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Declassification Policy

Earlier, Martin Faga, Chairman of the Public Interest Declassification Board introduced the Declassification Policy Forum. Our first topic, Declassification Policy, begins today and will end on Wednesday July 1, 2009. We welcome your thoughtful recommendations for Declassification policy.   
In December 2007, the Public Interest Declassification Board (PIDB) issued a report to the President, Improving Declassification (pdf). As members of this Board, we know it is essential to protect our national interests by protecting sensitive information from unauthorized access. However, we know it is equally important to declassify that information when it is no longer necessary for the Government to control it. Public access to Government information is a cornerstone of our democracy and essential in our ability to hold our public officials accountable for their actions. Public access to information is also the way we understand the decisions and actions taken at critical junctures in our nation’s history.
Declassification is the process of determining whether classified information no longer harms the interests of the nation and can be made available to the public. The current policy on declassification is located in Section 3 of Executive Order 12958, as amended. Below are the types of questions we think might be helpful to you in framing your recommendations. 
  • Are you satisfied with the current Executive Order? What has worked? What hasn’t worked? What should a new Executive Order include that is not in the current Order? 
  • How can the Government make the declassification process more transparent?
  • Should the Government prioritize what it declassifies? If so, based on historical significance or other criteria?
 Give us your answers in the comments section of the OSTP blog.
Herbert Briick is Public Interest Declassification Board Member