For Immediate Release
President Obama Issues Orders To Reduce Government Secrecy
Government Should Stop Suppressing Key Information, Says ACLU
NEW YORK - President
Obama Tuesday night issued an executive order and an accompanying
presidential memorandum directing executive agencies to make more
information public when possible and eliminate unnecessary government
The following can be attributed to
Michael German, American Civil Liberties Union National Security Policy
Counsel and former FBI Agent:
"We welcome President Obama's
executive order and memorandum which have the potential to improve the
classification system for government documents, and appreciate that the
administration, in an unprecedented move, incorporated into its
policies public input gained through an open meeting and weblog.
Although some more comprehensive measures called for by the ACLU and
others were not fully realized in the new order, it is encouraging that
the president described the new order as just one step in a process
toward establishing 'a more fundamental transformation of the security
classification.' We look forward to continuing to work with the
administration on this issue to ensure the government is properly
protecting information where necessary, while ensuring public access to
as much information as possible."
The following can be attributed to Jameel Jaffer, Director of the ACLU National Security Project:
"These documents rightly acknowledge
that too much information is being kept secret, and that excessive
secrecy compromises national security and undermines our democracy. We
are particularly pleased that the president has eliminated a rule that
gave the intelligence community the authority to veto declassification
decisions made by an interagency panel.
"In a next step toward improving
government transparency, we hope that the administration will now
reconsider its refusal to release crucial documents relating to the
Bush administration's national security policies. The CIA is still
withholding documents about its rendition, detention and interrogation
program. The Justice Department is still withholding the legal memos
that supplied the basis for the National Security Agency's warrantless
wiretapping program. The Defense Department is still withholding the
interrogation directives used by special forces in Afghanistan. The
suppression of these documents deprives the American public of
information it needs in order to evaluate the wisdom of government
policy, to hold officials accountable for their decisions and to ensure
that the mistakes and abuses of the past are not repeated in the
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The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) conserves America's original civic values working in courts, legislatures and communities to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to every person in the United States by the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.