WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Rand Paul (R-KY), Ranking Member of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, stressed the urgent need to fix the government’s classification processes at a committee hearing titled “Modernizing the Government’s Classification System.” The hearing examined the government’s excessive classification of documents and information over the last several decades.
During the hearing, Dr. Paul discussed the government’s overclassification issue, including the lengthy processes in place to declassify any information. These procedures have prevented appropriate oversight from Congress and have prevented the public from accessing critical information. This can be seen in the federal government’s agency-wide refusal to share information about the origins of COVID-19. Dr. Paul has sent dozens of letters over the last several years requesting critical records, many of which are not classified, and has been met with stonewalling and resistance. In fact, disclosed emails have shown that employees at the Defense Threat Reduction Agency orchestrated efforts to obstruct these requests and deliberately stall the process. Recently, Congress came together to pass bipartisan legislation to declassify the documents on the origin of COVID-19. President Biden signed the bill into law, and Dr. Paul shared his hope for all the information that exists to be declassified quickly. The inability to obtain these reports has prevented the American people from getting real answers on where the COVID-19 virus came from.
While questioning the panelists in today’s hearing, Dr. Paul stated the need to find bipartisan solutions to address overclassification and restore transparency in government without adding excessive costs. The panelists offered multiple solutions to reform the classification process and restore Congress’ ability to obtain classified and unclassified information efficiently. For far too long, officials arbitrarily overclassifying government information and withholding millions of important documents have led to the undermining of public trust from the American people and inefficiencies in government.