David Cuillier Authors Article on the Effects of Overclassification
David Cuillier, incoming director of the University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications Brechner Freedom of Information Project, is the author of “Overclassification Overkill: The U.S. Government is Drowning in a Sea of Secrets” published in The Conversation on March 1.
According to Cuillier, the U.S. has an overclassification problem which can threaten national security.
“I have seen the secrecy creep – more classification and more withholding of information by the government – growing for decades, as a scholar who studies freedom of information,” said Cullier. “While classification is intended to protect the national security of the nation – such as weapons data, military plans and codes – often records with no direct connection to national security are hidden, including already published newspaper articles, sometimes to prevent agency embarrassment or accountability.”
“Many recommendations to diminish overclassification have been offered by experts and special commissions over the decades, with little progress. Federal agencies push back against transparency, presidents defer to secrecy and the inertia of federal bureaucracy favors the status quo. But perhaps bipartisan cooperation in Congress can get somewhere on several fronts,” writes Cuillier.
He adds, “Some secrets are necessary, and I believe the classification system can be strengthened, for the good of national security and the ability of citizens to know what their government is up to. Sometimes, less secrecy brings more safety.”
The Freedom of Information Project, formerly the Joseph L. Brechner Center for Freedom of Information, is part of a newly named Brechner Center for the Advancement of the First Amendment, which incorporates the Freedom of Information Project and the Marion B. Brechner First Amendment Project. Cuillier will join the College in his new role on July 1, 2023.