VerDate 0ct 09 2002
What happens right now is with many agencies, it is a complete black hole. We have one agency where we have something like 100 requests that are, oh, between two and 14 years old that we don’t get any responses to, despite follow-up. Well, that is not going to be possible when agencies have to have a tracking system in place.
Senator LEAHY. I also see some of these new classifications, ‘‘sen- sitive but unclassified,’’ or ‘‘for official use only.’’ These don’t have any legal protections under FOIA, do they?
Ms. FUCHS. They shouldn’t have legal protection under FOIA. Senator LEAHY. But do agencies tend to hold back? I mean, do they have a chilling effect on FOIA?
Ms. FUCHS. Well, we at the National Security Archive, particu- larly because many of our requests go to military and intelligence agencies, we worry about that. We have seen an increase in the la- beling of information as ‘‘sensitive but unclassified,’’ ‘‘for official use only,’’ and agency officials tell us it doesn’t have an impact on FOIA, but, in fact, it is hard to believe that when documents are coming across for review and they say, ‘‘sensitive but unclassified,’’ ‘‘sensitive security,’’ ‘‘sensitive homeland security information,’’ or any of the other combinations of letters, that they are not being held back from disclosure.
Senator LEAHY. I remember one of the first trips as a young Sen- ator I took to the then-Soviet Union and we were in what was then called Leningrad, now St. Petersburg, a beautiful city, and I was walking around to do photography, and they still had signs on all the bridges. I had seen the maps that had the city about eight miles off from where it really was, as though your satellites couldn’t make any difference, and the bridges had signs in Russian, English, I think French, saying no photography allowed there. One is a beautiful bridge with great sculptures. I had my wife who stands while I was taking a photograph of her with a telephoto lens but shooting over her shoulder.
But then I came to a church, and again, it was being repaired. Here is this sign. I couldn’t understand the reason. The person who was with us was actually in the KGB, although that is not what they told us—we knew it, he wasn’t going to say it—but he said, ‘‘Go ahead and take the picture.’’ As soon as I put up the camera, a police officer comes running down the street. I thought, God, I am going to end up in jail. He got almost up to this guy, who flashed his ID at him and the man starts going backwards salut- ing. And he turns to me and says, ‘‘Like I said, take the picture.’’
[Laughter.] Senator LEAHY. I worry in some ways we are doing this. Again, I don’t want somebody to send out a list of here are our 12 under- cover agents in this particular country. Of course not. Nobody is asking for that. But it is so easy to say, well, if we classify every- thing, we can never be accused of letting the wrong thing come out.
I appreciate what you are doing and Senator Cornyn and I will continue our work. I mean, he has had his own experience in Texas and can sell how well it can work. We will just keep on it, but thank you. I will submit the rest of my questions.
Senator CORNYN. Ladies and gentlemen, all good things must come to an end and we are going to close this hearing for now. But, as I said earlier, this is, from my standpoint and I trust from Sen-
09:04 Nov 08, 2005