Moynihan Commission On Government Secrecy
Commission on Protecting and Reducing Government Secrecy, also called the Moynihan Secrecy Commission, was a bipartisan statutory commission in the United States created under Title IX of the Foreign Relations Authorization Act for Fiscal Years 1994 and 1995 (P.L. 103-236 SEC. 900) to conduct "an investigation into all matters in any way related to any legislation, executive order, regulation, practice, or procedure relating to classified information or granting security clearances" and to submit a final report with recommendations. The Commission’s investigation was the first authorized by statute to examine government secrecy since the Wright Commission in 1957.
The Commission’s final report, issued on March 3, 1997, was unanimous. Among its key findings were
- that secrecy is a form of government regulation
- that excessive secrecy has significant consequences for the national interest when policy makers are not fully informed
- the government is not held accountable for its actions
- the public cannot engage fully in informed debate
Sen. Moynihan reported that approximately 400,000 new secrets are created per year at the top level alone—Top Secret—the disclosure of any one would cause, as defined by law, "exceptionally grave damage to the national security."1 In 1994 it was estimated that the United States government had over 1.5 billion pages of classified material that was 25 years old and older.
In 1995, when President Bill Clinton signed Executive Order 12958 regulating national security classification and declassification which established a system to declassify automatically information more than 25 years old, unless the government took discrete steps to continue classification of a particular document or group of documents.
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