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US intelligence documents reclassified under secret deal with National Archives

[JURIST] The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) [official website] in a 2002 memorandum of understanding [PDF text] with three federal agencies agreed to reclassify approximately 10,000 public intelligence documents, taking them out of the public view. NARA made the agreement available [press statement] Monday, naming two of the three agencies that were party to the agreement - the Central Intelligence Agency [official website] and the US Air Force [official website] - but the third agency was left unnamed. Some of the 55,000 pages of documents were written as many as 50 years ago. In addition to allowing the sealing of documents, NARA also agreed to keep the process secret, including an assurance not to disclose the reason that intelligence officials were in the archives while the reclassification took place. The secret agreement among the agencies drew some concern among Washington officials. Archivist of the United States Allen Weinstein [official profile] described the release of the agreement as an "important first step in finding the balance between continuing to protect national security and protecting the right to know by the American public."

Intelligence agencies began the process of reclassifying public documents in 1999, but the process sped up dramatically since President Bush took office and the September 11 attacks occurred. The National Security Archive has background on the memorandum of understanding. AP has more.

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