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bush e.o. on national security classification

Executive Order 13292 of March 25, 2003
Further Amendment to Executive Order 12958, as Amended, Classified National Security Information
with new provisions in bold

Other versions
Federal Register version in PDF
Redline comparison with 12,958 prepared by ISOO

  1. PART 1--ORIGINAL CLASSIFICATION
    1. Sec. 1.1. Classification Standards.
    2. Sec. 1.2. Classification Levels.
    3. Sec. 1.3. Classification Authority.
    4. Sec. 1.4. Classification Categories.
    5. Sec. 1.5. Duration of Classification.
    6. Sec. 1.6. Identification and Markings.
    7. Sec. 1.7. Classification Prohibitions and Limitations.
    8. Sec. 1.8. Classification Challenges.
  2. PART 2--DERIVATIVE CLASSIFICATION
    1. Sec. 2.1. Use of Derivative Classification.
    2. Sec. 2.2. Classification Guides.
  3. PART 3--DECLASSIFICATION AND DOWNGRADING
    1. Sec. 3.1. Authority for Declassification.
    2. Sec. 3.2. Transferred Records.
    3. Sec. 3.3. Automatic Declassification.
    4. Sec. 3.4. Systematic Declassification Review.
    5. Sec. 3.5. Mandatory Declassification Review.
    6. Sec. 3.6. Processing Requests and Reviews.
    7. Sec. 3.7. Declassification Database.
  4. PART 4--SAFEGUARDING
    1. Sec. 4.1. General Restrictions on Access.
    2. Sec. 4.2. Distribution Controls.
    3. Sec. 4.3. Special Access Programs.
    4. Sec. 4.4. Access by Historical Researchers and Certain Former Government Personnel.
  5. PART 5--IMPLEMENTATION AND REVIEW
    1. Sec. 5.1. Program Direction.
    2. Sec. 5.2. Information Security Oversight Office.
    3. Sec. 5.3. Interagency Security Classification Appeals Panel.
    4. Sec. 5.4. General Responsibilities.
    5. Sec. 5.5. Sanctions.
  6. PART 6--GENERAL PROVISIONS
    1. Sec. 6.1. Definitions.
    2. Sec. 6.2. General Provisions.
    3. Sec. 6.3. Effective Date.

By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, and in order to further amend Executive Order 12958, as amended, it is hereby ordered that Executive Order 12958 is amended to read as follows:

Classified National Security Information

This order prescribes a uniform system for classifying, safeguarding, and declassifying national security information, including information relating to defense against transnational terrorism. Our democratic principles require that the American people be informed of the activities of their Government.

Also, our Nation's progress depends on the free flow of information. Nevertheless, throughout our history, the national defense has required that certain information be maintained in confidence in order to protect our citizens, our democratic institutions, our homeland security, and our interactions with foreign nations. Protecting information critical to our Nation's security remains a priority.

NOW, THEREFORE, by the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, it is hereby ordered as follows:

PART 1--ORIGINAL CLASSIFICATION

Sec. 1.1. Classification Standards.

(a) Information may be originally classified under the terms of this order only if all of the following conditions are met:

(1) an original classification authority is classifying the information

(2) the information is owned by, produced by or for, or is under the control of the United States Government

(3) the information falls within one or more of the categories of information listed in section 1.4 of this order and

(4) the original classification authority determines that the unauthorized disclosure of the information reasonably could be expected to result in damage to the national security, which includes defense against transnational terrorism, and the original classification authority is able to identify or describe the damage.

( b) Classified information shall not be declassified automatically as a result of any unauthorized disclosure of identical or similar information.

(c) The unauthorized disclosure of foreign government information is presumed to cause damage to the national security.

Sec. 1.2. Classification Levels.

(a) Information may be classified at one of the following three levels:

(1) ''Top Secret'' shall be applied to information, the unauthorized disclosure of which reasonably could be expected to cause exceptionally grave damage to the national security that the original classification authority is able to identify or describe.

(2) ''Secret'' shall be applied to information, the unauthorized disclosure of which reasonably could be expected to cause serious damage to the national security that the original classification authority is able to identify or describe.

(3) ''Confidential'' shall be applied to information, the unauthorized disclosure of which reasonably could be expected to cause damage to the national security that the original classification authority is able to identify or describe.

(b) Except as otherwise provided by statute, no other terms shall be used to identify United States classified information.

Sec. 1.3. Classification Authority.

(a) The authority to classify information originally may be exercised only by:

(1) the President and, in the performance of executive duties, the Vice President

(2) agency heads and officials designated by the President in the Federal Register and

(3) United States Government officials delegated this authority pursuant to paragraph (c) of this section.

(b) Officials authorized to classify information at a specified level are also authorized to classify information at a lower level.

(c) Delegation of original classification authority.

(1) Delegations of original classification authority shall be limited to the minimum required to administer this order. Agency heads are responsible for ensuring that designated subordinate officials have a demonstrable and continuing need to exercise this authority.

