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White House aide to head review of classification system

Nov. 22, 2013 - 06:00AM   |  
By SEAN REILLY   |   Comments

Lisa Monaco, a senior Obama administration staffer, will lead a review of an advisory board’s recommendations for altering the classification system, according to a White House spokeswoman.

The “interagency review” will also include steps to develop an implementation strategy for making any changes, the spokeswoman, Laura Magnuson, said in an email late Thursday. The announcement comes almost after a year after the Public Interest Declassification Board forwarded its proposals to Obama; Magnuson did not have a timetable for completion of the review.

Monaco, whose official title is assistant to the president for homeland security and counterterrorism, previously served as assistant attorney general for national security and also worked at the FBI.

She is an “ideal person” to lead the review, Nancy Soderberg, the declassification board’s chairwoman, said in a Friday interview. “I think she understands how hard it is to change some of this culture.”

The seven-member board, which had urged the White House to get involved in implementing its proposed changes, met with Monaco on Thursday.

Monaco gets the assignment as the machinery for keeping sensitive material secret is struggling to keep up with the shift to digitization that has both inundated the system with records and fostered leaks of vast amounts of information.

The Public Interest Declassification Board issued its 14 recommendations last December in response to Obama’s 2009 charge to craft a “more fundamental transformation” of the classification system, whose roots date back to World War II.

Among those recommendations: Eliminating the “confidential” classification marking and automatically declassifying records — such as those involving some military troop operations — with short-lived sensitivity. While some experts wanted the board to pursue more ambitious changes, even some of those modest proposals have run into resistance from the national security and intelligence communities, according to members of the panel.

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