NGOs to Congress: Don’t Hide Our Secret Government

I noted last week that the Senate Intelligence Committee had acceded to Director of National Intelligence James Clapper’s request that it repeal the requirement that his office produce a yearly report on the number of people with security clearances.

On Tuesday a group of NGOs wrote the Intelligence Committees asking they reverse course and retain the report requirement. They argue, in part, that the report has generated far more attention than typical government reports. And that the report offered the public an unprecedented understanding of the size of the clearance community.

We believe the annual report on security clearances provides exceptional value to the public and should continue to be published.
In the two years that the report has been produced, it has dramatically altered our conception of the size and scale of the personnel security clearance system. Prior to the reporting requirement, the Government Accountability Office could only estimate the number of security cleared personnel, and its latest estimate was low by more than a million clearances.
As evidence of the exceptional public interest in this report, we note that the findings of the latest annual report have appeared in the New York Times (July 24), the Washington Post (July 28), and McClatchy Papers (July 27), among others. As you know, this level of attention is well above average for a report to Congress on any topic.
Through this annual reporting requirement, your Committees have provided an unprecedented degree of transparency concerning the security clearance system. We thank you for that, and we respectfully request that you maintain this important reporting requirement.

Let’s hope that bit of flattery at the end works. If not, I guess we can conclude that even this tiny bit of transparency on our secret government is deemed too much for mere citizens to have.

Marcy has been blogging full time since 2007. She’s known for her live-blogging of the Scooter Libby trial, her discovery of the number of times Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was waterboarded, and generally for her weedy analysis of document dumps.

Marcy Wheeler is an independent journalist writing about national security and civil liberties. She writes as emptywheel at her eponymous blog, publishes at outlets including the Guardian, Salon, and the Progressive, and appears frequently on television and radio. She is the author of Anatomy of Deceit, a primer on the CIA leak investigation, and liveblogged the Scooter Libby trial.

Marcy has a PhD from the University of Michigan, where she researched the “feuilleton,” a short conversational newspaper form that has proven important in times of heightened censorship. Before and after her time in academics, Marcy provided documentation consulting for corporations in the auto, tech, and energy industries. She lives with her spouse and dog in Grand Rapids, MI.

2 replies
  1. Frank33 says:

    Classified Info now includes “For Official Use Only”. Some low level functionary has found a five year old FOUO document, posted by WIRED. WIRED is in trouble.

    “Where did Ms. Weinberger get the information … that she posted to the website?” he wrote. “Did anyone inform her or give her direction that the document should not be put on the web?”

    “As a separate question,” Capps continued, “would Wired.com be willing to remove the document from the website?”

    Sad, and I can hardly wait for the tee vee NCIS version. Perhaps, if WIRED had been more supportive of wars, torture and assassinations, they would get some respect.

  2. Frank33 says:

    OT or maybe not if you think a Secret Government can mobilize a Military Op to protect Hollywood copyrights.

    And the FBI helped make Kim Dotcom a sympathetic victim of goons, with two helicopters, four vehicles, nine Swat type thugs with automatic weapons, and dogs. The FBI was there to tell the locals what to do. All this firepower was employed to terrorize an internet millionaire.

    They even had to rough up Dotcom a bit, just to show him Hollywood is in charge. But, as usual, our keystone kops, made a few mistakes, such as illegal search warrants. So I am thinking, whoever at DOJ, arranged this show of force, is a high ranking member of the Secret Government.

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