Automatic Declassification: Did Anything Happen?

01.09.07 | 1 min read | Text by Steven Aftergood

The December 31, 2006 deadline for automatic declassification of historically valuable 25 year old classified records has come and gone. Was anything automatically declassified?

Yes, said Bill Leonard, director of the Information Security Oversight Office.

“Hundreds of millions of pages of records were automatically declassified at the FBI alone,” he said yesterday. Numerous other records were also declassified at some other executive branch agencies.

But he stressed that automatic declassification did not mean disclosure or immediate availability.

Declassified documents may still need to be reviewed for exempt material other than classified information (such as privacy data), and will need to be processed for public access.

Even so, public access to the records should be expedited by the elimination of a classification review requirement, Mr. Leonard said. And the deadline will continue to take new effect as more documents become 25 years old with each passing year.