Friday, July 13, 2007

Archvists testify on Overclassification to House Intelligence Subcommittee

Congress Asks Archive to Testify About Overclassification of Records

Washington DC, July 12, 2007 - At a hearing of the House Permanent Select Intelligence Committee, Subcommittee on Intelligence Community Management, on classification of national security information and its implications, Archive General Counsel Meredith Fuchs testified today that unnecessary classification poses risks to our security and to the accountability and legitimacy of government agencies.
Referring to the Central Intelligence Agency's recent release of its "family jewels" file in response to an Archive Freedom of Information Act request, Ms. Fuchs noted, "The release helps the American public understand there is a genuine risk in having an unrestrained intelligence agency. It also shows that abuses have occurred and do occur without oversight."
Ms. Fuchs urged the subcommittee to consider measures that would reduce overclassification, including setting up inter-agency and intra-agency processes that would put countervailing pressure on classification of records and encourage declassification efforts. She also recommended changes to the Executive Order 12958, as amended, as well as periodic independent audits of classification decisions, procedures for challenging classification decisions, and adequate, current classification guides that include an explanation of the specific harm or threat that justifies the classification.
Ms. Fuchs stated, "It does not help the system when the classification system and its oversight entity are disregarded and ignored, as in the reclassification of records at the National Archives that was exposed last year or in the conduct of the Vice President's office in refusing to report its classification activities to the Information Security Oversight Office."
Other witnesses included: J. William Leonard, Director of the Information Security Oversight Office; and Steven Aftergood, Director of the Project on Government Secrecy at the Federation of American Scientists.
For More Information Contact:
Meredith Fuchs: 202/994-7000
Hat tip: H-Diplo

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