“We’re in the access business, not the classification business”

National Archives Says Records Were Wrongly Classified

WASHINGTON, April 26 — An audit by the National Archives of more
than 25,000 historical documents withdrawn from public access since
1999 found that more than a third did not contain sensitive information
justifying classification, archives officials announced Wednesday.


They said the removal of the
remaining two-thirds was technically justified, though many had already
been published or contained old secrets with little practical import.

Even
withdrawing those documents that included truly significant secrets may
have done more harm than good by calling new attention to the
sensitivity of records that researchers had read and photocopied for
years, the officials said.

“The irony is that some of these
reviews have actually exacerbated any possible damage to national
security,” said J. William Leonard, head of the archives’ Information
Security Oversight Office and the government’s overseer of
classification of records.

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