The U.S. government classified more than 14 million new national
security secrets last year, up from 11 million in the previous year
and 8 million the year before, according to the new
annual report to President Bush from the oversight office
for the national security secrecy system. Dated 31 March 2004 and
made publicly available last week, the report provides the Information
Security Oversight Office's best estimate of the rising tide of secrecy,
and also warns that "Allowing information that will not cause
damage to national security to remain in the classification system,
or to enter the system in the first instance, places all classified
information at needless increased risk."
The National Security Archive today posted on the Web one of the
14 million new secrets, a Biographical Sketch produced in 1975 by
the Defense Intelligence Agency on the Chilean then-dictator, General
Augusto Pinochet. The DIA blacked out large sections of the Sketch
on ostensible national security grounds, including General Pinochet's
liquor choices - "scotch and pisco sours" - when DIA released
the document under the Freedom of Information Act last year.
Also posted today is the Pinochet Sketch as released in full, with
no deletions, by President Clinton's 1999 declassification of U.S.
documents related to human rights abuses in Chile. The document appears
uncensored on pages 181-183 in the Archive book, The
Pinochet File: A Declassified Dossier on Atrocity and Accountability,
by Peter Kornbluh, which was published this past September by The
New Press, New York, and was selected by the Los Angeles Times
as a "Best Nonfiction Book of 2003."
"Pinochet's pisco sours are certainly not the only dubious secret
among the 14 million new ones," commented Archive director Thomas
Blanton. "The real question is whether the secrecy veil really
makes us safer, or does it hide our country's vulnerabilities and
policy problems when what we need to do is fix them?"
The Pinochet Sketch is also the subject of today's "In the Loop"
column by Al Kamen of The Washington Post, under the headline