Monday, February 20, 2006


Now you see, it now you don't. The disappearing public files.
U.S. Reclassifies Many Documents in Secret Review - New York Times: "Mr. Aid said he believed that because of the reclassification program, some of the contents of his 22 file cabinets might technically place him in violation of the Espionage Act, a circumstance that could be shared by scores of other historians. But no effort has been made to retrieve copies of reclassified documents, and it is not clear how they all could even be located.

'It doesn't make sense to create a category of documents that are classified but that everyone already has,' said Meredith Fuchs, general counsel of the National Security Archive, a research group at George Washington University. 'These documents were on open shelves for years.'

The group plans to post Mr. Aid's reclassified documents and his account of the secret program on its Web site,, on Tuesday.

The program's critics do not question the notion that wrongly declassified material should be withdrawn. Mr. Aid said he had been dismayed to see 'scary' documents in open files at the National Archives, including detailed instructions on the use of high explosives.

But the historians say the program is removing material that can do no conceivable harm to national security. They say it is part of a marked trend toward greater secrecy under the Bush administration, which has increased the pace of classifying documents, slowed declassification and discouraged the release of some material under the Freedom of Information Act.

Experts on government secrecy believe the C.I.A. and other spy agencies, not the White House, are the driving force behind the reclassification program.

'I think it's driven by the individual agencies, which have bureaucratic sensitivities to protect,' said Steven Aftergood of the Federation of American Scientists, editor of the online weekly Secrecy News. 'But it was clearly encouraged by the administration's overall embrace of secrecy.'

National Archives officials said the program had revoked access to 9,500 documents, more than 8,000 of them since President Bush took office. About 30 reviewers — employees and contractors of the intelligence and defense agencies — are at work each weekday at the archives complex in College Park, Md., the officials said.

Archives officials could not provide a cost for the program but said it was certainly in the millions of dollars, including more than $1 million to build and equip a secure room where the reviewers work."
Also could be said of our valuable tax dollars.

No comments:

Post a Comment