Advisory Committee on Historical Diplomatic Documentation September 13-14, 1999
Open Session, September 13
Approval of the Minutes of the March and May 1999 Meetings
Chairman Michael Hogan called the meeting to order. The minutes of the last two meetings (March and May 1999) were approved. William Slany reported that the minutes of the 12-15 meetings of the Advisory Committee since its establishment in 1992 which had not been placed on the Internet by Steven Aftergood of the Federation of American Scientists had been collected and would be on the Internet by the time of the next meeting.
Report by the Executive Secretary
Slany then discussed the personnel structure of the Office, noting that there was a danger that there would soon be more Advisory Committee members than staff of the Office of the Historian. The Office had six vacancies, three were created last year and three this year. Action had been initiated to fill three vacancies, including a State/CIA shared employee who would work on access at CIA. Slany anticipated more vacancies next year and more hiring when that happened. He reported that Hogan had talked to Deputy Assistant Secretary of State James Foley about the need to fill vacancies. The PA merger with USIA had been a complicating factor, as had the upcoming replacement of the S/S-EX personnel officer by a new PA/EX personnel officer. Slany had met with this new officer, Betsy Murphy, and filling the Office's vacancies was one of her priorities, but she made no promises about how many vacancies might be fillable.
Slany stated that the group of HO historians who went to the last SHAFR meeting had talked to a group of good potential candidates. Based on these discussions and other interested candidates who responded to the announcement on H-DIPLO, he was confident that we would have a excellent inventory of potential employees. Slany promised that three of the vacancies would be filled by the end of September, and he hoped that the new hires would on board by the summer of next year. As an interim measure, senior Foreign Service officers would be used. One senior FSO had just joined the staff this morning; he hoped to find others.
Next Slany reported on the Museum of Foreign Affairs which Secretary of State Albright saw as part of her legacy. PA had assigned a senior officer to work with the consultant Priscilla Linn, to act as project manager, and to tackle fundraising, the principal obstacle to the museum. The tentative deadline for opening the museum was late July 2000, the anniversary of the establishment of the Department of State in July 1789. He expected that some HO staff time would be required to work with the Museum designers to ensure historical accuracy.
Slany then described the Office's role in the history of the Kosovo Operation. The role was not one of deep involvement. The Policy Planning Staff would take the lead in research and writing, but Paul Claussen had been assigned as the historical liaison. Without a policy research staff, the Office could not undertake this task.
Finally, Slany announced that Jim Miller would assume the post of Director of European Studies at the Foreign Service Training Center for the next 9 months. Miller's detail would allow the current Director to move to INR and an INR member to move to M and undertake a reorganization study of INR. Slany felt that Miller's abilities and experience allowed for this move and his detail would assist the Department, although he realized that PA was dubious about a detail when the Office staff was so depleted. He thought that there were good reasons for the detail, although the Committee might have a different view. The rest of his remarks, Slany stated, were adequately summarized in his written report to the Committee.
Frank Mackaman asked if any vacancies were already filled. Slany answered that none were, but he hoped to post the jobs within the next few weeks and make offers to candidates soon afterward. The Office still needs to identify potential candidates for the other three vacancies. Hogan wanted to verify that it was not a matter of funding, that the six positions had been approved and could be filled. Slany responded he did, but of course the Bureau's position might change especially with the upcoming merger with USIA. Mackaman noted that filling three positions merely holds the line of the most recent vacancies, filling six merely gets the Office back to full strength of the previous year. Slany did not hold out much hope for more than six positions, at least until there were more vacancies. Hogan then asked when the three new historians would be at their desks in HO. Slany suggested March 2000. After it was pointed out that some potential candidates had jobs on the academic cycle (September to June), Slany suggested that perhaps not all three would be on board by March, but he hoped for two. The next step was for PA/EX to conf the vacancies and then post the jobs before offers could be made.
Mackaman then raised the issue of expediting security clearances. Slany, after discussing it with Betsy Murphy, did not offer much hope for adoption of any sort of interim clearance short of full Top Secret, as long as that may take. Furthermore he suggested that granting temporary secret security as a means of bringing people on board had it ups and downs. It would allow for an earlier orientation and training for the employee, but it would make our relationship with agencies that require high clearances uneasy. If an employee failed to get a Top Secret clearance, he or she would not keep the Secret one and the employee would be essentially lost to Foreign Relations. Kimball asked if the interim Secret clearance wasn't worth the risk. Slany felt that a two-level clearance in HO was unacceptable considering the use of documents of all levels of classification even in the early stages of research for a Foreign Relations volume.
Mackaman asked if this was the appropriate time to discuss personnel issues. Slany suggested that we would come back to it later in the closed session and Mackaman agreed. Hogan recapped the discussion: HO would make three offers this month, identify other potential candidates, and hire them later in the year with the first group of three joining the Office after obtaining clearances by spring-summer of 2000. Vince Davis expressed concern about losing vacancies that are not filled as quickly as possible, and Slany agreed that he too was concerned. Hogan asked about the Deputy Historian position. Slany answered that it was not approved and the six vacancies did not now include that position.
Presentation by Mark Bradley, Legislative Counsel and Assistant for Defense/Intelligence to Senator Moynihan
Warren Kimball introduced Mark Bradley of Senator Patrick Moynihan's staff. Bradley explained that he was the Senator's legislative assistant responsible for Senate Bill 22 (formerly S.712) on classification-declassification. Bradley gave the Committee a brief biography of his educational and working background and stated that he had joined Moynihan's staff during the impeachment. It was Moynihan's contention that the government classifies too much and declassifies too little. The problem is the mindset of the people in the national security agencies, "it's like changing the Vatican." Bradley pointed out that Congress does not play a role in declassification, which has been done by executive order. The aim of Sen. Moynihan's bill was to get people to think differently about how documents are classified, to get them to think that it's in the public interest for the public to know as much as possible.
