The cost to the federal government of keeping all of its secrets was more than $11 billion last year, according to publicly available records. That total does not include costs incurred by the CIA and the NSA and other spy agencies, because those figures are classified.
John P. Fitzpatrick, head of the Information Security Oversight Office (ISOO), which oversees the government’s classification effort, estimated that including the extra agencies would increase the spending total by “less than 20 percent,” meaning the real total may be more than $13 billion.
“The costs include investigations of people applying for security clearances, equipment like safes and special computer gear, training for government personnel, and salaries for officials who review documents for classification and declassification,” reports the New York Times.
Much of the increase in government secrecy occurred in tandem with vast expansions in the security apparatus following the terrorist attacks of September 11th. In 2001, the total cost of hiding the truth from the American people was only $4.7 billion.
Document reviews conducted by ISOO in 2009 discovered violations of classification rules in 65% of the documents examined, with several agencies posting error rates of more than 90%
The worst of government secrecy has occurred under the Obama administration, which has hailed itself as the most transparent administration ever. According to the ISOO, the government made a record 76,795,945 classification decisions in 2010, an increase of more than 40% from 2009.
Steven Aftergood, of the Project on Government Secrecy for the Federation of American Scientists, says there is rampant over-classification. “To me it illustrates the most important problem — namely that we are classifying far too much information,” he said. “The credibility of the classification system is collapsing under the weight of bogus secrets.”
Millions of Americans are out of work and struggling to keep up with the cost of living while the federal government sucks up $11 billion from the private economy every year in order to cover up its abuses, missteps, and secrets in what seems to be a contest to defy the founding principles so often heralded in Washington, DC.
As the American revolutionary Patrick Henry said, “The liberties of a people never were, nor ever will be, secure, when the transactions of their rulers may be concealed from them.”