The Secret Sharers


Secrecy News, the invaluable newsletter put out by the Federation of American Scientists, has obtained an August 2004 Department of Homeland Security memo [PDF] that it describes as "a massive increase in government secrecy."

In a momentous expansion of the apparatus of government secrecy, the [DHS] is requiring employees and others to sign legally binding non-disclosure agreements as a condition of access to certain categories of unclassified information.

Up to now, non-disclosure agreements have only been used by government agencies to regulate access to classified information. In fact, they are one of the defining features of the national security classification system, along with security clearances and the "need to know" principle. As far as Secrecy News could determine, such classification-like controls have never before been systematically imposed on access to unclassified information.

This decision, up until now, has been secret.

NEXT: The Secret Ball's Other Policeman

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. No need to worry; I’m sure folks like Dan and R.C. will be along presently to explain why this sort of thing ENHANCES freedom.

  2. Iraq. Spending. Use of police. Surrounding self with yes-men. None of these, hyped up as they are in libertarian circles, are uniquely bad characteristics of this president. Iraq wasn’t a mistake at all, in my view. I’ve heard for four years that the world has never seen such a tyrant, and mostly I have scratched my head at the lack of perspective conveyed by such comments.

    THIS is what bothers me about Bush. I don’t even think that there is much to hide compared to any other arbitrary administration, but for some reason, the Bush whitehouse is freakishly concerned about the voting public finding out details of the way they govern. I mean, really, do you think that it would matter at all that there were energy types that discussed energy policy with the VP? What kind of monkey would write policy without figuring out industry impact? Bush just made it 1000 times worse by throwing up barriers.

    Conspiracies are born this way. Vince Foster is still in the heads of a lot of conservatives because Clinton did the same thing. Oops I lost the hard drive. Oops, where are those documents. Sorry, that is confidential. Executive privelige!

    I want politicians to grow a pair and explain their thought process in public. While I’m at it, I want to fly like Superman …

  3. how in the hell can the fbi and cia share terrorist information with HSA is those idiots can come home and tell their wives aboutit? How can we vet the thousands of employees now with access to intellegence that use to be restricted to a few? Come on, get a grip.

  4. uhh..bob…key word..”unclassified”..

  5. J. William Leonard heads the Information Security Oversight Office. He correctly identifies the current fad of overclassification as actually a threat to national security. Nobody’s listening, though.

    “The problem [Leonard] has identified is that the currency of classification is being devalued by questionable, sometimes suspiciously self-serving secrecy actions,” writes Aftergood in e-mail. “This produces an erosion of security discipline, which in turn fosters an environment in which leaks are more likely to come about. The net result is bad security policy and bad public policy.”

    More here:

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.