“Redaction Poetry” and Overclassification at the US National Archives


Next up: #EmailDeletionParties to celebrate Spring Cleaning? Next up: #EmailDeletionParties to celebrate Spring Cleaning?

Last week the Foundation for the National Archives (an independent organization that “generates financial and creative support” for the Archives and shares its address) launched an eyebrow raising promotion to celebrate National Poetry Month: selecting archival documents, censoring them, and calling it “redaction poetry.”

While celebrating poetry and attempting to bring attention to Archival holdings are noble goals (along with much more that the Archives Foundation does), this promotion has struck many who have struggled with the National Archives’ sputtering declassification and FOIA regimes1 as being in poor taste, considering the vast volumes of information held by NARA that remain withheld from public view, or improperly censored by the Archives’ National Declassification Center.

To highlight these problems, the National Security Archive has selected a few real life examples of “redaction poetry” where the declassifiers at NARA have failed.

Submission One: “Twice Released…

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