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U.S. Mass Declassified Documents At Midnight

kdawson posted more than 7 years ago | from the seekrits dept.

Security 131

Alchemist253 writes "Advocates of open government have another reason to celebrate New Year 2007: at midnight hundreds of millions of U.S. government documents that were classified more than 25 years ago got automatically declassified. Various agencies have applied for exemptions for specific documents, but nonetheless there should be a release of a number of interesting papers." From the article: "'It is going to take a generation for scholars to go through the material declassified under this process,' said Steven Aftergood, who runs a project on government secrecy for the Federation of American Scientists."

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So ... (5, Funny)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 7 years ago | (#17422786)

Do we finally find out who killed JFK?

Re:So ... (4, Insightful)

prelelat (201821) | more than 7 years ago | (#17422812)

What will this even prove, if there were conspiracies I'm sure they would have added them to the exemption pile. If not the conspiracy junkies will yell out that the documents were destroyed or put in the exempt pile. People will believe what they want, its all cloak and dager when it comes to the government.

Re:So ... (1)

amRadioHed (463061) | more than 7 years ago | (#17422950)

I think the documents will be very interesting to historians and other reality based types. Obviously it's not for the benefit of the conspiracy crowd since, as you observed, they believe what they want.

Re:So ... (2, Interesting)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 7 years ago | (#17422974)

I wonder if someone could run for president on a single promise - release ALL the info on the JFK killing ... or how long they'd survive before an "accident", or a "deranged gunman" took them out ...

Re:So ... (1)

bladesjester (774793) | more than 7 years ago | (#17423148)

Considering that the FBI and CIA have told the president to go take a leap before, they might let him run on that campaign, but he'd never be able to actually release them.

Re:So ... (2, Interesting)

khallow (566160) | more than 7 years ago | (#17423284)

Answer, no way. That's a really lame single issue. Besides Clinton pretty much did this as part of his policy of more openness in government. And he didn't have an accident or get assassinated.

Re:So ... (1)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 7 years ago | (#17424024)

More than 40 years later, people still ask questions, they're not buying the official party line, and its not really a "single issue". It affects the credibility of the FBI, the CIA, the Department of Justice, and government in general.

Re:So ... (2, Insightful)

4D6963 (933028) | more than 7 years ago | (#17424972)

Big deal, the only thing the US Intelligence has to hide when it comes to the JFK assassination is its own incompetence (as to how they miserably failed to prevent it as Fidel Castro has survived 638 assassination attempts, part of them which had been directly ordered by JFK and RFK)

Re:So ... (2, Funny)

FlyingSquidStudios (1031284) | more than 7 years ago | (#17422828)

No, but since it goes back to the early 80s, maybe we'll find out who shot Ronald Reagan.

Oh wait, we already know that. Oh well.

Re:So ... (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17423120)

No, but since it goes back to the early 80s, maybe we'll find out who shot Ronald Reagan.

Oh wait, we already know that.

Or do we? I submit that the KGB grew genetically-altered assassins equipped with light-bending camoflauge armor to do the job, while using mind control to set up John Hinckley, Jr. as the fall guy (with the help of communist fifth columnists within the film industry who re-edited Taxi Driver to contain subliminal messages, which also caused the rise of MTV, which is a whole other conspiracy which I do not have the space to cover here), and that they in fact succeeded in killing him, but quickly switched the real, dead Reagan with a insidiously clever android based on alien technology. Did you ever seen Ronald Reagan around any large magnets after the shooting? Didn't think so.

I suggest those of you who can see this memorize this information as quickly as you can, because the government DOES NOT WANT YOU TO KNOW THIS, and this post will surely not remain up for very long. (AND DON'T COPY AND PASTE IT. THEY HAVE CODE EMBEDDED IN YOUR BROWSER THAT SEND EVERYTHING EVERYBODY COPIES AND PASTES DIRECTLY TO THE NSA.) Don't worry about me, I'm posting from behind a proxy server (NOT Tor, which is in fact run by Dutch intelligence), and will be taking the next boat to another continent after I've sent out the signal. See through the lies. Good luck to you.

The Hinckley double (1)

michaelmalak (91262) | more than 7 years ago | (#17423518)

Here [underreported.com] is some evidence from the New York Times that assassins are created.

Re:So ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17423758)

any conspiracy worth doing needs one or more of: Knights Templar, Freemasons, CIA, international banking cartel. can you add them in for v 2.0 ?

Re:So ... (1)

Jarn_Firebrand (845277) | more than 7 years ago | (#17423786)

Come on out, William Shatner, I know it's you!

Re:So ... (1)

Lord Aurora (969557) | more than 7 years ago | (#17424536)

I'd like you to know that you honestly just made my day.

Possibly my year.

Funny, but... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17425400)

...unfortunately jokes like yours serve to undermine the effort of people who are attempting to get wrongly classified documents out in the open.

In the world view of far too many, to question anything the government says, or to demand answers of them, is sure proof of being a "conspiracy theory nutjob", unpatriotic, unAmerican, and probably a treasonous Commie.

