Government Secrecy Essay

Words: 1356
Pages: 6

Ashley Simons "Secrecy and a free, democratic government don't mix," President Harry Truman once said. Harry Truman understood the importance of an open government in a free society. Unfortunately, George W. Bush has a different outlook. From the first days of his administration, President Bush has taken steps to tighten the government's hold on information and limit public scrutiny of its activities. Expansive assertions of executive privilege, restrictive views of the Freedom of Information Act, increasing use of national security classification, stonewalling in response to congressional request for information – all these were evident even before the September 11 attacks (At Issue: Has the Bush administration misused government …show more content…
For every new classified document created, the federal government spent $459 securing that document (Government Secrecy Reaches Historic Levels). With 15.6 million new documents stamped secret in 2004, the federal government created 81 percent more secrets than it did in the year prior to the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001 (Kennedy). The acceleration of secrecy began after the 2001 attacks, according to the Times, as officials sought to restrict access to information that Al Qaeda might use to take advantage of the United States' vulnerabilities (Jenkins 550). Such worries have not faded but more politicians and advocacy groups across the political spectrum say there is too much secrecy. While some increase in classification is to be expected in wartime, this dramatic rise runs counter to recommendations by the 9/11 commission who recommend reforms to reduce unnecessary secrets. Thomas H. Kean, Chairman of the 9/11 commission and a former Republican governor of New Jersey, told the Times, "We're better off with openness. The best ally we have in protecting ourselves against terrorism is an informed public" (Jenkins 550) According to Jenkins in the Federal Times, roughly 4,000 federal employees are invested with the authority to classify information, and the tendency is to err toward more rather than less classification (551). This explains why last year