Prioritization: Topics 25 Years Old and YOUNGER

Join the Declassification Prioritization Conversation.  The PIDB wants to know what topics you would like to see declassified.  Today, we present you with a list of topics 25 years old and YOUNGER.

View the List Here:  Topics 25 Years Old and YOUNGER

This list captures topics we heard from Agency declassifiers, experts from the Presidential Libraries and the requester community.  To clarify, the topics are listed in alphabetical order, not by ranking.  Now we invite the public to comment on these topics and offer its own suggestions on what should be on this list of topics younger than 25 years.

Your comments will be posted as soon as possible.  Please review our blog’s Comment and Posting Policy for more details.  Thank you in advance for your continued interest and participation.

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36 Responses to Prioritization: Topics 25 Years Old and YOUNGER

  1. Erik Larson says:

    From your list, please prioritize the following:

    * 9/11 and Terrorism
    * 9/11 Command Post transcripts and operations records
    * 9/11 Commission records

    And any records from the following categories that pertain to terrorism, Al Qaeda, Bin Laden family members, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Israel

    * Deputies Committee and Principals Committee meetings for the George H. W. Bush and Clinton administrations
    * FISA Court Decisions
    * National Security Council emails, 1982- present

    Like

  2. Mike Liddle says:

    As the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President Kennedy passes, the need for the National Archives to allow access to the long withheld treasure trove of American history is so apparent. The Archives can help remove the extensive redactions and declassify previously unreleased records. I would love to see wider access to archives material online for journalists, writers, students and ordinary citizens to access history.

    Like

  3. J. M. Gaffney says:

    There seems to be confusion re classification, i.e., you’ve got a “25 years old and older” classification and a “25 years old and younger” classification. Using those classifications, an item that is 25 years old will be in two classifications. If you’re not competent to create logically discrete classifications, how in God’s name can anyone rely on your competence to declassify unnecessarily classified information? It’s obvious that your classifications are slapdash, mere lip service to give the impression that you’re making legitimate, sincere efforts to eliminate unnecessary classifications and to rein in the abuse of classifications. Good luck with your public image.

    Like

    • Admin says:

      Thank you for your comment. We agree the category titles may have caused confusion and amended the categories to be more clear-cut. We hope this helps.

      Like

  4. Richard Downes says:

    Please add classified POW/MIA files to the 25 Years Old and Younger priority list. Too many documents on Korean War American POW sightings in North Korea alone await declassification. Some are dated as recently as 2002-2004. (http://www.dtic.mil/dpmo/personnel_accounting/notice/korea/). If true, these Americans are aging soldiers who have waited decades to be brought home. Their families still search for answers to their fate. It is chilling to think of how many documents needing similar attention are collecting dust in agency archives throughout the government. These files need attention now, while any opportunity exists to make good on the nation’s promise to never leave its soldiers behind.

    Like

  5. B. J. Keys says:

    Strongly suggest prioritization of documents about HUMANITARIAN CRISES (a major issue of relevance today) and about the COLLAPSE OF THE SOVIET UNION in 1991 (a hugely significant event around which much debate still revolves).

    Like

  6. Mark Kramer says:

    In addition to the collapse of the Soviet Union, please add two topics:

    collapse of Communism in East-Central Europe, 1989

    German reunification diplomacy, 1990 (including items cited in the book by Philip Zelikow and Condoleezza Rice)

    Like

  7. Alessandro A says:

    Thank you for inviting public comment.

    In terms of topics, may I suggest the following:
    1. The United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), or the ‘Earth Summit’ in Rio in 1992.

    2. The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)

    3. Antarctic affairs, relating to the Convention on the Regulation of Antarctic Mineral Resource Activities (signed 1988) and the Protocol to the Antarctic Treaty on Environmental Protection (1991).

    Also, I think that there are certain functions/agencies of the US federal government that could be declassified at a greater scale. My research is interested in the Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs (OES) of the State Department. Other similar bureaus or branches of State could also be declassified.

