Government Secrets For Sale At

Ken AshfordWar on Terrorism/Torture1 Comment

321201The government’s program to reclassify (or de-un-classify) documents, as discussed here and elsewhere, is leading to absurd results.

For example, if you go to the National Archives, you can no longer find a copy of the 1958 Department of Defense "Emergency Plans Book," an early cold war description of response planning for a nuclear attack on the United States.

But you can purchase it on, as part of this book.

What’s going on here and why is this silliness happening?  Slate offers an answer:

With very few exceptions, we are not talking here about secrets that have anything to do with "national security" as anyone might reasonably define the term. In many cases, we are talking about documents that were publicly released—and have since been widely disseminated—after careful review by high-ranking military officers and security personnel. It is also worth noting that much of this reclassification is being conducted by junior officers, or in many cases private contractors who know nothing about the historical context of these documents and nothing about whether the contents are sensitive or innocuous. One military historian told me that some of these junior contractors have been instructed simply to reclassify anything bearing the words "atomic" or "restricted data," regardless of what else the documents might or might not contain.