A huge chunk of the population tell themselves - and others - that the government never lies, it covers nothing up, and has never misbehaved. They hope that everything is public except the things which shouldn't be for our own good. And to them, "hope" is the same as "believe", which itself is the same as "know".

There really are secret government conspiracies, and always have been, as anybody who has ever paid even the tiniest amount of interest in history will have discovered. The conspiracies may not all be of the world-shattering variety, and they aren't related to UFO coverups, and faces on Mars, but conspiracies by governments against their own citizens is a fact of life.

Making fun of those attempting to uncover the conspiracies just trivialises the issue and makes their job far more difficult than it already is.

Re:So ... (2, Funny)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 7 years ago | (#17422848)

Yes. It was Microsoft Bob.

Hey! That's just as reasonable as most of the other "theories" that have been propounded in the decades since.

Re:So ... (2, Funny)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 7 years ago | (#17423058)

No, Microsoft Bob was like herpes.

  1. Nobody would admit to having it
  2. It seriously damaged your reputation
  3. People shunned you
  4. There is no "cure", only treatment.

Re:So ... (2, Interesting)

yabos (719499) | more than 7 years ago | (#17422922)

Most of the possibly interesting documents are always censored when they're declassified. Various UFO documents are mostly blacked out and so are useless.

UFOs (2, Insightful)

trelayne (930715) | more than 7 years ago | (#17422948)

If FOI in the UK is any indication, the top topic of requests will be
regarding UFOs. We should expect a lot of revelations on this in the New Year
(Kecksburg to name one...)

Re:UFOs (2, Interesting)

Lord Kano (13027) | more than 7 years ago | (#17423424)

I'm from Pittsburgh. I have heard secondhand stories about Kecksburg from my grandfather. He was a steelworker and some of his coworkers lived in Kecksburg.

SOMETHING definately crashlanded there, but I suspect that it may have been Soviet.

Either way, I'd like to find out for sure.

LK

psssssssss (1)

p51d007 (656414) | more than 7 years ago | (#17423138)

Lee Harvey Oswald did it ;)

Re:psssssssss (1)

Lord Kano (13027) | more than 7 years ago | (#17423436)

Lee Harvey Oswald did it ;)

Yeah, but now we'll find out who made his Magic Bullet!

LK

Re:psssssssss (1)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 7 years ago | (#17424000)

psssssssss

Lee Harvey Oswald did it ;)

... yes, the air has been leaking out of that excuse for decades.

What's really funny is that if he hadn't thrown his back (he had back problems for decades) with YAEA (Yet Another Extramarital Affair), he wouldn't have been wearing his back brace that day, which prevented him from moving, and wouldn't have been killed.

Re:So ... (1)

creimer (824291) | more than 7 years ago | (#17423172)

The X-Files already proved that it was the Cancer Man who did the assassination.

Re:So ... (1)

blugu64 (633729) | more than 7 years ago | (#17423244)

"The X-Files already proved that it was the Cancer Man who did the assassination."

Hello Dear X-Files brother! I agree!

Re:So ... (1)

skyman8081 (681052) | more than 7 years ago | (#17426846)

Umm.... EVERYBODY knows that JFK was shot by himself from an alternate timeline with the assistance of a cleaning android, hologram, highly evolved cat, and a man from the future in desperate need of more curry.

Re:So ... (1)

Angostura (703910) | more than 7 years ago | (#17423448)

From the headline, I assume we find out the dark secrets behind the definition of the kilogram.

Re:So ... (1)

walstib (620771) | more than 7 years ago | (#17423838)

No, but we get to find out who shot JR.

Re:So ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17424528)

1) Convert all docs to a digital format
2) grep 'grassy knoll'
3) ???
4) profit!!

Re:So ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17425828)

Maybe this is why GW is moving [thepowerhour.com] to Paraguay.

Re:So ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17425934)

The link above is broken. Here is the article: http://www.thepowerhour.com/news2/bush_paraguay.ht m [thepowerhour.com]

nothing to see here... (3, Insightful)

thelost (808451) | more than 7 years ago | (#17422796)

move along. Oh the irony. Anyhow, while this may be good news correct me if I'm wrong but US government has made headway reclassifying previously unclassified documents, as reported for instance here [nytimes.com] . I don't really know the ins and outs, but isn't it kind of one hand giving while the other takes away?

Give and take (4, Insightful)

MikeRT (947531) | more than 7 years ago | (#17422800)

This policy is one of the few things, in my libertarian-leaning mind, that Bill Clinton got very right. There needs to be give and take on both sides. The public needs to respect the need for state secrecy on certain issues, and the state needs to bring everything it can to the public when the problem has been fixed. The only exception that to me is valid would be one that could really cause a war or that would get a foreign contact of the US Government or their friends and family killed.

Re:Give and take (4, Insightful)

Kadin2048 (468275) | more than 7 years ago | (#17423104)

Agreed. However, I don't think the people should ever passively accept classification of documents or withholding of information. Every decision in that direction should be actively questioned and debated. There should be a constant public push to declassify everything, because only when you have that impetus, will anything ever be declassified, particularly because you have a government with an obsession to act secretive and horde information.

