Obama Orders Classification Review

More

The White House ordered a bow-to-stern review of the government's policies for controlling classified and so-called "sensitive, but unclassified" information yesterday, a step that's likely to end the Bush-era preference for keeping thusly designated data private. 
Attorney General Eric Holder and Janet Napolitano, the Department of Homeland Security secretary, will lead the review, along with a new task force to be staffed by officials from several government departments and independent agencies. President Obama wants to create a National Declassification Center that would speed adjudication of disputes over classified information, and, in a nod to intelligence reform, wants a government-wide assessment of how classified information is controlled, marked, disseminated and protected.  Dozens of classified designations protect hundreds of different channels and systems for processing and disseminating classified data, and the result is a patchwork of rules, regulations and often confusing processes. Policy makers at all levels have complained that the current system of classification overprotects output and discourages information sharing.

A presidential memo orders the task force to jusitfy information categories that ought to be withheld, rather than asking them to justify why releasing them to the public would be harmful.

The memo also seeks an "[a]ppropriate prohibition of reclassification of material that has been declassified and released to the public under proper authority," as authorities reclassified tens of thousands of previously declassified documents during the Bush administration.

Jump to comments
Presented by

Marc Ambinder is an Atlantic contributing editor. He is also a senior contributor at Defense One, a contributing editor at GQ, and a regular contributor at The Week.

Get Today's Top Stories in Your Inbox (preview)

The Time JFK Called the Air Force to Complain About a 'Silly Bastard'

51 years ago, President John F. Kennedy made a very angry phone call.


Elsewhere on the web

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register. blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

Adventures in Legal Weed

Colorado is now well into its first year as the first state to legalize recreational marijuana. How's it going? James Hamblin visits Aspen.

Video

What Makes a Story Great?

The storytellers behind House of CardsandThis American Life reflect on the creative process.

Video

Tracing Sriracha's Origin to Thailand

Ever wonder how the wildly popular hot sauce got its name? It all started in Si Racha.

Video

Where Confiscated Wildlife Ends Up

A government facility outside of Denver houses more than a million products of the illegal wildlife trade, from tigers and bears to bald eagles.

Video

Is Wine Healthy?

James Hamblin prepares to impress his date with knowledge about the health benefits of wine.

Video

The World's Largest Balloon Festival

Nine days, more than 700 balloons, and a whole lot of hot air

Writers

Up
Down

More in Politics

Just In