Top intel official warns ‘deficiencies’ in classification system pose national security threat

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(WASHINGTON) -- In a scathing rebuke of the nation's current classification procedures, Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines has told lawmakers that the current system classifies so much information it puts national security at risk -- because of how long it can take to process.

"It is my view that deficiencies in the current classification system undermine our national security, as well as critical democratic objectives, by impeding our ability to share information in a timely manner, be that sharing with our intelligence partners, our oversight bodies, or, when appropriate, with the general public," she writes in a letter dated Jan. 5 and sent to Sens. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and Jerry Moran, R-Kan.

The classification system, she wrote, reduces the intelligence communities capacity to "effectively support senior policy maker decision making, and further erodes the basic trust our citizens have in their government."

The challenge on how to protect national security information, but appropriately share it is not a new challenge, nor is it easy, she said.

The senators wrote the Haines in October to express concern about the current classification system, noting numerous reviews of the process have "documented concerns across the entire lifecycle of the current system."

"In the meantime, the volume of classified material produced continues to grow exponentially in a digital first environment, bringing with it the expanding burden of mandatory declassification requirements," Haines said.

Haines said there are already efforts currently underway, but those were not disclosed in the letter obtained by ABC News.

She says the issue of classification is also "great importance" to President Biden.

The letter was first reported by the Wall Street Journal.

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