Issue 71, Fall 1998

In 1995, President Clinton issued an executive order to declassify Government documents older than 25 years. Since then, more than 400 million pages of documents have been made public – more than the government had declassified in all the preceding years combined, according to Steven Aftergood, Director of the Project on Government Secrecy. Now, the flow of information may end. A provision in a Defense Department authorization bill – reminiscent of cold-war secrecy policies – would require all federal agencies to inspect each page of documents 25 years and older, for nuclear secrets. John W. Carlin, the Archivist of the United States, has warned that the proposed restriction would “completely nullify” the 1995 executive order since the agencies lack the people and money required to “eyeball” the millions of documents under review for public release.