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Old 10-29-2018, 08:02 AM
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Arrow The Pentagon’s Getting More Secretive — and It’s Hurting National Security

The Pentagon’s Getting More Secretive — and It’s Hurting National Security
BY REP. ADAM SMITH - D-WASHINGTON - 10-28-18
RE: https://www.defenseone.com/ideas/201...curity/152345/

rump’s DoD is rolling back the kind of basic transparency that prevents waste and fraud, enables Congressional oversight, and promotes public trust.

At a time of rampant executive branch corruption and large increases in defense spending, Americans are rightly concerned about the need for governmental transparency. People deserve to know how their money is being used, and what life-or-death decisions the Pentagon bureaucracy is making in their names. As President Trump asks for more defense dollars and relies more than ever on the military to conduct the country’s business, his administration should be taking commensurate steps to increase openness and strengthen accountability to the public.

Instead, the Defense Department under this administration has been doing the exact opposite. Its current leaders declared war on transparency in their earliest days on the job. On issue after issue, they have made conspicuous decisions to roll back transparency and public accountability precisely when we need it most.

The message from the top has been to withhold information from Congress, the public, and the press, even as President Trump has simultaneously taken inappropriate steps to politicize the military. Certainly, we must always be mindful of the need to protect sensitive national security information, and we have long invested in crucial efforts—such as the classification system—in order to safeguard it. But the Trump administration’s actions have gone far beyond the proper balance, in ways that do not serve the public interest.

To take just a few examples, the administration has regularly sought to prevent DoD officials from testifying before Congress on major issues—such as the annual defense budget request—when hundreds of billions of dollars are at stake. It aggressively curtailed once-standard interactions between DoD leadership and the press, only to partially reinstate them after a prolonged outcry. Instead of providing our servicemembers, the American public, and Congress with candid assessments of military readiness challenges and transparency about DoD’s plans to address them, DoD leaders have issued edicts chilling such discussions. DoD recently classified the inspection grades for the safety, security, and control of nuclear weapons. It also stopped making public a basic schedule of planned missile defense tests, a decision I helped overturn by passing a law requiring transparency as part of this year’s defense bill. It attempted to scrub use of the term “climate change” despite Congressional intent. And the Navy recently stopped publicly posting its accident reports, at a time when pilot safety is a major concern for our servicemembers and for Congress.
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