NARA and Declassification

Minutes 09/09/06

Public Interest Declassification Board

(As approved at the October 13, 2006, PIDB Meeting)

The Public Interest Declassification Board (PIDB) held its sixth meeting on Saturday, September 9, 2006. This meeting was held in the Archivist's Reception Room, Room 105, National Archives Building in Washington, D.C., and included summary briefings of the declassification program at the U.S. Department of State (State). L. Britt Snider, Chairman of the PIDB, chaired the meeting. Other Board members that attended included Martin C. Faga, Steven Garfinkel, Joan Vail Grimson, David E. Skaggs, Elizabeth Rindskopf Parker, and Richard Norton Smith. Also present: J. William Leonard, Director, Information Security Oversight Office (ISOO), serving as Executive Secretary for the PIDB; Professor Allen Weinstein, Archivist of the United States; and William J. Bosanko, Pamela J. Carcirieri, Robert Skwirot, and Dallas L. Perry, ISOO, serving as the PIDB staff.

I. Pre-Brief - Executive Session (Closed)

After welcoming the Board, the Chair turned to Mr. Bosanko to provide the Board with information on State's organizational structure, its records, and how its review process is conducted. He explained several pertinent aspects of State's program, such as: impacts on resources, the records life-cycle review process, and the utilization by State of retired Foreign Service Officers. Mr. Bosanko highlighted three areas of importance: State participation in the Remote Archives Capture (RAC) system; the wider policy concerning former overseas storage locations for weapons; and the impact of foreign government information and information exempted from automatic declassification under section 3.3(b)(9) of E.O. 12958, as amended, because of statute, treaty, or international agreement.

II. Board Meeting - Opening Comments (Open)

The Chair provided opening remarks by welcoming all in attendance. He then introduced Professor Weinstein, The Archivist of the United States, who read a formal statement and highlighted a recent press release. Professor Weinstein commended the Board for the work they were doing to strengthen the classification system. He spoke about the National Declassification Initiative (NDI) and stated that he thought the NDI will address many problems within the current system. Professor Weinstein concluded by stating he looked forward to the Board's input on improvements to the declassification system.

III. Summary Briefings on the State Department (Open)

The Deputy Assistant Secretary for Information Sharing Services (A/ISS), Lee R. Lohman, provided the Board with a briefing on the responsibilities, mandates, and challenges that State is facing with respect to automatic declassification. Among the challenges, he stated, was managing the exchange of information, particularly when emails are considered record information. He further described the complexities of special media and how working with that category of records slows the entire declassification process. Mr. Lohman reported that State is developing a single controlled archival tool, the State Messaging and Archive Retrieval Tool (SMART) for all its records. Mr. Lohman concluded his presentation by saying that State is an advocate of uniformity throughout the community and supports the NDI.

The next guest speaker from State was Margaret P. Grafeld, Director of the Office of Information Programs and Services (IPS), who read a formal statement. Mrs. Grafeld began by thanking the Board for the opportunity to speak and continued by describing the challenges that State faces regarding Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests and gathering evidence for trials. Both require comprehensive search efforts. Mrs. Grafeld further stated that document