President Obama May 27 ordered a 90-day review of the government's classified documents program, urging a review team to assume a presumption of openness. The review team will he headed by Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano.
"While the government must be able to prevent the public disclosure of information where such disclosure would compromise the privacy of American citizens, national security or other legitimate interests, a democratic government accountable to the people must be as transparent as possible and must not withhold information for self-serving reasons or simply to avoid embarrassment," Obama said in a White House memo.
The review follows Obama's Jan. 21 pledge to "take appropriate action, consistent with law and policy, to disclose information rapidly in forms that the public can readily find and use."
According to the May 27 memo, the review team will make recommendations and propose revisions to address the problem of over-classification of government documents, including the possible restoration of the presumption against classification. Obama said that would preclude classification of information where there is significant doubt about the need for such classification.
Obama also said the review team should consider the establishment of a National Declassification Center to bring appropriate agency officials together to perform collaborative declassification review under the administration of the Archivist of the United States.