ALL THAT SECRECY IS EXPENSIVE

z01.jpgThe 9/11 Commission, leaders in Congress -- even the government's top secret-keeper -- all agree that Washington's penchant for keeping information under wraps has grown out of control. Now, a coalition of watchdog and civil liberties groups has documented just how much it's costing to keep all those records away from the public eye.During the 2003 fiscal year, the federal government spent more than $6.5 billion securing classified information, according to a new "Secrecy Report Card" from OpenTheGovernment.org. That's an increase of more than $800 million from the previous year, according to the group, and a nearly $2 billion jump since 2001. But it's only a best guess, really; the report card's accounting doesn't include a penny from the Central Intelligence Agency, which keeps even its overall budget classified."I've read supposedly classified documents where page after page after page didn't tell me anything I didn't already know," Rep. Christopher Shays, who chairs the House Committee on Government Reform's national security panel, tells Defense Tech. When asked what percentage of government records were being wrongly kept from the public, Shays replied, "I tend to think 90 percent is not an exaggeration."My Wired News article has details.THERE'S MORE: "Tony Tether, director of DARPA, is one of the bigger [secrecy] offenders. Since he became director, more of what DARPA does has become classified, and at a higher level. In some cases, the classification level of programs has gone up at the same rate or faster than those performing the work can upgrade their clearances," says one Defense Tech pal."A significant and growing element of DARPA's work in information assurance is classified, and cannot be discussed in this forum. The future thrust is for more of these efforts to become classified. Why? Because of our increasing dependence on networks, their vulnerabilities and techniques for protecting them become more and more sensitive. Accordingly, our efforts have become classified," Tether told the House Science Committee a few months back."Classifying vulnerabilities of military systems, critical vulnerabilities with no known fixes, or beyond state-of-the-art attacks can make some sense," our pal continues. "But classifying techniques for protecting networks just guarantees that the techniques will only be available to the military, and will not be available to protect critical infrastructure and commercial networks. Defensive computer security at DARPA has traditionally been unclassified, but that has changed since Tether has been around."

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