The bill made it to the Governmental Affairs Committee, but then ran out of time and died. It was reintroduced, but then it seemed to drop off the radar screen. Both Secretary of Defense Cohen and Director of Central Intelligence George Tenet had expressed opposition. CIA's opposition was based on the argument of danger to the national security; DOD stressed the issue of cost, claiming that it would take $4-6 billion to implement and suggesting that Defense was not going to spend that amount when the agency was short of men and equipment. But when he asked a DOD representative how many classified documents DOD had, the official replied that he didn't know.
He said that DOD and CIA don't want to spend a lot of money on declassification or to take a lot of money away from anti-terrorism efforts, etc. for declassification. Another issue concerns the separation of powers. Can Congress get involved in what traditionally has been an executive function? Another question concerns the extent to which civilians have the right to challenge military and CIA policy. In addition, time is running out. Sen. Moynihan will be leaving at the end of this session. The Republicans think that time is in their favor; thus, the Lott Amendment which called for slashing the declassification budget from $200 million to $30 million. A big question, therefore, is who is going to pay for the declassification programs. Declassification is an important and valuable government program, but it is hard to overcome the arguments that it is too expensive and a danger to national security.
Rep. Porter Goss and Sen. Moynihan are looking at a revised bill, but such a bill has to go through numerous committees, including Judiciary and Intelligence, and will be difficult to pass. Sen. Moynihan and his supporters see declassification as an openness problem. Their Republican allies see it as a management problem. Their new idea was partially inspired by what the Historical Advisory Committee has been able to do with the Foreign Relations series. They have proposed the Public Interest and Historical Review Act of 1999 (S.22). This Act would create a board of experts to set up a process for the systematic review and collection of historically important documents from CIA, DOD, DIA, NSA, State, and other national security agencies. It comes at the problem from the opposite direction, from the historical point of view. It envisions a Board that will be Congressionally staffed and managed. If the Republicans overturn the declassification executive orders in the future, Congress will fund the Board, not the agencies' declassification efforts, so funding will not be a problem.
Reading from the Act's statement, Bradley stated that declassification of records is in the public interest in a democracy and that the present system needs comprehensive reform. He noted that there has to be a way to achieve a beachhead to put Congress back in the declassification game. At present, any Member can stand up on the floor of Congress and demand a document search. For example, the CIA has had to do 33 of them recently, 8 on the murdered nuns in El Salvador alone. This takes a lot of resources. The Board will be a channeling mechanism, so that the Agencies would not have to continue reinventing the wheel each time a Congressional request is made. He hopes to have the Act passed by Thanksgiving, with Sen. Moynihan leading the effort in the Senate, and Rep. Goss in the House.
Bradley said that he had studied other countries' declassification systems, but that the British, French, and Germans have very closed systems and the Australians and Canadians, who are more open, do not have the large foreign policy role that the United States has, so there is nothing comparable. He fears that when Sen. Moynihan leaves, interest in this issue will wane, but he sees noone who cares as passionately about it. Resistance to S.22 had been overwhelming, but he stressed that something must be formulated that will pass. The government should also concentrate on creating fewer secrets to protect.
Bradley said that this bill would put a burden on historians on the board to make it effective and that they must not be like "poster children," which is how the CIA is attempting to use its historical advisory board. The board should meet at least quarterly and have sufficient wisdom and firepower to accomplish its goals.
Bradley having concluded his presentation, Kimball asked the Committee to give him its views on "targeted declassification."
Comments and Questions. Ann Van Camp began by pointing out that, in the issue of evaluating records and declassification, Bradley was preaching to the choir. The Committee is in favor of declassification and has an excellent track record to prove it. But if he wanted the Committee's support, Bradley should understand the Committee's position on the issue of targeted declassification. In her view, the targeted opening of records was a waste of time; the systematic, professional, archival approach was best. Van Camp argued that Bradley should not replicate the JFK Review Board in the attempt to promote access. She said the Committee, however, could look at the language of his proposed legislation. Nancy Tucker explained that historians would want access to all records, for example, on Germany, not just a few documents on isolated issues relating to Germany. Van Camp added an archival perspective: the records should be made available in the order they are created, i.e., by agency. Bradley countered that many agency records have not been kept in good shape. Van Camp replied that Bradley was looking at the issue from a different perspective.
Kimball said that the Department of State has had a systematic review process, a process that has been working and should be considered a model for other agencies. According to Kimball, as long as the Department has been systematically reviewing its records, there has never been a verifiable breach of national security. If a bureaucracy as big as State could get its act together, he reasoned, then there may be hope for the rest of the government. Bradley asked about the percentage of the Department's records that are classified. Nina Noring responded that it might be about 75 percent.
Bob Schulzinger saw the intent of Bradley's legislation but cited philosophical differences with the proposed review board. The Committee was committed to setting down rules of access so researchers can pursue their own agenda without preconceptions. In this regard, the Committee was uncomfortable setting research priorities, i.e. advocating the release of records on some topics but not others. Schulzinger was very troubled by the practice of imposing limited judgment to the principle of access. Bradley reminded the Committee that the legislative provision for the review board included a mechanism to allow for outside ideas. Schulzinger argued that this mechanism would be limited, not allowing for the concerns of the graduate student in Tulsa.
Mackaman offered a contrary point of view. As the participants were aware, the JFK Review Board had opened up much more than merely assassination records. Mackaman asserted that this process had opened up a field of inquiry almost as wide as systematic declassification. Although she conceded the point, Tucker was concerned that archivists may not have historical training; they may not be in a position to judge the end of the Cold War, where events took a radical turn that could not have been predicted. No one can predict what will be important in the future. Tucker insisted that the systematic approach was the only way to prepare for the unexpected. Bradley replied that the review board he proposed would be operating in perpetuity.
