Thursday, December 21, 2006

NYT: GOVERNMENT DECLASSIFYING NEARLY ALL 25-YEAR-OLD DOCUMENTS (WITH EXCEPTIONS)

WASHINGTON--After a three-year extension by the Bush administration, we're finally seeing the very first automatic release under the FOIA of our internal- history, says the New York Times yesterday. It takes an enormous staff to search and review the endless-array of internal memos and directives, and they couldn't make it in 2003. Of course, none of this will exempt other key-ones that are still being classified for "reasons of national security" (because there would be criminal-convictions or a public groundswell over what's in them?). For some documents, this is understandable and realistic. Also, you want to respect the privacy of agents and shady informants who have violated people's rights, this is important. In declassification cases, you'll never find a more staunch defender of the 4th Amendment than the Executive--regardless of who's in office at that historical-moment.

Yes, you don't want to advertise your techniques to your enemies (the public being one), but looking at the final 10-pages of John Lennon's FBI-files, we know this is a frequently abused excuse to hide criminality. It's also just a good technique to keep people waiting on files that are of no-importance, causing various archives and researchers to waste precious resources fighting for what is basically worthless-information. And they have to do it in the courts, which is pretty expensive. This is by-design, from both congressional legislation and Executive orders. The NYT article discusses how the Carter years will be illuminated, but how about the Reagan years?

Yes, over the next-few-years, we're going to be seeing some long-overdue revisions by American historians about the "great communicator". You can be assured that the timing of the Hussein trial was figured-into some of that era's declassification, because the files concerning our aid to Saddam Hussein are looming. It might even be a sub-motive for the invasion of Iraq. So are parts of the Iran-Contra records, as some of the Bush administration were part of Reagan's cabinet: "Secret documents 25 years old or older will lose their classified status without so much as the stroke of a pen, unless agencies have sought exemptions on the ground that the material remains secret." Is it time to rename those airports and mountains, before it's too-late? Too-late. The importance of declassification is that we know our history, and so that we can hold office-abusers like Donald Rumsfeld or Dick Cheney accountable. They probably broke-laws then, and are fearful of us finding-out now. Considering the current political climate, they should be.

The New York Times article:
http://www.nytimes.com/2006/12/21/washington/21declassify.html?ex=1324357200&en=282fb72dc92fd0d4&ei=5090&partner=rssuserland&emc=rss