The only legitimate reason for secrecy is when the disclosure of a document would result in direct and immediate harm to a U.S. national, ally, or key national interest. The classification of documents for "face saving" reasons is harmful and should be stopped. If we as a nation have made mistakes in the past we should be upfront with them to ourselves and move on.

Re:Give and take (1)

misanthrope101 (253915) | more than 7 years ago | (#17427402)

I don't think the people should ever passively accept classification of documents or withholding of information
They don't. Niether do they want war. But they are whipped into a fervor, kept afraid of the enemy, and government can push us to war and cloak their own actions in secrecy because of it.

"Why of course the people don't want war. Why should some poor slob on a farm want to risk his life in a war when the best he can get out of it is to come back to his farm in one piece? Naturally the common people don't want war neither in Russia, nor in England, nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood. But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the peacemakers for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country." -- Hermann Goering

If President Bush wants these documents secret, even if he doesn't realize they exist until 2345 tonight, he will classify them. He'll say "we can't help the terrorists," and every talking head on Fox will agree with him, along with about 60% of the country. It's a big, easy button to push, and every politician knows right where it is. Are they evil? Perhaps, but we're the suckers. This is why I wish we hadn't crowed about this "automatic" declassification until after it happened.

Re:Give and take (1)

asuffield (111848) | more than 7 years ago | (#17423866)

If the government has 25-year-old secrets that would cause a war if revealed, we're probably all better off with the war than with the secrets. Anything that could cause that after so long would be so bad that we could not possibly justify continuing to do nothing about it.

Saig anyone? (5, Funny)

bunhed (208100) | more than 7 years ago | (#17422818)

Perhaps we need a seti type project to go though it all. We could dub it SAIG, Search for Any Intelligent Governance. I figure it would get the same number of false positives seti does.

Re:Saig anyone? (3, Funny)

FinnWinter (968422) | more than 7 years ago | (#17424986)

More importantly, one would expect it to get exactly the same number of true positives.

not surprising (4, Funny)

macadamia_harold (947445) | more than 7 years ago | (#17422826)

It is going to take a generation for scholars to go through the material declassified under this process,' said Steven Aftergood, who runs a project on government secrecy for the Federation of American Scientists.

Well, if the government really wanted to keep people busy, I'm sure they could just use an algorithm to randomly generate a few million pages of government-speak, formatted to look important, but containing no information whatsoever. That way, they could mask the few nuggets of truly important information in a mound of nonsense and red herrings.

Wait, that's congress' job. Nevermind.

Re: GovtSpeak TurboGenerator (1)

TaoPhoenix (980487) | more than 7 years ago | (#17422978)

Attn: Clearance Level AquaMarine Only

It has come to our attention that several morning papers yesterday depicted several incorrect details. These are FALSE. Report Follows:

1. "Saddam was Executed". Saddam Hussein was previously in a position of executive powers in Iraq. Therefore, when the US instituted the Bush Doctrine, he was removed from those executive powers. Therefore, he was De-Executed.

2. "Saddam's Life was taken". Things which are taken are assumed to be in a condition to either return, or sometimes transfer. Confiscated items are also subject to additional regulations. Saddam's life was in no condition to be returned to him after the procedure performed. Saddam's life was extinguished, not taken or confiscated. It was destroyed at the source, and this result falls under the normal rules of war conduct.

Auxilliary memo, Clearance Level Indigo and above:

While Saddam was alive and merely being tried in court, both the American and Iraq populations could have maintained a state of suspension of disbelief. This symbolic moment officially marks the conclusion of Stage One Bush Doctrine. What the president's senior administration believes it has accomplished, only they know, and many of them have since resigned.

Inneffectiveness of torture (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17422844)

Maybe in 25 years or so, we'll find out that we never found out anything truly helpful by a policy of torture and disregarding America's founding principle that all humans are endowed with unalienable rights.

Anyway, "effective" or not .. torture is morally repugnant ..better have the faith that acting morally is always in the best interest of the nations and also the act in which one won't incur the wrath of the creator.

How do they change over? (3, Interesting)

PurifyYourMind (776223) | more than 7 years ago | (#17422896)

"Secret documents 25 years old or older will lose their classified status without so much as the stroke of a pen"

I'm curious as to how they switch the documents over. 25 years ago it's not like everything was computerized. Are they having people manually sort through classified docs in an "old documents" area, looking and the date, and moving them? I doubt they'd just let historians in to do the sorting.

Don't be silly (3, Funny)

symbolset (646467) | more than 7 years ago | (#17423134)

When a document is classified, that doesn't mean it's pressed on thick orange cardboard with brown ink to prevent photocopying. The government has millions of classified documents and some of the most wonderful document scanners you've ever seen. The original documents were all probably scanned and archived long ago. If they want to, they can release the documents on DVD.

It seems likely they won't want to.

