On February 26, the House approved an amendment to the Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2010 (H.R. 2701) to require the Inspector General (IG) of the Intelligence Community to prepare a report on the problem of over-classification. The amendment, introduced by Rep. Jane Harman (D-CA-36), Chair of the House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Intelligence, Information Sharing and Terrorism Risk Assessment, requires the IG to produce a report containing an analysis of over-classification and how it should be addressed. On February 23, AALL joined seventeen organizations on a letter to Rep. Harman in support of her amendment.
While we urged the passage of the Harman amendment, we prefer the requirements in President Obama’s Executive Order on Classified National Security Information (E.O. 13526), which goes farther than the Harman amendment by directing agencies to start taking real action to address over-classification. For example, classifying agencies have been directed by the E.O. to perform a “fundamental review” of their classification guidance to update it where necessary and to identify classified information that no longer requires protection. In addition, the E.O. established the National Declassification Center within the National Archives and Records Administration to help reduce the backlog of declassified records.
For more information on classification policy, please read our updated Issue Brief, which analyzes the President’s E.O. and current legislation to increase oversight and training to reduce over-classification.