After retiring from evil, former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld went about writing his memoir, Known and Unknown. As part of that effort, he asked the Obama Administration to declassify a bunch of secret documents from his tenure so he could write about them and publish them on his voluminous online library. Obama said no.
Rumsfeld participated in one of the most secretive and paranoid administrations since the Nixon White House, while Obama promised an "unprecedented level of openness in Government" on his first day in office. So it's ironic that it was the Obama Administration using its classification powers to bar Rumsfeld from shedding light on his decision-making at the Pentagon. But according to records we obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, the Obama Administration refused at least 40 of Rumsfeld's requests—made under a legal process known as Mandatory Declassification Review—to release classified documents created during Rumsfeld's tenure at the Pentagon.
When Rumsfeld wrote to the Pentagon in 2009, for instance, asking that a memo—presumably written by Rumsfeld himself—called "Thoughts on Guidance for the U.S. Delegation to North Korea" be declassified, he got this response:
Department of State determined that the document requires continued protection. Therefore, DOS must deny in full the declassification of the document.
All told, Rumsfeld got about 40 such denials from the State Department, the CIA, the National Security Council, and other precincts of the Obama Administration over documents like "U.S. Role in Gardez Situation" and "Testing Syrian Cooperation." That constitutes a small minority of the hundreds of Pentagon records that Rumsfeld successfully sought release for under the FOIA and MDR processes, but it's a strange reversal for Rumsfeld to be the one advocating for openness and Obama the one keeping the lid shut.
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