28 CFR 17.22: Classification of information; limitations.
(a) Information may be originally classified only if all of the following standards are met:
(1) The information is owned by, produced by or for, or is under the control of the United States Government;
(2) The information falls within one or more of the categories of information specified in section 1.5 of Executive Order 12958; and
(3) The classifying official determines that the unauthorized disclosure of the information reasonably could be expected to result in damage to the national security and such official is able to identify or describe the damage.
(b) Information may be classified as Top Secret, Secret, or Confidential according to the standards established in section 1.3 of Executive Order 12958. No other terms shall be used to identify United States classified national security information except as otherwise provided by statute.
(c) Information shall not be classified if there is significant doubt about the need to classify the information. If there is significant doubt about the appropriate level of classification with respect to information that is being classified, it shall be classified at the lower classification of the levels considered.
(d) Information shall not be classified in order to conceal inefficiency, violations of law, or administrative error; to prevent embarrassment to a person, organization, or agency; to restrain competition; or to prevent or delay release of information that does not require protection in the interest of national security. Information that has been declassified and released to the public under proper authority may not be reclassified.
(e) Information that has not previously been disclosed to the public under proper authority may be classified or reclassified after the Department has received a request for it under the Freedom of Information Act (5 U.S.C. 552), the Privacy Act of 1974 (5 U.S.C. 552a), or the mandatory review provisions of § 17.31. When it is necessary to classify or reclassify such information, it shall be forwarded to the Department Security Officer and classified or reclassified only at the direction of the Attorney General, the Deputy Attorney General, or the Assistant Attorney General for Administration.
(f) Compilations of items of information that are individually unclassified may be classified if the compiled information reveals an additional association or relationship that meets the standards for classification under Executive Order 12958 and that is not otherwise revealed in the individual items of information.