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January 22, 2009


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The substance, enforcement and effectiveness aren't affected. They are effectively identical, and have officially been viewed as identically enforced for nine years.


"A presidential directive has the same substantive legal effect as an executive order. It is the substance of the presidential action that is determinative, not the form of the document conveying that action.

Both an executive order and a presidential directive remain effective upon a change in administration, unless otherwise specified in the document, and both continue to be effective until subsequent presidential action is taken."

James F. Grant

I think you should read the FAS commentary on what Obama has done before celebrating too much. His order only applies to "discretionary" material which is a very small portion of gov't records. Most material that is classified is rendered so by statute, not agency whim. As the FAS blog says:
" Inevitably, several caveats are in order. A “presumption of disclosure” really only applies to records that are potentially subject to discretionary release, which is a finite subset of secret government information. Vast realms of information are sequestered behind classification barriers or statutory protections that remain unaffected by the new policy statements. “In the face of doubt, openness prevails,” the President said. But throughout the government secrecy system, there is not a lot of doubt or soul-searching about the application of secrecy."
See: http://www.fas.org/blog/secrecy/

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