(2) ''Top Secret'' original classification authority may be delegated only by the President in the performance of executive duties, the Vice President or an agency head or official designated pursuant to paragraph (a)(2) of this section.

(3) ''Secret'' or ''Confidential'' original classification authority may be delegated only by the President in the performance of executive duties, the Vice President or an agency head or official designated pursuant to paragraph (a)(2) of this section or the senior agency official described in section 5.4(d) of this order, provided that official has been delegated ''Top Secret'' original classification authority by the agency head.

(4) Each delegation of original classification authority shall be in writing and the authority shall not be redelegated except as provided in this order. Each delegation shall identify the official by name or position title.

(d) Original classification authorities must receive training in original classification as provided in this order and its implementing directives. Such training must include instruction on the proper safeguarding of classified information and of the criminal, civil, and administrative sanctions that may be brought against an individual who fails to protect classified information from unauthorized disclosure.

(e) Exceptional cases. When an employee, government contractor, licensee, certificate holder, or grantee of an agency who does not have original classification authority originates information believed by that person to require classification, the information shall be protected in a manner consistent with this order and its implementing directives. The information shall be transmitted promptly as provided under this order or its implementing directives to the agency that has appropriate subject matter interest and classification authority with respect to this information. That agency shall decide within 30 days whether to classify this information. If it is not clear which agency has classification responsibility for this information, it shall be sent to the Director of the Information Security Oversight Office. The Director shall determine the agency having primary subject matter interest and forward the information, with appropriate recommendations, to that agency for a classification determination.

Sec. 1.4. Classification Categories.

Information shall not be considered for classification unless it concerns:

(a) military plans, weapons systems, or operations

(b) foreign government information

(c) intelligence activities (including special activities), intelligence sources or methods, or cryptology

(d) foreign relations or foreign activities of the United States, including confidential sources

(e) scientific, technological, or economic matters relating to the national security, which includes defense against transnational terrorism

(f) United States Government programs for safeguarding nuclear materials or facilities

(g) vulnerabilities or capabilities of systems, installations, infrastructures, projects, plans, or protection services relating to the national security, which includes defense against transnational terrorism or

(h) weapons of mass destruction.

Sec. 1.5. Duration of Classification.

(a) At the time of original classification, the original classification authority shall attempt to establish a specific date or event for declassification based upon the duration of the national security sensitivity of the information. Upon reaching the date or event, the information shall be automatically declassified. The date or event shall not exceed the time frame established in paragraph (b) of this section.

(b) If the original classification authority cannot determine an earlier specific date or event for declassification, information shall be marked for declassification 10 years from the date of the original decision, unless the original classification authority otherwise determines that the sensitivity of the information requires that it shall be marked for declassification for up to 25 years from the date of the original decision. All information classified under this section shall be subject to section 3.3 of this order if it is contained in records of permanent historical value under title 44, United States Code.

(c) An original classification authority may extend the duration of classification, change the level of classification, or reclassify specific information only when the standards and procedures for classifying information under this order are followed.(d) Information marked for an indefinite duration of classification under predecessor orders, for example, marked as ''Originating Agency's Determination Required,'' or information classified under predecessor orders that contains no declassification instructions shall be declassified in accordance with part 3 of this order.

Sec. 1.6. Identification and Markings.

(a) At the time of original classification, the following shall appear on the face of each classified document, or shall be applied to other classified media in an appropriate manner:

(1) one of the three classification levels defined in section 1.2 of this order

(2) the identity, by name or personal identifier and position, of the original classification authority

(3) the agency and office of origin, if not otherwise evident

(4) declassification instructions, which shall indicate one of the following:

(A) the date or event for declassification, as prescribed in section 1.5(a) or section 1.5(c)

(B) the date that is 10 years from the date of original classification, as prescribed in section 1.5(b) or

(C) the date that is up to 25 years from the date of original classification, as prescribed in section 1.5 ( b) and

(5) a concise reason for classification that, at a minimum, cites the applicable classification categories in section 1.4 of this order.

(b) Specific information described in paragraph (a) of this section may be excluded if it would reveal additional classified information.

(c) With respect to each classified document, the agency originating the document shall, by marking or other means, indicate which portions are classified, with the applicable classification level, and which portions are unclassified. In accordance with standards prescribed in directives issued under this order, the Director of the Information Security Oversight Office may grant waivers of this requirement. The Director shall revoke any waiver upon a finding of abuse.

(d) Markings implementing the provisions of this order, including abbreviations and requirements to safeguard classified working papers, shall conform to the standards prescribed in implementing directives issued pursuant to this order.

(e) Foreign government information shall retain its original classification markings or shall be assigned a U.S. classification that provides a degree of protection at least equivalent to that required by the entity that furnished the information. Foreign government information retaining its original classification markings need not be assigned a U.S. classification marking provided that the responsible agency determines that the foreign government markings are adequate to meet the purposes served by U.S. classification markings.

(f) Information assigned a level of classification under this or predecessor orders shall be considered as classified at that level of classification despite the omission of other required markings. Whenever such information is used in the derivative classification process or is reviewed for possible declassification, holders of such information shall coordinate with an appropriate classification authority for the application of omitted markings.

