Steven Aftergood points to an article by an historian who says that the Pentagon Papers are still classified as Top Secret:
You might be dismayed to learn that the Pentagon Papers are still classified as TOP SECRET!
This is despite the fact that The Pentagon Papers have long been in the public domain. Indeed, US government historians use them in official accounts of the Vietnam War and they are referenced and republished in official US government records, such as Foreign Relations of the United States. Senator Mike Gravel even entered them into the Congressional Record!
Aftergood notes that “This means that every public and private library in the country that has a copy of the Papers is technically in possession of currently classified material.”
- Twelve Million Pages Opened by Declass Center in 2010, by Steven Aftergood, Secrecy News (January 26th, 2011).
- Can Government Employees Read the Pentagon Papers?, by John Prados, Unredacted (December 14, 2010).
Prados goes on to say:
The classification of the Pentagon Papers takes on an even stranger significance when one considers the federal government’s recent pronouncement that “unauthorized disclosures of classified documents (whether in print, on a blog, or on websites) do not alter the documents’ classified status or automatically result in declassification of the documents.”
This is the reason –in the case of Wikileaks– why the Government has been demanding that US government employees refrain from looking at any of these documents, even if doing so hampers their ability to fulfill their mandates. If this standard holds true, government employees should not be allowed to read (or reference, or cite) the Pentagon papers either.