Media Law Prof Blog

Editor: Christine A. Corcos
Louisiana State Univ.

Friday, March 3, 2006

National Archives To Declassify Reclassified Documents

The New York Times reports that Allen Weinstein, the U. S.' head archivist, has told the National Archives to stop re-classifying documents until the agency can establish why these documents are being re-classified, and has asked other agencies to consider returning documents they have yanked from the Archives' open shelves. He released a statement that explained initatives to prevent further reclassification that would prevent access to non-sensitive material. These include "[t]he imposition of a moratorium on other agency personnel identifying for withdrawal for classification purposes any declassified records currently on the public shelves at the National Archives until the audit, conducted by the National Archives Information Security Oversight Office, is complete"; "[a] “summit” with national security agencies involved with these withdrawal efforts within the next week.  The purpose of this meeting is to ensure the proper balance of agency authority to restore classification controls where appropriate and the Archivist’s obligation to ensure maximum access to archival records consistent with law, regulation and common sense"; and "[d]irecting the Information Security Oversight Office to develop, in consultation with affected agencies, clear and concise standardized guidance, with an appropriately high threshold, that will govern the withdrawal of records from the open shelves for classification purposes.  This guidance will be promulgated prior to allowing future removal of any records from the open shelves for classification purposes and will be publicly available."

Read the Archivist's entire statement here.

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