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United States intelligence agencies have been secretly removing from public access thousands of historical documents that were available for years, including some that have already been published by various historians and even the State Department.
Historians at George Washington University’s National Security Archives discovered the secret operation and made it public to the media. So far, more than 9,500 formerly declassified and publicly-available documents have been reclassified, including reports from the Korean War and the early cold war.
Under existing guidelines, government documents are supposed to be declassified after 25 years unless there is a particular reason to keep them secret. Most of the reclassified documents were available to the public through the National Archives.
Led by the Central Intelligence Agency, the secret program of restoring previously declassified information began in 1999 because the agency opposed a 1995 declassification order signed by Bill Clinton. The argument for reclassification included a controversy over Chinese nuclear espionage and the 1999 Wen Ho Lee spy scandal during the Clinton Administration.