Information Security Oversight Office
National Archives and Records Administration
700 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20408

April 2, 2003

Ms. Priscilla Johnson McMillan
Cambridge, MA

Dear Ms. McMillan:

I am writing to you in response to the December 10, 2002 letter you forwarded to me from a number of historians and researchers in which you proposed a change in classification policy. Specifically, you urged that the categorization of historical nuclear weapons storage locations as Formerly Restricted Data (FRD) under the Atomic Energy Act be rescinded.

Your letter correctly notes that the assignation of FRD protection to information is outside the authority of Executive Order 12958 as amended and the Information Security Oversight Office. Nonetheless, this issue clearly has an impact upon implementation of the declassification provisions of E.O. 12958. Also, perceptions that the classification of information is routinely continued for information that is widely available can undermine the integrity of the security classification system particularly for those people who are depended upon to implement it.

The specific issue of former storage/basing locations of nuclear weapons involves the statutory authority of the Departments of Energy (DoE) and Defense (DoD) under the Atomic Energy Act. Under Executive Order 12958, both DoD and State share policy responsibility for foreign relations issues, while DoD has primacy for issues related to military plans. With this as background, we recently met with representatives from DoE, State and DoD.

DoE, State and DoD representatives noted that the issue is constantly under consideration by them. However, without committing to any specific change, all three entities expressed a willingness to review certain aspects of this issue. All three also agreed that primary responsibility for initiating this review rests with DoD. While not committing to a specific timetable, representatives of DoD indicated their intent to conduct an internal review of this issue after which they will present recommendations to the other two Departments. We will stay apprised of these Departments' activities to address this issue and update you in six months.