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The Race to Fix the Classification System (Secrecy News | Federation of American Scientists)

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struggle4progress Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Dec-15-10 06:55 PM
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The Race to Fix the Classification System (Secrecy News | Federation of American Scientists)
November 29th, 2010 by Steven Aftergood

... If Wikileaks were most concerned about whistleblowing, it would focus on revealing corruption. If it were concerned with historical truth, it would emphasize the discovery of verifiably true facts. If it were anti-war, it would safeguard, not disrupt, the conduct of diplomatic communications. But instead, what Wikileaks has done is to publish a vast potpourri of records dazzling, revelatory, true, questionable, embarrassing, or routine whose only common feature is that they are classified or otherwise restricted ...

In May, the U.S. government formally disclosed the current size of the U.S. nuclear weapons arsenal for the first time (5,113 warheads as of September 30, 2009). Declassification of this information, which is integral to future arms control and disarmament efforts, had been sought and resisted for decades. That battle for public disclosure has now been won. Also this year, the Report of the Nuclear Posture Review, the basic statement of U.S. nuclear weapons policy, was produced and released in unclassified form for the first time.

In September, the Director of National Intelligence and the Secretary of Defense revealed the total intelligence budget ($80.1 billion in FY2010) as well as its national ($53.1 billion) and military ($27 billion) components. This is a more complete and detailed disclosure of U.S. intelligence spending than has ever been provided before. (An aggregate figure with no further breakdown was disclosed in 1997 and 1998.) It also represents a major policy reversal. Just a few years ago, intelligence community leaders swore under penalty of perjury that disclosure of this information would damage national security and compromise intelligence methods. Now annual intelligence budget disclosure is the new norm ...

Its impossible to say whether the race to fix the classification system can be won through our kind of advocacy from the outside and by enlightened self-interest within government. Before that happens, classification itself could be rendered moot and ineffective by leaks, abuse or internal collapse. Or, in a reflexive response to continuing leaks, officials might seek to expand the scope of secrecy rather than focusing it narrowly, while increasing penalties for unauthorized disclosures ...
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bemildred Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Dec-15-10 08:25 PM
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1. Interesting piece, interesting comments. nt
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