Magazine article American Libraries

NARA Responds to Document Reclassification

Magazine article American Libraries

NARA Responds to Document Reclassification

Article excerpt

U.S. Archivist Allen Weinstein called on all intelligence and security agencies March 2 to stop removing documents from the open shelves of the National Archives and Records Administration for reclassification purposes and to return as many records as possible that they had pulled as part of a secret program in operation since 1999.

The moratorium on reclassification came in response to a February 17 letter from a group of historians who complained that the CIA, the Defense Department, the Department of Justice, and other intelligence agencies had withdrawn some 9,500 documents from the Korean War and early Cold War eras and reclassified them as secret.

Researcher Matthew M. Aid discovered the program in December 2005 when he noticed that dozens of documents that he had examined at NARA's College Park, Maryland, facility years ago have been withdrawn, even some published previously in the State Department's historical series, Foreign Relations of the United States. "The stuff they pulled should never have been removed," Aid said in the February 21 New York Times. "Some of it is mundane, and some of it is outright ridiculous."

Weinstein said in the March 3 Times that he did not want to prejudge the results of an audit underway by NARA's Information Security Oversight Office, but added, "The idea is to let people get on with their research and not reclassify documents unless it's absolutely necessary. …

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