Earlier this year, the Department of Defense classified the schedule of flight tests of ballistic missile defense systems, even though such information had previously been unclassified and publicly disclosed.
Rejecting that move, Congress has now told the Pentagon’s Missile Defense Agency that the flight test schedule must be unclassified.
A new provision in the FY2019 national defense authorization act (sect. 1681) would “require that MDA make the quarter and fiscal year for execution of planned flight tests unclassified.”
“Together with the release of each integrated master test plan of the Missile Defense Agency, and at the same time as each budget of the President is submitted to Congress…, the Director of the Missile Defense Agency shall make publicly available a version of each such plan that identifies the fiscal year and the fiscal quarter in which events under the plan will occur,” the provision states.
This legislative action will effectively override the classification judgment of the executive branch. That is something that Congress rarely does and that the executive branch regards as an infringement on its authority.