Dear Mr. Streifer,
You can find information about NARA and Declassification here on our website. The site contains information about and links to a variety of declassification related topics. You may also find some helpful information on the NDC's website.
For information about NARA and Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests, you can view our FOIA Reference Guide here. This guide includes general information about FOIA requests as well as instructions on how and where to make a request for records in the custody of the National Archives. As noted in the guide, all FOIA requests must be submitted in writing, and "[a]ll FOIA requests must include a reasonable description of the records requested. In making your request you should be as specific as possible with regard to names, titles, dates, places, events, subjects, recipients, or agency component(s) or offices likely to maintain records that are of interest to you. The more specific you are about the records or types of records that you want, the more likely it will be that NARA will be able to locate those records."
If the records you would like to request are in the custody of another agency (or other agencies), you will need to submit your FOIA request to that agency (or to each other agency individually). These other FOIA resources may help you with that process. Included, for example, is a link to principal FOIA contacts at other agencies.
Thank you for sharing your question with the History Hub.
Thanks but that didn't answer my question.
That is a tough task to get accomplished. There could be 100's of linear feet, and classifications at various levels.
Some can be classified for 25, 50 or 75 years. It also takes time to process a MDR or FOIA. The best strategy is to utilize the SF135 and 258, and request specific portions. Please watch the last NARA YouTube PIDB, Public Interest
Declassification Board Meeting. It was mentioned in the meeting that some agencies do not transfer their records to NARA. It was also mentioned that NARA had no authority over the agencies. One agency mentioned specifically, was
the NRO, National Reconnaissance Office. The PIDB makes recommendations toward classification and declassification procedures. These are utilized when drafting Executive Orders. A MDR falls within the EO, category.
I also watched the NARA Youtube Chief FOIA Officers Meeting. It was very informative. The FOIA teams should be trying to focus the FOIA, and agencies should be participating in Proactive Disclosure, and placing records online for public review in an electronic format.
In my opinion, the best route would be for legislative and executive action. This would increase funding and staffing as to promote the FOIA and MDR, ISCAP process, and most importantly, proactive disclosure. Maybe, this would minimize
the "fake news" syndrome? Again, in my opinion, unlimited classification, leaves a lot of room for corruption and wrong doing. It also restricts learning and public participation in the governmental process. Of course it is well suited for engaging in war. But as Thomas Jefferson stated " We have the greatest opportunity the world has ever seen, as long a we remain honest - which will be as long as we can keep the attention of the people alive. If they once become
inattentive to public affairs, you and I, and Congress and Assemblies, judges and governors would all become wolves."
Declassification of ALL the records on a specific topic, would rely on the nature of the topic and the interest of the public. Another consideration would be, yes it Can be done, but Should it be done. Maybe, it would be better to just exist within the pack?
You said, "In my opinion, the best route would be for legislative and executive action." Since these document may relate to the CURRENT national security of the United States, I'm going to shoot off an e-mail to the Adm. Scott Swift, commander of U.S. Pacific Fleet. If my argument is strong enough, is there a chance in hell he might actually declassify all documents related to the Pueblo Incident?
If you think you could help accomplish this, contact me directly.
Here's the tentative cover of my book.
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Perhaps The NRO, and Navy still have documents pertaining to the Pueblo?
I received a response today from CETCOM that they had no further SF135 Records pertaining to Desert Storm.
So the majority of Desert Storm records are in the custody of NARA. There could be some others still at other agencies. Ask the Navy if they still retain any Pueblo records? They released the actual fly over photos of the Pueblo capture. The route was most likely tracked.
The 1st Korean War, resulted in Macarthur being relieved for his tactical plan to use atomic weapons.
The involvement by China prevented UN advancements. It is a very fragile cease fire, that has been
complicated with advanced weapons. Hopefully these international problems can be held in check, and
eventually resolved peacefully.
I have a number of FOIA requests in the works with Navy Historical. One of their FOIA officers called me today. Let me quote him when I told him what I found ... "Wow! Unbelievable!!" (I may be paraphrasing) But in a follow-up e-mail, he thanked me for letting him know what I obtained from the CIA, NSA, and other places.