Michael Schaller explained that the Committee did not, as a matter of policy, micromanage the Foreign Relations series. The Committee had stayed out of the business of defining priorities, i.e. determining which issues or countries would be covered in the volumes. Schaller also thought that the proposal would allow interest groups to influence the declassification process, rather than allow a broader and more objective approach. Bradley said that he had been told that documents on some sensitive subjects such as Iran would not be declassified. The members of the Committee were the experts. But Bradley had heard the argument many times: there are billions of documents, most of it junk. Kimball explained that there were two processes in the assessment of records: the initial appraisal eliminates the trivial material; the subsequent appraisal focuses on substance. After indicating her agreement with this explanation, Van Camp cited the Committee itself as an example. The Historian's Office is supposed to compile volumes in the Foreign Relations series, but cannot do the job without access. The Committee lobbies for complete access with the agencies; the Historian's Office then decides what to cover in the volumes.
Report of the Electronic Records Subcommittee and Discussion of Public Access to the Historical Records of the Department of State
After a break, Van Camp delivered her report on the meeting of the Electronic Records Subcommittee. A lot had happened on the electronic records front since the last Committee meeting; on the basis of this progress, she was more confident that the battle would be won. Van Camp reported that the National Archives had contracted with a systems designer to develop an access system. If all goes according to plan, a prototype should be ready in 18 months. The Department of State will be giving sample tapes to the designer, a key component in developing the access system. Van Camp said that the Department had been particularly active recently, solving the Y2K problem as well as finishing its targeted opening on Chile and Pinochet. The Department has also been addressing the complicated issue of its electronic records--largely telegraphic traffic--for 1973-1975. By the end of this year, the State Archiving System (SAS) will be the only Department system, as records are transferred from the Automated Document System (ADS). The Department has been carefully managing this "migration" of material, trying not to lose anything, or, if something is lost, quickly determining what happened. The Subcommittee also discussed the issue of continuous access to these electronic records, not only now but also as they are transferred an maintained at NARA, which may not be able to provide public access via the Internet until 2001 or 2002. Van Camp said that NARA and State, in working toward the general goal of access, were tackling a number of questions. As an example, she cited the difficulties involved in providing access to records on microfilm. Some records (telegrams) were automatically put on microfilm, while others (written communications) were added at a later date. The microfilm was difficult to declassify; there was also some concern about preservation. Van Camp, however, was confident that the right people were working on the problem--and very confident that there was a lot of good will on all sides.
Comments by Michael Kurtz, Assistant Archivist, NARA. Kurtz lauded Van Camp for her time and effort devoted to understanding and communicating this complex issue. He noted that he and Steve Lauderdale of IPS had been successfully devising ways to facilitate continued and future access to the electronic records of the Department of State. They had been able to clarify issues pertaining to format migration and record integrity. Kurtz also noted that NARA had provided IPS with some assistance on the disposition of State microfilm records. However, he cautioned that "the devil's in the details" of any plan involving the transition of such records to the Archives. Great care had to be taken to ensure that "misunderstandings" were avoided and that the needs of all interested parties were considered. Lauderdale then revealed that a collaborative prototype of an online review of cables had begun.
Comments by Peter Sheils, IPS. Sheils viewed the challenges facing his office as difficult but appreciated the working relationship with NARA that had been developed. He especially cited the online review of real-time electronic records as a daunting task but noted that IPS was in the process of increasing the number of personnel devoted to that particular issue. Sheils then passed out papers containing several tables relating to the declassification output by IPS. The charts showed that State possessed 3.6 million pages in electronic format, and, as noted, a pilot project relating to them had been started. Other significant IPS initiatives had been to accelerate the review of Departmental Lot Files, with the result that the files remaining still to be reviewed were only a fraction of the total Lot Files within State's custody. Sheils also noted that IPS had reallocated sources to reviewing files and documents previously withdrawn under the prior Executive Order and currently was reviewing files from the 1950-1963 period.
In his opinion, the "tip of the iceberg" in terms of declassification review were State Department records and files outside of Departmental custody. Dealing with such records would require substantially more resources than currently committed. The total page count for these types of records was not precisely known as the number kept changing primarily because of ongoing reviews by other agencies of their records under the E.O. In addition, State reviewers may need to revisit the Presidential Libraries in order to update review guidelines.
Discussion and Questions. Kimball questioned Sheils about the figures used in his charts. Sheils noted that his charts only went back to reviews begun during the 1995-1996 period. He further stated that State records in certain DOD agencies had not been included in the tabulations because no numbers were available for them. Kimball suggested that these particular agencies were key to the entire government-wide declassification effort. Kimball suggested that perhaps the mere submission of a query regarding their declassification effort would put them into a "panic mode" with the positive result that they would provide data on their review process. Kimball and Van Camp also questioned Sheils as to why INR records remained exempt for 50 years. Sheils responded that these INR records had been included in an exempted file series, approved by the White House, because virtually all contained other agency intelligence material which would be exempted under the present E.O. The Department, however, is committed to re-review this material no later than 50 years from the dates of origin. Kimball requested that Sheils provide the language of this exemption to the Committee. Sheils replied that he would get back to them on it.
Page Putnam Miller then queried as to when private historians and the public would be able to gain access to the Department's electronic files and whether this access would be targeted or systematic. Steve Lauderdale replied that the online review he had mentioned would occur on an in-house basis. However, IPS would develop a contingency process for what he termed "interim access." This "interim access" would be provided until the records were available through NARA. This process would allow for a full text search and would likely be part of the State Department's Web site. He did note that there would be some targeting and prioritization of public access to these materials, especially of exactly what was going to be put on the Internet.
Kurtz noted that the Committee and HO would be included in NARA's ongoing prototype development project. Miller then asked whether the documents of the prototype project itself would be available to the public, to which Kurtz replied that this database would be available at College Park initially with global access provided thereafter.
David Patterson then briefly characterized the nature of these electronic records and their importance to the mission of HO. Since a few HO researchers already had reached the point where they needed to explore these records, he had been working out arrangements for compilers' access either at IPS or via a computer link directly to the system. He saw as a minor problem the fact that reviewing would be going on at the same time as HO historians would be researching the same electronic records.
