exercise
The pilot inadvertently hit the feathering switch
on engine #4 when hitting the feathering switch of engine #1.
orders, as to maintenance, were not complied with so the aircraft was not
considered to have been safe to fly.
legal precedent that
granted the US government the 'state secrets privilege' was based on false and
misleading information provided by a US government agency, the Air Force.
The US government has used the state secrets
privilege to cover up government negligence and mistakes that would be
embarrassing to government officials and that might prove government officials
"A court that automatically accepts the governments argument
about 'state secrets',
without ever looking at the documents in question, aligns the judiciary with
the executive branch and eliminates any chance of a fair trail." - Louis
April 27, 1961 "The very word "secrecy" is
repugnant in a free and open society; and we are as a people inherently and
historically opposed to secret societies, to secret oaths and to secret
We decided long ago that the dangers of excessive and
unwarranted concealment of pertinent facts far outweighed the dangers which are
cited to justify it." - John F.
Kennedy, Waldorf-Astoria Hotel New York City
1989 Erwin Griswold confesses in a
Washington Post Op-Ed article that
there was no actual national security damage from the publication of the
William Jefferson Clinton signs Executive Order
12958 which mandates that 25-year-old documents be automatically
declassified unless exempted for national security or other
September 11, 2001
"Since 911 government agencies have
restricted access to unclassified
information in federal agency libraries,
EPA libraries, archives, Web sites,
and official databases.
Once freely available, a growing number of
these sources are now barred to the public as "sensitive but unclassified" or
"for official use only."
No comprehensive catalog of deleted
The information blackout
serves the interests of the Bush
crime family, who is allergic to criticism or
information blackout is a disservice to the American people.
information policies are conditioning Americans to
expectations of government accountability and
to doubt their
Information is the oxygen of
democracy." - Steven
"They're doing everything to remove our
history, to damage the Freedom of
I have always called jokingly the
United States of Amnesia will be
worse than an amnesiac, it will have suffered a
lobotomy, there will
be no functioning historical memory of
our history." - Gore
2003 George Walker Bush affirms and amends Executive Order 12958.
Order 12958 goes too far by allowing any information that involves
scientific, technological, or economic matters relating to national
security' to be classified.
It can be argued that any and all
information relates to any one of these three categories - 'scientific,
technological, or economic' should and can be withheld since national security
includes profitability of
federal government business'.
Scientific, technological, or
economic matters that relate to oil,
medical products and
could be connected to national security.
2003 The United States vs Reynolds case is refiled as Herring
v. United States in the United States District Court for the
Eastern District of Pennsylvania.
The trial court finds no fraud
in the government's claim of privilege.
"Over time, the desire to
protect military secrets has started to look a good deal like the impulse to
cover up mistakes, avoid embarrassment
and gain insulation from liability." - Barry Siegel
subsidiary Kellogg, Brown and
Root routinely stamps information, such as the number of meals served, as
"There's over 50% of the information that, while it may
meet the criteria for classification, really should not be classified in terms
of what we lose." - Information Security Oversight Office director
William Leonard at an August 24, 2004 hearing of the House Government Reform
The Army Corp of Engineers has stamped "secret"
information on flooding dangers in
Information on 140 Superfund sites, sites contaminated with
highly toxic materials, have been stamped "secret".
22, 2004 The 911
Commission Report decries the level of government secrecy as
a national security
August 2004 A DoD official
testifies before Congress that perhaps 50% of classified documents did not need
Annual financial costs attributable to the national security classification
system reached a record high of $9.2 billion according to a new report from the
Information Security Oversight Office.
Court of Appeals for
the Third Circuit upholds Herring v. United States in new
litigation, in which District Court determines "there was no fraud because the
documents, read in their
historical context, could have revealed secret information about
equipment being tested on the plane and, on a broader reading, the claim of
privilege referred to both the mission and the workings of the
"It quickly becomes apparent to any person who has experience
with classified material that there is massive over classification and that the
principal concern of the classifiers is not with national security, but with
governmental embarrassment of one sort or another."- Erwin Griswold, who as
United States solicitor general prosecuted the New York Times in
the Pentagon Papers case in 1971
The truth is quite ugly. If the
US government allowed the State Secrets Privilege to be overturned it would be
bankrupt and out of business.
midnight December 31, 2006
700 million pages of secret
government documents - 400 million formerly classified pages at the National
Archives, another 270 million at the FBI, 30 million from other agencies
Fifty archivists can process 40 million pages in a year
so they will need a hundred years to process 400 million.
inside the National Archives II facility in College Park, measures 160,000
cubic feet inside a massive classified vault with special lighting and climate
controls to preserve old paper.
Row upon row of electronically operated
steel shelves hold hundreds of thousands of document boxes buffered to fight
Documents are to be scrutinized and processed
according to classification instructions written on them by staffers of any one
of several agencies.
Jeanne Schauble holds the Orwellian title of
director of the Initial Processing and Declassification
Archivists, overwhelmed by the number of
documents that arrived at the facility, face a mumbo jumbo of competing
declassification instructions from various agencies with arcane rules and
layers of document review.
February 9, 2009
Douglas N. Letter, a justice department
lawyer for the Obama
administration, surprises a panel of federal appeals judges with
an argument for preserving
state secrets to continue to shield those involved with rendition and torture
under the George W. Bush administration.
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