Senate Judiciary Panel Passes “State Secrets Protection Act”

On April 24, 2008, the Senate Judiciary Committee, by a vote of 11-8, voted to approve S. 2533, the “State Secrets Protection Act.” The state secrets privilege allows the executive branch to block discovery in civil litigation when the government believes that there is an unacceptable risk of disclosure of sensitive national security secrets. The intent of the legislation is to provide guidance to federal courts in handling assertions of the privilege in civil cases, to prevent the government from using the privilege to withhold evidence that is not actually sensitive.

State Department History Advisory Committee to Meet June 2-3

The Advisory Committee on Historical Diplomatic Documentation will meet in the Department of State, 2201 C Street, NW., Washington, DC, June 2-3, 2008, in Conference Room 1205. The Committee will meet in open session from 1:30 p.m. through 3 p.m. on Monday, June 2, 2008, to discuss declassification and transfer of Department of State records to the National Archives and Records Administration and the status of the Foreign Relations series.

Library of Congress Lowers Age Limit for Main Reading Room

On April 23, 2008, the Library of Congress announced that the minimum age for use of the Main Reading Room to access the Library’s physical collections for research purposes has been lowered to 16. The previous requirement was that researchers be above high school age.

Historians Protest Relocation of European Reading Room at the Library of Congress

The Library of Congress announced to its staff in mid-March that it would close the current European Reading Room (ERR) space in April and convert it into an exhibition area. This development caused an outcry in the historical community amid concerns that the ERR would be permanently closed or after a lengthy relocation delay that the facility would be moved into smaller inadequate space with a loss of research staff. On April 3, 2008, the Library of Congress announced that “contrary to recent concerns” that the European Reading room would not be closed, but relocated.

NARA Will Not Preserve “Snapshots” of Federal Websites When Bush Administration Ends

It was revealed this week that the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) does not plan a “harvest” of federal agency websites as they exist at the end of President Bush’s term. Citing cost concerns, NARA will not archive these federal agency website “snapshots” as it did prior the end of presidential terms in 2001 and 2005. NARA also preserved Congressional websites at the end of 2006. The NARA memo noted that there are non-governmental websites that perform the same function.

U.S. Intelligence Agencies Seek Uniform Classification Policy

U.S. intelligence agencies have embarked upon a process to develop a uniform classification policy and a single classification guide that could be used by the entire U.S. intelligence community, according to a newly obtained report from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. The story was broken by Steven Aftergood in his on-line publication Secrecy News. Because of its importance, we present his story here with full attribution.