WASHINGTON — The U.S. intelligence community’s approach to classifying vast amounts of information is so flawed that it harms national security and diminishes public trust in government, according to Avril Haines, President Biden’s director of national intelligence.
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The acknowledgment of such concerns about how the nation’s spy agencies choose what information to keep secret under various classification levels is among the most significant by a president’s sitting intelligence chief, government transparency advocates said, and could indicate broader interest in the Biden administration for loosening restrictive access to some of the government’s growing collection of secrets.
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“It is my view that deficiencies in the current classification system undermine our national security, as well as critical democratic objectives, by impeding our ability to share information in a timely manner” with allies, policy makers and the public, Haines wrote in a letter earlier this month to Sens. Ron Wyden, a Democrat from Oregon, and Jerry Moran, a Kansas Republican, which was reviewed by the Wall Street Journal.
The letter was in response to an October request for information from the senators, who have pushed for overhauls of the declassification system to assist federal agencies struggling to process a large volume of secret information that is no longer sensitive, such as backlogged historical records Congress has said must be released. Wyden and Moran have said classification costs taxpayers about $18.5 billion annually.
An expanded version of this report appears at WSJ.com.
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