At midnight on Dec. 31, hundreds of millions of pages of secret documents will be instantly declassified, including many F.B.I. cold war files....
Secret documents 25 years old or older will lose their classified status without so much as the stroke of a pen, unless agencies have sought exemptions on the ground that the material remains secret.
...And every year from now on, millions of additional documents will be automatically declassified as they reach the 25-year limit, reversing the traditional practice of releasing just what scholars request.
The C.I.A. has reviewed more than 100 million pages, released 30 million pages and created a database of documents....
The National Security Agency, the eavesdropping and code-breaking agency, has released 35 million pages, including an extensive collection on the Gulf of Tonkin incident that led to the escalation of the Vietnam War. The agency plans a major release early next year on the Israeli attack on the Liberty, an American eavesdropping ship, in 1967.
The F.B.I., by contrast, negotiated an exemption from the 1995 executive order and concluded last year that the 2003 executive order ended its special status. It has rushed to review material, seeking exemption for 50 million pages on intelligence, counterintelligence and terrorism, but leaving 270 million pages to be automatically declassified now.
This means lots of interesting documentaries on Discovery and the History Channel in comming years. I'm waiting.