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SPJ supports an amendment that promotes government transparency


For immediate release

Kevin Smith, SPJ President, 304-367-4864,
Karen Grabowski, SPJ Communications Coordinator, 317-927-8000 ext. 215,

INDIANAPOLIS –Leaders of the Society of Professional Journalists support an amendment to the Intel Authorization Bill that requires the Inspector General of the Intelligence Community to prepare a report on over-classification. Over-classification is the government practice of inappropriately withholding documents from the public and to classifying documents that do not require such action. U.S. Representative Jane Harman (D-Calif.) proposed the amendment in an effort to strengthen open government. SPJ signed a letter expressing support for Rep. Harman’s amendment that was sent to the congresswoman Feb. 23.

The letter to Rep. Harman follows:

February 23, 2010

The Honorable Jane Harman
Chair, Subcommittee on Intelligence, Information Sharing and Terrorism Risk Assessment
Committee on Homeland Security
United States House of Representatives
Washington, D.C 20515

Dear Chairwoman Harman:

We are writing to convey our support of your amendment to require the Inspector General of the Intelligence Community to prepare a report on over-classification.

In its Final Report of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, the 9/11 Commission cited the necessity of preventing over-classification by the federal government. Over-classification hinders information sharing, causes information to be inappropriately removed from public access, and causes the government to needlessly spend billions of taxpayer dollars protecting information that should never have been classified. Over-classification also leads to disrespect of the system and leaks to the press, and public suspicion.

It is crucial for the federal government to ensure that information bearing on our national security is shared with the public, to the greatest extent possible. In addition to hindering this goal, over-classification of information impedes the effort to make sure intelligence information gets into the hands of those in the federal government, and state, regional, tribal, and local governments, who need it on a timely basis.

Your amendment takes an important first step toward curbing unnecessary and unwarranted secrecy and we urge its passage.

Thank you.


Center for Democracy and Technology
Federation of American Scientists
National Security Archive
The Constitution Project
Society of Professional Journalists
American Association of Law Libraries
Project on Government Oversight
OMB Watch
The James Madison Project
Open Society Policy Center
American Civil Liberties Union
Liberty Coalition
Special Libraries Association
Center for National Security Studies
Center for Constitutional Rights
David Cole, Professor
Georgetown University Law Center
Bill Leonard, former Director of ISOO

Founded in 1909 as Sigma Delta Chi, SPJ promotes the free flow of information vital to a well-informed citizenry; works to inspire and educate the next generation of journalists; and protects First Amendment guarantees of freedom of speech and press. For more information about SPJ, please visit www.spj.org.


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