Intelligence: January 26, 2000


The Clinton Administration has admitted to Congress what has long been charged, that its overly aggressive campaign to declassify historical papers during 1995-98 had in fact mistakenly released more than 1,000 documents including nuclear weapons secrets. The Administration, however, insisted that while these secret documents were inadvertently made available to researchers, only one of the documents was actually seen by anyone without a security clearance before the mistake was discovered and the papers were returned to classified status. The documents in question originated in the old Atomic Energy Commission, and were "lost in the shuffle" when this was merged into the Department of Energy. The 14,890 pages had been sent to various other departments which, not knowing that they were secret, placed them in the National Archives for public review. Many of these included details on early bomb-making programs that could be invaluable to a nation trying to build its first nuclear weapon. --Stephen V Cole


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