    Like

  8. Wayne G McIntyre says:

    Please add classified Korean and Cold War POW/MIA files to the 25 Years Old and Younger priority list. These documents need immediate attention.

    Like

  9. Susan Partain says:

    Please add classified POW/MIA files to the twenty-five years old and younger priority list. It is heartbreaking for families to be missing a loved one for more than fifty years with no explanation of what happened to that individual. Families need closure, and any document that could shed light on a loved one’s fate could help accomplish that goal.

    Like

  10. Carol Rogers says:

    Please add classified POW/MIA files to the 25 Years Old and Younger priority list. Too many documents on Korean War American POW sightings in North Korea alone await declassification. Some are dated as recently as 2002-2004. (http://www.dtic.mil/dpmo/personnel_accounting/notice/korea/). As a family member of a MIA pilot in Korea, we just want closure. Please share these documents.

    Like

  11. Brenda Comer says:

    Please add classified Korean and Cold War POW/MIA files to the 25 Years Old and Younger priority list. These documents need immediate attention. Thank you for your consideration.

    Like

  12. Mary Y. Stowers says:

    Please priority POW/MIA 25 years old and younger.

    Like

  13. Karen Malan says:

    Please add classified Korean and Cold War POW/MIA files to the 25 years old and younger priority list. These documents need immediate attention.

    Like

  14. Cathleen Krakau says:

    Please add classified Korean and Cold War POW/MIA files to the 25 Years Old and Younger priority list. These documents need immediate attention.Please add classified Korean and Cold War POW/MIA files to the 25 Years Old and Younger priority list. These documents need immediate attention.Please add classified Korean and Cold War POW/MIA files to the 25 Years Old and Younger priority list. These documents need immediate attention.Please add classified Korean and Cold War POW/MIA files to the 25 Years Old and Younger priority list. These documents need immediate attention.Please add classified Korean and Cold War POW/MIA files to the 25 Years Old and Younger priority list. These documents need immediate attention.Please add classified Korean and Cold War POW/MIA fiPlease add classified Korean and Cold War POW/MIA files to the 25 Years Old and Younger priority list. These documents need immediate attention.les to the 25 Years Old and Younger priority list. These documents need immediate attention.

    Like

  15. Theodore Brown (Tsgt Ret) says:

    Any Military action that is not a declared War by Congress should have all related documents declassified. There is no reason to have classified documents 60 -70 80 years later. If it’s the governments premise to wait until certain death has occurred for captives then it is a moral wrong.

    Like

  16. gary boyle says:

    please declassify all docs., relating to missing from Korea and Cold War. My Father’s fate might have been different if this was done decades ago.

    Like

  17. Charles L. Angle says:

    Please add classified POW/MIA files to priority list. (Korean War)

    Like

  18. Katharine Richardson says:

    I hope you will add classified Korean and Cold War POW/MIA documents to your list of 25 years old and younger documents to be declassified. All documents are very important to those of us searching for information on lost family members.

    Like

  19. martha ann wiley says:

    My father, Capt Adrian L Christenson, shot down on May 13, 1951, was seen to be alive by other pilots in the group, but he has never been found or heard from, ever again. All the MIA soldiers & airmen were eventually declared to be KIA, at the end of 1953; but my father is really still MIA. If there are any documents still classified that would concern the fate of missing Korean War veterans, MIA pilots especially, please add my name to those who want the documents de-classified. Thank you for your efforts, Sincerely, Martha
    Ann Wiley

    Like

  20. Edwin Moise says:

    I would suggest prioritizing
    National Security Council emails, 1982-present
    Iraq 2001-2004, including the decision to invade in 2003 and the surge of U.S. military assets (discussion/policy and war planning)
    Deputies Committee and Principals Committee meetings for the George H. W. Bush and Clinton administrations
    Collapse of the U.S.S.R. 1991

    Like

  21. Lynn O'Shea says:

    Please add all records relating to American Servicemen list as either Prisoner of War or Missing in Action from the Korean War, Cold War and War in Southeast Asia (Vietnam). These records are critical to the families of our unaccounted for servicemembers.

