FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
1998-11-09

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT
Mark S. Zaid, Esq.
(202) 785-3801

RELEASE OF OLDEST U.S. CLASSIFIED DOCUMENTS SOUGHT

Lawsuit Filed To Obtain World War One Documents On "Secret Ink"

WASHINGTON, D.C. --

The James Madison Project (JMP) filed suit today in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia against the National Archives & Records Administration for the release of the oldest U.S. classified documents still withheld from public view. The documents, dating back to 1917 and 1918, apparently all pertain to the use of secret ink by the government of Germany for espionage purposes.

"That World War One documents remain classified and sealed from public view evidences the need to reassess current U.S. government posture on secrecy and inject a sense of reality," said Mark S. Zaid, JMP's Executive Director. Zaid added that this lawsuit is only a first step by JMP to advocate the reduction of secrecy and seek greater government openness in the area of national security.

JMP is a Washington, D.C.-based non-profit organization with the primary purpose of educating the public on issues relating to intelligence gathering and operations, secrecy policies, national security and government wrongdoing.

The lawsuit supports a main premise of JMP's existence - the reduction of secrecy. It advocates the 1997 findings of The Commission on Protecting and Reducing Government Secrecy, which was chaired by Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan. The Commission stated that "[t]he best way to ensure that secrecy is respected, and that the most important secrets remain secret, is for secrecy to be returned to its limited but necessary role. Secrets an be protected more effectively if secrecy is reduced overall."

Future JMP objectives includes pursuing legislative limitations to the Feres doctrine, which essentially immunizes the U.S. military from civil liability. Its first public education project is the forthcoming conference The Bombing of Pan Am 103: Ten Years Later which will be held at Georgetown University on December 1, 1998. The conference will be open to the general public.

Copies of the Complaint are available upon request.