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.

HERE ARE THE FACTS:

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ONE MORE QUICK THING:

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As we wrote over the summer, traffic has been down at Mother Jones and a lot of sites with many people thinking news is less important now that Donald Trump is no longer president. But if you're reading this, you're not one of those people, and we're hoping we can rally support from folks like you who really get why our reporting matters right now. And that's how it's always worked: For 45 years now, a relatively small group of readers (compared to everyone we reach) who pitch in from time to time has allowed Mother Jones to do the type of journalism the moment demands and keep it free for everyone else.

Please pitch in with a donation during our fall fundraising drive if you can. We can't afford to come up short, and there's still a long way to go by November 5.

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