"When everyone is calling for someone's head, it's a pretty good sign that we might want to slow down," said John Conyers (D-Mich.), chairman of the Judiciary Committee.
The reflexive secrecy that emerged after 9/11 has helped contribute to an atmosphere in which far too much government data is classified or otherwise kept secret without any real justification, the witnesses said. Perhaps the strongest comments came from consumer advocate Ralph Nader and Rep. William Delahunt, both of whom referred to the secrecy as damaging to the country's ideals.
"There's an overwhelming overclassification of documents. Who does the classification? Is it the Secretary of State or the attorney general? I found out that it's some low level bureaucrat and the process itself is arcane and there is no accountability in the classification processes in the exec branch and that's very dangerous," said committee member Delahunt (D-Mass.), who is leaving at the end of his current term. "Secrecy is the trademark of totalitarianism and transparency and openness is what democracy is all about. WikiLeaks provides an opportunity for this committee. There is far too much secrecy and classification in the executive branch and I think it puts American democracy at risk.""
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