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Government secrecy on the rise
A new report by OpenTheGovernment.org, a coalition of 67 organizations, finds that government secrecy “by almost any measure is expanding and little is being done to stop it.” Some highlights:
– In six years, President Bush has issued at least 151 signing statements, challenging 1149 provisions of laws. In the 211 years of our Republic to 2000, fewer than 600 signing statements that took issue with the bills were issued. Among recent presidents, Reagan issued 71 statements challenging provisions of laws before him; G.W.H. Bush issued 146; Clinton, 105.
– Since 2001, the “state secrets” privilege has been invoked a reported 39 times–an average in 6.5 years (6) that is more than double the previous 24 years (2.46).
– A 2007 Justice Department Office of the Inspector General report on secret wiretap warrants indicated that the government made 143,074 National Security Letter requests in the period 2003-2005. The number for 2006 remains classified.
Patrice McDermott, director for the coalition, said, “The executive branch seems to believe that something is kept under wraps solely on its say-so, whether it is legitimately so or not.”