from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
October 16, 2000


“As we enter the 21st Century, the great fear we have for our democracy is the enveloping culture of government secrecy...."

So say Senators Daniel P. Moynihan (D-NY) and Ron Wyden (D-OR) in a new report entitled “Secrecy in International and Domestic Policy Making: The Case for More Sunshine."

The report helpfully surveys the pervasive secrecy in international institutions from the World Trade Organization and the International Monetary Fund to the International Olympic Committee. It also examines the failure of “sunshine" laws to penetrate numerous U.S. government agencies such as the Federal Reserve Board.

The authors conclude with several specific recommendations intended to help remedy the defects identified in the report. “Congress should review the Sunshine in Government Act with an eye toward strengthening the incentives for open meetings and paring down the number of exceptions officials may use to justify closing the doors." The authors also call for establishing “the equivalent of a global C-SPAN to broadcast important proceedings of international agencies."

The timing of the report is faintly ironic, as the U.S. Congress last week adopted an “official secrets" act that criminalizes the disclosure of any information that the executive branch says is properly classified.

Optimistically, however, Senator Wyden states: “I hope that in the days ahead, Members of Congress on both sides of the aisle will pick up the torch of openness in government that Senator Moynihan has carried so valiantly."

The new Moynihan-Wyden report is posted here:

The accompanying press release is posted here:


The American Association for the Advancement of Science, the nation’s largest scientific society, will convene a meeting on "Scientific Freedom, Human Rights and National Security" in Washington, DC on Thursday, October 19.

Panel presentations include discussion of “Security Policies at National Labs: the Impact on Science and Scientists." This panel will explore the effects of increased security measures on the work of scientists at the US weapons labs, morale among Asian-American scientists and recruitment to the labs.

Agenda and registration information can be found here:


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