ARCHIVED: Support for Moratorium on Reclassification

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March 7, 2006

The Honorable Allen Weinstein
Archivist of the United States
National Archives and Records Administration
700 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20408

Dear Mr. Weinstein:

As President of the American Association of Law Libraries, I would like to thank you for your recent decision to suspend the reclassification of previously declassified documents, most dating as far back as the 1940s and 1950s, and to require NARA's Information Security Oversight Office to conduct an audit of the materials that were withdrawn from public access.

The American Association of Law Libraries ("AALL") is a non-profit educational organization with over 5,000 members nationwide. AALL's mission is to promote and enhance the value of law libraries to the legal and public communities, to foster the profession of law librarianship, and to provide leadership in the field of legal information and information policy.

A core tenet of AALL's government relations policy is that accessible government information is both an essential principle of a democratic society and a valuable public good created at taxpayer expense. While we fully support the Government's legitimate need to classify certain materials to protect our national security, we are alarmed that this secret program has been in place for seven years, resulting in the withdrawal from public access of approximately 9,500 documents held by the National Archives. Historians familiar with many of these materials believe that most pose no threat to our national security and should remain publicly available. We agree.

We look forward to the results of the audit next month as well as the House Government Reform Committee's Subcommittee on National Security oversight hearing next week. Both efforts will hopefully result in achieving the proper balance between the need for continued public access to these important historical documents and any legitimate national security concerns.

On behalf of AALL, I applaud you for your leadership in this very important matter. I also look forward very much to seeing you next week at the 70th anniversary of the first publication of the Federal Register and again, in July, at our annual conference in St. Louis during which we will be celebrating our first centennial. Thank you very much for agreeing to participate with Public Printer Bruce James at the Town Meeting on E-Life Cycle Management. Our members are keenly interested in NARA's progress in developing the Electronic Records Archive and are looking forward very much to your presentation.


Claire Germain
American Association of Law Libraries