Lauderdale noted that the documents IPS would put up on any potential Website would be full text. He had recently searched the Internet for impressive Web sites possessing historical documentation and had his staff contact their respective Webmasters for advice on the best possible way in which to proceed with this prototype. Sheils cited the ease of access, especially in terms of searching and retrieval, available through use of the Internet. He noted that traffic on State's Website tripled in one day when documents on Chile were posted recently. He believed the use of the Internet would be the best way to go, although the paper records should always be available at College Park. He did note, however, that this initiative was creating great expectations that would require a significant commitment of resources to meet.
On other issues, David Herschler wondered whether IPS still contemplated putting into electronic form the non-cable documents from State's microfilms as these documents were valuable and rarely duplicated elsewhere. Lauderdale cited technical problems and the high cost of the process as having mitigated against undertaking this conversion. Since almost 90 percent of the microfilm was unclassified, it would not be worth going back to get the relative few of these memoranda and reports, and for the immediate future IPS's focus would remain on cables. Kimball then expressed the concern of the Committee regarding the inadequate identification and disposition of records at INR. He requested that Sheils report on the matter at the next meeting. Hogan expressed gratitude for the joint efforts of NARA and IPS staff, as well as the work of Van Camp, in overcoming the difficulties associated with this issue. Schulzinger noted that the situation "seemed hopeless" the previous year but now appeared to have been worked out in an appropriate manner.
Prior to adjournment for a working lunch, Miller asked for comment on the status of the inter-agency High-Level Panel (HLP). Kimball replied that while the Committee as well as HO was committed to making the HLP work effectively, the process did require some "acceleration." Hogan commented that the HLP process "had not ground to a halt but was moving forward at a slow pace." Slany added that the imminent release of the Foreign Relations volume on Iran for 1964-1968 would be the first disclosure of a previously protected covert operation and thus demonstrated that the HLP did in fact work. He underscored the positive prospects for the HLP by noting that HO's working relationship with the CIA "had never been better."
Closed Session, September 13
Access to and Release of Papers of President Nixon and Secretary Kissinger
The session was called to order after lunch at 1:40 p.m. Slany explained that all of the historians were now working at the Nixon Project, but that the Office had not yet tested the clearance procedure for Nixon Presidential materials under the Presidential Materials and Recordings Preservation Act (PRMPA) for declassified Foreign Relations documents. The Office was about to submit one or more manuscripts to the Nixon Project at NARA and there was some concern that the last obstacle would be "formidable" and may have a negative impact on the Foreign Relations schedule. With these concerns in mind, Nancy Smith of NARA would explain the process and why they considered it to be potentially very serious.
Comments by Nancy Smith, NARA. Smith began her comments by emphasizing that she could not comment with any authority on this issue. Karl Weissenbach, as director of the Nixon Project, was the official who could speak with the most authority. Anything she might say would be unofficial and open to change. She began by saying that any discussion of the problem had to differentiate between the tapes and the textual materials. NARA's concern was a referral of copies of the materials chosen for inclusion in the volumes be made as quickly as possible since NARA staff had-up to this point-only reviewed the documents for "personal and returnable" information and not for invasion of privacy or law enforcement issues.
Once NARA received the chosen documents, its staff members would compile a list of the 50 individuals who required notification of potential release. Then a notice would be placed in the Federal Register and separate letters sent to the named individuals. Any of those people could raise a concern or a formal objection to release. NARA would attempt to alleviate the concern informally, if possible. Otherwise a formal objection would be sent to the Presidential Materials Review Board for adjudication. Smith said that after a flurry of objections prior to a release in 1987, no formal objections had been received. She said that NARA had "no idea" what the concerns of the named individuals might be.
Smith noted that the tapes were more sensitive than the textual materials and that she had met with Karl Weissenbach, Director of the Nixon Project, and Slany in early September to emphasize the need to begin referring the material to the NARA. Ted Keefer asked if there was a limit for objections to be made. Smith responded that the PRMPA allowed 30 days. Keefer asked what would happen in the case of formal appeal. Smith said that the matter would then appear on the next agenda of the Presidential Materials Review Board. She also explained that if an individual had a great deal of material to read through, the time limit could be extended, although the Review Board in the past had worked at an expeditious pace. She emphasized that her responses were based on past experience, and that the Foreign Relations situation was unclear since NARA currently had no idea how much material had been selected for inclusion in the manuscripts.
Schulzinger asked if the HO historians had the right to take notes from the Nixon material. Smith said yes, but that the notes could not be used until the documents were cleared. Slany then asked how NARA determined which of the 50 "names" to notify. Smith said that NARA would automatically notify everyone on their list.
Slany asked what specific procedure HO should follow in this process. Smith said that specific documents and tapes should be returned, as well as all references to taped materials. Herschler asked if that included editorial notes and footnotes that cited or quoted from portions of Nixon documents. Smith said that NARA would want to clear the referenced documents to avoid charges of privileged access.
Humphrey pursued the issues of annotation quoting or referencing the tapes. Slany stated that it seemed essential to seek declassification and release of the full conversation or major segment beyond any small portion that HO may have used. Smith said that NARA would try to get the whole conversation released, even if HO used only a small portion of it. Keefer commented that release of the whole conversation would be a privacy matter, not an editorial matter. Mackaman commented that it would be an editorial concern if the tape was blocked. Smith emphasized again that the tapes were the most sensitive issue and NARA did not know whether the Nixon Estate would release conversations out of the agreed-upon order (with NARA) for the Foreign Relations series. The real question was how much this would extend the clearance deadlines.
Herschler said that under the terms of HO's access agreement for the tapes, the Nixon Estate could object under any grounds-not just "personal and returnable." This had been the most contentious issue in completing the access agreement. Smith noted that the issue was effectively deferred until the historians had decided how much taped material they wanted to use.
Mackaman asked Smith what the effect would be if objections were raised by former Nixon officials to a taped segment from which a small segment had been extracted for Foreign Relations use, and the extract was not the portion of the tape to which objections were posed. Smith responded that all segments of the taped conversation except that to which the objections were raised would be opened.
Kimball then raised the issue of prior declassification. In responding, Smith stated that all foreign policy related portions of the tapes are treated by NARA as "inherently classified." She noted that the Estate's reviewer did not possess a clearance and that the Estate insisted that all tapes and other documentation be declassified prior to its review for sensitivity.
Herschler inquired how the process by which the tapes are passed to NARA for PRMPA review could be expedited. He reiterated that most tapes were being used in the form of extracts, editorial notes, or footnotes. Luke Smith raised the point that many of the taped conversations tended to wander over a variety of subjects, lending to extraction but also offering the possibility of objections over sometimes "raw" asides on personal matters. Smith again stated that from NARA's point of view opening longer segments of the tapes (whole conversations) was the optimum solution to the public access issue.
Slany then inquired whether this process would not have the effect of slowing up publication of Foreign Relations volumes. Smith minimized the probability of a major series of objections, noting that only a handful of the 50 former Nixon officials routinely notified of openings have, in fact, shown an interest in reviewing these openings. She also indicated that NARA is proceeding with chronological openings of the tapes beginning with the February 1971 conversations. She admitted this was unlikely to deal effectively with the release of conversations selected for Foreign Relations since they would cover a wider time frame. She also stated that the State Department "subventions" (NARA employees funded by the Department) would be assigned to the task of preparing taped Nixon segments chosen by PA/HO staff for screening by former Nixon administration officials and declassified in full or in part by agencies under E.O. 12958. Smith stated that the review of conversations would be complicated because of the interweaving of multiple topics in the conversations. She then traced the steps that would be followed in submitting taped conversations for review by former Nixon administration employees and the appeals process.
In response to Smith's request for more information regarding the likely arrival of the first Nixon documentation for review, both textual materials and tapes, Slany and Herschler indicated that the volume on foreign economic policy would be the first volume sent to NARA. Smith opined this would probably offer a good test case and would not contain too many issues of personal privacy. The question arose when this manuscript would be ready for NARA. Susan Weetman noted that although the manuscript was not encountering serious declassification problems, documents could not be referred to the NSC for review--and thence to NARA--until Treasury responded with its review determinations. The sense of the Committee was to do whatever possible to expedite declassification of the manuscript in order to begin clearance work at NARA. The discussion then turned to individuals who had an intense interest in the process.
Tucker then brought up the issue of the delivery to HO of copies of the Kissinger phone conversations. Herschler responded that they had not yet been delivered by the Library of Congress. Slany noted that a number of differing strategies regarding approaching Kissinger on the issue had been floated. A letter to Kissinger seemed the best way but the question of who should send it remained, including whether the Secretary should become involved again. The issue was further complicated by NARA's interest in securing a set of Kissinger materials and possible State-NARA cooperation in this effort.
Kimball recalled that Kissinger's staff had indicated that no progress on release of the phone conversations would be possible until after the summer of 1999. David Geyer noted that the Library of Congress had used that rationale for delaying HO research in the telcons until January 1999. Patterson then reported on the practical problems that HO had faced since the telcons became available in January. The Library of Congress had held on to photocopies of the Kissinger papers until quite recently because the Department had failed to pay for copying. The Library had recently released the copies but still had not been paid. As for the phone conversations, the Library had recommended sending a letter to Kissinger to expedite his agent's review. However, HO learned that this person has been hospitalized and would be away for some weeks yet. Patterson had discussed with LC the possibility of Kissinger assigning a replacement reviewer.
Hogan indicated the desire of the Committee to see a letter dispatched to Kissinger from Slany as soon as possible. Patterson stated that it would be prudent to speak to Kissinger's agent before sending a letter to confirm that the information provided by the LC was correct.
Philip Zelikow then discussed his personal efforts to gain Kissinger's agreement to provide access to his papers. Her referred to an exchange of correspondence with Kissinger that had culminated in a joint letter to Foreign Affairs [Sept/Oct 199, p. 189] in which Kissinger agreed to make select copies of non-sensitive telcons available to the State Department. Zelikow suggested that the Department of State and NARA adopt a strategy of public exchange of correspondence with Kissinger that would lead to a commitment by the former Secretary of State to the preservation and eventual release of his papers.
Mackaman noted that since Kissinger had signed a deed of gift with the Library of Congress, the path was open to a potential conflict between the Library and NARA/State on the issue of the papers. He also noted that Kissinger had had a previous arrangement with the Ford Library to turn over select copies of his papers that had never been implemented.
Langbart questioned Zelikow's statement that Kissinger had agreed to the telephone conversation transcripts becoming part of State Department files and therefore Federal records. Langbart noted that the transcripts fell into two periods, during the first of which, 1969-1973, Kissinger was national security adviser. Only those transcripts for his period as Secretary of State, 1973-1976, could be considered Federal records. Langbart also stated that Lawrence Eagleburger did the "personal and returnable" review for those transcripts 20 years ago.
After further discussion of the issue, Kimball suggested that the Committee needed to direct its attention to what mattered for Foreign Relations and for access by the general public. Zelikow commented that it was an open question whether it was legally possible to revisit determinations of what was official record material in the Kissinger Papers. In any case, given the situation, it was important for NARA and the State Department to document their positions on access to the papers
Schulzinger asked what practical steps could be taken so that HO historians could get the photocopies of the telephone conversations they had requested; the other issues should be handled separately. Mackaman said we should talk to Rosemary Niehuss, Kissinger's agent. Kimball noted that Zelikow thought there was not much sense in talking to Niehuss. Mackaman reasserted the importance of talking to Niehuss, stating that it might help and it certainly wouldn't hurt. Zelikow responded that Kissinger knew there was a lot of attention being given to the issue of his papers and therefore was unlikely to let Niehuss make the decision.
