September 21, 1999
Dear Mr. Passarella:
By the enclosed letter of August 30, 1998, Michael Ravnitzky contacted the Interagency Security Classification Appeals Panel (ISCAP) in response to your letter of August 10, 1998 (your reference number 98-M-0165) regarding his undated mandatory declassification review request. Under E.O. 12958, I serve as both the Executive Secretary of the ISCAP and the Director of the Information Security Oversight Office (ISOO). It is in the latter capacity in which I contact you today. Section 5.3 of the Order states in pertinent part:
[T]he Director of the Information Security Oversight Office shall ... oversee agency actions to ensure compliance with this order and its implementing directives ... [and] ... consider and take action on complaints and suggestions from persons within or outside the government with respect to the administration of the program established under this order....
Although Mr. Ravnitzky's appeal is not ripe for the ISCAP, your letter of August 10, 1998 raises an issue to which I must respond. It states in pertinent part:
Another 16 of the documents were originated by foreign governments. The documents were either classified, or public dissemination otherwise restricted, according to rules of the originating government. Accordingly, the information is not subject to the mandatory declassification review provisions of section 3.6(a) of Executive Order 12958.
Foreign government information in the custody of the U.S. Government is subject to the mandatory declassification review provisions of E.O. 12958. Section 3.6(a) of the Order states in pertinent part: "[A]ll information classified under this order or predecessor orders shall be subject to a review for declassification by the originating agency...."
Further, the applicable provision of the Order's government-wide implementing directive, 32 C.F.R. Part 2001.554(b), "Foreign Government Information," states in pertinent part: "[A]gency heads shall process mandatory declassification review requests for classified records containing foreign government information in accordance with this section. The declassifying agency is the agency that initially received or classified the information."
Therefore, unless there are circumstances regarding the information at issue which are not readily apparent from your August 10, 1998 letter to Mr. Ravnitzky, the documents are in fact subject to the mandatory declassification review provisions of E.O. 12958. If you would like to discuss this matter further, please contact Rudolph Waddy or me at (202)219-5250.