Interagency Security Classification Appeals Panel
c/o Information Security Oversight Office
700 Pennsylvania Avenue, N. W., Room 18N
Washington, D. C. 20408
Telephone 202/219-5250
Fax: 202/219-5385
E-mail: [email protected]

DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE
Roslyn A. Mazer, Chair

MEMBERS
DIRECTOR OF CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE
Jennifer A. Carrano
DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE
J. William Leonard
NATIONAL ARCHIVES AND RECORDS ADMINISTRATION
Michael J. Kurtz
NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL
William H. Leary
DEPARTMENT OF STATE
Frank M. Machak

Executive Secretary
Steven Garfinkel
Director
Information Security Oversight Office

Highlights of Activities of the
Interagency Security Classification Appeals Panel
October 1999 - September 2000

Executive Order 12958, "Classified National Security Information" (E.O. 12958), signed by President Clinton on April 17, 1995, and effective on October 14, 1995, created the Interagency Security Classification Appeals Panel, or "ISCAP." The President directed the ISCAP to perform three critical functions in implementing the Order's provisions. These are: (a) deciding on appeals by parties whose requests for declassification of information under the mandatory review provisions of the Order have been denied by the classifying agency; (b) approving, denying or amending agency exemptions from the automatic declassification provisions of the Order; and (c) deciding appeals brought by individuals who challenge the classification status of information that they lawfully possess. The work of the ISCAP is crucial to the implementation of E.O. 12958, because its decisions will ultimately establish the cutting edge between what information is declassified and what information remains classified.

Senior officials appointed by the Secretaries of State and Defense, the Attorney General, the Director of Central Intelligence, the Archivist of the United States, and the Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs make up the six voting members of the ISCAP. The President appointed Roslyn A. Mazer, currently serving as Special Counsel for Intellectual Property Matters, Criminal Division, Department of Justice, to serve as the ISCAP's chair. Other members serving during the period covered by this release are Jennifer A. Carrano, Director, Requirements, Plans and Policy Office, Community Management Staff; Michael J. Kurtz, Assistant Archivist of the United States; William H. Leary, Senior Director for Records and Access Management, National Security Council; J. William Leonard, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Security and Information Operations; and Frank M. Machak, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Records and Publishing Services, Department of State.

The Director of the Information Security Oversight Office (ISOO), Steven Garfinkel, serves as the ISCAP's Executive Secretary, and ISOO provides its staff support. Interested persons may inquire about the ISCAP by contacting ISOO at the address, telephone or telefax numbers above, or by e-mail to the Executive Secretary at [email protected]

The ISCAP's first public release, issued in June 1997, described ISCAP's activities from when it first convened at the end of May 1996 through April 1997. Its second release, issued one year later, described its activities through April 1998. A third release, issued in February of 2000, reported its activities from May 1998 through September 1999. This release describes the ISCAP's activities from October 1999 through September 2000.

To date, nearly the entirety of the ISCAP's caseload for which it has reached final decisions has consisted of mandatory review appeals. Since October 1999, the ISCAP has considered additional appeals seeking the declassification of 63 documents that remained fully or partially classified upon the completion of agency processing. The ISCAP reached decisions on all but one document included in these appeals. The ISCAP also decided upon 5 of 7 documents reported in its last release as pending a final decision. Therefore, the ISCAP acted upon 67 documents during this reporting period. It voted to declassify 3 documents (5%) in full, to declassify portions of 45 others (67%), and to affirm the agencies' decisions in their entirety for 19 documents (28%). The ISCAP's final decisions on 3 documents included in appeals received within the last two reporting periods are pending.

Compared with its appeal record in the last four years, the ISCAP during this reporting period declassified in full a significantly smaller percentage of the documents before it, while declassifying in part and affirming the agencies' decisions for larger percentages of the documents before it. The primary reason for this change is the fact that the agencies appear to be taking into account the ISCAP's prior decisions in their own declassification reviews and decisions. For this reason, most of the documents that came before the ISCAP in this reporting period previously had been declassified in part, many of them with little information that remained classified.

