March 2, 2006
Archivist of the United States Announces New Steps in Response to Withdrawal of Declassified Records from Open Shelves at the National Archives
Washington, DC. . . Archivist of the United States Allen Weinstein announced today several initiatives that he has implemented as part of the ongoing investigation into the withdrawal of previously declassified records at the National Archives. These steps include:
- The imposition of a moratorium on other agency personnel identifying for withdrawal for classification purposes any declassified records currently on the public shelves at the National Archives until the audit, conducted by the National Archives Information Security Oversight Office, is complete.
- A “summit” with national security agencies involved with these withdrawal efforts within the next week. The purpose of this meeting is to ensure the proper balance of agency authority to restore classification controls where appropriate and the Archivist’s obligation to ensure maximum access to archival records consistent with law, regulation and common sense.
- A call upon affected agencies to join the Archivist in committing the necessary resources to restore to the public shelves as quickly as possible the maximum amount of information consistent with the obligation to protect truly sensitive national security information from unauthorized disclosure.
- The initiation of a review of National Archives internal processes for implementing agency classification/declassification decisions and the implementation of improvements to ensure that the National Archives is a catalyst for timely public access.
- Directing the Information Security Oversight Office to develop, in consultation with affected agencies, clear and concise standardized guidance, with an appropriately high threshold, that will govern the withdrawal of records from the open shelves for classification purposes. This guidance will be promulgated prior to allowing future removal of any records from the open shelves for classification purposes and will be publicly available.
- Requesting the recently constituted Public Interest Declassification Board, consistent with their charter, to independently advise the Archivist on this issue.
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For press information, contact the National Archives Public Affairs Staff at 202-357-5300.