The first minute of the new year will see the instant declassification of a mountain of previously secret government documents in what is set to become an annual event under a "25-year law" passed by the Clinton Administration but that is only now coming into effect, reports the New York Times. The somewhat surprising decision by the Bush administration to uphold the law -- after two three-year delays -- which places a quarter-century limit on the classified status of most government documents, is being lauded by open-government advocates and historians alike. "Americans need to know this history, and the history is in those documents," Anna K. Nelson, a historian at American University, tells the Times.

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