The CIA and other federal agencies have secretly reclassified over 55,000 pages of records taken from the open shelves at the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), according to a report published today on the World Wide Web by the National Security Archive at George Washington University. Matthew Aid, author of the report and a visiting fellow at the Archive, discovered this secret program through his wide-ranging research in intelligence, military, and diplomatic records at NARA and found that the CIA and military agencies have reviewed millions of pages at an unknown cost to taxpayers in order to sequester documents from collections that had been open for years.Some of the now-secret (late 40's and early 50's] documents along with communications with the government about the reclassification program are also available on the webiste.
The briefing book that the Archive published today includes 50 year old documents that CIA had impounded at NARA but which have already been published in the State Department's historical series, Foreign Relations of the United States, or have been declassified elsewhere. These documents concern such innocuous matters as the State Department's map and foreign periodicals procurement programs on behalf of the U.S. intelligence community or the State Department's open source intelligence research efforts during 1948.
Other documents have apparently been sequestered because they were embarrassing, such as a complaint from the Director of Central Intelligence about the bad publicity the CIA was receiving from its failure to predict anti-American riots in Bogota, Colombia in 1948 or a report that the CIA and the rest of the U.S. intelligence community badly botched their estimates as to whether or not Communist China would intervene in the Korean War in the fall of 1950. It is difficult to imagine how the documents cited by Aid could cause any harm to U.S. national security.
Tuesday, February 21, 2006
Declassification in Reverse: The Pentagon and the U.S. Intelligence Community's Secret Historical Document Reclassification Program
According to a report on the George Washington University web site