Defense Department Overclassifies Memo On Avoiding Overclassification

from the check-that-out dept

It's no secret that the US government is often way too secretive. More specifically, it seeks to "overclassify" documents to keep them secret when there's little reason that they should be. While this may stem from the natural reaction of governments to stay secret, this can have some pretty serious consequences. In fact, there are reasons to suggest that some of our intelligence failings, including the failure to prevent 9/11, came from a lack of communication due to overclassification. Partly to deal with this, President Obama signed the Reducing Over-Classification Act, which required various parts of the federal government to (you guessed it) reduce over-classification. As part of implementing this, federal inspectors general are supposed to "evaluate" the classification policies of the organizations.

The folks over at NextGov note the irony that the Defense Department's memo (pdf) concerning its IG's evaluation of its over-classification issue was itself classified as "For Official Use Only" (FOUO). Now, to be fair, FOUO documents are still considered "unclassified," so you could argue that this isn't really about overclassification. But, it certainly seems to go against the spirit of the effort, which was to encourage greater information sharing and make it easier for the public to remain informed as well.

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  1. icon
    Gwiz (profile), 4 Dec 2012 @ 1:51pm

    Re:

    So because there was a name and an email address, the memo got FOUO to protect the person from a bunch of jokers on the internet once this thing got FOIA'd.

    Umm. Are you aware that it's SOP that documents obtained through the FOIA have most all personal information redacted anyways? That makes your justification kind of moot (and circular).

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