Redacting for Dummies

I normally avoid topics unrelated to web design and usability on this blog. However, I think this is worth pointing out and commenting on publicly. The following images are from a document that can be found at the ACLU website at

Redacted document

Unredacted document

The government censors blacked out the following passage, a quotation from a Supreme Court ruling:

The danger to political dissent is acute where the Government attempts to act under so vague a concept as the power to protect ‘domestic security.’ Given the difficulty of defining the domestic security interest, the danger of abuse in acting to protect that interest becomes apparent.

The irony is overwhelming. It is vital that the government have some ability to keep secrets for national security purposes, but it is actions such as the redacting of the document (this portion was revealed after a court review) that undermine the public trust in those keeping the secrets. This is not particular to the current administration, it has been happening for years.

The American public should not be so grossly insulted by the government that we elect and support with our taxes. Our country values the freedom of information, we have free speech and freedom of the press, but if our government is free to cover up whatever they choose and write it off as being in the interest of national security the information we need to make accurate decisions about our own governance is not free. This is an affront to all of us.

Kevin Hall
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