As the President promised during the campaign, the President has given an executive order calling for the immediate creation of a declassification center at the National Archives.
Obama orders creation of declassification center
The White House has more here:White House on Declassification
* It establishes a National Declassification Center at the National Archives to enable agency reviewers to perform collaborative declassification in accordance with priorities developed by the Archivist with input from the general public.
* For the first time, it establishes the principle that no records may remain classified indefinitely and provides enforceable deadlines for declassifying information exempted from automatic declassification at 25 years.
* For the first time, it requires agencies to conduct fundamental classification guidance reviews to ensure that classification guides are up-to-date and that they do not require unnecessary classification.
* It eliminates an Intelligence Community veto of certain decisions by the Interagency Security Classification Appeals Panel that was introduced in the Bush order.
While the Government must be able to prevent the public disclosure of information that would compromise the national security, a democratic government accountable to the people must be as transparent as possible and must not withhold information for self-serving reasons or simply to avoid embarrassment.
This is humongous. I'm surprised no one has blogged on this at all. Essentially the government cannot keep secrets forever and the Intelligence agencies have to comply with the order and cannot veto it unlike the Bush administration.
The public shall gain access to these records no later than December 2013. Just some good news on this dreary day.
UPDATE: Here's Charlie Savage of the NYTimes: NyTimes Article
Steven Aftergood, the director of the Project on Government Secrecy at the Federation of American Scientists, expressed cautious optimism about Mr. Obama’s new order, saying it appeared to be “a major step forward” from the vantage point of those who believe the government is too secretive.
“Everything depends on the faithful implementation by the agencies,” Mr. Aftergood said, “but there are some real innovations here.”
Mr. Obama also suggested that his administration might undertake further changes, saying he looked forward to recommendations from a study that Gen. James L. Jones, the national security adviser, is leading “to design a more fundamental transformation of the security classification system.”
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