More and more through secrecy, deception, survelliance, and repression...the U.S. takes on elements of traditional 'police states' even as the citizenry remain bamboozled by the leaders they believe they elect to govern them.
Breaking News 12/12/03
INVESTIGATIVE REPORT: The untold story of the Bush administration's penchant for secrecy
How the public's business gets done out of the public eye
Friday, Dec. 12, the PBS television program NOW with Bill Moyers will air a report on Bush administration secrecy produced in collaboration with U.S. News. Please visit pbs.org for stations and airtimes in your area. The U.S. News article, "Keeping Secrets," will be publshed in Monday's edition. Full text will be available on USNews.com Saturday, Dec. 13, at 6 p.m.
The Bush administration has removed from the public domain millions of pages of information on health, safety, and environmental matters, lowering a shroud of secrecy over many critical operations of the federal government.
The administration's efforts to shield the actions of, and the information held by, the executive branch are far more extensive than has been previously documented. And they reach well beyond security issues.
A five-month investigation by U.S. News details a series of initiatives by administration officials to effectively place large amounts of information out of the reach of ordinary citizens, including data on such issues as drinking-water quality and automotive tire safety. The magazine's inquiry is based on a detailed review of government reports and regulations, of federal agency Web sites, and of legislation pressed by the White House.
U.S. News also analyzed information from public interest groups and others that monitor the administration's activities, and interviewed more than 100 people, including many familiar with the new secrecy initiatives. That information was supplemented by a review of materials provided in response to more than 200 Freedom of Information Act requests filed by the magazine seeking details of federal agencies' practices in providing public access to government information.
Among the findings of the investigation:
?Important business and consumer information is increasingly being withheld from the public. The Bush administration is denying access to auto and tire safety information, for instance, that manufacturers are required to provide under a new "early-warning system" created following the Ford-Firestone tire scandal four years ago. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, meanwhile, is more frequently withholding information that would allow the public to scrutinize its product safety findings and product recall actions.
?New administrative initiatives have effectively placed off limits critical health and safety information potentially affecting millions of Americans. The information includes data on quality and vulnerability of drinking-water supplies, potential chemical hazards in communities, and safety of airline travel and others forms of transportation.
?Beyond the well-publicized cases involving terrorism suspects, the administration is aggressively pursuing secrecy claims in the federal courts in ways little understood--even by some in the legal system. The administration is increasingly invoking a "state secrets" privilege that allows government lawyers to request that civil and criminal cases be effectively closed by asserting that national security would be compromised if they proceed.
?New administration policies have thwarted the ability of Congress to exercise its constitutional authority to monitor the executive branch and, in some cases, even to obtain basic information about its actions.
There are no precise statistics on how much government information is rendered secret. One measure, though, can be seen in a tally of how many times officials classify records. In the first two years of Bush's term, his administration classified records some 44.5 million times, or about the same number as in President Clinton's last four years, according to the Information Security Oversight Office, an arm of the National Archives and Records Administration.
MEDIA CONTACT: Rchard Folkers, Director of Media Relations(firstname.lastname@example.org or 202-955-2219)