The comments come from Marion Bowman, a former senior FBI official who headed the bureau's intelligence shop for many years, and who now works for the National Counter-Intelligence Executive.
In a broad-ranging review of U.S. classification policy published recently and written while he was out of government, Bowman writes that "any realistic appraisal of classification today will lead the researcher to a logical conclusion that both over-classification and over-long duration of classification are culturally governed by a decades-old process of protecting government information … that has become dysfunctional in the face of current needs of national security."
The review was published by the Association of Former Intelligence Officials in the latest edition of its journal, Intelligencer. It was posted Monday on the blog of the Federation of American Scientists' Project on Government Secrecy.
Bowman criticizes both the expansion of classification authority and the proliferation of categories of so-called controlled but unclassified information, such as that marked "for official use only" or "law enforcement sensitive."
He says that what is needed is nothing less than a "complete re-write of both classification and (information-sharing) access Executive Orders, to be buttressed by any required legislation."
The re-write needs to "start with the philosophy of need (for the sharing as well as protection of information) that exists today, rather than that which has carried forward from World War II."