    Like

  22. Stephen Overstreet says:

    Please add classified Korean and Cold War POW/MIA files to the 25 Years Old and Younger priority list. These documents need immediate attention.

    Like

  23. Brian Chaney says:

    I would reiterate what Mr. Downes said above, in his words, “Please add classified POW/MIA files to the 25 Years Old and Younger priority list. Too many documents on Korean War American POW sightings in North Korea alone await declassification. Some are dated as recently as 2002-2004.”

    Like

  24. Joe Long says:

    Please add classified POW/MIA files to the 25 Years Old and Younger priority list. We have deserted nearly 8000 of our servicemen from the Korean War, yet there is evidence that some of them may still be alive! The statement, “Leave no man behind” is false, for some of these guys have been “MIA” for over 60 years. We cannot let this go any longer.

    Like

  25. Joel Knutson says:

    Please add classified POW/MIA files to the 25 Years Old and Younger priority list. These files need to be released now while next of kin family members are still alive to learn what happened to their service members.

    Like

  26. Donna Knox says:

    Please add classified Korean and Cold War POW/MIA files to the 25 Years Old and Younger priority list. These documents Should have been disseminated decades ago. Thank you.

    Like

  27. Debra Carlson says:

    Please add classified POW/MIA files to the 25 Years Old and Younger priority list.

    Like

  28. Allan Johnson says:

    Of the 16 topics listed on the “25 years old and younger” list, my recommendations for top priorities for declassification are:

    1. FISA court decisions
    2. Iraq 2001-2004, including the decision to invade in 2003 and the surge of military assets
    3. Guantanamo/Detainee issues
    4. NATO’s Kosovo campaign 1999 (1998-1999)
    5. Gulf War (Desert Shield/Desert Storm)

    This was a difficult list to prioritize as all topics are worthy of a thorough declassification effort.

    As I wrote on the “older than 25 year” post, it may be more efficient to undertake a mass declassification of the annual command histories of the unified and specified commands as well as the major commands of the uniformed services as each command has an annual history — some quite extensive — and they come complete with supporting documents and cover multiple topics on the list. These annual command histories form the institutional memory of the Department of Defense but are extraordinarily difficult to obtain. Declassification of the annual command histories is probably the most efficient approach to get the maximum information released in the minimum amount of time.

    An additional issue that needs to be addressed is distribution. I recommend documents be scanned into pdf files and posted on the internet as they become declassified. That should alleviate the administrative burden on your staff from having to process individual requests one at a time with if multiple individuals request copies of the same documents.

    Like

  29. Steven Aftergood says:

    Thank you for providing this public forum.

    To begin with, I think the concept of prioritization needs to be fleshed out: what is the purpose of prioritization? and what criteria should it be based on?

    Is prioritization intended to respond mainly to popular demand? If so, it already seems clear that the most frequently voiced demand is for declassification of the remaining classified records pertaining to the JFK assassination, POW/MIA matters, and a handful of other discrete topics.

    Or is prioritization intended to promote disclosure of the most historically significant records? That would presumably require a consensus of informed historical views rather than (or in addition to) a survey of popular opinion.

    Or, alternatively, is prioritization intended to promote the release of the maximum possible volume of currently classified records in order to keep the size of the classification system in check? That would require a determination by records management specialists of which collections were most “ripe” for expedited declassification.

    Or is there some other purpose for prioritizing declassification?

    For my part, I think the best reason to prioritize declassification would be to make the declassification process as relevant as possible to current policy concerns. This could be done by focusing the process on disclosure of those records that would be most likely to help inform political debate today.

    With that in mind, I would favor expedited declassification of many of the post-9/11 records that still shape our national security policy environment. Among those, I would give special emphasis to the Senate Intelligence Committee report on CIA interrogation practices, which the Committee chair has described as perhaps the most important oversight product it has ever generated.

