Secrecy in Government

December 21, 1955

Report Outline
Encroachments on Freedom of Information
Information Practices of Federal Agencies
Proposals to Counteract Secrecy Trend

Encroachments on Freedom of Information

Practices followed by federal agencies in withholding or releasing information about activities that concern and are of interest to the public will come under the scrutiny of Congress early in the session that starts on Jan. 3. A subcommittee of the House Committee on Government Operations, which held preliminary hearings on government information policy in November, is to resume its inquiry soon after the legislators return to Washington. Department and agency heads then will be called on to answer complaints that present policies have led to undue secrecy about the affairs of the Executive Branch and to unnecessary suppression of non-security information.

Rep. John E. Moss (D-Cal,), chairman of the subcommittee on government information, said at the conclusion of last month's hearings that “a clear need for new legislation” to break down barriers against the free flow of information had been shown. Sen. Humphrey (D-Minn.) had said earlier that he would be glad to introduce legislation at the 1956 session to “place the Congress on record in a way that will insure greater access to information—if the newspaper community indicates that it wishes such an expression of our support.”

Complaints Against the Bottling-Up of News

The most articulate complaints against federal information policies and practices have come from the working press and from representatives of other communications media directly concerned with freedom of access to government information. Allen Raymond, veteran New York newspaperman, said in a recent report commissioned by the American Civil Liberties Union that “A trend toward ever-increasing secrecy within the executive branches of the federal government has been going on during the Truman and Eisenhower administrations.” Raymond went on to say:

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Government Secrecy
Feb. 11, 2011  Government Secrecy
Oct. 23, 2009  Conspiracy Theories
Dec. 02, 2005  Government Secrecy
Jan. 16, 1987  National Security Council
Sep. 20, 1985  Protecting America's Secrets
Feb. 16, 1979  Freedom of Information Act: A Reappraisal
Aug. 18, 1971  Secrecy in Government
Aug. 18, 1971  Secrecy in Government
Feb. 07, 1968  Credibility Gaps and the Presidency
Aug. 07, 1957  Secrecy and Security
Dec. 21, 1955  Secrecy in Government
Feb. 23, 1955  Security Risks and the Public Safety
Jun. 24, 1953  Access to Official Information
Feb. 25, 1948  Protection of Official Secrets
Jan. 29, 1929  Secret Sessions of the Senate
Freedom of Information
Journalism and the News