A burn bag is the informal name given to a container (usually a paper bag or some other waste receptacle) that holds sensitive or classified documents which are to be destroyed by fire or pulping after a certain period of time. The most common usage of burn bags is by government institutions, in the destruction of classified materials.
Destruction via burn bags is considered superior to shredding, because shredded documents may be reconstructed. After the capture of the United States embassy in Tehran during the Iran hostage crisis, shredded documents were turned over for painstaking manual reconstruction, which revealed to Iran some U.S. operations including spies. Today, scanners and computers can reconstruct shredded documents very quickly. Burn bags are designed to facilitate the destruction process by not requiring the removal of the items to be destroyed beforehand and by indicating if the items require special procedures.
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Famous quotes containing the words burn and/or bag:
“If, as they say, God spanked the town
For being over-frisky,
Why did He burn all the churches down
And spare Hotalings Whiskey?”
—For the State of California, U.S. public relief program (1935-1943)
“English general and singular terms, identity, quantification, and the whole bag of ontological tricks may be correlated with elements of the native language in any of various mutually incompatible ways, each compatible with all possible linguistic data, and none preferable to another save as favored by a rationalization of the native language that is simple and natural to us.”
—Willard Van Orman Quine (b. 1908)