Hogan proposed dropping the idea of a phone call to Niehuss and instead have Slany write a letter to Kissinger. Patterson commented that we have to let Kissinger know that we haven't been getting the copies of the telephone conversation transcripts but we have to do it in a way that doesn't anger him. The Committee decided that Slany should send a letter to Kissinger.
Future of the Foreign Relations Series
After a break the Committee took up the issue of the future of the Foreign Relations series. Kimball first reviewed the developments during the summer that led to the formulation of the Geyer-Sieg action plan. He then emphasized three underlying assumptions about the Foreign Relations series:
Geyer noted that the action plan he and Sieg had proposed was designed to fit the Keefer-Humphrey plan. It provided long-term planning that was needed to inform short-term planning. The tracking concept, which laid out volume responsibilities in four tracks in each of the three proposed divisions, was created to try to look to the long-term needs of Foreign Relations, including building expertise in special areas, as well as allowing the office to anticipate staffing needs. Geyer said that a presumption underlying the plan was that a staff of 12 historians would complete 22 volumes covering the Nixon-Ford period by 2006. Time could be saved under the tracking plan, Geyer said, by having an historian research tandem volumes, such as the two volumes covering the Arab-Israeli dispute for the period 1969-1973, before beginning to compile. Geyer concluded by noting that Kimball had challenged him and Sieg to look for economies that could be achieved in the research/compilation/declassification process. One idea that suggested itself was to pull together documents that posed potential clearance problems as early as possible in the compilation process for submission to the relevant agencies.
Kimball observed that many of the ideas being discussed, including electronic publication, will represent new challenges to compilers. He pointed in particular to the proposed access guides.
Schulzinger expressed general approval of the proposed action plan. He asked, however, how realistic it was to expect HO to produce a revamped publication, with all of the aspects being considered by the Committee, within the time laid out in the action plan. Kimball said there should be some provision in the principles and guidelines to be drafted calling for a periodic review of progress on the action plan.
Hogan asked whether the 30-year line would be achieved by 2006. Kimball responded that the 30-year line had become a "constructive" concept, which would allow HO to virtually, but not necessarily literally, meet the 30-year requirement.
Hogan asked if HO could realistically expect to produce in the next 6 years the 22 volumes projected in the action plan, considering that most of them had not even been started. The discussion that followed conceded the difficulties. Geyer made the point that much depended on whether HO was able to identify and hire necessary staff. Herschler pointed out that the complexities involved in initiating electronic publication-which were not reflected in the plan either in terms of specific publications or assignment of resources-could have a significant impact on the implementation of the action plan.
Tucker said that the electronic publication of documents will predictably reduce the demand for letterpress volumes, and she added that the decisions being made by HO and the Committee might doom the letterpress publication. Hogan agreed, but Kimball observed that practice would determine how much demand there was for the traditional annotated letterpress publication. Slany said that his objective was to engineer a compromise that would integrate the technological advances which made the dissemination of information faster and cheaper with a streamlined letterpress publication.
Schulzinger asked again how realistic the projected dates were for the completion of volumes under the Geyer-Sieg plan. Geyer responded that the compilation of six volumes would have to be completed by the end of this year in order to meet a 2002 publication deadline. When Schulzinger, referring to Attachment A, inquired how many volumes would be completed in the next three months, various members of the HO staff responded, citing the China volume, a volume on Vietnam, one on India and Pakistan and one on foreign economic policy.
Kimball expressed a concern that quality not be sacrificed for speed and quantity in pursuing the goal of a revamped publication. He then asked for the Committee's comments on the conceptualization of the plan and the list of topics. He noted that he had not received any comments from the professional community to date. Hogan responded that the action plan was pretty traditional stuff and that if people turn out to be interested in the track D and E issues-the global issues-they may be disappointed. Noting that the Committee members were predominantly diplomatic historians, they were bound to favor the plan as it was now conceived; however, if people like Emily Rosenberg or Frank Constigliola were to review it they would probably feel differently.
Kimball then asked if the Committee should develop a short list of professionals who could comment on the plan formally. Tucker endorsed the idea of including "non-traditional" historians. Hogan also endorsed it and added that he supports having this type of outside input on a regular basis. Geyer cautioned that such meetings run the risk of changing the plan on a regular basis to meet each expert's particular interest. Kimball added that the Foreign Relations legislation limited HO's work to U.S. foreign relations and that it cannot stray too far into issues outside of diplomatic history.
Zelikow indicated that he felt the plan was very well crafted. He had a few suggestions-such as a volume on U.S. development assistance-but felt that there was very little fat in the plan as it now stood. Geyer and Kimball both noted that development assistance is covered at the bottom of the list. Zelikow continued, noting that he too endorsed the idea of seeking outside input, but wondered whether this would only complicate the resource problem. He also suggested removing one or two volumes on US-Soviet relations, to which Kimball responded that these volumes should be entitled Cold War Relations to reflect the fact the they will have a much broader scope than the traditional US-Soviet bilateral volumes. Geyer offered the Dobrynin-Kissinger memcons as an example of the broader cold war aspect of these volumes, noting that they covered the gamut of cold war issues and not just U.S.-Soviet bilateral concerns, and may wind up in a volume of their own supplemented by supporting documentation.
Zelikow wondered whether HO could condense four U.S.-Soviet volumes to three volumes by the 2002 deadline and suggested that the U.S.-Soviet dialogue on Vietnam should be in the Vietnam volumes. He asked what the Soviet threat volume dealt with and Geyer responded that it was a form of the old national security policy volume. To Zelikow's comment that the U.S.-Soviet dialogue on Vietnam should be in the Vietnam volume, Geyer noted that their intention was to cover these issues in the other volumes through excerpts and editorial notes, with the key documents in the U.S.-Soviet volumes.
