Wednesday, April 12, 2006

WaPo reports on National Archives' Vision Problems

An African proverb is said to be, "Until lions have their historians, tales of the hunt shall always glorify the hunter." We learn today via the WaPo's Christopher Lee that "Archives Kept a Secrecy Secret : Agencies Removed Declassified Papers From Public Access". The reporting reads,

The National Archives helped keep secret a multi-year effort by the Air Force, the CIA and other federal agencies to withdraw thousands of historical documents from public access on Archives shelves, even though the records had been declassified. ...

The program dates to the Clinton administration, when the CIA and other agencies began recalling documents they believed were improperly released under a 1995 executive order requiring declassification of many historical records 25 years old and older. The pace of the removal picked up after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

Although the Archives will not name the agencies involved, historians with the National Security Archive have said the Defense Intelligence Agency, the Defense Department and the Justice Department also have participated.

The National Archives site contains their "Vision Statement" which reads in part,

The National Archives is a public trust on which our democracy depends. We enable people to inspect for themselves the record of what government has done. We enable officials and agencies to review their actions and help citizens hold them accountable.

We ensure continuing access to essential evidence that documents:

  • the rights of American citizens
  • the actions of federal officials
  • the national experience

They also have a reference, with my emphasis supplied, later to

"Communication: propose ideas, dialogue with others, develop trust, and act openly, honestly, and with integrity"
Reckon they lost track of their "Vision"? Orwellian isn't it? Peace ... or War!

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