Congress Passes Important Bill To Reduce Government Secrecy

September 29, 2010 12:00 am

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Legislation Will Curb Over-Classification Of Information

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WASHINGTON – A bill that will help reduce government secrecy was passed by both the House and Senate Tuesday night. The Reducing Over-Classification Act, introduced by Rep. Jane Harman (D-CA), will help increase government accountability by creating new methods to curb needless over-classification, including mandated evaluations by relevant agency Inspectors General and the creation of a Classified Information Advisory Officer.

The bill also requires that government agencies have policies to improve information sharing and produce unclassified versions of classified intelligence for state and local governments. It also codifies improved training requirements for government employees who classify information, which will lead to less unnecessary or erroneous classification.

The American Civil Liberties Union lauded the bill’s passage and urged President Obama to swiftly sign it into law.

The following can be attributed to Laura W. Murphy, Director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office:

“We commend Rep. Harman for introducing legislation to address the serious problem of over-classification. The Reducing Over-Classification Act is a step toward reining in government secrecy and importantly recognizes Congress’ crucial role in addressing that problem. We are hopeful that this bill will lead to a new era of government transparency, and urge President Obama to sign it into law as soon as possible.”

The following can be attributed to Michael German, ACLU Policy Counsel and former FBI agent:

“This bill establishes real and workable methods for reducing over-classification. By both creating and improving oversight mechanisms, the Reducing Over-Classification Act will help to increase government accountability. With the passage of this bill, Congress can begin to address the ongoing problems of government agencies hiding or concealing information without cause.”

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