EO 12356 PDF

This explanation of the development of E.O. originally appeared as an appendix to Annual Report to the President FY (Washington, D.C., ) by . The new National Security Information Executive Order issued by President Reagan on April 2, E.O. , includes a number of changes to Executive Order . Shortly after President Ronald Reagan issued E.O. on April 2, , general and of E.O. in particular with a view to reform

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Due to the lapse in appropriations, Department of Justice websites will not be regularly updated. These changes are designed to enhance the executive branch’s ability to protect national security information from unauthorized or premature disclosure without increasing the quantity of classified information.

The new order, 47 Fed. First, the individual classifying the document must be authorized to do so. Second, the information must fall within one or more specified categories of information.

Third, the classifying official must determine that unauthorized disclosure of 123356 information could reasonably be expected to cause damage to the national security.

While these general requirements were present in the previous order, two changes have been made to improve the Government’s ability to protect sensitive information. First, ek threshold standard for classification of information 112356 “confidential” has been modified from “identifiable damage” to “damage.

The reason for this change is to eliminate uncertainty regarding the intent of the term 1256. However, some litigants have contended that this language requires that the damage be of a particular type or degree in order to justify classification.

Executive Order 13526

In one lawsuit, for example, the plaintiff argued that disclosure of information identifying certain intelligence sources would not result in “identifiable” damage because the expected harm to these sources was merely speculative.

No such application of the “identifiable damage” concept was intended, and yet each such assertion in court required a full explanation and response, do increasing the increasing the Government’s litigative burden. This unintended burden will be eliminated by the new order. The second change to the requirements for classification is the addition of several subject matter categories of information e.

These additions, however, 1356 codify and clarify existing practice under the previous order and do not authorize classification of information that does not also meet other requirements. Another departure from E. Both the new order and the President’s statement that accompanied it recognize that it is essential for American citizens to be informed about their Government’s activities.

They also recognize, however, the nation’s critical need to protect certain sensitive information when disclosure would harm the security of all Americans. While the “balancing test” may be a laudable principle, including an explicit requirement in the executive order only invited others to substitute their judgment for that of executive branch officials possessed with the expertise and experience to exercise this responsibility.


Catalog Record: Marking : EO 12356, national security information | Hathi Trust Digital Library

That invitation significantly complicated the task of protecting legitimately classified information in court and added no countervailing benefit to the public because no court has ever ordered information released under the balancing test.

The new order also removes the limits on e duration of classification. Certain specified individuals could extend the declassification date or event or establish a date for do review beyond six years, but generally no more than 20 years after original classification. After 20 years, only an agency head could extend classification and then only in year increments. This system and prior systems linking classification to arbitrary in time frames did not significantly accelerate the declassification 21356 but did increase the risk of premature disclosure of information that merited continued protection.

The new order allows classifiers to continue to establish specific dates or events for declassification where that is appropriate. Generally, however, it ties the duration ro classification to the continued national security sensitivity of the information.

Of course, declassification reviews will continue to be required whenever information is requested by any citizen under the mandatory review provisions of the order or the Freedom of Information Act and, generally, will also occur through a systematic review after 30 years.

Another change made by the new order is the addition of a requirement that, in cases of doubt as to classifiability or the proper level of classification, the information be considered classified or classified at the higher level pending a final determination within 30 days by an original classification authority. This requirement is a partial reversal of a provision in E.

The new order also eliminates the prohibition against the reclassification of information previously declassified and released by providing that such information can be reclassified if it “may reasonably be recovered. Obviously, that would be impossible in the wo of an erroneous disclosure to the general public.

Executive Order – Wikipedia

But when, for example, an erroneous release is made to a single FOIA requester, this new provision provides the Government with needed flexibility that it did not have under the previous order. This new authority, however, may only be exercised by the President and agency heads and officials designated by the President as original classification authorities.

Such determinations must also be reported to the Information Security Oversight Office, which continues to have Government-wide oversight of the information security program under the new order. One other major change to E.

In addition to foreign government information and the identity of a confidential ro source, unauthorized disclosure of intelligence sources and methods is also now presumed to cause damage to the national security. Expansion of the information covered by the presumption should aid litigators defending Freedom of Information Act suits involving this information.

It is also noteworthy that the term “confidential source” is now defined in the executive order, thus making clear that the identities of human sources who provide national security information to agencies outside the intelligence community should be protected through classification.


Executive Order also contains a number of less significant changes to the predecessor order. The new order retains existing prohibitions against using classification to conceal violations of law, inefficiency or administrative error, or to prevent embarrassment, or delay the release of’ information that does not require protection in the interest of national security. In addition, the prohibition on classification of basic scientific research information not clearly related to the 1236 security continues as under E.

Executive Order National Security Information

Finally, all information to be classified must be owned by, produced by or for, or under the control of the United States Government. As noted earlier, all of these changes are designed to better enable the Government to protect truly sensitive national security information–in court and otherwise–and to reduce unnecessary administrative burdens without permitting excessive classification.

Steven Garfinkel, director of the General Services Administration’s Information Security Oversight Office and the person responsible for monitoring compliance with the new order, says that the new order “keeps the lid on” the most important factors influencing the extent of classification:.

The most important variable is not the particular information security system in place, but rather the status of world affairs. For example, under the order that is being replaced, classification activity increased approximately ten percent between FY ’79 and FY ’80, largely because of the Iranian hostage crisis. Of the systemic variables that do affect the number of classification decisions, the most relevant are the number of persons authorized to classify information and the quality of program oversight.

This order keeps the number of classifiers at its present total of approximately 7, persons worldwide, down percent from just a decade ago, and retains the requirements for effective internal and external monitorship and training. In conclusion, nothing in the new order is intended to permit the classification of additional material beyond that which was subject to classification under E.

Written by Gerald A.

Steven Garfinkel, director of the General Services Administration’s Information Security Oversight Office and the person responsible for monitoring compliance with the new order, says that the new order “keeps the lid on” the most important factors influencing the extent of classification: Office of Information Policy. Related blog posts January 1, Many executive branch agencies receive FOIA requests for information which may be classified according to the guidelines established by current Executive This executive order was issued by President Clinton on April 17,and will take effect on October 14, It supersedes Executive Order No.

This order prescribes a uniform system for classifying, safeguarding, and declassifying