I imagine google will do a nice index and we'll know why Kennedy had the CIA assassinate the guy who invented the 100MPG on tapwater carbeurator shortly.

Re:How do they change over? (1)

lawpoop (604919) | more than 7 years ago | (#17423224)

I think what happens is that there are librarians who are in charge of handling requests for documents or information of any type -- whether it's from the government or the public, through FOIA requests. They are in charge of determining whether they organization or individual has a right to see the documents they are requesting.

So, what happens now is that those librarians take into account the criteria of the FOIA act in deciding whether or not to release the documents.

And, of course, the FOIA give individuals a leg to stand on in court when the government refuses to release documents.

I'm simplifying quite a bit, and I know I'm not entirely accurate. There is not a single, unified store of government documents, nor a single clearinghouse for the release of documents. We have a fractured government, and each agency has it's own archives, procedures, etc.

NISPOM tells us (5, Insightful)

DragonHawk (21256) | more than 7 years ago | (#17423230)

Are they having people manually sort through classified docs in an "old documents" area, looking and the date, and moving them?


Well, I can't speak for everybody, but in the industrial part of US classified world, the NISPOM spells it out pretty clearly. One has to mark every classified document with the date of declassification. The "Declassify On" date comes from the Classification Guide delivered with the contract.

The NISPOM (National Industrial Security Program - Operating Manual) is publicly available; Google for it. Contrary to popular belief, classified information is mainly about accountability and trust, not dark rooms and guys in trench coats. Classified information is about letting information *be distributed*, in an accountable fashion. If somebody in a government position is doing something illegal, they probably just won't tell anybody about it. Calling it "classified" would just draw attention to it.

Which is not to say declassifying old, benign information isn't a good thing; it is. It increases public knowledge of our government while decreasing operating overhead. Indeed, it's generally preferred to have the smallest amount of classified information one can. It's a lot cheaper to work with unclassified material. Better to spend the money on men and equipment.

Re:NISPOM tells us (1)

rah1420 (234198) | more than 7 years ago | (#17423316)

Mod this informative. My bro' was a classified records clerk in the Marines back in the day, and he (without divulging classified knowledge, I would assume) told me that this post was pretty close to the truth... and common sense should tell you a lot of it ('have as little classified information as possible', and the bit about being accountable for classified information.)

Re:NISPOM tells us (3, Insightful)

theLOUDroom (556455) | more than 7 years ago | (#17423782)

If somebody in a government position is doing something illegal, they probably just won't tell anybody about it.

That statement is based on the ridiculously flawed assumption that these actions involve only a single person.

If you want to do something like assasinate a foreign head of state are you going to hop a plane and try to do it yourself, or are you going to collect the right people and develop a plan?

Watergate would be a great example of how totally full of shit this statement is.
The NSA wiretapping program would be another.

The whole point of doing illegal things in government is that you have the resources of the gov't at your disposal. To take advantage of this you need to communicate with your underlings and co-conspirators.
How is the NSA going to set up an illegal wiretapping program if you don't tell them to? How are they going to keep it secret without piles of secret money?

Re:NISPOM tells us (1)

bendodge (998616) | more than 7 years ago | (#17425612)

Um, why do you need classified documents to tell the NSA to start spying? Why not just send a letter with instructions to keep it confidential (eg. out of a filing cabinet)? And if they need money, just bump up the budget (nobody will ask too many questions about that). What's so hard here?

Re:NISPOM tells us (1)

theLOUDroom (556455) | more than 7 years ago | (#17426828)

Why not just send a letter with instructions to keep it confidential (eg. out of a filing cabinet)?

Beacuse then they couldn't send you to jail for publishing the letter (or possibly even execute you).

And if they need money, just bump up the budget (nobody will ask too many questions about that). What's so hard here?

Prison.

Semantics and illegal antics (1)

DragonHawk (21256) | more than 7 years ago | (#17426934)

DragonHawk: "If somebody in a government position is doing something illegal, they probably just won't tell anybody about it. "

theLOUDroom: "That statement is based on the ridiculously flawed assumption that these actions involve only a single person."

Um, no. You'll notice it reads just as well if you assume a group instead of a single person.

The intent of my statement, which you and others seem oblivious to, is that classifying information creates accountability. There's all sorts of rules and regulations regarding classified information. There's classification guides, original agency tracking, regular inventories, all sorts of crap. (Go read the NISPOM if you don't believe me [dss.mil] .) The point of calling something classified is not to keep something hidden, but to let the information be distributed. That distribution is done in an accountable manner, to trusted parties only, but the whole point is to provide a framework where that distribution can happen.

If an entity (be it an individual or a group) wishes to just keep the public from knowing something, it's much better to just not tell anyone else. And that's the other side of the coin which you seem to be missing: A conspiracy can exist easier if it operates outside of the rules. You don't need to call something "classified" to keep it a secret (lower case "S"). Any threats we face from within are going to be far more dangerous in that type of manifestation then under any official banner.

theLOUDroom: "Watergate would be a great example of how totally full of shit this statement is."

