Update on my legal research in this area:
I just wanted to briefly note an interesting ditty pertaining to the
methodology that the Reagan Administration instituted in dealing with
National Security-related information, including the declassification
system for documents related to that.
In November, 1978, Congress had updated and amended some laws pertaining
to the declassification procedures pertaining to National Security
documents, including Presidential records.
What is interesting, is that, in that 1978 law, Congress was to be called
in if a person was seeking to appeal a refusal by the Government to
declassify a document. That person was first to contact the Director of the
Information Security Oversight Office, which was a part of the General
Services Administration. That Director was then to refer the matter to the
However, in April, 1982, President Ronald Reagan "amended" that law via an
Excutive Order, Number 12356, which re-did how such de-classification
appeals were to be handled.
Where previously, the Oversight Office Director was to take the appealed
case to the Congress, now, the case went right back to the National
Security Agency--persons all hand-picked by the President. Thus, in effect,
the legislative branch was taken out of much of the activity involved in an
appeal of a decision of the Government to have a classified document remain
classified, and not be declassified so that a member of the general public
could access it.
I located these two items--the Executive Order of 1982 and its
predecessor, the 1978 EO--via text guides in my legal research workbook and with
the assistance of Ms. Carol Hampton, a librarian at the Arkansas State Supreme Court
Library downtown. They can be found, if you're interested and have a similar source, as
E.O. 12356: 47 Federal Register 14874-84 (April 6, 1982); however, you
might find this too difficult to access, as in most libraries it is in
microfiche; instead, you might try:
United States Code Congressional and Administrative News: 97th
Congress--Second Session, 1982, Volume 4: Legislative History: Public Laws
97:365 - 97:473, Proclamations, Executive Orders, Tables and Index.
Executive Orders: pages B51-B64. This latter also gets the job done, in
terms of the full text of the EO and helps clarify what Reagan did to the
checks and balances system in the area of National Security-related
Classified documents and the possibility of an appeal by a private citizen
of a government decision to keep such classified. That is, such possibility
was, in effect, ended.
Presidential Records Act of 1978: 44 USC (United States Code) Sections
2201-2207 (1982); this law had been intended to make all Presidential
records after 1981 subject to the new procedures that allowed an appeal to
the Director and then the Congress after January 20, 1981.
However, by April, 1982, "someone" didn't like this idea. As a result, the law was changed and Congress was left out. An appellant of a government decision to keep a
document classified could no longer access Congress even via the Director
of the Oversight Office. Now, such appeals went from the Director, right
back to the NSA--that is, right back to Reagan Administration appointees!
As of 1991, this law hadn't been changed; and it was still understood by
the United States Department of Agriculture Correspondence Program in
Washington, DC, to still be the current law as of 1997, when I took the
course in Publishing Management for which the workbook was provided. That
was well into Clinton's second term. Thus, we can fairly assume it is still
the current law: that is, the ultimate decision as to whether a document
remains classified can no longer be decided in consultation with the
Congress. Now, the entire process is controlled through the NSA! That is,
only the Executive Branch of the federal government decides this now--no
Congressional input is allowed! Only by passing a new law, could Congress
get its--and the public's, in effect--foot back in the door in this appeals
Apparently, someone was concerned that, if the 1978 procedures continued
(as they kicked in in January, 1981--shortly after Reagan was inaugurated),
some things might get declassified or too much would get leaked out about
them in the course of their being looked at by Congressional Subcommittees
on the appeals through the Director of Oversight. Therefore, Congress was
taken out of the picture.
Once given that kind of secrecy, the Executive--Reagan, Bush, Clinton--
has a tendency to retain it. No branch of Government, once given powers,
willingly surrenders those powers or offers to share them again with the
other branches--especially the Executive branch (as former Senator
Fulbright told us in The Limits of Power, and Arthur Schlesinger told us in The Imperial Presidency, a few years ago).
I guess we could have surmised that Reagan "cracked down" in this
area. Given what we've seen about Bush and his WW2 activities, one must
wonder: did this have something to do with the San Jacinto's deck log
remaining classified such a long time? Why was Bush and his crew taken to
the Lexington--the intelligence hub of the Seventh Fleet branch under
Admiral Mitscher--when most other downed pilots were merely returned to
their home carriers? People weren't usually sent to the Lexington, that is,
unless there was some Intelligence--ONI or OSS--interest in them.
