forwarded with permission
good information on declassification

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Vernon Rood <[log in to unmask]>
Date: Wed, Mar 7, 2018 at 10:28 AM
Subject: [Archivists&Archives} National Archives - Another Declassification
Surge - Secrecy News
To: [log in to unmask]

From the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
Volume 2018, Issue No. 15
March 5, 2018

By Steven Aftergood

Secrecy News Blog:

The National Archives said last week
it will gather tens of millions of pages of classified historical records
from Presidential Libraries around the country and will bring them to
Washington, DC for declassification review.

"We are making this change to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of
the safeguarding and the declassification of this material and in light of
resource challenges," said NARA chief operating officer William J. Bosanko.
"Researchers are expected to benefit from efficiencies we can gain in the
declassification process."

"It is important to stress that this change in physical location of the
records is temporary and that the records will be returned to the
Presidential Libraries as they are declassified," he wrote in a March 1

Is it really necessary to physically move the records to DC in order to
declassify them? Isn't there at least a subset of classified records at
presidential libraries that could be readily declassified on site?

"My personal opinion is yes (although the size of the subset changes
greatly from Library to Library)," replied Mr. Bosanko by email today.
"However, this comes back to age-old issues around declassification
authority and third-agency referrals.  With the policies that are in place,
in a practical sense, the answer is no (and, the status quo has not
realized the sort of declassification I think is at the heart of your
question).  And, bringing them here makes it much easier to address
long-standing challenges such as certain topics that cut across more than
one Administration."

There are approximately 75 million pages of classified records at
presidential libraries that will be affected by the move, Mr. Bosanko said.
Duplicate copies will not be kept at the libraries during the
declassification review.

"We are just starting the planning process and many details must still be
worked out," he wrote



1)Mr. Bosanko, who is now NARA’s chief operating officer (COO), spent his
early career in declassification.  He also chiefly wrote Executive Order
13526 of December 2009, which defined declassification policies during and
since the Obama Administration.

2)E.O. 13526 also called for the creation of the National Declassification
Center (NDC) within the National Archives, which came into being in 2010,
and which was to serve as the government-wide center for declassification.  It
is located at the archival facility in College Park, Maryland.  Presumably,
the National Declassification Center is also the office to which these
millions of classified records would be sent, because of its capability for
declassification on an industrial scale.

3)The 75 million pages of classified records expected to be moved to the
archival facility in College Park, Maryland, amount to about 30,000
cubic-foot cartons, which in the National Archives are designated by the
acronym FRC-S (federal records center – standard).  This appears to be a
significant backlog of records needing declassification review, though
smaller in scale to the backlog of similar records in the NDC amounting to
about 400 million pages (c. 160,000 cartons), which were worked on and
cleared, to a major extent, during a declassification surge from 2010
through 2013.

4)“Declassification Authority” – The authority to declassify documents.  This
authority comes exclusively from the agency that creates the classified
documents:  it also has the authority to de-classify them.  These agencies
also generally delegate declassification authority to the National
Archives, as long as NARA follows the agencies’ guidelines for
declassification.  Thus:  the National Archives has no inherent authority
to classify or to declassify records, but rather only what the creating
agencies permit.

5)“Third-Party Referrals” – Among NARA staff these are often called,
“Secondary Referrals.”  During the process of reviewing records for
declassification, whenever a reviewer spots an “equity” (i.e., secret) that
needs to remain secret, the reviewer wraps the document(s) in a paper
strip, called a “tab,” and marks which agency was the creator of the equity.
The tab thus refers to which agency owns the equity.  When a reviewer tabs
a document for his own agency, that is a “Primary Referral.”  Whenever a
reviewer spots an equity that belongs to another agency, that is a
“Secondary Referral.”

At some point in the declassification process, a reviewer from the agency
referred to will examine the document and decide whether, based on the
guidelines issued by his agency, the equity can be declassified or must
remain secret.  This process can sometimes be somewhat complex.  For
example, a Navy reviewer might be looking at Navy records, and he might
spot an equity that he thinks belongs to the Air Force, and so he will tab
the document and refer it for review by a trained Air Force reviewer.
the process reaches a third party, as for example, when a Navy reviewer
might help out with a final review of records of the Secretary of Defense
and notices (and tabs) an equity that he thinks belongs to the Air Force.

Ultimately, a box of security-classified records going through the
declassification process might acquire tabs from several different
agencies, signifying records that must remain secret.  Eventually, the
tabbed documents are removed for safekeeping, and what remains in the box
moves toward declassification.  There is a final review of the box’s
contents to ensure that no equities (secrets) have been missed. The box of
documents, or what is left of it after the removal of continuing secrets,
is then labeled as declassified and moved to the open shelves.  The work of
declassification is difficult and time-consuming, but it is facilitated in
Washington by the presence of all of the agencies and their trained
reviewers who can provide ready assistance, a factor that is missing in the
far-flung presidential libraries.

6) The National Archives maintains secure vaults for protecting
security-classified records in most of its facilities, both in the
Washington area and elsewhere, including records centers and presidential
libraries.  This means also that declassification work goes on in all of
those facilities as well, which in turn requires also staff at those
facilities to have the necessary security clearances.  The fact that a
declassification backlog has occurred in those numerous places has pointed
to the need for a temporary centralization of the declassification process
to process the backlog.

7)By contrast, Germany long centralized both the holding and
declassification of security-classified records through the maintenance of
a single records center (*Zwischenarchiv*) for storing and declassifying
security-classified records in Sankt-Augustin-Hangelar (near Bonn).  In
1997, a second *Zwischenarchiv* was put into operation in Hoppegarten,
which is near Berlin.*

**Deutsche Archive in West u. Ost:  zur Entwicklung d. staatl. Archivwesens
seit 1945* , by Friedrich Kahlenberg (1972).

See also:


Disclaimer:  My esteemed employer bears no responsibility for my postings
on this listserv.

(Vernon) Paul Rood, Archivist

National Declassification Center

National Archives

College Park, Maryland

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