"After complaints from historians, the National Archives directed 
intelligence agencies on Thursday to stop removing previously declassified historical 
documents from public access and urged them to return to the shelves as quickly 
as possible many of the records they had already pulled. 

Allen Weinstein, the nation's chief archivist, announced what he called a 
"moratorium" on reclassification of documents until an audit can be completed to 
determine which records should be secret."

MAARJA'S COMMENTS:  This sounds like a sound move on the part of Dr. 
Weinstein.  NARA is lucky that it has a unit such as the Information Security 
Oversight Office (ISOO) within it to turn to, and that it is headed by someone with 
Bill Leonard's reputation.

I did notice that Scott Shane reported that "Mr. Weinstein, who became 
archivist of the United States a year ago, said he knew 'precious little' about the 
seven-year-old reclassification program before it was disclosed in The New 
York Times on Feb. 21."

Agency heads have a lot to juggle and I daresay other matters, such as 
electronic records issues or the Nixon Library flap, took up much of Dr. Weinstein's 
time during his first year.  I don't know enough about Dr. Weinstein to know 
how approachable he is, the little I've heard, just from a couple of people, 
suggests that some NARA employees at the working level have found him easy to 
talk to.  

There have been a few earlier  news stories pointing to potential problems 
with NARA, e.g., George Lardner's May 19, 2002 article
available at

Minutes posted publicly on the Internet from a 2001 meeting of a State 
Department history advisory committee also reflected strong concern about 

My view is that as with anything any public or private sector organization 
does, institutional credibility often relies on good internal controls and 
proper procedures being in place.  The more internal controls, oversight and yes, 
opportunities for an agency's employees to express concern up their reporting 
chain or to a unit such as ISOO, the better.

As with the question of Presidential families, these records access 
situations involve people at every point of their life cycle.  Are their 
vulnerabilities as a result?  Of course!    Under E.O. 12958, as amended, information is not 
supposed to be classified simply to shield embarrassing actions.  
Classification and declassification requires a very careful balance.  

Here's a hypothetical.  If there was a complete lack of internal controls 
over the process, how many of you, handed the ability to stamp something secret, 
would choose to try improperly to shield forever work-related documents 
involving you that should be unclassified under the E.O. but might reflect 
embarrassing actions?  The more controls and the more rigor in the process, the less 
likely that such mistakes will occur.  Remember what ISOO Director Bill Leonard 
said in his excellent speech in 2004, available at

Of course, security classified information always should be protected until 
it is declassified properly.  


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