Hearing Advances Classification Reform Agenda

07.13.07 | 1 min read | Text by Steven Aftergood

Updated below

There are several practical steps that could be taken to improve national security classification and declassification policy, a House Intelligence subcommittee was told yesterday.

In my testimony (pdf) at the July 12 hearing, chaired by Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-CA), I presented a menu of actionable proposals for the subcommittee to consider:

Agency inspectors general could be assigned to help oversee classification and declassification activity. A public database of declassified records could be created to enhance access to such records. A new format for National Intelligence Estimates could be adopted to permit broader dissemination of their contents.

The subcommittee members, including chairwoman Eshoo, ranking minority member Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), and Rep. Rush Holt (D-NJ), expressed satisfaction with the proposals. Several of the ideas, the members noted, could be quickly adopted, and would not require new appropriations or establishment of new organizations.

Additional insights into the current state of classification and declassification policy were provided at the hearing by Meredith Fuchs, general counsel at the National Security Archive, and J. William Leonard, director of the Information Security Oversight Office.

Mr. Leonard’s statement previewed some of the findings of the 2006 ISOO Annual Report to the President, which is due to be released later today or Monday.

Update: The hearing was recorded by C-SPAN and may be viewed here. The 2006 ISOO Annual Report is here (pdf).