Data about Bush's company, Zapata Oil, from around 1960--still under
Eisenhower, and when the CIA was still headed by former OSS Station Chief
Allen Dulles (George Bush's father's attorney)---suggests his company was a
"front" for the "Operation Zapata" the CIA was then running to kill and
depose Castro. Some of those records at the Securities and Exchange
Commission were later destroyed or lost. But this suggests Bush was CIA as
early as 1960. That later, November 1963 memo from J. Edgar Hoover to
"George Bush of the CIA" tends to further confirm such early Bush
membership in CIA. Other things of interest include those findings by Anthony Kimery and others that the ships used at Bay of Pigs included the Barbara and the Houston, names near and dear to Bush (who named his WW2 plane after her). (See "Kimmery, Anthony" listing in the Annotated Bibliography file on this website.)
When CIA was first set up, part of its job was to replace OSS. It was
widely understood that OSS assets would "roll over" into CIA. Bush was
apparently CIA under Dulles. That could put him in the CIA as early as
Dulles's taking the helm there. And, this about the Lexington suggests he
may have been OSS as early as June, 1944. Could that be how Dulles got
George Bush into the Navy as a pilot at 18, against Naval regulations? At
that time, June 1942, Naval regulations required a pilot be 21 and have two
years of college previous to being given pilot status in the Navy.
Intriguingly, too, George was not just an ordinary pilot: he was trained in
aerial photography and was assigned as an official aerial photographer for
his squadron and sector of Admiral Mitscher's part of the Seventh Fleet.
(Keep in mind that Allen Dulles, a bigwig at OSS already in June, 1942, was
Prescott Bush's attorney--not to mention all that about Artemis Gates,
Robert Lovett and James Forrestal being business and/or fraternity
associates of Prescott--which I discuss in depth in "Encountering Prescott Bush" and elsewhere in Tim, George Bush and Me.)
Of course, George Bush has always denied being part of the CIA until
around 1974 and '75, when he, all at once, became Director. But it's quite
common for CIA people to deny membership in the Agency--or, more
colloquially, the Company.
Odds and ends thus suggest a virtual lifelong membership in OSS/CIA by
George Bush--as well as how "John Q. Public" was rendered virtually without
the right of appeal of a classified document.
Technically, a citizen can still take the government to court to appeal a classified document's retention of "Classified" status. A few years back some UFOlogists sued the government under the Freedom of Information Act. (The Guide I was using was Guide to the Freedom of Information Act and the Privacy Act, a textbook in the Publishing Management Course I took in 1997 as part of my first bachelor's degree program). They didn't have much success in the Federal courts. Of course, they gave their own "spin" to it, which may or may not be a valid one, but anyway, they didn't have much luck. (That's just one example, too: I think LaRouche and also Christopher Simpson have variously sued to get doc's declassified with similar non-results.)
The World War II warship classification term was "Confidential" and "Top
Secret." "Classified" is a post-War term, though it means the same thing, or has the same power
One other thing that's interesting about EO 12356 is that it suggests that someone had to "intervene" to keep the San Jac's log classified, since an old agency or old dated document, has to be re-classified by later agencies. In this case, the automatic
de-classification process set up under the 1978 law was changed to give more "flexibility" to the NSA in re-classifying previously declassified or about-to-be-declassified doc's.
Messrs. Tarpley and Chaitkin have noted that Bush was heavily involved by
early 1982 in running the "secret" government in Reagan's Administration. Bush had
revamped a lot of things while Reagan was hospitalized after the shooting on March 30, 1981--from about March to about August, Reagan was "in and out". Bush filled the vacuum, setting up a lot of "stuff" that had never been there before, and taking on, as Tarpley and Chaitkin put it in the Unauthorized Biography of George Bush, "powers never previously held by the Vice-President."
Apparently his "hand" may be evident on some level with the wording and input for wording of the EO 12356. The "intervention", then, may have been Bush's. It would fit: after all, it was his carrier's log!
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