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The Younger generation may not even realize that the North Koreans launched an attack into South Korea to remove the president, and then captured the Pueblo. The former Soviet Union launched Operation Danube in August 68, with the invasion of Czechoslovakia, while Vietnam also was involved in the Tet Offensive. 1968 was a very busy year on a global military scale. The younger generation is more interested in Burning Man, than the strategic situation in the Korean Theater. The video games actually keep elements of military history - alive...
5000 Records ! The FOIA Teams would be working Weekends without lunch for the next 30 years. They just released
the JFK records which were released by legislation. I saw another NARA Youtube video of the FRC, Federal Record Center in the limestone caves, whereby they digitize the documents for other agencies, such as the Army Corps of Engineers. Some Agencies seem to have their own system. The video shows the digitation process. It seems that many records may be digitized before they are even sent to NARA. They also use E-Discovery tools, and electronic redaction which may simplify the process of declassification.
The philosophy of release is now "Release to one and release to all". Congress has legislated in the FOIA Improvement Act of 2016 that a unified FOIA portal be funded and developed. The Agencies and NARA receive
feedback from various groups and researchers toward what could be proactively declassified and released to the
public. The Open Meetings and Federal Register are open for public comments.
I think it would be great to disclose more records to the public in an electronic format. But the FOIA Improvement Act of 2016 did not provide extra funding and staffing for it. The Electronic Portal is funded. The portal will eliminate redundancy. Such as declassifying records twice, with different redactions. It will also eliminate the unjust issue of records for profit, whereby others can view and download them from the portal.
In many cases, the logistic issue of a thousand cans of beans, or grenades may not be needed during the research.
A focused and specific FOIA for the Joint Command records or Unit Chronology may suffice.
Also, photos, maps and motion pictures are important, because they provide specific dates record groups, and
accession numbers that may have further textual records.
The past practice of asking for ALL records related to a subject should be Avoided. Use the Public Catalog and
SF135 Forms to Focus the specific information. This will also help when presenting the information to others, since
the younger generation wants quick, user friendly facts.
By definition, classified documents are classified. In my particular situation, documents declassified between 2010-2016 remain heavily redacted. If I don't know what these redacted and declassified documents concern, how can I know which documents to request?
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Maybe the Pueblo was not the only ship to perform that particular mission? The military often develops patterns. Then the military usually follows patterns, as to Deviate from a pattern. A ship most likely ran the same intel
course in the past, and never had a problem? The majority of the interpreters were fluent in Russian, perhaps there was a contingent of Russian advisors. The former Soviet Union also used various language and dialects from obscure regions. Similar to the US during WW2. There was also a U2 recon plane overheard that photographed the entire capture. The photos have been released.
After analyzing the current method and motto of " Release to One, and Release to All " , does it mean that the
information will only be released to One publisher or motion picture company as to create books and movies for all the customers?
If this is the case, then the information may be sanitized and merely released for profit?
Maybe the Motto should just be, "Release to All"?
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This is a very good NARA Youtube Video concerning the NDC National Declassification Center Process.
Intel sources and design criteria towards weapons of mass destruction are an exemption. They also mentioned how
certain classes of records draw more attention, such as an intel source verses a logistic source.
They also mentioned that the records are electronically scanned and sent to the agencies with equity.
So an Adobe file should already exist when an MDR occurs. The future of declassification will most likely involve
AI, and records will be reviewed for key terms and topics using artificial intelligence. Just as E-Discovery tools can
be utilized to search for a FOIA topic. This is a very informed discussion. The human intel sources and design of
special weapons is a critical defense factor that must be protected. The problem exists whereby civilian and military
staff that are exposed to these weapons are often included in the classification. This has been a historic problem since
the use of chemical weapons during WWI, atomic testing during WWII and the Cold War, and biological testing involving the SHAD Project in the 1960's, and the use of defoliants in Vietnam. The design classification seems to become confused with the actual test phase , deployment and use of special weapons on the battlefield?
This video provides insight toward the thought process of declassification.