Sep 032004

I’ve written about the Bush Administration’s propensity for secrecy previously after reading John Dean’s book, Worse Than Watergate. Now, even some Republican’s are starting to sound the alarm.

A congressional subcommittee last week investigated the 9/11 Commission’s conclusion that unnecessary secrecy is "undermining efforts to thwart terrorists." They found a confusing array of classified documents. Both critically important information and the "comically irrelevant" alike have been classified in recent years, including everything from Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet’s fondness for Pisco Sour cocktails to a study concluding that 40 percent of Army chemical warfare masks leaked. And responsibility for this extreme resides with the Bush White House: as Republican Rep. Chris Shays (R-CT) notes, "The tone is set at the top?This administration believes the less known, the better." According to J. William Leonard, director of the oversight office of the National Archives, officials in the Bush administration classified documents 8 percent more often last year than the year before. (And don’t expect help any time soon from the public interest declassification board created in 2000 to recommend the release of secret information in important cases: President Bush never appointed any members.)

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