Army Says It Will Restore Public Access to Online Library

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Saturday, February 23, 2008

The Army will restore public access to the largest online collection of its doctrinal publications within two weeks, an Army spokesman said yesterday.

Col. Michael J. Negard said the Army "underestimated the impact" of its decision to make the Reimer Digital Library password-protected on Feb. 6, a move that shut off public access to an electronic archive that is popular with researchers for its wealth of documents on military operations, education, training and technology. Critics of the decision noted that most of the documents in the library had specifically been cleared for public release.

"Our intent was to protect sensitive information, the server itself, and the network from attacks by outside sources, not to deny the public access to publicly releasable information," Negard said. "We absolutely respect the freedom of information and the American people's 'right to know.' "

Negard said the Army will still limit access to "unclassified, but sensitive" documents in the archive to certain military members and Defense Department employees.

Steven Aftergood of the nonprofit Federation of American Scientists, who had filed a Freedom of Information Act request for all of the publicly releasable materials in the archive, called the announcement an "encouraging response."

"It does the Army credit," Aftergood said. "I'm hopeful that the prior level of public access will soon be restored. When it is, we will withdraw our FOIA request."

-- Christopher Lee


© 2008 The Washington Post Company

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