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Yes, the president can declassify documents, there isn’t a set protocol they are required to follow

THE QUESTION

[b]Can the president declassify documents? [/b]

THE SOURCES

U.S. Department of the Navy v. Egan
Executive Order 13526
Kel McClanahan, executive director of the National Security Counselors, a nonprofit public interest law firm
Richard Immerman, Edward J. Buthusiem Family Distinguished Faculty Fellow in History at Temple University
The New York Times, et al., v. Central Intelligence Agency

THE ANSWER

[b]This is true. The president can declassify documents while in office, there isn’t a set protocol they are required to follow. [/b]

The U.S. classification system has three levels: top secret, secret and confidential.

“That is based on the level of damage that its release would cause to the national security of the United States,” Kel McClanahan, executive director of the National Security Counselors, said. “When you classify a document, that means that only people with a security clearance equal to the classification or higher can read it.”

A sitting U.S. president has wide-ranging authority to classify and declassify certain documents, but former presidents do not have authority over classification and declassification.

Current presidents can classify documents as long as they can “make a plausible argument that it is related to national security.” On the other hand, the[b] president “doesn’t have to give any reason for declassifying” information, according to McClanahan. “He can just say, ‘I decide that this should be declassified,’ and it’s declassified,” McClanahan said.[/b]

[b]A 2009 executive order directs the head of a government agency that originally deemed information classified to oversee its declassification, and sets some rules for that process. But those protocols outlined in the executive order don’t apply to the president, McClanahan said.
[/b]

However, presidents generally follow an informal protocol when declassifying documents, Richard Immerman, a historian and professor at Temple University, told VERIFY.

First, the president will consult all departments and agencies that have an interest in a classified document. Those departments or agencies then provide their assessment as to whether the document should stay classified for national security reasons. If there is a dispute among the agencies, they debate, but [b]the president ultimately makes the decision on declassification, Immerman explained.[/b]

When documents are declassified, they are reviewed line-by-line. In many cases, certain words, sentences and paragraphs remain redacted, even if the document is declassified, Immerman said.

[b]The Supreme Court determined in its 1988 decision on Department of the Navy v. Egan that the president’s power over classified information comes from executive authority granted by Article II, Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution, which says, in part, that the “President shall be Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States.”[/b]

[b]“His authority to classify and control access to information bearing on national security and to determine whether an individual is sufficiently trustworthy to occupy a position in the Executive Branch that will give that person access to such information flows primarily from this constitutional investment of power in the President, and exists quite apart from any explicit congressional grant,” the Supreme Court decision reads.[/b]

Though there aren’t specific protocols that the president must follow to declassify a document, federal courts have ruled that they will “refuse to recognize what they consider to be an inference of declassification,” McClanahan said.

[b]There are other federal laws in place that bar a president from taking government records, whether they are classified or declassified. Still, breaking those laws – or most other laws – doesn’t automatically disqualify someone from becoming president, because of the simple presidential qualifications that are outlined in the U.S. Constitution. [/b]

If a document is declassified, that doesn’t automatically mean it can be shared widely, either. For example, nuclear information – which is generally classified – is also protected by the federal Atomic Energy Act of 1954, McClanahan explained.

The Washington Post reported the FBI searched Mar-a-Lago for “nuclear documents,” among other classified information.

“Because [nuclear information] has this dual protection, even if you declassify a nuclear document, you cannot disseminate it because it’s still what’s called Restricted Data,” McClanahan said.

“So to the extent that he [Trump] had any nuclear information in there, declassification would not help him in the slightest, because he would still be disseminating restricted data or moving Restricted Data,” he added.
scrood · 26-30
Great post. People really do not understand Biden is a CRIMINAL, the VP has no authority at all to have those docs, nor a former VP, he should be raided and jailed IMMEDIATELY. But we know there are two sets of laws in this country and they will throw the book at President Trump though he is squeaky clean, "show me the man and I'll show you the crime," soviet-style justice department
RuyLopez · 56-60, M
@scrood And the Left will just yawn and wonder why it took so long. The right is the only party trying to protect civil rights for everyone rather than a specific special interest group.
Obama could save joes neck in an instant by declaring them declassified..
why wont he?

@RuyLopez lolz
Tres13 · 51-55, M
Hunter knows @MasterLee
MasterLee · 51-55, M
@Tres13 so does zelensky and xi
SusanInFlorida · 26-30, F
doesn't he have to fill out a form, so others know these are now declassified, and can have access to them.

if you declassify them only in your imagination, what's the point? and how do you prove it?

trump had 11,000 pages. he declassified stuff (in his imagination) that he never read, apparently.

still, this doesn't seem to be much different than our senile 80 year old president forgetting he even took classified docs without permission, and leaving them around in about a dozen locations.
RuyLopez · 56-60, M
@SusanInFlorida That is the typically process.

First, the president will consult all departments and agencies that have an interest in a classified document. Those departments or agencies then provide their assessment as to whether the document should stay classified for national security reasons. If there is a dispute among the agencies, they debate, but the president ultimately makes the decision on declassification, Immerman explained.

When documents are declassified, they are reviewed line-by-line. In many cases, certain words, sentences and paragraphs remain redacted, even if the document is declassified, Immerman said.

But this is prescribe by the President as the Chief Executive. He does not have to follow his own guidelines they are for everyone else. Typically the President does, however, there are times when he may need to be able to declassify at a moments notice. The example given is when he may need to share information to a foreign leader he is talking to. Say Biden discuss military intelligence with Zelensky for instance. Or maybe a report on terrorist activity with the Prime Minister of Israel. That is why he is given the power via the constitution to unilaterally and summarily declassify a document just by his actions of discussing the information in an open manner.
SusanInFlorida · 26-30, F
@RuyLopez i wasn't aware this was actually in the constitution. possibly in some other laws. i can't imagine the founding fathers thought this far ahead. and I'm not an expert on amendments subsequent to the bill of rights, but I've never heard of any of them dealing with classified documents.
RuyLopez · 56-60, M
@SusanInFlorida The power to declassify is not specifically mentioned in the Constitution as I understand. The power has been interpreted by the Supreme Court to flow from those powers granted to the President as the Commander in Chief and Chief Executive Officer.

The Supreme Court determined in its 1988 decision on Department of the Navy v. Egan that[b] the president’s power over classified information comes from executive authority granted by Article II, Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution, which says, in part, that the “President shall be Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States.”[/b]

“His authority to classify and control access to information bearing on national security and to determine whether an individual is sufficiently trustworthy to occupy a position in the Executive Branch that will give that person access to such information [b]flows primarily from this constitutional investment of power in the President, and exists quite apart from any explicit congressional grant,” the Supreme Court decision reads.[/b]
graphite · 61-69, M
Like I said, Democrats' DoJ has its work cut out for it exonerating Biden for taking classified documents with no authority to declassify and leaving them laying around all over the place for years, while prosecuting Trump for having secured documents, with the ability to declassify, for a few months. Going to be tough.
And if Trump had nuclear docs, it would have leaked by now.
graphite · 61-69, M
@BizSuitStacy Like what i said about Trump's taxes - if there was any dirt, it would have been leaked years go. Trump taxes were a big nothingburger.
@graphite getting Trump...just outta reach...


 
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