House Defense Bill Seeks Expedited Declassification of POW Records

By May 6, 2015

The House Armed Services Committee is asking the Secretary of Defense to identify “specific inefficiencies with regard to the process for the declassification of documents” pertaining to prisoners of war and missing in action personnel, and ways to expedite the release of such documents. The directive was included in the new Committee report on the FY 2016 defense authorization act.

Declassification of POW/MIA records is a niche issue of intense personal interest to some, and of no particular interest to others. But because such niche issues embody systemic problems, they have the potential to drive changes in policy that can have ripple effects throughout the national security classification process, as disputes over release of JFK assassination records have done in the past.

Thus, the Committee asked the Secretary to report on “challenges in current declassification procedures; recommendations to expedite procedures for interagency declassification; recommendations for procedures to declassify redacted portions of previously released documents;…” and so forth.

In a separate provision, the House Committee responded to a Department of Energy Inspector General finding this year that information had sometimes been misclassified and/or improperly disclosed at Los Alamos National Laboratory. The Committee instructed the National Nuclear Security Administration to report on “the measures taken to improve the effectiveness of the classification process and related oversight.”

Categories: Congress, Declassification