Exactly what classified material did the Watergate scandal involve? I'm no expert, but my understanding is that Nixon and his cronies broke into a DNC office in order to steal campaign info. Indeed, I had thought it was explicitly an "off-the-record" sort of program, in order to keep it from being widely known. Which was my point (I guess I need to point that out).

theLOUDroom: "The NSA wiretapping program would be another."

Which NSA wiretapping program? More than one has come to light over the years, ECHELON and TSP just being the most well-known. Speaking of just TSP, you'll remember that there's a not insignificant amount of support from people in all three branches of the government for the "legality" of at least some of it. You and I may not agree, of course, and the debate and controversy over them continues as we speak. Personally, I suspect it goes too far. But that's getting off the real point; read on.

I think the "illegal" part is mostly semantics. So I think you do raise a valid point, but I think the semantic argument obscures the real problem. I think it would be better to address the real problem head on: Even working "within the system", programs can exist, and activities can occur, which a large majority of the US citizenry would object to.

theLOUDroom: "The whole point of doing illegal things in government is that you have the resources of the gov't at your disposal."

I rather suspect that illegal -- and/or (to follow on the above) immoral and objectionable -- things happen in government the same way they happen outside of government: Someone thinks they know better than the rest of us, and/or that "the rules" do not apply to them. The end justifying the means, and all that. I have certainly seen enough of that in private enterprise -- as well as in the ordinary, day-to-day activities of ordinary people -- to believe that there's nothing different there. I do wonder if we perhaps have a better chance of doing something about the corruption in public government, though.

Re:Semantics and illegal antics (1)

theLOUDroom (556455) | more than 7 years ago | (#17427518)

You'll notice it reads just as well if you assume a group instead of a single person.

Except that a group needs to communicate within itself. So yes, you can pronounce the words, but it doesn't make logical sense.

Exactly what classified material did the Watergate scandal involve?

Please read a little more on this subject. [washingtonpost.com] Classified information and "executive priveledge" were key issues in the Watergate debacle.

Speaking of just TSP, you'll remember that there's a not insignificant amount of support from people in all three branches of the government for the "legality" of at least some of it.

If you simply look at the objective reality of what they did, it very obviously violates the law. Just as there was "not [an] insignificant amount of support" for Nixon, so is there for Bush. This does not make their actions any less criminal.


I suppose this is my point:
Your post included these words:
If somebody in a government position is doing something illegal, they probably just won't tell anybody about it. Calling it "classified" would just draw attention to it.

I VERY strongly disagree. I believe you're making faulty assumptions here.
For one, conspirators must communicate and underlings must be ordered around and kept silent.
Additionally, the claim that classifying something draws attention is silly. Draws WHO's attenion? The gov't deliberately minimizes the dissemination of classified information. That's the entire point of calling something a secret in the first place: to limit who gets told about it.

Re:NISPOM tells us (1)

El Torico (732160) | more than 7 years ago | (#17427094)

If somebody in a government position is doing something illegal, they probably just won't tell anybody about it. Calling it "classified" would just draw attention to it.

Not exactly; classifying a program is a great way of getting around those pesky contracting laws.

Re:How do they change over? (1)

Vulch (221502) | more than 7 years ago | (#17423310)

It's been working in the UK for years, although the minimum period is 30 years rather than 25 and some material will have a 50 or 100 year delay. The Public Records Office tends to store material by date rather than by subject, so the relevant shelves become accessible to researchers at the beginning of each year. Indexes may or may not be available, actually finding a declassified document still takes a lot of effort.

This year we've had a look at the timetable of Harold Wilsons resignation, and found out an Argetinean invasion of the Falkland Islands was predicted. Apparently not much happened in 1976.

Among the secrets, cause of Slashdot's dupes (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17422898)

It seems that Slashdot's offices and many of its editors are infected with top secret radioactive element duplonium, resulting in dupes like this [slashdot.org] .

Is this new? (1)

Swimport (1034164) | more than 7 years ago | (#17422910)

Does this happen every year?

Re:Is this new? (3, Informative)

swordgeek (112599) | more than 7 years ago | (#17422944)

If you read the article, you'd find that this is the first time. Clinton enacted a law, and Bush (!) has enforced it. From here on in, it will happen every year, but this is the first.

Re:Is this new? (1)

R2.0 (532027) | more than 7 years ago | (#17423980)

"Clinton enacted a law, and Bush (!) has enforced it"

That's completely rediculous, as it violated the laws of physical existence. It is impossible for Bush to do anything that is not evil. Were he to do so, the world would cease to exist (Ref. "Dogma"). Since the world still exists as of my writing this, Bush's actions are therefore evil, and the releasing of the documents has a sinister purpose far beyond most mortals comprehension.

Fortunately for us credulous masses, there are the chosen few who are unaffected by the glamour of Bush and his cronies, and see their actions as those of the simpletons they really are. They see that the rest of the populace is even more unintelligent than Bush's cabal, and therefor fall under the sway of his childish machinations. Fortunately for us there is the Internet, where those noble, intelligent souls can spread the word of the diabolically complex yet childishly simple plans of Bush, so that a few of us cretins may yet see the light.

