By Elizabeth Holland
From November to mid-January, the Public Interest Declassification Board (PIDB) solicited public input on its Transforming Classification blog about what the government should prioritize for declassification. The Board is now working to compile the responses and comments it received and will report back to the public its conclusions and suggested next steps to assist the President in his goal of transforming the security classification system.
Together with the AALL Government Relations Committee, we submitted the following statement to the PIDB:
The American Association of Law Libraries (AALL) supports the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board recommendation to make available opinions of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. We also support the declassification of White House Office of Legal Counsel opinions.
In response to comments already received from agency declassifiers, experts, and the requester community., the PIDB also released several list of topics for declassification, including general topics of interest, topics related to the presidential libraries, topics on: formerly restricted data information, and both topics older than 25 years and topics 25 years old and younger. AALL is pleased that FISA court decisions are included on the list of topics 25 years and younger. These lists were also open to comment through the project’s mid-January end date. PIDB says it hopes the lists “will serve as a guide to aid agencies in reviewing the information the public wants to see. “
AALL commends the PIDB on their public outreach. We were pleased to see the recent Second Open Government National Action Plan (NAP) adopt some recommendations of the PIDB to reduce classification and simplify the classification system for users, including the primary recommendation to establish a White House-led Security Classification Review Committee. We are encouraged by the White House’s commitment to undertaking the culture change necessary to combat secrecy and overclassification and look forward to next steps.