National Security Information Policy Act Draft
In my non-lawyer opinion, there seems to be several sections of serious concern
to librarians and others interested in the free flow of information:
Sec 1.1 (c) - This section adds the statement, "The unauthorized
disclosure of foreign government information is presumed to cause damage to
the national security."
Sec 1.5 (c) - Appears to remove the exemption from extended classification
for "information contained in records that are more than 25 years old and
have been determined to have permanent historical value under title 44,
United States Code." (Material at National Archives)
Sec 1.7 (c) - This section reverses the prohibition against reclassifying
previously declassified data. I have visions of good chunks of our
collections being reclassified and carted off. Here is the whole provision:
(c) Information MAY BE reclassified after declassification and release to
the public under proper authority only in accordance with the following
(1) the reclassification action is taken under the personal
authority of the agency head or deputy agency head, who determines in
writing that the reclassification of the information or documents is
necessary in the interest of the national security;
(2) the information or documents may be reasonably recovered; and
(3) the reclassification action is reported promptly to the Director
of the Information Security Oversight Office.
One could argue that with 1300 depository libraries, that anything put into
the program means that condition (2) cannot be met, but with more and more
of our information being delivered electronically, meeting this condition
becomes an act of throwing a switch.
A deletion to Sec 3.7 appears to make it harder to find declassified material:
Sec 3.7 (c) " Except as otherwise authorized and warranted by law, all
declassified information contained within the database established under
paragraph (a), above, shall be available to the public." This section has
The database mentioned in paragraph (a) seems to be a central registry of
declassified materials. The Administration draft adds the phrase "and
publicly released" to the sentence ending with "records that have been
declassified" I do not quite understand the distinction. Perhaps it means
that information that has been declassified, but not publicly released will
not be tracked?
The draft also deletes Section 5.5, which provides for the "Information
Security Policy Advisory Council." which appears to be an independent board.
In the interests of balance, I should point out the revised draft does
allow the communication of classified information to uncleared persons "In
an emergency, when necessary to respond to an imminent threat to life or in
defense of the homeland", Sec 5.2 (b). Hopefully, this will be a welcome
change for our brave first responders.
Hopefully in the coming days, people more legally learned than I will provide better analysis. "