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Government Secrecy

December 2, 2005 • Volume 15, Issue 42
Is too much information kept from the public?
By Kenneth Jost

Introduction

The remains of a soldier killed in Iraq arrive back in the United States. The Defense Department's 2003 decision to bar the press from photographing such ceremonies has been criticized as an effort to limit public focus on U.S. casualties in Iraq. Facing a lawsuit, the Pentagon finally released hundreds of photos of such ceremonies in April 2005 but obscured the faces and insignias of honor guards.  (Department of Defense)
The remains of a soldier killed in Iraq arrive back in the United States. The Defense Department's 2003 decision to bar the press from photographing such ceremonies has been criticized as an effort to limit public focus on U.S. casualties in Iraq. Facing a lawsuit, the Pentagon finally released hundreds of photos of such ceremonies in April 2005 but obscured the faces and insignias of honor guards. (Department of Defense)

President Bush says he believes in open government, but critics say his administration has gone to unusual lengths to control and limit access to information. Government restrictions on information increased dramatically after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. The administration says homeland security concerns justify clamping down on public access to information, but open-government advocates say the policies dampen public debate, diminish government accountability and actually hamper efforts to protect the United States. Many of the secrecy disputes have spawned court fights, most of them won by the administration. Courts also have generally appeared uninterested in enforcing the federal Freedom of Information Act, prompting some in Congress to try to strengthen the 1966 law. Without it, they argue, such scandals as the abuse of detainees held by the United States at Baghdad's Abu Ghraib prison might never have come to light.

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
BROWSE RELATED TOPICS:
Freedom of Information
Military Intelligence
Military Law and Justice
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