WASHINGTON -- Hey, Sean Penn, where is your righteous indignation now? Where is your star-studded Hollywood blockbuster about how cynical Washington insiders are playing fast and loose with America's national security laws to advance their political interests?You nailed George W. Bush and company with Fair Game, and there is little doubt that the Bush team deserved it for exposing CIA officer Valerie Plame and by extension the undercover contacts she had made worldwide. But somehow I doubt you are working on the sequel about how Barack Obama's administration has presided over a period of potentially far more damaging leaks that just happen to promote the president's image as being a tough guy with his hand on the trigger.Oh, sure, the investigation into (at least some) of the leaks has just begun and in all likelihood will be hijacked by Republicans for political gain in the months leading up to the presidential election this November. And we can't be sure that the leaks were orchestrated or approved high up, or even who did what.But this we know: From the moment we first heard too many details about the Osama bin Laden mission, to the damaging over-reporting of the Stuxnet cyber attacks, to the reports of the president poring over kill lists and supervising closed meetings of top advisers at which secret missions were approved, we have been fed a steady stream of information we should never have had.Of course senior officials were involved. Some of the meetings being reported on and some of the plans were really only known to a handful of top people.If a Republican were manning the Oval Office right now, is there any doubt that Penn and friends would be harking back to the orchestrated outing of Plame and calling it part of an insidious pattern? Despite expressions of concern about recent leaks from both Democrats like Sen. Dianne Feinstein and mainstream Republicans like Sen. John McCain and absolutely unconvincing expressions of "shock, shock" from President Obama, most of those who were outraged the last time around have kept quiet about the current debate.As Americans, we benefit from knowing much of what has been reported. And the reporters who have reported these facts are not only just doing their job, they're doing it well.But these leaks are part of a cynical pattern of abuse of U.S. national security laws that has taken place in this administration and the ones that immediately preceded it -- abuse that is endemic to the conduct of regular national security business in Washington and that has been for decades.Bits and pieces of unreported news are fed to journalists in exchange for good relations. Perversely in Washington, secrets become used as hush money -- give a secret, keep a secret, or gain a leg up on someone. That's not so bad when the whispered exchanges are about who's in line for some top job or who had a spat with whom. The problem comes when the leaks create threats to the U.S. national interest or violate national security laws.Our culture of secrecy in Washington has led to the overclassification of information. Too many documents get stamped "Confidential" or "Secret" or "Top Secret" that shouldn't be. It limits the transparency that is essential to a functioning democracy.The solutions are straightforward. First, we need to have fewer secrets. Set higher and clearer standards for classification. Enable fewer people to classify documents. Declassify as many documents as possible.Next, we need to have many fewer people with security clearances. According to a 2011 report mandated by Congress, an astonishing 4.2 million people have clearances.Finally, if the goal is real secrecy, we need a permanent special prosecutor's office empowered to go after any hint of a leak at its own discretion. This needs to be permanent so that no administration can protect itself -- nor any Congress.If we stop classifying everything from the blandest State Department cable traffic to reports about Kim Jong Il's video collection, and if there were a sense that real prosecutions would follow leaks and that they could not be manipulated politically, not only would we have fewer damaging and dangerous leaks, we would save money, have greater transparency and, with some luck, enable Sean Penn to go back to making better movies about more interesting subjects.David Rothkopf is CEO and editor at large of Foreign Policy.