To some extent, my feeling has lately been that the information age of the internet, Wikileaks, etc. is kicking away the ladder of government secrecy. Reading through this recent ACLU report on secrecy laws has sort of deflated that feeling…
According to the Information Security Oversight Office (ISOO), the government made a record 76,795,945 classification decisions in 2010, an increase of more than 40% from 2009.
…Document reviews conducted by ISOO in 2009 discovered violations of classification rules in 65% of the documents examined, with several agencies posting error rates of more than 90%.Errors which put the appropriateness of the classification in doubt were seen in 35% of the documents ISOO reviewed in 2009, up from 25% in 2008.
Not to mention the cost that the public has to pay the government for hiding important information from them:
The cost of protecting these secrets has also skyrocketed over the last several years. ISOO estimated security classification activities cost the executive branch over $10.17 billion in 2010, a 15% increase from 2009, and cost industry an additional $1.25 billion, up 11% from the previous year.
Consider the enormity of the recent releases made by Wikileaks of secret government information: almost 800 classified Guantanamo prisoner dossiers; 250,000 diplomatic cables; many hundreds of thousands of Iraq and Afghanistan war logs; et al. It has been a grand achievement and if one were to judge by the seething, belligerent response from the government, one would think it something of an upheaval. While I don’t doubt the far-ranging effects of the leaks, the above stats make me really cringe that it perhaps barely made a dent in all that our government doesn’t want us to know about.