[Dewayne-Net] U.S. Reclassifies Many Documents in Secret Review

Dewayne Hendricks dewayne at warpspeed.com
Mon Feb 20 22:57:44 PST 2006

February 21, 2006
U.S. Reclassifies Many Documents in Secret Review
WASHINGTON, Feb. 20 b 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public access thousands of historical documents that were available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 b governed by a still-classified memorandum that prohibits
the National Archives even from saying which agencies are involved b
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dozens of documents he had copied years ago had been withdrawn from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.

Mr. Aid was struck by what seemed to him the innocuous contents of
the documents b mostly decades-old State Department reports from the
Korean War and the early cold war. He found that eight reclassified
documents had been previously published in the State Department's
history series, "Foreign Relations of the United States."

"The stuff they pulled should never have been removed," he said.
"Some of it is mundane, and some of it is outright ridiculous."

After Mr. Aid and other historians complained, the archives'
Information Security Oversight Office, which oversees government
classification, began an audit of the reclassification program, said
J. William Leonard, director of the office.

Mr. Leonard said he ordered the audit after reviewing 16 withdrawn
documents and concluding that none should be secret.

"If those sample records were removed because somebody thought they
were classified, I'm shocked and disappointed," Mr. Leonard said in
an interview. "It just boggles the mind."

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