Why Now?
Friday, February 17, 2006
  Cheney and Classification
By now you've heard: Cheney Says He Can Declassify Information.

In comments Steve Bates pointed to an article by Steven Clemons at The Washington Note who identifies the basis for the claim as Executive Order 12958, which was written under the Clinton administration.

I'm with Clemons based on personal experience: Cheney has been given the authority to classify information, but the only information he can de-classify on his own under the order are those he classified.

Protecting classified information is expensive, so it has a time span. Based on time limits, documents are reviewed periodically for declassification. The key is that the decision to approve declassification is made by the authority for the original classification. NSA cannot declassify CIA documents.

The President can request declassification, and that request would probably be honored, but the form has to be signed by the original classification authority to be legal. Every classified document has a paper trail.

As I've mentioned it in the past here is the text I've been referencing in Executive Order 12958 - Classified National Security Information:
Section 1.8. Classification Prohibitions and Limitations.

(a) In no case shall information be classified in order to:

(1) conceal violations of law, inefficiency, or administrative error;

(2) prevent embarrassment to a person, organization, or agency;

(3) restrain competition; or

(4) prevent or delay the release of information that does not require protection in the interest of national security.
Just so we're clear on this.

 



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