Letter: Document security system needs fixing

Updated 1/27/2023 8:00 AM

The discovery of classified documents is now much in the news. A more complete understanding of what is being reported would seem to depend on knowing how the retention of classified documents is supposed to function. So, not the classifying process, but the information flow process.

Information appropriately subject to classification is first developed in the White House and in the numerous executive agencies (the State Department, the Defense Department, etc). Such a widely decentralized arrangement brings on questions not only about security at these various locations, but also about how these documents are cataloged and tracked by the units that produce them, and how their existence may be known to other units with a legitimate need-to-know.


In particular, one might ask how the National Archives would know of the existence of any such documents or otherwise be a position to seek future possession of them. From the reporting, it appears that the National Archives is not routinely informed that a classified document has been composed and thus is not aware of any classified documents that should eventually be transferred and included in its inventory.

As pertains to classified documents, this system exhibits obvious flaws that would seem to make enforcement of its expectations a rather doubtful pursuit.

Jim Kinney

Vernon Hills

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