Public Interest Declassification Board Reauthorization Act of 2012

Floor Speech

By:  Lacy Clay, Jr.
Date: Dec. 19, 2012
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. CLAY. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

I rise in support of this important legislation. This bill renews the authorization of the Public Interest Declassification Board. The PIDB is an advisory committee whose purpose is to promote the fullest possible public access to significant national security decisions and activities. The PIDB advises the President on policies related to classification and declassification of national security information. The Board also advises the President on the declassification and release of classified records with historical value. The authorization for the PIDB is set to expire at the end of this month. It is important that we reauthorize the authority for this panel so that their important work is not jeopardized.

Just last month, the PIDB issued a report to the President, titled "Transforming the Security Classification System.'' The report made a number of recommendations for improving the classification system. The report criticized our current system. It stated:

We believe the current classification and declassification systems are outdated and incapable of dealing adequately with the large volumes of classified information generated in an era of digital communication and information systems. Overcoming the entrenched practices that no longer serve the purpose of protecting our national security will prove difficult.

Transparency and access to information are essential tools for effective oversight of the executive branch. Outdated systems for managing classified information must be modernized to provide greater public access to information about the Federal Government's policies and activities. Reauthorizing the PIDB is critical to that effort, and I support this bill. I urge my colleagues to do the same.

Mr. Speaker, I yield back the balance of my time.

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