In a seven-year-old secret program at the National Archives, intelligence agencies have been removing from public access thousands of historical documents that were available for years, including some already published by the State Department and others photocopied years ago by private historians.
The project apparently began in 1999 when the CIA and other agencies declared objections to a declassification order signed by Bill Clinton in 1995, and accelerated after George W. Bush came into office. According to Shane over 55,000 pages of previously declassified information have been reclassified.
The reclassification program is so classified itself that few people knew about it until last December.
That was when an intelligence historian, Matthew M. Aid, noticed that dozens of documents he had copied years ago had been withdrawn from the archives' open shelves.
Mr. Aid was struck by what seemed to him the innocuous contents of the documents — mostly decades-old State Department reports from the Korean War and the early cold war. He found that eight reclassified documents had been previously published in the State Department's history series, "Foreign Relations of the United States."
"The stuff they pulled should never have been removed," he said. "Some of it is mundane, and some of it is outright ridiculous."
Aid and other historians complained to the Archives' Information Security Oversight Office, which began an audit of the reclassification program. Archive officials say the program has revoked access to 9,500 documents, more than 8,000 of them since Mr. Bush took office.
Anonymous sources believe most of the reclassification is being conducted by the CIA and the Defense Intelligence Agency.
Dr. Anna K. Nelson, a foreign policy historian at American University, called the program a "travesty" and said "I think the public is being deprived of what history is really about: facts."
Facts. In these Rovewellian times, we don't want any of those pesky things lying around where anybody can discover them.