PUBLIC INFORMATION — WikiLeaks reports that it has released nearly a billion dollars worth of quasi-secret reports commissioned by the United States Congress.
The 6,780 reports, current as of this month, comprise over 127,000
pages of material on some of the most contentious issues in the nation,
from the U.S. relationship with Israel to the financial collapse.
Nearly 2,300 of the reports were updated in the last 12 months, while
the oldest report goes back to 1990. The release represents the total
output of the Congressional Research Service (CRS) electronically
available to Congressional offices. The CRS is Congress's analytical
agency and has a budget in excess of $100M per year.
Open government lawmakers such as Senators John McCain
(R-Arizona) and Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vermont) have fought for years to
make the reports public, with bills being introduced–and
rejected–almost every year since 1998. The CRS, as a branch of
Congress, is exempt from the Freedom of Information Act.
CRS reports are highly regarded as non-partisan, in-depth, and
timely. The reports top the list of the "10 Most-Wanted Government
Documents" compiled by the Washington based Center for Democracy and
The Federation of American Scientists, in pushing for the reports to be
made public, stated that the "CRS is Congress' Brain and it's useful
for the public to be plugged into it." Wired magazine called their concealment "The biggest Congressional scandal of the digital age."
Although all CRS reports are legally in the public domain, they
are quasi-secret because the CRS, as a matter of policy, makes the
reports available only to members of Congress, Congressional committees
and select sister agencies such as the GAO.