Today's Article
'These practices
inhibit democracy
and our
government,' says
the watchdog report.
The American Spark
Watchdog Group Says Bush Secrecy Making U.S. Democracy

By Cliff Montgomery - Sept. 16th, 2007

Today we offer fact sheet statements from
Open The Government's recently-released study on U.S.
government secrecy,
Secrecy Report Card 2007.

Open The Government ( is a top independent government watchdog group. Its
motto is,
Americans For Less Secrecy, More Democracy.

We quote from its eye-opening report below:

By The Numbers


• Classification activity still remains significantly higher than before 2001

In 2006, the number of original classification decisions decreased to 231,995, down from 258,633 in 2005. This
is the second year in a row that the number of original classification decisions has dropped , but numbers
remain significantly higher than before 2001.

• $185 Spent Creating & Securing Old Secrets for Every Tax Dollar Spent Declassifying

For every one dollar the government spent declassifying documents in 2006, the government spent $185
maintaining the secrets already on the books, a $51 increase from last year. Although more pages were
declassified this year, the total publicly reported amount spent on declassification decreased. The intelligence
agencies, which account for a large segment of the declassification numbers, are excluded from the total
reported figures.

• 18% of DOD FY 2007 Acquisition Budget Is Classified or “Black”

“Black” programs accounted for 18 percent of the (FY) 2007 Department of Defense (DOD) acquisition
funding of $31.5 billion, requested in 2006. Classified acquisition funding has more than doubled in real terms
since FY 1995.


• More than 25% of all awards are not competed at all

The public has a right to know how the government is spending the public’s money in order to ensure
accountability and rout out corruption. In 2006, 25.9 percent ($107.5 billion) of federal contracts dollars were
completely uncompeted; only one-third of contract dollars were subject to full and open competition. On
average since 2000, more than one-quarter of all contract funding was not competed.


• Reported Invocations Continue to Rise

The “state secrets” privilege allows the sitting U.S. president to nearly unilaterally withhold documents from the
courts, Congress and the public. At the height of the Cold War, the administration used the privilege only 6
times between 1953 and 1976. Since 2001, it has been used a reported 39 times—an average of 6 times per
year in 6.5 years that is more than double the average (2.46) in the previous 24 years.


• FOIA Requests Continue to Rise; Backlogs Problems Persist

The total number of FOIA requests received in 2006 is 21,412,736, an increase of 1,462,189 over last year.
Agency backlogs are significant; the oldest FOIA request in the federal government has now been pending for
more than 20 years.


• Whistleblowers Recover Billions for Taxpayers

Over the last two decades, whistleblowers helped the federal government recover over $18 billion according to
the latest figures from the U.S. Department of Justice. In the fiscal year ending September 30, 2006, the
United States obtained over $3.1 billion in settlements and judgments.


• 108 New Patents Kept Secret, 4,942 “Secrecy Orders” in Effect

In 2006, the federal government closed the lid on 108 patents. Overall, that brings the total number of
inventions kept under “secrecy orders” to 4,942.


• 143,074 National Security Letter Requests Made 2003-2005

A 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. These letters can be used to obtain information about individuals without the government
applying for a court-reviewed warrant.


• 2,176 Orders of the Secretive Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court

While the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court does not reveal much about its activities, the Department of
Justice reported that the FISC approved 2,176 orders — rejecting one — in 2006. The DOJ does not identify
the activities being investigated or provide basic information about how the orders are used.


• 151 Signing Statements Challenging About 1149 Federal Laws in George W. Bush’s Presidency

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


• President Bush surpassed only by Nixon and Clinton among Presidents since Kennedy

President G.W. Bush has asserted Executive Privilege 3 times in response to congressional requests, as of
June 28, 2007. He is surpassed, so far, only by Nixon and Clinton among presidents back to Kennedy.


• 81% of “Sensitive But Unclassified” (SBU) type markings just made up by agencies

About 81% of 107 SBU markings reviewed by the ISE Program Office are based on Department and agency
policies (in other words, made up by the agencies as they go along); the remainder of the markings derive their
authority from formally promulgated regulations, about half with comment and half without.

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