The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

Advertisement
Texas A&M University System Chancellor John Sharp attends the Class of 1972 50-year reunion in Kyle Field on April 20, 2022.
A&M System’s Title IX director suspended after supporting Biden's Title IX changes
Nicholas Gutteridge, Managing Editor • May 23, 2024
Advertisement
Texas A&M outfielder Jace Laviolette (17) robs a home run from Florida infielder Cade Kurland (4) in the top of the ninth inning during Texas A&M’s game against Florida at the NCAA Men’s College World Series at Charles Schwab Field in Omaha, Nebraska on Sunday, June 15, 2024. (Hannah Harrison/The Battalion)
Saves and a robbery
Ian Curtis, Sports Reporter • June 16, 2024

Texas A&M baseball sophomore RF Jace LaViolette is known for his bat — and for good reason. LaViolette ranks sixth in the country in home...

Advertisement
The Fighting Texas Aggie Band performs at halftime during Texas A&Ms football game against ULM at Kyle Field on Saturday, Sept. 16, 2023.
Gridiron glory to multi-event marvel
Shalina Sabih, Sports Writer • June 7, 2024

Special teams: Special events  “My favorite thing about an event is seeing the people come into the stadium and seeing their excitement...

Kennedy White, 19, sits for a portrait in the sweats she wore the night of her alleged assault inside the Y.M.C.A building that holds Texas A&M’s Title IX offices in College Station, Texas on Feb. 16, 2024 (Ishika Samant/The Battalion).
'I was terrified'
April 25, 2024
Advertisement
Chris Hemsworth as Dementus in Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga.
Review: ‘Furiosa’ is a must-see
Justin ChenJune 4, 2024

My jaw dropped open in 2016. Rarely in life does that happen, but the viewing experience of “Mad Max: Fury Road" was something to behold....

Texas A&M outfielder Jace Laviolette (17) robs a home run from Florida infielder Cade Kurland (4) in the top of the ninth inning during Texas A&M’s game against Florida at the NCAA Men’s College World Series at Charles Schwab Field in Omaha, Nebraska on Sunday, June 15, 2024. (Hannah Harrison/The Battalion)
Saves and a robbery
June 16, 2024

Declassification discussion

The+panel+included+experts+in+their+field+Thomas+Zeiler%2C+Thomas+Blanton%2C+Nancy+Morgan+and+James+Olson.
Photo by Photo by Jenny Hollowell

The panel included experts in their field Thomas Zeiler, Thomas Blanton, Nancy Morgan and James Olson.

Experts including library archivists and a CIA veteran gathered to discuss the topic of declassifying documents from a president’s time in office, specifically looking at the documents of the George H. W. Bush administration.
The panel was put on as part of a series of events celebrating the 20th anniversary of the George H. W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum. The discussion highlighted issues regarding the classification of government records, as well as the balance between national security and the public’s right to know.
The panel took a broad approach to the issue, looking at the declassification process in general the fine line between transparency and safety.
The significance of the event is linked to the fact that in Jan. 2018, it will mark 25 years since Bush 41 was president. Under the automatic declassification provisions originally put in place by an executive order during the Clinton administration, agencies like the CIA are required to declassify nonexempt, historically valuable records that are more than 25 years old.
This is a highly debated topic ­— some believe these documents should be open to the public as they are, while others think including historical context would help the general public better understand, according to presidential library archivist and panelist Nancy Morgan, Director of Information Management Services.
“I think our most successful package is when we provide some context with it, which is why we frankly prefer a more discretionary release process as opposed to just large bulk quantities all at once so we can add some of the context that goes with it,” Morgan said.
Stephen Randolph, Historian of the U.S. Department of State, spoke on the value of responsible transparency and the idea of a horizon that moves over time and permits more openness, using the example of covert operations.
“We’re well aware of the risks that can be attached to those, and sometimes it just takes time before the risks can be dissipated,” Randolph said. “So direct dialogue in our case and a general conceptual framework is pretty useful.”
Bush School senior lecturer and CIA veteran James Olson gave an overview of the complex thought process that goes into deciding which documents to declassify and when to declassify them, acknowledging that to call it an imperfect process “would be giving it too much credit.”
Olson said while he sometimes feared that identities or operations would be jeopardized with the release of classified information, unauthorized leaks of information by people like Edward Snowden and Chelsea Manning were far more damaging.
“This form of illegal declassification by self-appointed whistle-blowers is, in my opinion, pernicious and chaotic,” Olson said. “I find it particularly repugnant that some of the leaks appear to have come from inside the intelligence and law enforcement communities. Never, ever is that justified.”
Thomas Blanton, Director of the National Security Archive at George Washington University, said incidents like the Snowden leaks have forced the intelligence community to adjust their treatment of documents, leading to more transparency in that particular case.
“As a result of the Snowden leaks, the Director of National Intelligence set up a process to systematically release the surveillance-related materials,” Blanton said. “Two years after the first Snowden leak, the intelligence community had actually declassified and published more papers than all the Snowden media partners had yet published.”

Leave a Comment
Donate to The Battalion

Your donation will support the student journalists of Texas A&M University - College Station. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
Donate to The Battalion

Comments (0)

All The Battalion Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *