SecDef Orders New Limits on Military Reporting to Congress

Pentagon says new limits actually increase transparency

Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan has issued a new memo imposing major new restrictions on the methods through which the Pentagon and defense officials are allowed to share information with Congressional offices or committees.

The policy imposes serious limits, telling officials to only give Congress official summaries instead of actual plans, and sets officials within the Pentagon who decide whether a Congressional request can be proven to be legitimate.

This is clearly intended to further limit information sharing at a time when many in Congress are complaining they’re already not being kept sufficiently informed. Reps. Adam Smith (D-WA) and Mac Thornberry (R-TX) warned that the new policy is overstepping the Pentagon’s authority, by “presuming to determine what warrants legislative oversight.”

The Pentagon tried to spin this as the exact opposite, even though it clearly establishes several new limits to informing Congress. They argued that because no official limits existed before Shanahan’s memo, any specific limits must necessarily provide a real guideline, and would actually increase transparency in the long run.

No one believes that, of course, but with the Trump Administration withholding more and more from Congress and the media, it is in keeping with the general direction of opacity.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of Antiwar.com.