Hogan recommended that the Committee take some time to read HO's material and make more comments like Zelikow's. He also felt HO should bring in some outside professionals to get their perspectives. Kimball said that Committee members should work up a list of names that evening after the formal meeting. He also wanted to clarify some points: by law, the series focuses on U.S. foreign policy and the compilers deal with issues that received White House attention, not every issue of foreign policy. He noted also that the volume Humphrey was working on would deal with a combination of both intellectual and organizational issues.
Hogan asked about issues such as ethnic conflict in Kosovo that are of current interest. Will the Foreign Relations series not cover them during the Nixon administration because they were not at that time of interest to the White House? Miller commented that in actuality the issue of ethnic rivalry in Yugoslavia was of some concern to Nixon and will be included in the compilation. Zelikow cautioned against engaging in "presentism," that the advantage of hindsight should not be used in determining what Foreign Relations covers. The series should be based on what the key policymakers believed was important and make a conscious effort not to impose contemporary concerns on their actions. Hogan indicated that he was not suggesting that Foreign Relations do this.
Claussen commented that Foreign Relations had never before been able to integrate issues such as ethnic rivalries, lobbyists' influence, Congressional relations, etc. He noted that policymakers probably spent about half their time dealing with public affairs and congressional affairs issues and yet Foreign Relations has not found a way to adequately cover this.
The meeting was adjourned at 4:35 p.m.
Closed Session, September 14
Continuation of the Discussion of the tFuture of the Foreign Relations Series; Electronic Publication of the Series
Hogan called the meeting to order at 9:07 a.m. Kimball said that he would ask for comments by members of the Office's technical editing staff, among others, in connection with changes under discussion for the Foreign Relations series. Although electronic publishing options were critical, the document selection process was still essential. New methods would avoid producing an "archival dump." Keefer had prepared a sample collection of documents to illustrate handwritten marginal notations and other textual and technical problems, which had been sent to the Government Printing Office in July. The Office decided to approach GPO because of the existing good relationship, but GPO had been unable to come up with a finished product in time for the September meeting.
Before his departure for INR, James McElveen had suggested providing compilers with scanners so that they could compile a database in which all documents would be in text form. The database could simplify declassification and would allow researchers to make their own collections. The alternative to digital text was graphic imaging. Its shortcomings were that no manipulation of data was presently possible, annotation would be more complicated, and searching would be more difficult. Search engines could not pick up faint typescript or handwritten notes. OCR might facilitate searching, but to a limited extent. On the Department's website, the user sees graphic images, but searching works on the basis of digital texts.
Kimball proposed that the Office hire an outside consultant to do a systems feasibility study. He understood that it was possible to get some advice for little or no cost from firms that hoped to get a contract. He already had three possible companies in mind. To avoid the need for competitive bidding, any contract would have to be less than $25,000.
Mackaman and Van Camp asked about specifications and standards. Van Camp suggested that other parts of the Department, particularly information management, be involved. She also urged the Committee to be aware of standards for electronic publishing already in existence and currently being used by the academic community, such as the text and coding initiative. There were also emerging standards for best practices in scanning.
Zelikow pointed out that the there were two equally important issues that must be considered:
Dan Lawler stated his belief that text is better than images, and Mackaman agreed that the advantages and disadvantages of text v. images had to be carefully weighed. He thought that it was important to have a member of the staff who could take over from any consultant. Kimball said that HO would designate a staff member who would be intimately involved with this process-even if this meant hiring someone with the necessary expertise. Zelikow said that the intellectual decisions of deciding what would be included in such a publication are not that hard, but the execution problems-i.e., hardware, software, search engines-can be daunting.
Hogan wanted a clarification of the role of a consultant and asked Kimball for a timetable of the planning and implementation of electronic publication. Kimball said that by June 2000 he would have recommendations for formats and technology. He assured Schulzinger that the Committee would have electronic samples to review by that time. The GPO sample would be available within the month and the members would be able to view it on GPO's Website.
In a discussion of the value of texts v. images, Schulzinger approved of having the text available for key-word searching, while Kimball and Tucker agreed that it was important to researchers to see the image of a document, in order to see marginalia, handwritten notes, etc. Hogan asked how quickly the feasibility study that Kimball was proposing could be done, and Slany explained the delays involved with government contracts, especially at the end and beginning of a fiscal year.
As an alternative, Mackaman suggested hosting a 1-day workshop and inviting officials from private companies and research libraries, for example, to make presentations to the staff. Van Camp endorsed that idea and noted that both she and Mackaman could identify experts at libraries whom the Historical Office could approach for recommendations. Both Slany and Hogan believed that this idea was more expeditious and less expensive than a government contract for up to $25,000. Zelikow then proposed sending someone to Charlottesville to look at UVa's program and speak with their experts at no cost. He offered to arrange appointments with officials at UVa who are familiar with both electronic publishing and with Foreign Relations. Kimball agreed with these ideas, emphasizing that he wants to ensure that the Office's information is up-to-date and appropriate. The Committee members agreed that having HO go to the experts instead of having the experts come to HO might be a better approach. Mackaman offered his own and Van Camp's time to review any proposals and/or recommendations that might arise out of these meetings.
Herschler pointed out that the "intellectual decisions" underlying any electronic publication must first be made before decisions on technology. Patterson explicated one proposal--by Steven Phillips--of a supplement directly tied to a volume with cross-references. Phillips had added "key words" to his document list in order to facilitate searches. Another proposal-from James McElveen-was for a collection of annotated documents, which would be mounted on the Internet, then the most important documents would be extracted and printed as a book. Patterson noted that there were not many differences among the four samples in his memorandum.
Regarding searches, Zelikow raised another technical issue: that images, because of the size of the files, may be a problem for downloading for subsequent searching. He acknowledged that creating word-processing files of the documents is very labor-intensive.
