Is it time for the US government to rethink how it keeps its secrets?
Here’s one of the United States' worst-kept secrets: its flawed classification process. Whether it’s the unnecessary classification of material or the storage of top-secret documents behind a flimsy shower curtain in a Mar-a-Lago bathroom, it’s crucial to address our approach to confidentiality. Joining GZERO World to discuss all things classified, including those documents in Trump’s bathroom, is former Congresswoman Jane Harman. As the ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee after 9/11, the nine-term congresswoman has insider knowledge of the matter.
According to Harman, “The only good reason to classify documents is to protect our sources and methods, how we got information.” The 9/11 Commission identified a lack of information-sharing among agencies such as the CIA, the FBI, and NSA as a key reason the government was unable to stop the attacks. Over-classification of information played a significant role in this failure. Approximately 50 million documents are estimated to be classified each year, although the exact number remains unknown—not due to classification, but because the government struggles to keep track of it all. In the words of former US Solicitor General Erwin Griswold, some “secrets are not worth keeping.”
To see the full interview with Jane Harman, watch GZERO World with Ian Bremmer at gzeromedia.com/gzeroworld or on US public television. Check local listings.