The Last NSAM Standing (fwd)
measl at mfn.org
Fri Apr 22 20:36:19 PDT 2011
---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Thu, 21 Apr 2011 13:39:25 -0400
From: National Security Archive <archive at GWU.EDU>
To: NSARCHIVE at HERMES.GWU.EDU
Subject: The Last NSAM Standing
National Security Archive Update, April 21, 2011
THE LAST NSAM STANDING
Deconstructing a Secrecy Blunder:
A Study in Dysfunction
For more information contact:
John Prados - 202/994-7000
Washington, D.C., April 21, 2011 - The last remaining secret national
security directive from the Kennedy and Johnson administrations, a
National Security Action Memorandum on Laos, has finally been
declassified, nearly fifty years after it was first issued, and was posted
today on the Web site of the National Security Archive.
Today's posting is a case study of sorts--a selection of documents which
are analyzed not so much for their historical value as for what the
materials show about operation of the declassification system. This
inquiry has its origins in a quest by Archive senior fellow Jeffrey T.
Richelson to obtain the declassification of presidential national security
directives issued since President Harry S. Truman. During the Kennedy and
Johnson administrations, the highest level directives that flowed from the
White House were called National Security Action Memoranda (NSAMs).
President John F. Kennedy issued 173 NSAMs during his time in office.
Reaching the point where only NSAM-29, on Laos, dated March 9, 1961,
remained secret, Richelson finally obtained the declassification of this
directive on October 29, 2010, almost fifty years after it was issued.
As the "last NSAM standing," NSAM 29 received significant attention inside
the National Security Archive. But to the present author, the Archive's
project director on Vietnam war records, it immediately seemed familiar. A
search for related records produced a number of other items (also posted
today) which provide the context for discussion of NSAM-29's release. More
importantly, however, the search disclosed that the document, far from
being the last NSAM standing, was already in the public domain, in
multiple versions, some more than a decade old. Given present
controversies over secrecy in America, the case of the last NSAM
illuminates the enormous problems that are endemic in the declassification
Continue reading at the National Security Archive's Web site:
THE NATIONAL SECURITY ARCHIVE is an independent non-governmental research institute and library located at The George Washington University in Washington, D.C. The Archive collects and publishes declassified documents acquired through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). A tax-exempt public charity, the Archive receives no U.S. government funding; its budget is supported by publication royalties and donations from foundations and individuals.
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