Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Clean Cups! Clean Cups!

Ah...more merry madness courtesy of the government. From the NY Times: the National Archives, documents have been disappearing since 1999 because intelligence officials have wanted them to. And under the terms of two disturbing agreements — with the C.I.A. and the Air Force — the National Archives has been allowing officials to reclassify declassified documents, which means removing them from the public eye. So far 55,000 pages, some of them from the 1950's, have vanished. This not only violates the mission of the National Archives; it is also antithetical to the natural flow of information in an open society.

...What makes this all seem preposterous is that the agreements themselves prohibit the National Archives from revealing why the documents were removed. They are apparently secret enough that no one can be told why they are secret — so secret, in fact, that the arrangement to reclassify them is also secret. According to the agreement with the C.I.A., employees of the National Archives are also prohibited from telling anyone that the C.I.A. was responsible for removing reclassified documents.
[Emphasis added]

Here's how they system is supposed to work. After a period of time, when the reason for classifying a document no longer exists, documents are declassified and given to the National Archives. Historians and, for that matter, the public at large then have access to the materials. Many of the 55,000 pages now reclassified were in fact reviewed by historians and published.

Under the agreements signed in 1999, however, the CIA and Air Force were allowed to reclassify materials without having to provide a reason. The National Archives were not allowed to even mention that the materials had been removed, why, or by whom. How silly is that?

While the agreements were reached before the current regime slouched into office, the process has been used extensively in the last five plus years. How surprising is that?

Lewis Carroll would have been so impressed.


Blogger chicago dyke said...

paranoid. that's what they are, and i assume it's all for good reason. i'm thinking two things motivate them to reclassify stuff: 'confessions of an economic hit man' type dirty dealing, and the environment. they don't want us to find out how bad they screwed up, and in the coming machinations as the oil runs out and we fight over water, stuff that didn't seem worthy of hiding from an angry public, i mean 'national security,' suddenly become much more damning.

5:13 AM  

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