Why Obama’s declassification campaign faltered

From the invaluable Bryan Bender at the The Boston Globe: “Some experts contend that the only way to ensure public access is for the president to give broader declassification powers to the National Archives.”

Bender reports that the administration’s National Declassification Center is not going to succeed in its efforts to declassify 404 million page of improperly classified documents by the end of 2014. Only 134 million pages have been processed since 2009 and half of those will remain secret.

In addition, the NDC and the National Archives have acquiesced in the CIA’s refusal to expedite release of 1,100 JFK assassination-related records that will be kept secret until at least October 2017.

“Leaving declassification decisions to the agency that generated the document ‘totally destroyed the whole concept behind automatic declassification. There is nothing automatic about it,” said J. William Leonard, former director of the Information Security Oversight Office, which oversees the government’s classification system.”

via Vast archive of government history remains secret despite Obama order The Boston Globe.


  1. Dan says:

    Thank you for pointing out that declassification by executive order is automatic after 25 and 50 years, yet the National Declassification Center process keeps many of these records classified indefintely. The current system not only is not automatic, it apparently does not even consider public interest in documents. Declassification/FAIL.

  2. Nathaniel Heidenheimer says:

    Because the CIA and the National Security State has final power over elected officials. That is what the Coup of 11/22/63 is about. As a high school teacher, I see the opportunity cost of continuing to teach an outdated model of power. It can be measured in pupil hours and broadcast hours.

    It’s vast. The coup of 1963 is no mere who dunnit. It is about preserving the vast social blinders that an outdated model of power– such as checks and balances with elections– represents. The cost of many is the gain of the few.

    Funny how so few of our ostensibly “left?” publications realize this cost. They type “neoliberalism” for the billionth time, religiously tsk tsk any interest in the assassinations, and do everything possible to make anything populist seem inherently right wing. Any successful attempt to reveal the broader structural importance of the Coup of 1963, must dispel this all too tasteful disinformation.

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