America’s Secrets: Classified Information and Our Democracy

January 26, 2023  |  January 27, 2023
The LBJ Presidential Library & Lady Bird Johnson Auditorium

The Clements Center for National SecurityStrauss Center for International Security and Law, the Clements-Strauss Intelligence Studies Project, the LBJ Presidential Library, the LBJ School of Public Affairs and the Public Interest Declassification Board hosted “America’s Secrets: Classified Information and our Democracy,” a two-day event featuring a public meeting of the PIDB and a keynote conversation with the Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines on Thursday, January 26, 2023, and a full-day conference featuring a keynote address from Senator John Cornyn on Friday, January 27, 2023.

On Thursday, January 26, the PIDB hosted its first public meeting of 2023 in the 10th Floor Atrium of the LBJ Presidential Library. The PIDB considered the critical need for modernization of the federal system for classification and declassification. PIDB members discussed challenges that electronic government records pose for declassification and government transparency, reviewed the PIDB’s initiatives over the past year, and planned for the year ahead. Following the hearing, Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines gave keynote remarks, followed by a fireside chat with Adam Klein, Director of the Strauss Center for International Security and Law. For event photographs, click HERE.

On Friday, January 27, we convened a full-day conference on the role of document declassification in transparency, oversight, education, and public trust in our national security institutions. We heard from scholars, members of the media and tech field, government historians and archivists for their perspectives. Senator John Cornyn gave keynote remarks and sat down for a conversation with Will Inboden, Executive Director of the Clements Center for National Security. 


Thursday, January 26, 2023

4:00 pm – 5:30 pm  •  Public Interest Declassification Board Public Meeting

10th Floor Atrium, The LBJ Presidential Library

6:30 pm – 7:30 pm  •  An Evening with Avril Haines, Director of National Intelligence

Lady Bird Johnson Auditorium, The LBJ Presidential Library

Friday, January 27, 2023

8:00 am – 3:30 pm  •  “America’s Secrets: Classified Information and our Democracy” Conference

10th Floor Atrium, The LBJ Presidential Library


8:00 am  •  Registration

8:25 am •  Welcome

8:30 am – 9:30 am •  Panel 1: Scholars and Documents: A Complicated Relationship

  • Jim Goldgeier, Visiting Scholar, Center for International Security and Cooperation, Stanford University; Chair, State Department Historical Advisory Committee
  • Deborah Pearlstein, Co-Director, Floersheimer Center for Constitutional Democracy, Cardozo School of Law; Member, State Department Historical Advisory Committee
  • Jeremi Suri, Mack Brown Distinguished Chair for Leadership in Global Affairs, University of Texas at Austin
  • Sheena Greitens, Founding Director, Asia Policy Program, University of Texas at Austin
  • Moderator: Aaron O’Connell, Director of Research, Clements Center for National Security

9:30 am – 10:30 am •  Panel 2: Is Technology the Problem or the Solution?

  • Jared Abrams, Research Associate, Applied Research Laboratories
  • Ivan Lee, Founder & CEO,
  • Alex Joel, Senior Project Director and Adjunct Professor, Washington College of Law, American University
  • Ezra Cohen, Former Chair, PIDB and Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence and Security
  • Moderator: Adam Klein, Director, Strauss Center for International Security and Law

10:30 am – 10:45 am •  BREAK

SESSION II and Keynote

10:45 am – 11:45 am •  Panel 3: Presidential Records and the National Archives

  • Tim Naftali, Clinical Associate Professor of History and Public Policy, New York University
  • Matthew Connelly, Professor of History, Columbia University, and Principal Investigator, History Lab
  • Warren Finch, Former Director, George H.W. Bush Presidential Library
  • Mark Lawrence, Director, LBJ Presidential Library
  • Moderator: Paul Noel Chretien, PIDB Board Member and Retired Central Intelligence Agency Officer

11:45 am – 12:30 pm •  Lunch

12:30 pm – 1:15 pm •  Declassification, Transparency, and the Importance of Section 702: A Conversation with Senator John Cornyn

  • Moderator: Will Inboden, Executive Director, Clements Center for National Security

1:15 pm – 1:30 pm •  BREAK


1:30 pm – 2:30 pm •  Panel 4: The Media, Secrecy and Transparency

  • Adam Goldman, New York Times
  • Nomaan Merchant, Associated Press
  • Dustin Volz, Wall Street Journal
  • Josh Gerstein, Politico
  • Moderator: Ben Powell, PIDB Board Member, Former DNI General Counsel

2:30 pm – 3:30 pm •  Panel 5: The View from Government Historians and Archivists

  • Erin Mahan, Chief Historian, Office of the Secretary of Defense
  • Adam Howard, Director, Office of the Historian, U.S. Department of State
  • John Fox, Historian, Federal Bureau of Investigation
  • Moderator: John Powers, Associate Director for Classification Management, Information Security Oversight Office

3:30 pm •  Conference adjourned