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Assessing Progress Toward a 21st Century Right to Know

Assessing Progress Toward a 21st Century Right to Know

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Publicado porGail Watt

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Published by: Gail Watt on Mar 21, 2011
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03/21/2011

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Recommendation text: The president should immediately task each federal agency or entity that
classifies information to conduct a detailed public review of its classification practices, with the
objective of reducing national security secrecy to the essential minimum
and declassifying all
information that has been classified without a valid national security justification or for which
classification is no longer justified.

Under section 1.9 of E.O. 13526, every agency with original classification authority must conduct
a comprehensive review of their classification guides to ensure the guidance complies with
current policies and to eliminate obsolete classification requirements. The agencies have until
June 2012 to complete the review.

The Information Security Oversight Office (ISOO) issued a memo entitled Fundamental
Classification Guidance Review6

on Jan. 27, 2011, which explained to senior agency officials the
scope of the reviews needed to satisfy the requirements of the order and to offer suggestions of
additional issues agencies might consider. Specifically, the memo noted that “a review conducted
only by the pertinent original classification authority is not sufficient,” and that agencies should
conduct the review to “obtain the broadest possible range of perspectives.”

The guidance from ISOO may be an important factor, as some agencies are already
demonstrating a disconnect with the review process. Reportedly, as of February 2011, the CIA
had not begun its review as indicated by its response to a FOIA request that it had no records
related to the review. Additionally, components of the Department of Defense, specifically the
U.S. Transportation Command, reported the same month that they were unaware of the
requirement to conduct the classification guidance review.7

Therefore, some agencies will need to
redouble their efforts to complete a meaningful and comprehensive review by the June 2012
deadline.

6

William J. Bosanko, “Fundamental Classification Guidance Review,” Information Security Oversight Office, Jan.
27, 2011, http://www.fas.org/sgp/isoo/fcgr.pdf.

7

Steven Aftergood, “Secrecy Reform Stymied by the Pentagon,” Feb, 24, 2011,
http://www.fas.org/blog/secrecy/2011/02/reform_stymied.html.

14

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