Friday, 20 Jan 95 Washington, DC
1. DRAFT RULES REQUIRE AUTOMATIC DECLASSIFICATION AFTER 25
Eighteen months ago, President Clinton directed the Information
Security Oversight Office to lead an interagency task force to draft new
national security classification rules (WN 23 Jul 93).
New rules are desperately needed; Executive Order 12356, issued by
President Reagan in 1982, has buried the government under an
avalanche of classified documents; 2,000,000 new documents in the
first year. The Reagan order can be paraphrased as "when in doubt
classify," and even allows previously declassified documents to be
reclassified. One year ago, the ISOO task farce submitted a draft calling
for automatic declassification after 40 years-- long enough to allow
middle-aged bureaucrats to go on to their reward before their mistakes
would be let out of the vault. This week, the panel proposed a revised
draft that would shorten the automatic declassification period to 25 years
and set a tone of open government. No one is predicting when Clinton
might sign it.
2. HOUSE BUDGET COMMITTEE WILL ASK "EVERYDAY PEOPLE" WHAT
John Kasich (R-OH) has announced field hearings in such
places as Billings, MT, to hear from "the America that pays the bills...the lobbyists
have had their chance." The hearings will be conducted "Oprah Winfrey
style," according to a staffer, and participants will be screened to keep
out "the artichoke growers association."
3. WHAT TO KILL FIRST? CONSERVATIVE THINK TANKS VOTE FOR
Wednesday, representatives of the Heritage Foundation, the CATO
Institute and the Competitive Enterprise Institute testified on
"Government Downsizing" before the Energy & Water Appropriations
Subcommittee. They agreed that: the Department of Energy should be
dismantled, energy supply R&D programs terminated and national labs
privatized. Also testifying was the director of a GAO study that dumps
on DOE management (WN 13 Jan 95). Significantly, not a single member
of the subcommittee spoke up in defense of DOE.
4. CONGRESS PLUNGES INTO THE CONTROVERSY OVER AMERICAN
Yesterday, by a vote of 99-1, the Senate condemned the
US history standards and urged the National Education Standards and
Improvement Council not to certify them. Sen. Slade Gorton
(R-WA), who introduced the non-binding resolution, described the
standards as "ideology masquerading as history" and asked if it is more
important "to study Roseanne Arnold and Bart Simpson than
Benjamin Franklin's discovery of electricity." Roseanne and Bart?
Could it be? I checked: sure enough, they both made the cut--
Ben did not! Our own word search of the standards found only one
reference to "science"--in a list of activities from which women have
been excluded (WN 21 Oct 94). The lone dissenting vote was
Bennett Johnston's; he wanted something with teeth in it. In the
House, Peter Blute (R-MA) said there would be hearings on the planned
Smithsonian exhibit on the use of the bomb (WN 2 Sep 94).
THE AMERICAN PHYSICAL SOCIETY (Note: Opinions are the author's
and are not necessarily shared by the APS, but they should be.)