Statement of Angela Canterbury, POGO's Director of Public Policy
The Project On Government Oversight (POGO) applauds the U.S. House of Representatives for passing a defense spending plan Thursday that includes important measures aimed at holding the Pentagon more accountable to taxpayers.
In particular, POGO recognizes Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) for championing an amendment that preserves the public’s right to know and clarifies the Department of Defense’s (DoD) ability to keep secret information related to “critical security infrastructure.” The DoD has a responsibility to protect our national security interests, but that duty must be balanced with other public interests.
Unfortunately, there are alarming examples where the DoD kept citizens in the dark about health hazards, such as groundwater contamination, by claiming it was a matter of national security. Rep. Maloney’s amendment would narrow the DoD’s ability to claim exemptions to the Freedom of Information Act under the premise of protecting critical infrastructure and strikes the right balance between security and other public interests such as health and safety.
Other important amendments that were passed include amendment #40 by Rep. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz) that repeals the duplicative National Drug Intelligence Center; amendment #122 by Rep. Betty McCollum (D-Minn.) that limits Pentagon expenditures on musical instruments; #81 by Reps. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) and Kurt Schrader (D-Ore.) that requires notification to Congress on indemnification agreements for contractors; #45 by Rep. Colleen Hanabusa (D-Hawaii) that requires officials to identify redundant programs; #6 by Rep. John Carter (R-Texas) that expands protected disclosures for Armed Services whistleblowers; and #135 by Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-Calif.) that increases funding for security at nuclear facilities.
We urge the Senate to follow suit in adopting these commonsense measures passed by the House and to go further still to pass a defense budget that serves the best interests of the American people.