ACLU Urges House to Raise Curtain of Government Secrecy

September 9, 2008 12:00 am

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WASHINGTON — As the House moves towards a vote on legislation that would shine a light on government secrecy, the American Civil Liberties Union praised members pivotal in bringing the bill forward. The bill, H.R. 6575, the Over-Classification Reduction Act, was introduced by House Government Oversight Committee Chairman Henry Waxman (D-CA). Similar legislation that would apply specifically to the Department of Homeland Security was also introduced this year by Congresswoman Jane Harman (D-CA).

The following can be attributed Caroline Fredrickson, Director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office:

“Congressman Waxman should be applauded for his efforts in moving this important bill forward – not to mention Congresswoman Harman’s equally important work on her similar bill. Congress is finally getting serious about the serious problem of over-classification. We are optimistic that this is the first step towards a new age of government transparency. In addition to enacting this legislation, Congress needs to follow through by conducting thorough and regular oversight to ensure that agencies aren’t engaging in over-classification. It needs to be certain that the new statutory regime is both effective and enforced.

“Congress has the power to curb excessive secrecy by aggressively pushing for transparency and it should be using it. Having never done so before, Congress could stem the tide of further abuse by exercising its inherent authority to declassify any program it believes is illegal or abusive. Hopefully the House will pass this legislation with the overwhelming majority it deserves. We urge the Senate to quickly follow suit so the president can sign this bill into law.”

To read the ACLU’s June testimony on over-classification, go to: /natsec/gen/35610leg20080611.html

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