When the Bush administration declassified the 2002 National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq, that was Bad. Not just Bad, but a Scandal. (It wasn’t Bad until three years later, but that’s another story.) The Associated Press was among the leaders in the mainstream media, pushing the idea that it was a Scandal to declassify the NIE.
That position must have been a little uncomfortable, though, since it conflicts with the Public’s Right to Know, which is generally popular with the media. In the case of the NIE, the media took the position that the Public had a Right to Know everything about intelligence on Iraq that was leaked illegally by Democratic bureaucrats (true or false), but didn’t have a Right to Know what was actually reported by the CIA and other agencies at the time.
Sure enough, it wasn’t long before the AP’s loyalties shifted. Today, we have another Scandal about something Bad. Only this time, it isn’t declassification that’s Bad, it’s reclassification. The Scandal is that the National Archives cooperated with federal intelligence agencies and the Air Force in reclassifying certain documents that were identified as having ongoing security implications, and discreetly removing them from public view. This process started in 1999, but “[t]he number of documents that have been removed from public view…has soared since President Bush took office in 2001 and the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks occurred.” ‘Nuff said. It’s Bad, probably a Scandal.
The AP quotes an official of the Archives, who testified before Congress that the issue of declassifying and reclassifying “requires delicate balancing”:
“When information is improperly declassified, or is not classified in the first place although clearly warranted, our citizens, our democratic institutions, our homeland security, and our interactions with foreign nations can be subject to potential harm,” Leonard said.
“Conversely, too much classification … or inappropriate reclassification, unnecessarily obstructs effective information sharing and impedes an informed citizenry, the hallmark of our democratic form of government.”
True enough. But it’s a lot easier to do the “delicate balancing”–for the mainstream media, anyway–if you start by figuring out which side the Bush administration is on.
Via Power Line News.