Documents long classified but scheduled to be released at the end of 2009 will not see the light of day just yet thanks to the Obama administration, according to a published report.
Under pressure to grant an extension to intelligence agencies that have reviewed only a fraction of the “millions of pages,” the administration is allowing an undetermined amount of time for additional consideration of the materials, a report in The Boston Globe notes.
“The documents in question – all more than 25 years old – were scheduled to be declassified on Dec. 31 under an order originally signed by President Bill Clinton and amended by President George W. Bush,” wrote reporter Bryan Bender. Both presidents Clinton and Bush also granted the agencies extensions, in 2000 and 2003.
However, Bender added, “because [the Obama] administration has been unable to prod spy agencies into conformance,” no such release is scheduled any time soon and it may be years before they are disclosed.
This, in spite of the president’s repeated assurances of increased transparency. The decision to extend declassification deadlines for the agencies “would run counter to the Obama administration’s push for more openness in the federal government, including the declassification process,” noted ProPublica. “In May, the Globe points out, Obama ‘ordered a 90-day review by the National Security Council” of the classification process.”
In a memorandum to the heads of executive agencies, President Obama wrote that his administration will “take appropriate action, consistent with law and policy, to disclose information rapidly in forms that the public can readily find and use.”
The president has said he wants to establish a National Declassification Center that would review documents scheduled for release. The White House position has been that no government information should remain classified forever, with the president seeking to establish timelines of 25-75 years for the disclosure of secret documents.
According to the Globe, over 400 million pages of declassified, historical U.S. government documents are still waiting to be indexed in the National Archives for public viewing.