Agenda for Secrecy

Agenda for Secrecy

Under Section 214 of the Homeland Security Act (187 pages, PDF), information voluntarily supplied by private companies to the government about potential security breaches in critical infrastructure — nuclear power plants, water-treatment facilities, computer networks, and the like — cannot be disclosed to the public. Three major business coalitions lobbied for the provision on the grounds that potential security problems must be examined and corrected without exposing infrastructure vulnerabilities to terrorists. But a new report from Common Cause warns that the provision allows private industry to use homeland security as an excuse to keep crucial information from the public, litigants, and even law enforcement agencies. The report, Agenda for Secrecy (15 pages, PDF), examines the pros and cons of Section 214, how it was passed, and the political contributions and lobbying efforts of the business coalitions that championed it, and concludes that, as a result of its passage, it will be harder for U.S. citizens to be warned about, and more difficult for the government to address, a wide range of health, safety, and environmental problems.