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Government United States

New Declassification Process To Open 400 Million Pages of Records 135

Posted by timothy
from the what-do-you-want-to-see dept.
linzeal writes "The newly minted National Declassification Center has been tasked by President Obama with eliminating the backlog of more than 400 million pages of classified records that are more than 25 years old by the end of 2013. The National Archives has prepared a draft prioritization plan to guide its declassification activities, and has invited public input on the plan. A public forum on the subject will be held on June 23. This may be a bonanza for the community of historians and intelligence buffs who have been left without significant source material to work with, in some cases since WWII, especially in terms of any information on cryptography, image analysis, and espionage."
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New Declassification Process To Open 400 Million Pages of Records

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  • by alfredos (1694270) on Thursday June 10, 2010 @04:54PM (#32528102)
    Not that previous posters don't have a point, but transparency in governments has to start somewhere. Far from perfect, late, and everything else, but at least it's a start.
  • Re:ya right (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Peach Rings (1782482) on Thursday June 10, 2010 @04:55PM (#32528106) Homepage

    The Freedom of Information Act seems to be working pretty well despite resulting in mass humiliation for countless officials.

  • Re:ya right (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) on Thursday June 10, 2010 @05:00PM (#32528180)

    Does anyone on /. honest believe anything seriously juicy or even particularly interesting would *ever* be released to the public.

    Depends on your definition of 'juicy' - this kind of information is a treasure-trove for historians. Not Nicholas Cage "National Treasure" 'historians' but the real guys who record the fundamentals of who/what/where/when/how and sometimes the why of our government operations. The motivation to over-classify is particularly strong - no one ever got sent to prison for not releasing a document. But keeping this stuff hidden has all kinds of long-term bad effects, such as an inability to learn from previous mistakes, duplication of effort and a bunch more stuff that isn't about malfeasance but is extremely important to healthy governance.

  • Re:ya right (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 10, 2010 @05:09PM (#32528312)

    You know, people bitch and moan about more transparency in government. When government finally gets off its ass trying to be more transparent like people want, what do they do? That's right, bitch and moan even more that its not good enough.

    Yes, this isn't perfect, but its a goddamn start, and never would have happened in a million years under the previous administration.

  • by Jeng (926980) on Thursday June 10, 2010 @05:13PM (#32528370)

    Could be something as nice as when we set up the Soviets natural gas pipeline to blow by providing them sabotaged parts. Something that we couldn't really fess up to at the time, but now we parade it as one of the covert successes of the cold war.

    Could be something as wrong as Iran-contra.

  • Re:ya right (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Kenoli (934612) on Thursday June 10, 2010 @05:19PM (#32528410)
    Not being 'seriously juicy or even particularly interesting' is probably the main reason many of them need to be declassified in the first place. Guarding worthless secrets is a waste of effort.
  • by c++0xFF (1758032) on Thursday June 10, 2010 @05:30PM (#32528584)

    Twenty-five years is a ridiculous amount of time to keep things from the people that you were elected to represent. Please someone, anyone, name me an item from 1984 that would have ended the world as we know it were it discovered prior to this year.

    Rockets

    We certainly don't want N. Korea to have our 1984-level rocketry capability, now do we?

    Atomic Weapons

    1984 atomic bombs are just as deadly ... why should we give Iran a leg-up?

    Spies

    Do we still have spies in place from the cold war? If it a long time to get them into place, you might as well leave them there for as long as possible.

    ------

    That said, 25 years is a long time for most things, and I believe the above have exceptions so that they wouldn't be released anyway. But maybe it's better to set a definite time period that's sufficient for most things than to make it too short.

  • by HaeMaker (221642) on Thursday June 10, 2010 @05:40PM (#32528734) Homepage

    The amount of documentation that the NDC considers of high public interest but difficult to declassify is 151,793 cubic feet of paper.

    That is a cube 1/10 of a mile on each side. Accoring to a random estimate on the internet, a cubic foot of paper is approximately 9.24 reams of paper (500 sheets). So, 151,793 cubic feet of paper is about 700 million sheets.

    That's a big twinkie.

  • by s122604 (1018036) on Thursday June 10, 2010 @05:57PM (#32528930)
    I give fox news about a day, to come up with story that implies that this means that Obama is wreckless, hates America, etc...

    surely with a headline as stupid as what I came up with
  • Re:ya right (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DerekLyons (302214) <fairwater@@@gmail...com> on Thursday June 10, 2010 @06:11PM (#32529094) Homepage

    Does anyone on /. honest believe anything seriously juicy or even particularly interesting would *ever* be released to the public.

    That depends on your definition of interesting. There's lots of material that is still classified that would never make the evening news when it's released, but which would be of considerable interest to historians, economists, engineers, geeks, etc... etc...
     
    Just because it doesn't cause a scandal doesn't mean it's not important or interesting.

  • by Bert64 (520050) <bertNO@SPAMslashdot.firenzee.com> on Thursday June 10, 2010 @06:37PM (#32529402) Homepage

    Isn't it wrong when copyrighted material is protected longer than classified government secrets...

  • Re:ok everyone (Score:3, Insightful)

    by blair1q (305137) on Thursday June 10, 2010 @07:41PM (#32530120) Journal

    Conspiracy theorists, start your engines!

    Quite the contrary. Conspiracy theorists, run for the hills!

    You're all going to look interminably foolish when it comes out you were borked by transparently simplistic CIA misinformation campaigns.

  • by grahamd0 (1129971) on Thursday June 10, 2010 @11:34PM (#32531518)

    ...copyright has a finite length and automatically expires...

    In theory. We'll see about that the next time a corporate copyright is close to expiration.

  • by dpilot (134227) on Friday June 11, 2010 @07:51AM (#32533666) Homepage Journal

    When was the last copyright extension...

    A quick look at google/Wikipedia, and it appears that the next expiration date for "Steamboat Willie" is around 2019, so that's when "limited time" will be redefined yet again.

  • Re:ya right (Score:2, Insightful)

    by HotBBQ (714130) on Friday June 11, 2010 @08:58AM (#32534134)
    As someone who holds a DoD security clearance I can assure you that nothing juicy will be released. This isn't because it would be harmful, but because 99.9% of classified material is spectacularly devoid of anything interesting.

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