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Making of the Cheney Regional Defense Strategy, 1991-1992

The National Security Archive has posted more than a dozen declassified documents from 1991-1992 about the Defense Planning Guidance (DPG). These were prepared by the Pentagon under the Secretary of Defense of that time, Richard Cheney.

One aspect of this release that is noteworthy is the insight it provides into government secrecy, classification and declassification, and the accuracy and completeness of the historical record. As the NSA says:

Remarkably, these new releases censor a half dozen large sections of text that The New York Times printed on March 8, 1992, as well as a number of phrases that were officially published by the Pentagon in January 1993. "On close inspection none of those deleted passages actually meet the standards for classification because embarrassment is not a legal basis for secrecy," remarked Tom Blanton, director of the Archive."

The NSA displays the language that the Times publicized side-by-side with the relevant portions of the February 18, 1992 draft that was the subject of the leak.

The documents are fascinating:

The word "preempt" does not appear in the declassified language, but Document 10 includes wording about "disarming capabilities to destroy" which is followed by several excised words. This suggests that some of the heavily excised pages in the still-classified DPG drafts may include some discussion of preventive action against threatening nuclear and other WMD programs. The excisions are currently under appeal at the Interagency Security Classification Appeals Panel (ISCAP).

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