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A tear line is
|“||the place on an intelligence report (usually denoted by a series of dashes) at which the sanitized version of a more highly classified and/or controlled report begins. The sanitized information below the tear line should contain the substance of the information above the tear line, but without identifying the sensitive sources and methods. This will permit wider dissemination, in accordance with the need-to-know principle and foreign disclosure guidelines, of the information below the tear line.||”|
Above the tear line is sensitive information that would reveal the source; below the line is data extracted from the report that is less sensitive. These paper reports are actually torn apart, and the bottom portion is distributed more broadly. Often, however, policymakers and other officials find the sanitized data on these and other reports to have limited usefulness because it lacks context or key information.
- Creating a Trusted Network for Homeland Security, App. B. ("Overview" section).