The Foreign Service Journal - July/August 2014 - page 13

Foreign Service officer should keep his
nose clean and his mouth shut.”
I have ignored this excellent advice, with mixed
results, for 18 years and will now do so again. I
propose the reinstatement of the security clas-
sification “Official Use Only” (but with a simpler
name) and the abolition of the security classifi-
cations “Limited Official Use” and “Confidential.”
I also propose that declassification decisions be
centralized. …
If you are like me, at least half of the juicy items of gos-
sip you have vouchsafed toWashington have come from
your local employees. This is particularly true in the more
developed countries where the locals tend to have more on
the ball. To classify these vignettes as “Unclassified” exposes
you to the risk of publication, but to mark them“Limited
Official Use”means that the energetic but non-American
types who wrote themmay neither read them, file them nor
refer to them.
By all means let us reinstate a classification which means,
in effect, “fairly common knowledge but not for publication.”
To appease the typists and the rubber stamp markers, I
would suggest that this classification be titled “USG,” which
would mean that the information would be available to any
U.S. government employee, whatever his nationality. Such
a classification would do much to reassure our first-class
locals that they are indeed a part of the U.S. government.
Obviously, we cannot entrust to foreigners really sensitive
information, even if another foreigner is the source. But why
must we have four gradations of sensitiv-
ity (leaving out super-grades)? Surely it is
enough to say that a document is “Confi-
I think we have all been somewhat shat-
tered by the new responsibility of determin-
ing when a document must be declassified.
(I personally have forgotten to put the “group
indicator” on a number of recent cables and
airgrams.) I fully support the theory. Practi-
cally all of our output is of transitory secrecy, and a good
deal of it is overclassified to begin with. We need a system
to downgrade our mistaken prophecies as soon as they are
proved invalid.
But in my humble opinion this could well be done by a
team of experts at some central point, perhaps by those
shadowy characters who receive files retired fromWash-
ington agencies and overseas posts. Why not set up a
degaussing crew at Foggy Bottom with summary powers?
The man-hours thus saved would be considerable and the
declassification criteria would be more intelligently and
consistently applied.
In making these suggestions I have, of course, glossed
over a number of problems which would have to be resolved
if the classification system is to be simplified. If someone
could take a stab at it, however, it would be a great boon to
us hard-working reporters.
—From“Classification USG” (Department of Dissent)
by John Q. Blodgett,
, July 1964.
50 Years Ago
were implementing. According to various
reports, suspicion of public health workers
led thousands of people in Pakistan to
refuse to be vaccinated against polio.
noted: “The violation of trust threatens
to set back global public health efforts by
The letter from the deans, addressed to
President Barack Obama, and shared with
other U.S. officials and the media, stated:
“While political and security agendas may
by necessity induce collateral damage,
we as an open society set boundaries on
these damages, and we believe this sham
vaccination campaign exceeded those
“As an example of the gravity of the
situation, today we are on the verge of
completely eradicating polio. With your
leadership, the U.S. is the largest bilateral
donor to the Global Polio Eradication Ini-
tiative and has provided strong direction
and technical assistance, as well.
“Polio, which particularly threatens
young children in the most disadvantaged
communities, has been isolated to just
three countries: Afghanistan, Nigeria and
Pakistan. Now, because of these assassina-
tions of vaccination workers, the U.N. has
been forced to suspend polio eradication
efforts in Pakistan. …
“Independent of the Geneva Conven-
tions of 1949, contaminating humanitar-
ian and public health programs with
1...,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12 14,15,16,17,18,19,20,21,22,23,...84
Powered by FlippingBook