An administration with lots to hide


Geraldine Sealey
September 14, 2004 11:57PM (UTC)

Democratic congressman and Bush scourge Henry Waxman released a new report (.pdf file) on the Administration's penchant for secrecy and "unprecedented assault on the principle of open government." Waxman and other members of the Government Reform Committee have introduced legislation "to reverse the Bush Administration's policies and restore open government."

The Bush administration has hidden from the public, Waxman tell us, a wide range of documents including: "(1) the contacts between energy companies and the Vice President's energy task force, (2) the communications between the Defense Department and the Vice President's office regarding contracts awarded to Halliburton, (3) documents describing the prison abuses at Abu Ghraib, (4) memoranda revealing what the White House knew about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction, and (5) the cost estimates of the Medicare prescription drug legislation withheld from Congress."

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According to Waxman, the Bush administration has gone hog-wild over classifying documents. "In fiscal years 2001 to 2003, the average number of original decisions to classify information increased 50 percent over the average for the previous five fiscal years. Derivative classification decisions, which involve classifying documents that incorporate, restate, or paraphrase information that has previously been classified, have increased even more dramatically. Between FY 1996 and FY 2000, the number of derivative classifications averaged 9.96 million per year. Between FY 2001 and FY 2003, the average increased to 19.37 million per year, a 95 percent increase. In the last year alone, the total number of classification decisions increased 25 percent."

" Taken together, the actions of the Bush Administration have resulted in an extraordinary expansion of government secrecy. External watchdogs, including Congress, the media, and nongovernmental organizations, have consistently been hindered in their ability to monitor government activities. These actions have serious implications for the nature of our government. When government operates in secret, the ability of the public to hold the government accountable is imperiled."


Geraldine Sealey

Geraldine Sealey is senior news editor at Salon.com.

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