DNI nominee advocates major overhaul of US intelligence classification rules

Dennis Blair

Dennis Blair

By IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
Confirmation hearings for retired US Navy Admiral Dennis Cutler Blair, who is expected to succeed Mike McConnel as Director of National Intelligence (DNI), have already begun on the Hill. Last week, Admiral Blair was questioned by several Senators about the classification system for intelligence records, which is frequently the subject of criticism by open government advocates. In responding, Mr. Blair conceded that “[t]here is a great deal of over-classification, some of [which] is done for the wrong reasons, to try to hide things from the light of day”. His remark prompted Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) to relay his personal experience, which “is that over and over and over again, we have seen official secrecy used not for national security purposes, but to mislead the public”. The Senator from Rhode Island proceeded to ask Admiral Blair whether “you [will] pledge to us that you will take this trust of secrecy […] and use it only to protect national security and not to manipulate public opinion or frame or mis-frame political debates”. To this question, Mr. Blair immediately replied: “[a]bsolutely, Senator”. The DNI nominee also expressed his support for the need for “fundamental work on the [classification] system” and pledged to continue to support declassifying intelligence budget totals on an annual basis. He also signaled his endorsement of proposals to institute a classification review for 25-year-old intelligence records.

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Expert news and commentary on intelligence, espionage, spies and spying, by Dr. Joseph Fitsanakis and Ian Allen.

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