The Public Interest Declassification Board received recognition at a recent academic conference titled The Legal and Civil Policy Implications of “Leaks” at the American University Washington College of Law. A panel focusing on the legislative response to “leaks” discussed what impact over-classification and the current state of the security classification system have on the prevalence of leaks. Panelist John B. Dickas, the Legislative Counsel to Senator Ron Wyden on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, cited the Board’s Report to the President on Transforming the Security Classification System. He agreed that over-classification is a pervasive problem among system users and that the declassification process does not keep pace with user demand. Moderator Sharon Bradford Franklin, Senior Counsel at the Constitution Project, noted the Board’s report prompted 31 organizations concerned with the Government’s classification activity to send a letter to the President urging him to establish a steering committee as recommended in the Board’s report.
The academic conference gathered government, academic and other private sector experts to discuss the legal and civil policy implications of “leaks” in the “WikiLeaks” era, examining the history of leaks over recent decades, their growing significance in Freedom of Information Act litigation, potential legislative responses on the subject, and the future that can be foreseen with continued advances in information technology. More information about the academic conference is available here.
The National Security Archive recently highlighted a recommendation from the Board’s report on its Unredacted blog. The post focused on an aspect of U.S. nuclear deployment history from the early years of the Cold War. It mentioned the Board’s recommendation to allow obsolete historical nuclear information to be reviewed for declassification. You can read the blog post here. The Board heard testimony and received extensive comments on the need to reform how agencies treat historical “Formerly Restricted Data.” Transforming the Security Classification System offers a solution that allows the declassification review of information that is of no operational or military use so the American public can better understand the role nuclear weapons played in winning the Cold War.