The fundamental principles of openness, public debate, and accountability are central to our democracy. Citizens need to know what their government is doing in order to hold their leaders accountable. At the same time, we expect our government to keep us safe from external threats. While it is always difficult to find the ideal balance between public accountability and national security, recent history shows we have too often favored secrecy at the expense of openness, a pattern that persists today.
To rein in excessive government secrecy, our Liberty and Security Committee advocates restoring independent judicial review to reform application of the state secrets privilege, and urges overhaul of our classification system and the system for handling “controlled unclassified information.” To promote accountability, The Constitution Project has long supported independent investigations of claims of detainee abuse and is also leading the fight to make certain the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board—an independent body charged with reviewing national security programs—finally becomes operational and effective.