Documents Show Excessive Secrecy,
Arbitrary and Subjective Classification Decisions,
"Icons" and "Secrets of Convenience"
Rather than Real Protection of National Security
Washington DC, May 21, 2003 - The Central Intelligence
Agency classified and withheld from a Freedom of Information
Act release a 25-year-old joke item in a weekly terrorism
report about the terrorist threat to Santa Claus and the
North Pole, among many other examples of "dubious secrets"
published today on the Web by the National Security Archive
at George Washington University.
The CIA's secret Santa leads the Archive's lengthy compilation
of declassified documents that illustrate the arbitrary
and capricious decision making that all too often characterizes
the U.S. government's national security secrecy system.
Edited by Archive senior fellow Dr. Jeffrey Richelson, Archive
senior analyst Dr. William Burr, and Archive director Thomas
Blanton, the electronic briefing book highlights the reflexive
thinking embodied in "classification icons," such
as intelligence budgets that are still classified from 1947
(!) and the locations of nuclear weapons such as the Jupiter
missiles in Italy that were only deployed for a few years.
Other dubious secrets reveal cover-ups, such as death squad
activities in El Salvador that would have undermined Congressional
approval for military aid.
"Government secrecy is dramatically on the rise in
the U.S.," commented Blanton, "but the declassified
record is highly instructive - the new secrecy may not improve
our security, in fact the reverse."
Go to the Electronic