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 Classified information in the United States

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Posts : 27
Join date : 2010-10-13

PostSubject: Classified information in the United States   Sat Dec 04, 2010 3:09 am

The United States government classification system is currently established under Executive Order 13526, the latest in a long series of executive orders on the topic.[1] Issued by President Barack Obama in 2009, Executive Order 13526 replaced earlier executive orders on the topic and modified the regulations codified to 32 C.F.R. 2001. It lays out the system of classification, declassification, and handling of national security information generated by the U.S. government and its employees and contractors, as well as information received from other governments.[2]
An example of a U.S. classified document; page 13 of a United States National Security Agency report[3] on the USS Liberty incident, partially declassified and released to the public in July 2003. The original overall classification of the page, "top secret" code word UMBRA, is shown at top and bottom. The classification of individual paragraphs and reference titles is shown in parentheses—there are six different levels on this page alone. Notations with leader lines at top and bottom cite statutory authority for not declassifying certain sections.

The desired degree of secrecy about such information is known as its sensitivity. Sensitivity is based upon a calculation of the damage to national security that the release of the information would cause. The United States has three levels of classification: confidential, secret, and top secret. Each level of classification indicates an increasing degree of sensitivity. Thus, if one holds a top-secret security clearance, one is allowed to handle information up to the level of top secret, including secret and confidential information. If one holds a secret clearance, one may not then handle top-secret information, but may handle secret and confidential classified information.

By law, information may not be classified merely because it would be embarrassing or to cover illegal activity; information may only be classified to protect national-security objectives.

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