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Procedure for getting documents declassified from US State Dept. - Printable Version

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Procedure for getting documents declassified from US State Dept. - Magda Hassan - 09-10-2011


Mandatory Declassification Review (MDR)General
MDR is a mechanism provided in Section 3.5 of Executive Order 13526 (which replacedExecutive Order 12958) whereby an individual may request the declassification review of specific classified material that (s)he is able to identify so that the agency may retrieve it withreasonable effort.Section 3.5 provides that information classified under this order or predecessor orders shall besubject to a review for declassification by the originating agency if:1)

the request for a review describes the document or material containing the informationwith sufficient specificity to enable the agency to locate it with a reasonable amount of effort;2)

the document or material containing the information responsive to the request is notcontained within an operational file exempted from search and review, publication, anddisclosure under 5 U.S.C 552 in accordance with law3)

the information has not been reviewed for declassification within the past 2 years. If theagency has reviewed the information within the past 2 years, or the information is thesubject of pending litigation, the agency shall inform the requester of this fact and of therequester's appeal rights.
Where to File a Request for MDR
MDR requests must be sent to the following address:Office of Information Programs and ServicesA/GIS/IPS/RL

U. S. Department of State, SA-2Washington, D. C. 20522-8100
How to Request MDR
The request should specifically mention MDR under E.O. 13526, and not the Freedom of Information or Privacy Acts. The request must identify the document or information to bereviewed with as much specificity as possible, e.g., "Embassy London telegram 88994 of August22, 1997." As a general rule, MDRs should be filed only for the declassification and release of information known to be classified. MDRs will not be opened for general requests forinformation, e.g. "information on Tonga-U.S. relations from 2002 to the present", though thatmay be an appropriate subject of a FOIA request.

UNCLASSIFIED02-25-2010Although the purpose of an MDR is to provide declassification review of classified material,material that has been declassified pursuant to the review may nonetheless be withheld for otherreasons, most typically because withholding is required by the FOIA.
Appealing an MDR Decision
Requesters who are denied declassification and release of information pursuant to an MDRrequest can file an administrative appeal with the Department's Appeals Review Panel (ARP). Anegative decision by the ARP may be appealed to the Interagency Security ClassificationAppeals Panel (ISCAP), the highest appellate body for MDR decisions.
Please note:
the codification of the rules for requesting mandatory declassification review in 22Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) 171, Subpart C refer to Executive Order 12958. AlthoughExecutive Order 12958 has been superseded by Executive Order 13526, the instructions in22CFR171, Subpar C for requesting mandatory declassification review remain valid.
Questions regarding access to Department of State records should be directed to the FOIARequester Service Center by calling the FOIA Hotline at
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