After Report, Secrecy News Dropped from State Department Mailing List

June 17, 2008

Many law librarians rely on Steven Aftergood’s Secrecy News for the latest documents on secrecy, intelligence and national security policy. AALL in fact honored Aftergood in 2006 by presenting him with our Public Access to Government Information Award for his valiant efforts to reduce the scope of governmental secrecy. So it is with great concern that we read Aftergood’s announcement that Secrecy News was removed from the distribution list for the U.S. State Department history publication “Foreign Relations of the United States” following Aftergood’s report on errors in several FRUS volumes on March 24 and 26, 2008.

Though this move will not prevent Aftergood from accessing the public FRUS volumes on the State Department’s web site (see his remarks in the Comments section of his blog post), we are very dismayed with the agency’s swift reaction to deny him access to the email list and hope that the State Department’s Historian’s Office will reconsider its action.

[Posted by Emily Feldman]

White House Issues Memo on New Controlled Unclassified Information Policy

May 14, 2008

Last Friday, the White House issued a memorandum on new rules governing the designation and sharing of Controlled Unclassified Information (CUI). The memo creates a uniform standard for information that previously fell under the broad category of Sensitive But Unclassified information (SBU).

The CUI framework is intended to ease information sharing in the government and rein in the various control markings used by agencies, such as “For Official Use Only” (FOUO), “Official Use Only” (OUO), and “Limited Official Use” (LOU). Under the CUI framework, all CUI information is categorized into one of three combinations of safeguarding procedures and dissemination controls. The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) is named as the “Executive Agent,” responsible for overseeing and managing implementation of this CUI Framework and prescribing any additional CUI markings.

The memo addresses the important problem of the alphabet soup of Sensitive But Unclassified designations, but many questions remain. Steven Aftergood, author of Secrecy News and Director of the Federation of American Scientists’ Project on Government Secrecy, expresses his concerns in his blog. He writes, “Which, if any, of the more than 100 existing control categories will be canceled, rather than absorbed into the new CUI category? The new policy does not say. At what point, if any, does the CUI designation expire? There’s no way to tell. What enforcement mechanisms are established to ensure compliance with the new policy? To be determined.”

On April 11, AALL signed onto a letter to the White House asking for a public review of proposed new rules governing the designation of Sensitive But Unclassified (SBU) information. Unfortunately, no public review occurred before the White House issued this memo. For background on our letter, see our previous blog post, “AALL and Others Urge Public Comment on Guidance for Sensitive But Unclassified Information.”

[Posted by Emily Feldman]

Army Responds to Request for Unclassified Digital Library

February 21, 2008

Steven Aftergood, director of the Project on Government Secrecy at the non-profit Federation of American Scientists (FAS) and also the recipient of AALL’s 2006 Public Access to Government Information Award, today announced that the U.S. Army has responded favorably to a FOIA request filed last week by the FAS for a copy of or, alternatively, renewed public access to the online Reimer Digital Library. This important collection of unclassified field and technical manuals and documents had been removed from public access on February 6 and placed behind a password-protected firewall. According to Aftergood, FAS will withdraw the FOIA request as soon as the Reimer Digital Library becomes publicly accessible once again. Kudos to Steve Aftergood and the Federation of American Scientists!

[Posted by Mary Alice Baish]

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