The Wall Street Journal Archives | Email alerts

Jan. 27, 2022, 4:05 p.m. EST

Maximalist approach to classifying information poses threat to national security and undermines trust, says Biden director of national intelligence

Watchlist Relevance

Want to see how this story relates to your watchlist?

Just add items to create a watchlist now:

or Cancel Already have a watchlist? Log In

Dustin Volz

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.

From the archives (November 2020): Capitol Report: Biden says U.S. is ‘strongest when it works with its allies’ while introducing nominees

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.

From the archives (May 2020): Trump DNI nominee Ratcliffe tells Senate panel he wouldn’t politicize intelligence

From the archives (May 2020): Ratcliffe faces Senate panel nine months after Trump abandoned initial plan to make him director of national intelligence

“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

Trending at

What does Russia want with Ukraine? Tensions between Putin and NATO explained.

3G is shutting down. I brought my iPhone 4 back to life to say goodbye.

This Story has 0 Comments
Be the first to comment
More News In
Economy & Politics

Story Conversation

Commenting FAQs »

Partner Center

Link to MarketWatch's Slice.