Congressional Record: July 21, 2004 (Extensions)
Page E1435

                       INTRODUCTION OF H.R. 4855


                        HON. LEONARD L. BOSWELL

                                of iowa

                    in the house of representatives

                         Tuesday, July 20, 2004

  Mr. BOSWELL. Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to join Mr. Cramer in 
introducing H.R. 4855, a bill to create an Independent National 
Security Classification Board.
  As a Member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, 
I have been privy to many of our nation's most precious secrets. Much 
of the information and reports provided to the Committee has been 
properly classified by the Executive Branch. I and many of my 
Intelligence Committee colleagues, however, have been concerned that 
some decisions to keep certain information classified are not based on 
the need to protect national security. Instead, they may have been 
motivated by a desire to shield officials from accountability and 
otherwise keep information away from those who have a right to know--
concerned citizens. Such action serves only to stifle public debate and 
undermine the integrity of the system. It is unacceptable.
  The proper test is one that balances national security requirements 
with the public's interest in receiving information. Unfortunately, 
this has not been done in the recent past. While serving on the House 
and Senate Joint Inquiry into Intelligence Community Activities Before 
and After the Terrorist Attacks of September 11, 2001, I witnessed 
first-hand the struggle related to declassification of information of 
great import to the families who lost their loved ones on 9-11 and the 
general public. The 9-11 Commission, which will release its report 
later this week, faced similar struggles.
  The time has come to establish an independent panel of experts to 
review classification policies and decisions and requests for 
declassification of information. Such a panel is needed in order to 
restore integrity and accountability to the classification and 
declassification process.
  H.R. 4855 would establish an Independent National Security 
Classification Board. The Board would be comprised of three national 
security classification experts, appointed by the President with the 
advice and consent of the Senate.
  The Independent Board would be charged with reviewing and making 
recommendations to reform standards and procedures related to the 
classification of national security information. The Board would submit 
proposed new standards and processes to both Congress and the Executive 
Branch for comment and revision, and then implement the new standards 
and process once they have had the opportunity to comment. The Board 
would then begin to implement the new system, reviewing and making 
recommendations on current and new national security classifications, 
subject to Executive Branch veto that must be accompanied by a public, 
written explanation.
  The balance in this proposal would help ensure that the public and 
Congress have access to an Independent Board for national security 
classification matters while leaving undisturbed the constitutional 
prerogative of the President, our Commander-in-Chief, to appoint the 
Board and to veto the Board's classification decisions.
  This same measure was introduced by a bi-partisan group of Senators. 
I hope H.R. 4855 will attract similar bi-partisan support in the House. 
Because of the critical need to address the issues associated with the 
classification of national security information, Mr. Cramer and I, both 
Members of the Intelligence Committee, believed it imperative not to 
delay introduction of this bill. I urge Members to support it.