Re:Is this new? (1)

dallow (1044092) | more than 7 years ago | (#17424058)

Blah blah blah.

Re:Is this new? (1)

ThatsNotPudding (1045640) | more than 7 years ago | (#17424176)

"and Bush (!) has enforced it."
Only after exempting every piece of paper with the words Bush and Reagan printed upon them.

Re:Is this new? (1)

SeaFox (739806) | more than 7 years ago | (#17425180)

Clinton enacted a law, and Bush (!) has enforced it. From here on in, it will happen every year, but this is the first.

So you mean we have to wait 25 years to find out what really happened with the NSA wiretapping?

Re:Is this new? (1)

jorghis (1000092) | more than 7 years ago | (#17423052)

Not only does it happen every year but slashdot already reported on it happening this year a couple days ago.

http://politics.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=06/12/ 28/0328251 [slashdot.org]

Re:Is this new? (2, Informative)

OriginalArlen (726444) | more than 7 years ago | (#17423182)

A similar process happens here in the UK every year [bbc.co.uk] . (That article's from 2001, but it's still current info.) There are various documents that are classified for 30, 50 or 100 years. Eventually everything gets turned over to historians, in theory at least. It'll be interesting to see how the digital age will affect this process in 25 years' time...

Biggest Personal Bombshell: (3, Funny)

mr_luc (413048) | more than 7 years ago | (#17422988)

It turns out, I wasn't born in Creston Iowa to Matt and Barbara at all. I was created as part of a series of a domestic experiments with in-vitro fertilization, and ... and my father ...

My father is Margaret Thatcher. /me sits on ground and cries.

Re:Biggest Personal Bombshell: (1)

Brandybuck (704397) | more than 7 years ago | (#17423894)

Don't worry about it. I'm sure Margaret was much more masculine than Matt ever was...

Yeah right! (2, Insightful)

ratzmilk (137380) | more than 7 years ago | (#17423032)

There is not a government on the planet that is ever going to tell it's people all their dirty little secrets.

And they don't keep stuff buried for national security, or to protect the innocent, or what ever other reason you may think. The one and only reason any government keeps secrets from it's people is because if they were to get out, they would be lynched.

They are only ever going to release the shit that doesn't matter.

Besides, the most foul things perpetrated by governments usually start with "Will no one rid me of this troublesome priest?", or words to that effect.

Re:Yeah right! (1, Flamebait)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 7 years ago | (#17423154)

The most foul thing perpetrated by the current administration started with the words "Whether they (the perpetrators of 9/11) are brought to justice, or justice is brought to them, justice will be done." To Bush, "justice" means hanging 1 dictator in exchange for 3000 American military dead, half a million (give or take) Iraqi deaths, and 1.5 TRILLION DOLLARS spent "staying the course". Oh, and just to stay "on-topic", the administration of George W. Bush is the most secretive administration in American history. The number of documents he and his henchmen have declared "top-secret" is more than 1100% greater than during the previous administration, and more than 18000% (that's right) greater than declared secret during the Cold War by the (quite paranoid) Reagan administration. If he's not doing anything wrong, what's he got to hide?

Re:Yeah right! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17423440)

They're intelligence documents, fucknut. We're doing a lot broader swath of intelligence. Anything that can compromise an intelligence source (that means get them killed) is classified. All information derivated from a classified document is also classified unless declassified. Now, why the explosion in numbers? Have you heard of computers? They make the creation of documents a lot faster. Now we can create a classified document in the matter of seconds, by forwarding an email message. Go fuck yourself.

Re:Yeah right! (0, Offtopic)

/dev/trash (182850) | more than 7 years ago | (#17423700)

But Clinton!

Mod parent as a MORON (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17423164)

Let's go over this declassifying thing. See, there are laws about hte handling of classified information. In fact, the law specifically states what may be classified, and by who. In fact, ever classified document must be marked to say why it's classified, who's the authority for classifying it, and when it will be declassified. Further, if it's not marked with a declassify on date, there's has to be a justification trail saying why it can't be automatically declassified. The law limits those to a very few categories -- nuclear weapon design, intelligence sources, etc. There's a reason congress wrote the law that way. However, shitheads like you just accuse everyone of working with classified material as conspirators. So go fuck yourself.

Re:Mod parent as a MORON (0, Offtopic)

ratzmilk (137380) | more than 7 years ago | (#17423376)

Will no one rid me of this troublesome priest?

Re:Mod parent as a MORON (1, Offtopic)

Qzukk (229616) | more than 7 years ago | (#17423422)

In fact, the law specifically states what may be classified, and by who.

I bet the law doesn't say that KBR can redact entries from its audit that demonstrated that they overcharged Americans, but they got to do it anyway.

However, shitheads like you just accuse everyone of working with classified material as conspirators.

They must have had help from the inside. I mean, I can't just go into the IRS office and redact my taxable salary if I want to, now can I?

