Reporters at McClatchy have been doing a bang up job covering government abuses lately, and their latest is a report talking about how frequently Congress abuses the ability to classify documents to hide from any sort of accountability or transparency. As the article says: “for Congress, ‘it’s classified’ is new equivalent of ‘none of your business.'” The article highlights just how frequently elected officials in Congress have been hiding behind “it’s classified” lately. The article focuses on a recent effort to provide weapons to rebels in Syria. Apparently, Congress signed off on it, but it won’t tell anyone the details even of who approved it, because, well, you guessed it: “it’s classified.”
Those were, in fact, the words Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., chair of the committee, used when asked a few days before the approval was granted to clarify her position for her constituents. She declined. It’s a difficult situation, she said. And, “It’s classified.”
She was not alone. In a string of interviews over days, members of both the Senate intelligence committee or its equivalent in the House were difficult to pin down on their view of providing arms to the rebels. The senators and representatives said they couldn’t give an opinion, or at least a detailed one, because the matter was classified.
It’s an increasingly common stance that advocates of open government say undermines the very principle of a representative democracy.
The article highlights how Congress has realized that it can avoid having to answer difficult questions by slapping the “it’s classified” claim on just about anything. But it’s the difficult questions that they should have to answer, and by avoiding them, they’re fundamentally avoiding their jobs. They’re clearly not representing the American people, because they refuse to answer to them.