On Thursday, April 9, the Interagency Security Classification Appeals Panel (ISCAP) posted over 500 pages of declassified documents and approximately 70 minutes of declassified videos. Topics in this release include the Israeli and Pakistani nuclear weapons programs, the war in Afghanistan, and training material from the National Security Agency (NSA).
The declassified NSA training material include a catalog of available training tapes that were created in the early 1990s. The catalog contains descriptions of the various topics and the corresponding media type (Beta or VHS). The largest series of videos focused on communications and information security training called “Operation Safeguard” and these videos were part of the release on Thursday. The captions on the videos were not originally on the videos; the ISCAP staff created them as a listening aid to help viewers.
The ‘Operation Safeguard’ videos are very much a product of their time and generally reflect the security concerns of the NSA before the 9/11 attacks. The ISCAP redacted portions of the videos for national security reasons and also redacted portions that contained copyrighted music.
While the current ISCAP releases may not seem to have broad public interest, the ISCAP decisions for each of these appeals was of value to the individual who appealed the agency’s decision to the ISCAP. The declassification and release of these materials also provides insight into classification and declassification activities of the Executive Branch agencies. The resolution of these appeals and others that preceded it can aid Government transparency and improve classification policies. By fulfilling the fourth function of the ISCAP, this release allows the public to see the declassified materials and have insight into our history and hold Government accountable for its actions and policies.
The ISCAP was created by Executive order in 1995. It was reauthorized and its role expanded in section 5.2 of Executive Order 13526, “Classified National Security Information.” There is additional information on the ISCAP on their webpage.