Re:Yeah right! Cynics Unite! (1)

b.burl (1034274) | more than 7 years ago | (#17423186)

So we shouldn't even try? A couple of tid bits from the last load of declassified docs: Johnson started the bombing of cambodia, not nixon. More explosive force was droped on that country (we have the day by day logs now) than was dropped by all sides in WWII (including nukes). Which has lent credence to the theory that the psychologicaly and physical devestation of the country was the reason a nutter like the k.Rouge went from a fringe force with less then a hundred followers to the genocidal ruler he became. Like it or not, some openess is better than none. And there is no way that law would get passed now by either party.

Re:Yeah right! (1)

Phil246 (803464) | more than 7 years ago | (#17423450)

Wasn't that said by a certain king ( Henry II ), not a government? :)

Re:Yeah right! (1)

Torvaun (1040898) | more than 7 years ago | (#17423606)

First, lynching is done to people who can't defend themselves from the mob. I have great faith that the American government could put down an uprising of the people.

Second, you seem to be saying that there are no national security issues in classified documents. They're all about Roswell or the JFK assassination or thermite bombs in the World Trade Center. Intellectual osmosis demands I move away from these kinds of statements before I get some on me.

Third, you're busy assuming that the American people know anything about governmental decisions. Here's a scenario: Government takes action that looks bad when taken out of context. Context must be kept classified because it could reveal intelligence sources. Every Special Olympian like you decides that because they aren't giving us a why, just a how, they don't have a why.

And finally, the most foul things perpetrated by governments fall closer to "Will no one rid me of this troublesome race/religion?" Something that for all your smarm, we haven't done.

Re:Yeah right! (2, Insightful)

cheesygrapes (927272) | more than 7 years ago | (#17425210)

I love how when Bush tries to spy on the American people, all the neofacists chime in with the "if people aren't doing anything wrong they shouldn't mind if the government knows their business" bit but when people want to be able to see what the government (also made of people, but with more power and more corrupt) is doing, the neofacists instantly defend the government's right to privacy. I'm sorry but this is America we're talking about. We the people, rule America. The government should answer to the people and report to the people. Instead of the government spying on the people, the people should be spying on the government. This shouldn't be about left or right, liberal or conservative, it is about being American or being Facist.

Re:Yeah right! (1)

Torvaun (1040898) | more than 7 years ago | (#17426170)

I love the idiotic Utopian view some people take. Now, let's stop with the false dichotomies and name-calling, and get down to logical arguments, shall we?

I am in favor of declassification of documents that will no longer directly harm our nation or its citizens. My statement was that claiming that everything the government does needs to be open to whoever wants to know it is both absurd, and harmful to America. Let's say we open source the list of our intelligence officers in other nations. Now the ones with a diplomatic cover will be sent home, and the ones without a diplomatic cover will be killed. Now the nation is blind, and men and women are dead. Let's say we provide blueprints for military bases, including things like guard rotations and security schematics. Now bombs might be finding their way into the bases where they wouldn't have before.

Is this security through obscurity? Yes. But when you're dealing with people instead of programs, the alternative is called a police state. I believe government needs it's privacy as much as citizens do, if not more, because a citizen without any privacy is still better than that same citizen dead. It's even better for citizens to have privacy, of course, but that has nothing to do with the underlying need for governments to be able to keep their secrets.

Re:Yeah right! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17426072)

tell it's people
all their dirty
from it's people

"its".

And they don't keep

"it doesn't".

they would be

"government officials".

They are only ever

"Government officials".

You seem to switch frequently from singular to plural and back. In the U.S.A., the word "government" is singular.

Re:Yeah right! (1)

Myrcutio (1006333) | more than 7 years ago | (#17426306)

thats something of a logical fallacy there, to say,

The one and only reason any government keeps secrets from it's people is because if they were to get out, they would be lynched.
There's no evidence for that, and nothing to go on to support such a claim. The only real claim you could make on classified information with absolutely nothing to go on, is that governments keep secrets because they can. The why is a complete mystery to everyone but the guy with the "Classified" stamp.

Re:Yeah right! (1)

Bo'Bob'O (95398) | more than 7 years ago | (#17427784)

You ever seen the kinds of shit they do release? What they did to Chile.. helping Saddam's rise to power, the countless things that have been made passing mention of that are really astonishing. Yet, nobody much cares. I guess people don't much care about history, no matter how relevant or intrinsic to the events of today they were.

Where? (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17423056)

So, where the hell can we find these documents?

Re:Where? (5, Informative)

AlXtreme (223728) | more than 7 years ago | (#17423344)

Not sure if declassified documents have already been placed online for the FBI or NSA, but the FBI [fbi.gov] , NSA [nsa.gov] and CIA [cia.gov] FOIA sites might be good places to start. The CIA does have a few new documents online. Pick your favorite incident and happy hunting!

Re:Where? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17423656)

Some useful info can be found here. [fas.org]

AUTOMATIC DECLASSIFICATION DEADLINE LOOMS

In his March 2003 executive order 13292, President Bush affirmed that on December 31, 2006, with certain limitations, "all classified records that (1) are more than 25 years old and (2) have been determined to have permanent historical value under title 44, United States Code, shall be automatically declassified whether or not the records have been reviewed."

