The Public Eye

Reports from the Bee's investigative team

June 16, 2010
Government secrecy forum seeks public input

President Obama has pledged to increase government openness by declassifying records more efficiently. His efforts have been given mixed reviews by secrecy experts. But a plan to declassify hundreds of millions of pages of government records before 2014 is underway.Rex secrecy3.JPG

The Secrecy News blog, a project of the Federation of American Scientists, pointed out some flaws in the draft government declassification plan:

"The review of the backlog will be conducted on a Pass/Fail basis...That means that if a document contains any classified information at all, even a single word or number, the entire document will be withheld from release...Second, the documents that do pass the review and are declassified will be subjected to two quality control audits to ensure that no classified information has inadvertently passed through. One audit will be performed by the Archives and a second audit will be done by the Department of Energy. On the other hand, however, there will be no audit of withheld records to ensure that no unclassified record has been unnecessarily kept secret. In effect, the process is tilted towards minimizing disclosures of classified information rather than maximizing disclosures of unclassified information."

The National Archives will hold a public meeting on June 23 to get input on its priorities for declassification. To comment remotely, send email to ndc@nara.gov.


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Welcome to The Bee's newest blog: Public Eye. In the coming months, you will see us breaking news here as well as following up on investigations we have published with tidbits, news breaks and behind-the-scenes descriptions of our news-gathering process. Know of a wrong we could right? Send our fraud squad your tips at: fraudsquad@sacbee.com.

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