[JURIST] A new federal Information Security Oversight Office [official website] report [PDF] indicates that 15.6 million documents were classified by the US government in 2004, almost double the number from 2001, leading to a cost to taxpayers of $7.2 billion. At the same time, the declassification process, which makes historical documents available to the public, has slowed from 204 million pages in 1997 to approximately 28 million pages in 2004. The increased numbers are being criticized by politicians, including some conservatives, and traditional watchdog groups such as the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) [advocacy website], which recently decried the Bush administration's tendency to classify and restrict more scientific information [JURIST report]. Thomas Kean, chairman of the September 11 commission [official website] and former Republican governor of New Jersey, has said, "We're better off with openness. The best ally we have in protecting ourselves against terrorism is an informed public." The New York Times has more.