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Bernice Moore

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Washington, DC, November 4, 2010 - President Obama's new Executive Order on "Controlled Unclassified Information" issued today builds on recommendations from open government groups and the findings of the National Security Archive's 2006 audit of "Pseudo-Secrets" that uncovered 28 different and uncoordinated policies on marking and restricting official unclassified information.

"Over the years, government officials came up with more than 100 creative acronyms like LOU or UCNI or SHSI or SBU to stamp as secret those records that did not qualify for the normal national security classification system," remarked Tom Blanton, director of the Archive. "The new Order will bring some much-needed standards and restrictions to this out-of-control bureaucratic process - and help fulfill President Obama's pledges for a more open government."

Patrice McDermott, director of the OpenTheGovernment.org coalition, commented that "The [previous] Bush policy and earlier drafts could have created a fourth level of classification. Instead, this Order is a victory for openness, for both our community and the Administration. We applaud the Administration for the time, effort, and thoughtful consideration of input from inside and outside government it took to make this the outcome."

The Archive carried out in 2006 the first government-wide audit of sensitive-but-unclassified information policies, sparking Congressional hearings on the subject. At the time, Archive director Blanton testified to the U.S. House of Representative Committee on Government Reform that "We believe the diversity of policies, the ambiguous and incomplete guidelines, the lack of monitoring, and the decentralized administration of information controls on sensitive unclassified information - all of which is evident in our Audit results - means that neither the Congress nor the public can really tell whether these sensitive unclassified information policies are actually working to safeguard our security, or are being abused for administrative convenience or coverup."

Subsequently, then- Archive general counsel Meredith Fuchs worked with OMB Watch and OpenTheGovernment.org to lead a process of developing policy recommendations for the Presidential transition of 2008-2009, including specific limits on the sensitive-but-unclassified category - limits that now have found official expression in the new Executive Order.

Visit the Archive's Web site for more information about today's posting.



THE NATIONAL SECURITY ARCHIVE is an independent non-governmental research institute and library located at The George Washington University in Washington, D.C. The Archive collects and publishes declassified documents acquired through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). A tax-exempt public charity, the Archive receives no U.S. government funding; its budget is supported by publication royalties and donations from foundations and individuals.


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