3 Replies Latest reply on Sep 16, 2016 10:42 AM by Ann Abney

    How did/does President Obama's 2009 Executive Order 13526 affect NARA?

    Bill Streifer Adventurer

      In late-2009 (almost 2010), Pres. Obama signed E.O. 13526 concerning "Classified National Security Information." Since then, when I've filed FOIA requests with the FBI, CIA and NARA, I've been given the cold shoulder; sometimes with: "We can neither confirm nor deny the existence or non-existence of documents..." QUESTION: When NARA receives a request for documents whose disclosure might affect the national security of the United States, how does NARA respond, or do they simply not respond? (I found the latter to be the case)

        • Re: How did/does President Obama's 2009 Executive Order 13526 affect NARA?
          Alex Daverede Adventurer

          Executive Order 13526 set up the National Declassification Center (NDC) inside NARA as a means to codify and streamline the inter-agency declassification processes for records in NARA's legal possession, otherwise known as accessioned records.  The Executive Order, however,  does not give NARA the authority to declassify the National Security Information in those records--that authority resides with the originating agency.

           

          When NARA receives a request from a researcher for classified documents, it can be done either as a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request under the same-named law or as a Mandatory Declassification Review request under E.O. 13526.  In either case, NARA cannot declassify the documents--they must be reviewed by representatives of the originating agencies.  Sometimes that process can take some time, but it is a process that is not under NARA's control.  Hence it is not simply a matter of NARA not responding.

            • Re: How did/does President Obama's 2009 Executive Order 13526 affect NARA?
              Bill Streifer Adventurer

              It has always been my understanding that FOIA requests are only possible for operational records, not archival records, http://www.archives.gov/foia/foia-guide.html If FOIA requests for archival records were allowed, I would have filed no less than 1,000 of them over the past decade.

                • Re: How did/does President Obama's 2009 Executive Order 13526 affect NARA?
                  Ann Abney Scout

                  Hi Bill -

                   

                  In the link you gave us, it does mention that archival records are FOIA-able.

                   

                  "The National Archives accepts FOIA requests for all executive branch records in its legal custody, both the operational records it creates as an agency of the executive branch and the permanent, archival records it maintains as the National Archives of the U.S. Government."

                   

                  I've bolded the portion that pertains to archival records. Additionally, it mentions this in the contact portion of that page, with the specific contact information for regional facilities, as well as accessioned archival records in the DC area.

                   

                  However, this is only for archival records that have been restricted by FOIA. This might be for reasons of personal privacy, law enforcement, etc. Otherwise, the majority of archival records are open to the public. You can find out if the records have been restricted by either looking under "Access Restriction" in the catalog, or if the particular records you are looking for are not in the catalog, by contacting the respective facility that holds those records.