Historical Records and Homeland Security: The Declassification and Retraction of Government Documents on Human Radiation Experiments

Following press disclosures in 1993 that U.S. government agencies had been using human subjects in tests and trials involving radioactive isotopes since the mid-1940s, a major national initiative to locate and declassify records concerning these tests was initiated. The U.S. Department of Energy, which led the dedassification effort, pledged that a new "culture of openness" would attend the management of classified documents in the future. Following the attacks on the United States in September 2001, this momentum was reversed. Dedassification initiatives were delayed or terminated, and a significant portion of the many thousands of records about "human radiation experiments" during the 1940s and 1950s were removed from both online access, which had been in place since the mid-1990s, and from the public domain altogether.
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