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Security Classification of Information: Table of Contents

Appendix F.

The Department of State (DoS) is the agency primarily responsible for classification of foreign relations information. Other agencies' classification decisions will usually be derivative classification decisions. This appendix presents some guidance for classification of foreign relations information to assist the authorized classifier in recognizing what might be foreign relations information if it is encountered. This guidance is taken essentially verbatim from a Department of Defense handbook for writing security classification guidance.1

Foreign relations are the connections between nations. Information that pertains to the political, military, and economic relationships between countries and international organizations is foreign relations information. Foreign affairs refers to matters having to do with foreign relations. The following are some of the types of foreign relations information that warrant classification consideration.

A general rule might be that foreign policy objectives and broad diplomatic options should be kept unclassified for purposes of public discussion but that specific information about ongoing negotiations should be classified.2 With respect to the duration of classification of foreign relations information, it has been stated that "the need for diplomatic secrecy is usually limited to the period of negotiation, normally of short duration."3


1. Department of Defense Handbook for Writing Security Classification Guidance, DoD 5200.1-H, U.S. Department of Defense, Washington, D.C., March 1986, 7.

2. J. H. Kahan, "Workshop A--Lifetime Cycles for Security Classification," J. Natl. Class. Mgmt. Soc., 7, 5256 (1971), p. 55.

3. J. Zagel, "The State Secrets Privilege," Minn. L. Rev., 50, 875 (1966), p. 877, n. 9.

On to Appendix G.

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