Security Classified and Controlled Information: History, Status, and Emerging Management Issues [June 26, 2006] [open pdf - 160KB]
"The security classification regime in use within the federal executive branch traces its origins to armed forces information protection practices of the World War I era. The classification system- designating information, according to prescribed criteria and procedures, protected in accordance with one of three levels of sensitivity, based on the amount of harm to the national security that would result from its disclosure- attained a presidential character in 1940 when President Franklin D. Roosevelt issued the initial executive order prescribing these information security arrangements. Refinements in the creation, management, and declassification of national security information followed over the succeeding decades, and continue today. In many regards, these developments represent attempts to narrow the bases and discretion for assigning official secrecy to executive branch documents and materials. Limiting the quantity of security classified information has been thought to be desirable for a variety of important reasons: (1) promoting an informed citizenry, (2) effectuating accountability for government policies and practices, (3) realizing oversight of government operations, and (4) achieving efficiency and economy in government management."
CRS Report for Congress, RL33494
Federation of American Scientists: http://www.fas.org/main/home.jsp