Obama administration still pondering proposed classification system changes


For anyone who’s counting, this week marks six months since an advisory board released 14 recommendations for modernizing the national security classification system.

The White House remains on square one—mulling the board’s first recommendation to form a steering committee to guide implementation of the other 13.

“Options for the creation of a senior-level group are currently being considered,” said Laura Lucas, a National Security Council spokeswoman, who had no information today on the timetable for a decision.

The Public Interest Declassification Board issued the recommendations Dec. 6 in response to a 2009 charge from President Obama for a “more fundamental transformation” of the classification system, whose roots date back to World War Two.  Among its suggested changes, the panel urged compressing the current three-tier system to two; requiring automatic declassification  of records with short-lived sensitivity; and providing “safe harbor” to classifying officials who decide that something doesn’t warrant a secrecy stamp.

Despite the lack of overt movement since then, the board’s chairman, Nancy Soderberg, said in an interview last month that she was pleased overall with the White House’s reaction.

“There is a lot of effort behind the scenes,” Soderberg said, “and we are hopeful that it will soon produce a publicly noticeable response.”



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