Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Plan to reclassify Nat. Archives was... classified !

The Associated Press used the freedom of information act to get a document from the National Archives that details an agreement between the archives, the CIA, the Air Force and some mystery government agency (the Defense Intelligence Agency) to secretly reclassify previously declassified material. (Warning: PDF format)

Of course the agreement was secret. I think George Orwell would have been proud to dream up such a happening in 1984. The agreement to make public information secret was itself a secret.

Here is the story as reported by the A.P. The original effort to reclassify some material began in 1999, but the agreement is dated March 2, 2002. The rate at which previously public material has been reclassified has soared under the auspices of the Bush administration.

The A.P. speculates about the mystery government agency which could not be identified thusly.
Steven Aftergood, director of the Federation ... also said he found it odd that the agreement named two of the agencies involved in the reclassification program — the U.S. Air Force and Central Intelligence Agency — but redacted the name of a third, arguing it would compromise national security, reveal internal government deliberations and violate statutes against disclosure of specific information.

In Congressional testimony last month, a historian said the third agency was the Defense Intelligence Agency, but archivists refused to address his assertions.
The obvious question here is... why does the mystery agency (The DIA) care, once the whole affair comes to light, if they are identified? The only answer is that they did not want to be embarrassed by their involvement in this debacle. It obviously is not a national security issue at this time... unless you actually believe that Osama learning that the DIA having agents peruse the National Archives shows them an opening for attack. If you do believe that, you either need to start taking your meds, or put down the pitcher of koolaid.

I don't believe that some government agency being embarrassed is, of itself, a valid reason to redact their involvement when a document is released under the FOIA. I hope the A.P. drags the whole affair back into court to get the complete document... just to embarrass the DIA!

I’m glad you gave people a pdf warning. I hate those file formats, it takes like 10 minutes to launch on my cpu…

But I digressed. What I really wanted to say is could you imagine if we didn’t have the Freedom of Information Act? This administration must HATE that law.
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