It’s been eight years in the making, but the much anticipated Public Interest Declassification Board has finally released its report to the president urging a series of steps to reform the process of declassifying historical records.
J. William Leonard, the former National Archives director of Information Security Oversight, told the Associated Press that the report shows: ”as problematic as the current system may be, it’s definitely ill-equipped to handle the challenges of tomorrow….”
The mere existence of a final report is itself an accomplishment. As News Media & the Law first reported in Winter 2007, the history of the declassification board has been tumultuous. It was first created in 2000, but no members were actually named to the board until 2005. Then it didn’t receive funding until 2006. Last year, the board found itself stuck asking for presidential permission to make recommendations on the classification status of documents referred by Congress.
The report proves that the next administration has a daunting task in front of it in order to reverse the culture that has allowed so much overclassification in Washington.