♫ Once… I Had… A Secret Law, … ♫

The always useful ACLU has issued a report on the status of government secrecy, Drastic Measures Required (.pdf), by Mike German and Jay Stanley. The dramatic expansion of the common-law State Secrets privilege under George W. Bush’s reign has continued unabated under Barack Obama’s administration, notwithstanding all the glowing language Obama has preached about openness in government. Read the report; it’s only about 50 pages. It won’t make you happy, but if you’re in the fight for government openness, you need to know this stuff.

UPDATE: here’s  a quote about a third of the way through the document (I don’t know if page numbers are stable, but for me it’s on Page 17):

Drastic Measures are Required

Fixing our government’s secrecy problem requires sweeping reform and cannot be the responsibility of the President alone. As a co-equal branch of government, Congress has an obligation to ensure that national security programs and policies—like all government programs and policies—are lawful, effective and accountable to the public. Too often, presidents have misused their classification authority to thwart congressional oversight and legal accountability, undermining the constitutional checks and balances that ensure the effective operation of our government.And too often Congress and the courts have let this happen by failing to properly exercise their Constitutional powers to effectively check this executive abuse. Our democracy—and our security—have suffered as a result.

It appears to me as if Obama has made a good-faith effort through an executive order to declassify large amounts of material, but not only has there been at least the appearance of considerable resistance by the literally thousands of entities with classification authority (military, diplomatic, corporate and individuals), but the Obama DoJ has been aggressive, indeed almost vicious, in its prosecution of whistleblowers involved in even the most minor disclosures. That isn’t true openness; that’s old-time, standard cover-your-ass behavior. The ACLU is right about this: something needs to be done to enforce the provisions of both the laws and the executive order.

(H/T emptywheel for the link to the report.)

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