PUBLIC INPUT SOUGHT ON CLASSIFICATION REFORM
Joe Backes reports:
At the request of the National Security Advisor, a public meeting has been scheduled for July 8 to solicit public comments and recommendations concerning proposed revisions to executive branch classification and declassification policies. The meeting was announced in a June 23 Federal Register notice.
The Public Interest Declassification Board, which is hosting the July 8 meeting, will also launch a new blog next week to solicit public recommendations online. The blog will sequentially consider four areas: declassification policy, creation of a National Declassification Center, classification policy, and technology challenges and opportunities. Discussion of each topic will continue for three days, before moving to the next topic.
Meanwhile, an experimental and somewhat erratic White House process for gathering public input on transparency and openness has entered its third phase, intended to draft "constructive proposals" for advancing open government.
From the Fed Reg.[Federal Register: June 23, 2009 (Volume 74, Number 119)]
[Notices] [Page 29729-29730]
NATIONAL ARCHIVES AND RECORDS ADMINISTRATION Information Security Oversight Office
Public Interest Declassification Board (PIDB); Meeting
AGENCY: National Archives and Records Administration.
ACTION: Notice of meeting.
SUMMARY: Pursuant to Section 1102 of the Intelligence Reform and
Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004, which extended and modified the
Public Interest Declassification Board (PIDB) as established by the
Declassification Act of 2000 (Pub. L. 106-567, title VII, December 27,
2000, 114 Stat. 2856), announcement is made for the following committee
meeting: DATES: Wednesday July 8, 2009. Time: 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
ADDRESSES: National Archives and Records Administration, 700
Pennsylvania Avenue, NW., Room 105, Washington, DC 20408.
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Julie A. Agurkis, PIDB Staff,
Information Security Oversight Office, National Archives Building, 700
Pennsylvania Avenue, NW., Washington, DC 20408, telephone number (202)
SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: To solicit public input concerning
recommendations and proposed revisions to the classification and
declassification policies found in Executive Order 12958, as amended,
``Classified National Security Information'' (the Order).
This action is being taken at the request of the National Security Advisor and in
support of the ongoing review of the Order directed by the President on
May 27, 2009.
This meeting will be open to the public. To ensure that the Board
may hear from all interested parties, individuals interested in
addressing the Board may be limited to 10 minutes. Due to space
limitations and access procedures, the name and telephone number of
individuals planning to attend must be submitted to the Information
Security Oversight Office (ISOO) via e-mail, PIDB@nara.gov, no later
than July 2, 2009. ISOO will provide additional instructions for
gaining access to the location of the meeting.
Dated: June 11, 2009. Mary Ann Hadyka, Committee Management Officer.
POST HEARING UPDATE:
PIDB Public Hearing of July 8, 2009
Transparency and Open Government Initiative
Public Interest Declassification Board (PIDB)
About the Public Interest Declassification Board (PIDB)
Overview: The Public Interest Declassification Board is an advisory committee established by Congress in order to promote the fullest possible public access to a thorough, accurate, and reliable documentary record of significant U.S. national security decisions and activities. The President appointed Martin Faga (Chair), Herbert O. Briick, Elizabeth Rindskopf Parker, Ronald Radosh, and Jennifer Sims. The Minority Leader of the House appointed David Skaggs and the Majority Leader of the Senate appointed Sanford Ungar, and the Speaker of the House appointed William Studeman. Appointment is pending from the Minority Leader of the Senate.
The Director of the Information Security Oversight Office (ISOO), William J. Bosanko serves as the PIDB Executive Secretary and the ISOO staff provides staff support on a reimbursable basis.
Section 1102 of the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 extended and modified the Public Interest Declassification Board (PIDB) as established by the Public Interest Declassification Act of 2000 (P.L. 106-567, title VII, Dec. 27, 2000, 114 Stat. 2856).
Advises the President and other executive branch officials on the systematic, thorough, coordinated, and comprehensive identification, collection, review for declassification, and release of declassified records and materials that are of archival value, including records and materials of extraordinary public interest.
Promotes the fullest possible public access to a thorough, accurate, and reliable documentary record of significant U.S. national security decisions and significant U.S. national security activities in order to: support the oversight and legislative functions of Congress; support the policymaking role of the executive branch; respond to the interest of the public in national security matters; and promote reliable historical analysis and new avenues of historical study in national security matters.
Provides recommendations to the President for the identification, collection, and review for declassification of information of extraordinary public interest that does not undermine the national security of the U.S.Advises the President and other executive branch officials on policies deriving from the issuance by the President of Executive orders regarding the classification and declassification of national security information. Reviews and makes recommendations to the President with respect to any congressional request, made by the committee of jurisdiction, to declassify certain records or to reconsider a declination to declassify specific records.
In addition to this meeting, the PIDB will be soliciting your recommendations via the Declassification Policy Forum, at www.whitehouse.gov/open.
There will be four topics of discussion:
2)Creation of a National Declassification Center,
4)Technology Challenges and Opportunities.
Ex. Order 12958:
Your Recommendations for Classification Policy
Wednesday, July 8th, 2009 at 4:30 pm by Public Interest Declassification Forum
Today, the Public Interest Declassification Board held a public meeting to hear your recommendations for revisions of Executive Order 12958, as amended. This was a very productive meeting framed by the conversations occurring here on this Forum. We thank those of you who participated today at the meeting, and encourage you to continue your participation on the blog. We will accept your comments on all four topics until July 19, 2009.
The public meeting today concentrated particularly on issues of classification, including ways to address over classification. On the Declassification Policy Forum we have seen over 20 thoughtful comments on classification policy. Here are the few of your recommendations:
There should be an independent review of agency classification guides currently in use with the goal of reducing classification controls. These reviews should be made independent of original classifiers and eliminate obsolete classification categories.
Once documents are declassified, they should not be eligible for reclassification except under extreme circumstances.
There should be an initiative that would reward agency members for limiting the number of classifications made.
If the source document is declassified, any dependent information should likewise be declassified.
Because local law enforcement are able to provide for the public safety when they have access to information about potential threats, classification should be limited to allow for the sharing of information.
The process of challenging the classification assigned to a document should be encouraged and streamlined.
Executive agencies should be held more accountable for administering classification systems. At present there is no oversight authority that can meaningfully compel agencies to abide by classification standards.
Agency heads should have the latitude to authorize experimental projects and initiatives that could make security policy more efficient or more transparent.
Classification levels pertaining to the seriousness of the threat to national security should be made more precise.
Under the guidance of the Information Security Oversight Office, agency inspector generals should receive the authority to audit classification and declassification decisions, and the results of these audits should be made public.
Whenever possible, classifiers should use the lowest appropriate classification level and duration.
Confusion over the distinction between intelligence sources, methods, and activities invariably leads to the over classification of information. The scope of these terms should be more clearly defined.
Public Interest Declassification Board Support Staff