    I would also recommend expedited declassification of other classified congressional records from the post-9/11 era, especially transcripts from closed congressional hearings (as the PIDB has previously recommended). These represent some of the most focused and, I imagine, the informatively contentious examinations of crucial national security policies anywhere in government. Their release could have a profound and meaningful impact today.

    Like

  30. Beth Vincent says:

    Please add classified Korean and Cold War POW/MIA files to the 25 Years Old and Younger priority list. These documents need immediate attention.

    Like

  31. Michael Dobbs says:

    With the twentieth anniversary of the Rwanda genocide approaching, it is striking how much remains to be declassified by the U.S. government on one of the great tragedies of the 20th century. The State Department has done a respectable, but by no means exhaustive, job in declassifying its Rwanda records–but other government institutions have failed to live up to President Clinton’s repeated promises to fully uncover what went wrong, with a view to preventing future tragedies. In particular, we still await documents, memos, and emails from the Clinton White House that would shed light on how decisions were taken at the highest levels of the U.S. government.

    To my knowledge, the National Security Archive submitted FOIA requests for many of the relevant documents more than a decade ago. When these requests were processed, the most interesting and important documents were withheld for “B1 national security reasons.” It is difficult to use “national security” to justify the further withholding of these records, at a time when the U.S. government has pledged to do everything in its power to learn the appropriate lessons from the Rwanda genocide.

    In the case of Rwanda, the level of classification is rather low: confidential or secret, rather than top secret or Codeword material. The real obstacles to full release are bureaucratic, and have nothing to do with national security.

    Like

  32. L Brooks says:

    You have a great start, but I’d like to see you add the classified Korean and Cold War POW/MIA files to this list too. My mom went to her grave knowing in her heart that the love of her life was MIA, not presumed dead. She never had true closure – ever. Too many other people are in the same boat. You hold information in your hands that could make a difference in people’s lives. If the shoe were on the other foot I wonder what you’d say…

    Like

  33. Emily Willard says:

    With the 20th anniversary of the Rwandan Genocide close at hand, further declassification of records about the lead up to, during, and after the genocide should be prioritized for release. Still, 20 years later, there are major gaps in our understand of the international decision-making process for policies regarding the Rwandan genocide. More public access to this information can help to President Obama’s “Responsibility to Protect” initiative as we can learn more about how past policies and decision were made.
    While important documents have been declassified, a large mass of information is still classified and should be made available to the public. Specifically, the following information should be prioritized:
    – Information regarding the creation of PDD-25, specifically in relation to Rwanda and Somalia;
    – Department of Defense information about satellite images and surveillance of Rwanda in the spring and summer of 1994(why, when, where);
    – U.S. United Nations representative correspondence with U.S. State Department, and National Security Council;
    – Department of Defense information about withdrawal of UNAMIR (United Nations Assistance Mission in Rwanda);
    – Clinton White House documents from the highest levels;
    – and more U.S. State Department information about specific decision that were made such as: closing U.S. Embassy in Kigali, support withdraw of UNAMIR, use the word “genocide”, and promotion of “cease fire” policy, among others.

    While this list is not exhaustive of the still classified information about the Rwandan genocide, it is a start to filling in the holes of what we still don’t know.

    Thank you.

    Like

  34. Carlos T. Mendoza says:

    Please add classified Korean and Cold War POW/MIA files to the 25 Years Old and Younger priority list. These documents need immediate attention.

    Like

  35. Jorja Elliott-Reyburn says:

    Please declassify all documents pertaining to the Korean/Cold War era. Families deserve answers and the ONLY way they are going to obtain them is through declassification of documents. I don’t want my mother going to her grave not knowing my father’s remains were not located, identified and returned home.

    The embarrassment to the government of releasing these documents pales in comparison to the pain it is causing the families of the POW/MIA servicemen.

    Do the right thing by these families and do it now.

    Like

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