Viewing the totality of its decision docket from May 1996 to date, the ISCAP has declassified significant information in 80% of the documents on which it has voted (86 documents in full, 40%; 88 documents in part, 40%). The ISCAP has voted to affirm the agency's classification action fully for 44 documents (20%). ISCAP actions from May 1996 through September 2000 illustrate how faithful application of the Order's standards results in unprecedented access to historically valuable records, and a balanced approach to the declassification of more recently-created documents.

The majority of the documents decided upon by the ISCAP during the period covered by this release were created during the presidency of Lyndon B. Johnson and are located within the Lyndon B. Johnson Presidential Library in Austin, Texas. The ISCAP heard 12 appeals originated by 6 different appellants seeking the declassification of a total of 59 documents. The ISCAP declassified the entirety of the classified information in 3 documents and additional information in 39 documents. It affirmed the classification of the entirety of the classified information in 16 documents. The ISCAP's decision on 1 document is pending.

The documents from the Johnson Library included: 3 CIA-originated documents from 1966 classified in their entirety; 2 CIA-originated documents dating from 1968 and classified in their entirety; 2 documents created in 1966, related to India, and classified in their entirety; 17 documents (including 15 originated within the White House, and 2 telegrams from the American Embassy in Santo Domingo) related to the Dominican Republic and dating from 1965 through 1966; and 35 documents (including 23 Intelligence Information cables, 10 telegrams, and 2 memorandum) for which all but 2 had been previously declassified in part, dating from 1963 through 1966 and which were related to Haiti.

The ISCAP also decided upon documents created during the administration of President John F. Kennedy, which reside at his Presidential Library in Boston, Massachusetts. Two appellants filed appeals with the ISCAP which sought to declassify information in 4 documents. The ISCAP declassified portions of 3 documents and affirmed the classification fully for 1 document. Two of these documents were telegrams, sent during the summer of 1962, to the Secretary of State from the American Embassy in Port au Prince, Haiti. The other 2 documents, one of which dated from 1962 and was related to Guatemala, came before the ISCAP classified in their entirety.

The ISCAP decided upon 2 appeals seeking to declassify 5 documents within the custody of Executive Branch agencies. Specifically, it decided to affirm the classification of 1 document located at the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), and to affirm the classification of 1 document and to declassify portions of 3 documents located at the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). The document located at the CIA provided dollar figures on the totality of the Intelligence Community Budget for fiscal year 1988. The documents at the FBI were created in the late 1980s through the early 1990s and are related specifically to the requester.

The ISCAP is also pleased to report that it has approved the first of several declassification guides submitted by Executive Branch agencies in accordance with Section 3.4(d) of E.O. 12958 and the applicable provision of its government-wide implementing directive (32 C.F.R. Part 2001.51(i)). When approved, these guides authorize the exemption of information determined by an agency to fall within an exemption listed in Section 3.4(b) of the Order. In order for the ISCAP to approve a guide it must provide: a comprehensive description of the information proposed for exemption; a distinct relationship to a specific exemption; a rational justification or explanation of the need for exemption; and a fixed date or event for automatic declassification.

The Defense Intelligence Agency's (DIA) declassification guide was approved by the ISCAP on May 18, 2000. The ISCAP is reviewing guides submitted by the National Imagery and Mapping Agency; the Departments of Energy and State; the National Reconnaissance Office; and a component of the Office of the Secretary of Defense. It is currently working with the Department of Navy and the Central Intelligence Agency to finalize revisions to their submissions and expects to decide upon their guides in the near future.

The following benchmarks of the ISCAP's work are notable:

A database of decisions rendered by the ISCAP is available from ISOO on diskette. The database is maintained in Microsoft Access 6.0. Documents declassified by the ISCAP are usually made available to the requester through the custodial unit (e.g., a presidential library) that has custody of them. Other interested persons may ordinarily obtain copies of declassified documents from the custodial units. ISOO may be contacted at the above address and telephone number for assistance in identifying and requesting copies of the documents discussed in this release.