Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Keeping Secrets

Here's sort of a puzzling article in the New York Times. The Times charges for archived content, so here's the long and the short of it:
WASHINGTON, Feb. 20 — In a seven-year-old secret program at the National Archives, intelligence agencies have been removing from public access thousands of historical documents that were available for years, including some already published by the State Department and others photocopied years ago by private historians....

One reclassified document in Mr. Aid's files, for instance, gives the C.I.A.'s assessment on Oct. 12, 1950, that Chinese intervention in the Korean War was "not probable in 1950." Just two weeks later, on Oct. 27, some 300,000 Chinese troops crossed into Korea....

But the historians say the program is removing material that can do no conceivable harm to national security. They say it is part of a marked trend toward greater secrecy under the Bush administration, which has increased the pace of classifying documents, slowed declassification and discouraged the release of some material under the Freedom of Information Act.

Experts on government secrecy believe the C.I.A. and other spy agencies, not the White House, are the driving force behind the reclassification program.
I'd love to learn more about this, but apparently, the reclassification program itself is shrouded in secrecy—"governed by a still-classified memorandum that prohibits the National Archives even from saying which agencies are involved," as the article notes.

Update: Bill reminds me that you can generate permalinks from the New York Times Link Generator, so here is the whole story.


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