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Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Paranoia in the US National Archives

The New York Times has reported that a seven year old secret program at the National Archives has seen thousands of historical documents removed from public access despite the fact that some had already been published by the State Department and others photocopied years ago by private historians.

Several experts interviewed for the story say that the program is removing material that can do no conceivable harm to national security, and is part of a marked trend towards greater secrecy. They say the Bush administration has increased the pace of classifying documents, slowed declassification and discouraged the release of some material under the FOI Act.

Among the documents previously available and now withdrawn is a 1948 memorandum on a CIA scheme to float balloons over countries behind the Iron Curtain and drop propaganda leaflets. It has been reclassified as part of the program, even though it was published by the State Department in 1996.

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