Ultima Thule

In ancient times the northernmost region of the habitable world - hence, any distant, unknown or mysterious land.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Reclassify the classified -- what's going on here?

By Aussiegirl

Since this has been going on for the last seven years, this reclassification program is obviously not connected to Port-Gate. What it has in common with Port-Gate is what one person calls the administration's overall embrace of secrecy. This drive toward secrecy can produce bizarre, irrational results, like reclassifying a 1948 CIA memorandum about floating balloons over Iron Curtain countries. Shades of the Soviet days when they literally airbrushed people out of existence, in an attempt to change history.

U.S. Reclassifies Many Documents in Secret Review - New York Times

In a seven-year-old secret program at the National Archives, intelligence agencies have been removing from public access thousands of historical documents that were available for years, including some already published by the State Department and others photocopied years ago by private historians.

The restoration of classified status to more than 55,000 previously declassified pages began in 1999, when the Central Intelligence Agency and five other agencies objected to what they saw as a hasty release of sensitive information after a 1995 declassification order signed by President Bill Clinton. It accelerated after the Bush administration took office and especially after the 2001 terrorist attacks, according to archives records.

But because the reclassification program is itself shrouded in secrecy — governed by a still-classified memorandum that prohibits the National Archives even from saying which agencies are involved — it continued virtually without outside notice until December. That was when an intelligence historian, Matthew M. Aid, noticed that dozens of documents he had copied years ago had been withdrawn from the archives' open shelves.

[...] Among the 50 withdrawn documents that Mr. Aid found in his own files is a 1948 memorandum on a C.I.A. scheme to float balloons over countries behind the Iron Curtain and drop propaganda leaflets. It was reclassified in 2001 even though it had been published by the State Department in 1996.

[...] 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."


Post a Comment

<< Home