The President Can’t Declassify Myth

Due to the unnecessary and politically driven raid on Trump’s Florida home, the Mar-a-Lago resort, the ability for the President to declassify documents has come into question.

MYTH: The President can not just declassify documents without approval. He must go through a declassification process.

REALITY: Not according to Section 3.5 (b) of Executive Order 13526. The President is exempt from the declassification process. This means the President has the ability to declassify documents without having to be “subject to a review for declassification by the originating agency.”

Executive Order 13526 was created on December 29, 2009. It took effect 180 days after being ordered. Here’s the purpose of Executive Order 13526— “This order prescribes a uniform system for classifying, safeguarding, and declassifying national security information, including information relating to defense against transnational terrorism.”

Below is Section 3.5 (Mandatory Declassification Review) of Executive Order 13526:

A: Except as provided in paragraph (b) of this section, all information classified under this order or predecessor orders shall be subject to a review for declassification by the originating agency.

B: Information originated by the incumbent President or the incumbent Vice President; the incumbent President’s White House Staff or the incumbent Vice President’s Staff; committees, commissions, or boards appointed by the incumbent President; or other entities within the Executive Office of the President that solely advise and assist the incumbent President is exempted from the provisions of paragraph (a) of this section.


The White House: Office of the Press Secretary. (2009, December 29). Executive order 13526- classified National Security Information. National Archives and Records Administration. Retrieved September 7, 2022, from

One response to “The President Can’t Declassify Myth”

  1. […] “subject to a review for declassification by the originating agency.” (Read my article “The President Can’t Declassify Myth” for more […]

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