Government Secrecy Under Bush Unprecedented

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Surprising no sentient being (but offering lots of good evidence), a new report from openthegovernment.org shows “a continued
expansion of government secrecy across a broad array of agencies and actions.” Reminding that information created by or for the federal government belongs to the American public, the exec summary notes, “The current administration has exercised an unprecedented level of restriction of access to information about, and suppression of discussion of, the federal government’s policies and decisions.”

Among the report’s highlights:

  • For every dollar spent declassifying old secrets, federal agencies spent $134 in 2005 creating and storing new secrets. The serious imbalance between taxpayer dollars devoted to generating secrets versus those spent to release records that are no longer sensitive continues.
  • With 2,072 secret surveillance orders approved in 2005, federal surveillance activity under the jurisdiction of the secretive Foreign Intelligence Surveillance
    Court more than doubled in five years.
  • Over 60 percent of federal advisory committee meetings in 2005 were completely closed to the public.
    More were partially closed.
  • Since 2001, the “state secrets” privilege has been used
    a reported 22 times—an average in 5.5 years (4) that is
    close to twice as high as the previous 24 years (2.46).

    In the 211 years of our Republic to 2000, fewer than
    600 signing statements that took issue with the bills
    were issued. [See this recent Mother Jones piece by Cameron Scott on what exactly a “state secret” is, and who gets to decide.] In five years, President Bush has issued at
    least 132, challenging 810 provisions of laws.

Full report (PDF) here.

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THE TRUTH...

is the first thing despots go after. An unwavering commitment to it is probably what draws you to Mother Jones' journalism. And as we're seeing in the US and the world around, authoritarians seek to poison the discourse and the way we relate to each other because they can't stand people coming together around a shared sense of the truth—it's a huge threat to them.

Which is also a pretty great way to describe Mother Jones' mission: People coming together around the truth to hold power accountable.

And right now, we need to raise about $400,000 from our online readers over the next two months to hit our annual goal and make good on that mission. Read more about the information war we find ourselves in and how people-powered, independent reporting can and must rise to the challenge—and please support our team's truth-telling journalism with a donation if you can right now.

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