John Powers is the Associate Director of the Information Security Oversight Office at the National Archives and Records Administration. In this role, he leads a team of analysts in advising Government agencies on policies for classifying, declassifying, and safeguarding national security information. He manages the work of the Interagency Security Classification Appeals Panel, the Government’s highest appellate body for resolving classification and declassification determinations. John also serves as the senior staff officer for the Public Interest Declassification Board, an independent board tasked with making recommendations to improve the security classification system. Under his leadership, the Board published four reports to the President, Transforming the Security Classification System, Setting Priorities: An Essential Step in Transforming Declassification, The Importance of Technology in Classification and Declassification, and most recently, A Vision for the Digital Age: Modernization of the U.S. National Security Classification and Declassification System.
Previously, John served for 38 months on the staff of the National Security Council as the Director for Access and Information Management at the White House. He led a team responsible for reviewing and declassifying White House and NSC records for public access. He led several special declassification initiatives, including the U.S. Declassification Project for Argentina that involved 16 Government departments and agencies that resulted in the declassification of almost 50,000 pages of information related to human rights violations committed in Argentina during the “Dirty War.” He also co-led the interagency process that permitted the declassification of historical President’s Daily Briefs from the Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon and Ford administrations. These intelligence products, long sought by historians and researchers, are considered among out nation’s most important intelligence product.
John also coordinated the declassification of historical covert action decisions and reviewed all records proposed for declassification in the Department of State’s Foreign Relations of the U.S. series. He served as the senior staff officer for the NSC-led interagency Records, Access and Information Security Policy Coordinating Committee.
John began his NARA career in 1991 as an archives aid at the Nixon Presidential Materials Project, eventually serving as the Acting Director in 2007. He was responsible for archivally processing and declassifying the Nixon tapes and Nixon’s NSC papers. In between, John served at the Lyndon B. Johnson Presidential Library where he spent two years declassifying President Johnson’s secret recordings.