Secrecy News: An Updated Lexicon of Government Information Policy

Harold F. Schiffman haroldfs at
Wed Nov 1 12:39:05 UTC 2006

Secrecy News

from the Federation of American Scientists Project on Government Secrecy

An Updated Lexicon of Government Information Policy

The specialized language of government information policy is itself a
reflection of the intricacies and convolutions of that policy. A newly
updated and substantially expanded lexicon (pdf) of information-related
terms, prepared by Susan L. Maret, provides a valuable map to the language
and the terrain of U.S. government information policy. Hundreds of
entries, ranging from the well-known or obvious ("classified")  to the
obscure and recondite (e.g., EPITS), are presented with lucid definitions
and pointers to official source documents.

"These terms represent a virtual seed catalog to federal
informationally-driven procedures, policies, and practices involving,
among other matters, the information life cycle, record keeping, ownership
over information, collection and analysis of intelligence information,
security classification categories and markings, censorship, citizen
right-to-know, deception, propaganda, secrecy, technology, surveillance,
threat, and warfare," Dr. Maret writes. "The terms reported here -- which
have often been interpreted widely from one federal agency to another --
play a significant role in shaping social and political reality, and
furthering government policy."

See "On Their Own Terms: A Lexicon with an Emphasis on Information-Related
Terms Produced by the U.S. Federal Government" by Susan Maret, Ph.D.,
updated October 2006. (PDF available at:  (An MS Word version is
available at:


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