(g) The classification authority shall, whenever practicable, use a classified addendum whenever classified information constitutes a small portion of an otherwise unclassified document.

(h) Prior to public release, all declassified records shall be appropriately marked to reflect their declassification.

Sec. 1.7. Classification Prohibitions and Limitations.

(a) In no case shall information be classified in order to:

(1) conceal violations of law, inefficiency, or administrative error

(2) prevent embarrassment to a person, organization, or agency

(3) restrain competition or

(4) prevent or delay the release of information that does not require protection in the interest of the national security.

(b) Basic scientific research information not clearly related to the national security shall not be classified.

(c) Information may be reclassified after declassification and release to the public under proper authority only in accordance with the following conditions:

(1) the reclassification action is taken under the personal authority of the agency head or deputy agency head, who determines in writing that the reclassification of the information is necessary in the interest of the national security

(2) the information may be reasonably recovered and

(3) the reclassification action is reported promptly to the Director of the Information Security Oversight Office.

(d) Information that has not previously been disclosed to the public under proper authority may be classified or reclassified after an agency has received a request for it under the Freedom of Information Act (5 U.S.C. 552) or the Privacy Act of 1974 (5 U.S.C. 552a), or the mandatory review provisions of section 3.5 of this order only if such classification meets the requirements of this order and is accomplished on a document-by-document basis with the personal participation or under the direction of the agency head, the deputy agency head, or the senior agency official designated under section 5.4 of this order.

(e)Compilations of items of information that are individually unclassified may be classified if the compiled information reveals an additional association or relationship that:(1) meets the standards for classification under this order and(2) is not otherwise revealed in the individual items of information. As used in this order, ''compilation'' means an aggregation of pre-existing unclassified items of information.

Sec. 1.8. Classification Challenges.

(a) Authorized holders of information who, in good faith, believe that its classification status is improper are encouraged and expected to challenge the classification status of the information in accordance with agency procedures established under paragraph (b) of this section.

(b) In accordance with implementing directives issued pursuant to this order, an agency head or senior agency official shall establish procedures under which authorized holders of information are encouraged and expected to challenge the classification of information that they believe is improperly classified or unclassified. These procedures shall ensure that:

(1) individuals are not subject to retribution for bringing such actions

(2) an opportunity is provided for review by an impartial official or panel and

(3) individuals are advised of their right to appeal agency decisions to the Interagency Security Classification Appeals Panel (Panel) established by section 5.3 of this order.

PART 2--DERIVATIVE CLASSIFICATION

Sec. 2.1. Use of Derivative Classification.

(a) Persons who only reproduce, extract, or summarize classified information, or who only apply classification markings derived from source material or as directed by a classification guide, need not possess original classification authority.

(b) Persons who apply derivative classification markings shall:

(1) observe and respect original classification decisions and

(2) carry forward to any newly created documents the pertinent classification markings. For information derivatively classified based on multiple sources, the derivative classifier shall carry forward:

(A) the date or event for declassification that corresponds to the longest period of classification among the sources and

(B) a listing of these sources on or attached to the official file or record copy.

Sec. 2.2. Classification Guides.

(a) Agencies with original classification authority shall prepare classification guides to facilitate the proper and uniform derivative classification of information. These guides shall conform to standards contained in directives issued under this order.

(b) Each guide shall be approved personally and in writing by an official who:

(1) has program or supervisory responsibility over the information or is the senior agency official and

(2) is authorized to classify information originally at the highest level of classification prescribed in the guide.

(c) Agencies shall establish procedures to ensure that classification guides are reviewed and updated as provided in directives issued under this order.

PART 3--DECLASSIFICATION AND DOWNGRADING

Sec. 3.1. Authority for Declassification.

(a) Information shall be declassified as soon as it no longer meets the standards for classification under this order.

(b) It is presumed that information that continues to meet the classification requirements under this order requires continued protection. In some exceptional cases, however, the need to protect such information may be outweighed by the public interest in disclosure of the information, and in these cases the information should be declassified. When such questions arise, they shall be referred to the agency head or the senior agency official. That official will determine, as an exercise of discretion, whether the public interest in disclosure outweighs the damage to the national security that might reasonably be expected from disclosure. This provision does not:

(1) amplify or modify the substantive criteria or procedures for classification or

(2) create any substantive or procedural rights subject to judicial review.

(c) If the Director of the Information Security Oversight Office determines that information is classified in violation of this order, the Director may require the information to be declassified by the agency that originated the classification. Any such decision by the Director may be appealed to the President through the Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs. The information shall remain classified pending a prompt decision on the appeal.

(d) The provisions of this section shall also apply to agencies that, under the terms of this order, do not have original classification authority, but had such authority under predecessor orders.

Sec. 3.2. Transferred Records.

(a) In the case of classified records transferred in conjunction with a transfer of functions, and not merely for storage purposes, the receiving agency shall be deemed to be the originating agency for purposes of this order.

(b) In the case of classified records that are not officially transferred as described in paragraph (a) of this


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