That December 31 deadline is now almost here, the New York Times noted in a front page story today.

See "U.S. to Declassify Secrets at Age 25" by Scott Shane, New York Times, December 21:

http://www.nytimes.com/2006/12/21/washington/21dec lassify.html [nytimes.com]

The automatic declassification of 25 year old records, which will continue to apply to new records each year as they become 25 years old, is a genuine innovation in classification policy. It is a credit both to the Clinton Administration, which first adopted the proposal, and the Bush Administration, which did not abandon it.

In practice, however, the impact of the policy may not be as dramatic as one might imagine, for several reasons.

First, many agencies have sought and received exemptions for one of nine categories of information (war plans, intelligence sources, WMD information, etc.) that need not be declassified. Selected agency declassification plans may be found here:

http://www.fas.org/sgp/isoo/declass/index.html [fas.org]

Second, records that involve the interests ("equities") of more than one agency are not subject to this month's deadline. Rather, they are to be declassified by December 31, 2009.

Third, declassification does not imply immediate disclosure. Some declassified records may still need to be reviewed for privacy data and other exempt information.

Finally, the processing of hundreds of millions or billions of declassified pages to make them publicly accessible is a logistical challenge that may exceed the capability of the National Archives, which has faced increasing budgetary pressures.

Unless Congress chooses to provide supplemental resources for the Archives, many declassified records will remain inaccessible.

In a December 21 news release, the Office of Director of National Intelligence announced the declassification of "four decades of U.S. intelligence on Yugoslavia" including 34 recently declassified National Intelligence Estimates.

http://www.fas.org/sgp/news/2006/12/odni122106.pdf [fas.org]

The records are available through the National Intelligence Council here:

http://www.dni.gov/nic/NIC_foia_yugoslavia.html [dni.gov]

Re:Where? (2, Funny)

manastungare (596862) | more than 7 years ago | (#17423746)

Haven't you heard? They have been on display at the bottom of a locked filing cabinet stuck in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying 'Beware of the Leopard'.

J.C.'s da shit (1)

b.burl (1034274) | more than 7 years ago | (#17423146)

See, Jimmy Carter was a great president.

+1 funny? (nt) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17426748)

+1 funny?

A Generation? (1)

Raindance (680694) | more than 7 years ago | (#17423174)

'It is going to take a generation for scholars to go through the material declassified under this process,' said Steven Aftergood, who runs a project on government secrecy for the Federation of American Scientists.


I find this very unlikely. Not to dismiss the sheer number of documents to sort through, correlate, and summarize, but search isn't exactly a dead field. A significant portion of the smartest people in the world are working on problems which parallel this one.

It'll be years, not tens of years, before these documents are fully understood.

Re:A Generation? (1)

Tolwyn_993442 (795967) | more than 7 years ago | (#17425356)

That's a lot of stuff to read through, and understand, which is what Mr. Aftergood (what a name, by the way) meant, I think.

where? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17423208)

torrent plz...!!

Elvis (0, Offtopic)

phrostie (121428) | more than 7 years ago | (#17423556)

at last we can find out where Elvis went!!!

Re:Elvis (1)

ZeroExistenZ (721849) | more than 7 years ago | (#17425410)

Everyone knows he went underground...

How long until Google gets a copy? (2, Interesting)

abb3w (696381) | more than 7 years ago | (#17423568)

It seems something like this would fit in well with their "Google Books" virtual library.

Re:How long until Google gets a copy? (1)

PhilipMarlowe9000 (1035214) | more than 7 years ago | (#17423752)

I would comment on this article, but there's a guy in a black war watching me through the window. Maybe it's because of that weird round saucer thing I picked up as a souvenir when I going through New Mexico. What the hell, it makes a wonderful birdbath, what with the Masonic symbols on the side and all.

A Generation?? (2, Funny)

electronerdz (838825) | more than 7 years ago | (#17424316)

Give it to Google, let them index it, and then we can all work on it. They everyone will Myspace and blog it, and the world will know everything.

mod d03n (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17425470)

paper towels, then Jordan Huubard free-loving climate

Make copies... (1)

Yaa 101 (664725) | more than 7 years ago | (#17426690)

Anybody thinking about making copies?

Too bad... (1)

WheelDweller (108946) | more than 7 years ago | (#17426790)

It won't show what documents Sandy Berger walked out of there with, in his underwear. He was so sloppy. I can't TELL you how many times I've walked out of my secured workplaces, with confidential documents in my shoes, socks, and in my sandwich. But NEVER my underwear! :)

He got community service and a $50,000 fine. Isn't that sweet. Think any of us would be *ALIVE* if we did that.

Maybe what's allowed out will explain some things we didn't know before. And not just paperwork: remember that guy who files a FOI and got the software that runs the VA hospital system? Now that was cool. (Unlike Sandy Berger.) :)
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