April 17, 2006
National Archives Releases Second Declassified MOU
Washington, DC…On Thursday, April 13, 2006, Archivist of the United States Allen Weinstein learned that a second classified Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) relating to the re-review of open records existed. He requested its immediate declassification. This MOU, drawn up by the CIA, was declassified on Friday, April 14, 2006, and is available to the public today. Because this agreement unlike the one with the Air Force was generic and procedural in nature, National Archives staff initially did not view it as part of the reclassification program.
Upon learning of the second agreement, Professor Weinstein said, "There can never be a classified aspect to our mission. Classified agreements are the antithesis of our reason for being. Our focus is on the preservation of records and ensuring their availability to the American public while at the same time fulfilling the people's expectation that we will properly safeguard the classified records entrusted to our custody. Agencies have the prerogative to classify their requests to the National Archives if disclosure of the reasons why they are asking us to take action would cause identifiable damage to national security. However, what we do in response to such requests, and how we do it, will always be as transparent as possible. If records must be removed for reasons of national security, the American people will always, at the very least, know when it occurs and how many records are affected.
"These MOUs, even in their unclassified formats, will be soon be replaced by thoroughly transparent standards governing the review of previously declassified records that have been available for research at the National Archives. These standards are currently being developed by the Information Security Oversight Office (ISOO) and will be promulgated as a change to "Classified National Security Information Directive No. 1" (32 CFR Part 2001) following formal interagency coordination, to include an opportunity for public comment."
Pending the result of the ISOO audit which will be completed by the end of April, the Archivist will make further recommendations to guarantee the transparency of the process.
* * *
For press information, contact the National Archives Public Affairs Staff at 202-357-5300.