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Should NARA Ask Living Former Presidents and VPs to Search Personal Holdings for Classified Info? FRINFORMSUM 1/26/2023

January 26, 2023

Classified Documents Found at Mike Pence Residence, Prompting NARA to Consider Asking Living Former Presidents and VPs to Search for Classified Records

“About a dozen” classified documents have been discovered at the Carmel, Indiana home of former Vice President Mike Pence. Matt Morgan, one of Pence’s lawyers, initiated the search after the discovery of classified documents at several Biden sites, and immediately contacted the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) about the discovery. NARA in turn alerted the Department of Justice, which, along with the FBI, will investigate how the classified documents got there. Additional documents were driven to NARA for proper preservation under the Presidential Records Act (PRA). Pence’s team alleges that the documents were improperly retained because they were not boxed up by his office staff, but rather they were packed with other belongings at the Vice President’s official residence, the US Naval Observatory (which does contain a SCIF for handling classified materials).

The Pence revelation should underscore the need to overhaul compliance with the Presidential Records Act, particularly as it relates to classified material – and show that the issue is a bipartisan one, requiring a serious bipartisan solution. 

It has also put NARA in the unique position of considering asking living former presidents and vice presidents to search their holdings for classified material. 

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Inter-American Court Orders Opening of Military Archives

This week the National Security Archive commemorated the important Inter-American Court of Human Rights ruling in Flores Bedregal v. Bolivia, which found the State of Bolivia responsible for the 1980 disappearance of activist Juan Carlos Flores Bedregal, by posting key documents from the case. In a first, the court ordered the government of Bolivia to open historical military archives concerning the assassination and forced disappearance of Bedregal. This is the first time the regional court has insisted that a member state has an obligation to guarantee the right to truth by releasing military documents. 

The documents published by the Archive include the testimony Archive senior analyst Kate Doyle provided the Court in February 2022, which addressed the right to truth and the right to information – including military archives – in cases of grave human rights crimes and crimes against humanity. Read more about the case here

In Brief

  • We are excited to announce that tonight’s in-person Busboys and Poets event discussing the Ayotzinapa case is sold out – but walk-ins are welcome as space permits. More information on the event can be found here.

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