Kimball noted that all these issues are under ongoing discussion and that there must be a connection between the technology and the intellectual organization of the electronic publications. Trade-offs in costs and hardware (CD v. DVD) must be made. The Office must gather information but first must be able to tell the experts what it wants to accomplish.
Hogan said that the Committee would expect a report in December. Kimball asked if Zelikow, Van Camp, and Mackaman could be constituted as a subcommittee on electronic publication that he could call on for advice and recommendations. Hogan raised the question of annotation in the electronic supplements and stated that it appeared to him that this approach was just re-creating on the Web what HO already was doing in print. Such an approach would only slow down the process, not speed it up.
The Committee discussed whether HO would be creating a database of valuable documents or whether it would just be a "document dump." Geyer said that if all the documents compiled by the historians were scanned into a database (as in McElveen's plan), the historians could then easily pull out those documents on a particular subject could be pulled out and printed in a volume. Van Camp asked if this would be duplicating the Department's electronic file. Keefer and Geyer explained that it would not, as the historians retrieve many other agencies' documents that are not in State's system. (For example, only about 20 percent of the documents in the China volume came from State files; the remainder are other agency files.)
Mackaman brought up the issue of the timing of mounting the supplement in relation to the release of the print volume: whichever was published first would determine the value of the other. He hoped that electronic publication would help solve the declassification problems-that instead of holding up an entire volume for two documents, the volume could be put on the Web, and then printed when the outstanding documents were finally declassified. In a discussion of whether or not the print volumes would survive, Mackaman noted that it was a political decision to continue the tradition of print Foreign Relations volumes. Slany agreed and noted that the Bureau of Public Affairs and the Department need serious recommendations about the future of the books. The method of presenting HO's "added value" to documentation must change, and the Office needs recommendations for a different Foreign Relations.
Hogan agreed that it was only a matter of time before books disappear if documents are mounted on the Internet, and pointed out that access on the Internet is accepted by the user community: "it's like having the Archives in your living room." Kimball agreed and said that if there was no selection of documents, then there was no need for historians. Slany pointed out, however, that the Foreign Relations series opens the records of other agencies. Patterson said that the Office should develop priorities in order to preserve the print volumes as well as publishing the electronic supplements.
Hogan summarized: by December the Office will have an idea of the available options and can match those options to the publication ideas put forward by Patterson.
Additional Staffing for the Historian's Office
The meeting reconvened at 10:31 a.m. after a break. Hogan turned to the issue of staffing problems in the Office. Most had been dealt with the day before; three positions had been filled, leaving three to go. The new personnel would be in service by March. Slany was asked to review the Office's hiring process. Writing a position description (which involved carefully defining the desired expertise so as to work around hiring rules) and publicizing it took about a month. After the selection had been made, obtaining a clearance took 6 to 9 months. Hogan proposed that the Committee approve a resolution about the need to fill vacancies so that the Office could meet its deadlines and adapt to technical changes.
Kimball said that there was one clause in the resolution that Slany was concerned about. The Secretary of State could grant interim Secret clearances if there had been a previous security check and if papers for a regular security clearance had been filled out. Having two levels of clearances in the Office could compromise its flawless reputation for security, which might make other agencies more reluctant to release sensitive documents. Another option would be to assign each new employee a mentor during the training period, who would be responsible for making sure that the new employee did not see anything that he or she wasn't authorized to see. A decision would be needed if clearances for the newest candidates were not complete by the end of September.
Geyer noted that many candidates were academics, and if employment could not be assured by September, jobs could not be guaranteed within the academic hiring cycle. Slany suggested that the resolution should take note of the cycle. Zelikow read the text of such a resolution that he had drafted. Hogan proposed replacing the last sentence to stress the need to complete the clearance cycle so that candidates could be hired by September 1, 2000. Zelikow read the revised passage.
Hogan wondered whether the resolution should address merely the six current vacancies in the Office or should stress the need for a "full complement" to take into account any additional vacancies. Zelikow suggested citing "a shortage of at least half a dozen," but Kimball recommended sticking to the existing figure. Mackaman suggested "full-strength or a better" staffing plan. Bill Weingarten remarked that his experience with background investigations in the Army showed that if a candidate had done research overseas, particularly in Russia, the clearance process would be slower. After further discussion, the revised resolution was approved at 10:55 a.m.
After further discussion, the Committee adopted the resolution unanimously and decided that it should be sent to Assistant Secretary Rubin.
Discussion of CIA Problems
Slany opened his presentation by citing the successes in working with the CIA. The new head of the Center for the Study of Intelligence, Lloyd Salvetti, wanted to help solve the inter-agency problems, although sometimes CIA staff are disappointed when State officials are "ungrateful" at their efforts. The CIA Historical Review Panel (HRP) at its last meeting agreed that the disappointing results of the High-Level Panel (HLP) threatened the Foreign Relations series and the future of the HLP itself. He asked for the Committee's guidance on how to deal with these problems.
To Schulzinger's question if the HLP was at an impasse, Slany demurred but said that the results were not coming fast enough to solve the publishing backlog: covert actions are acknowledgment, but the end result is documents with "unreasonable" excisions. What has become apparent and obvious is the Agency's unwillingness to acknowledge amounts of money, liaison relationships, and relationships with organizations, information that any "reasonable person" would believe should be declassified. The process has revealed the bare bones of CIA's intransigence.
Van Camp asked if the Office has used the Interagency Security Classification Appeals Panel (ISCAP) as an appeal route. Slany and Patterson both said that two appeals have been sent to ISCAP (and HO won both) but not for a covert action. Kimball noted that the Department of Justice still has to determine if ISCAP has the authority to declassify CIA records over CIA objections.
Slany stated that the CIA Historical Review Panel has asked him and Salvetti to provide them with a joint report, to be presented at their next meeting, on the problems facing the HLP. Hogan told the Committee that Deputy Assistant Secretary Foley was very concerned that the HLP was not making the expected progress and Foley was interested in pushing the process along. Zelikow suggested putting the implementation of HLP decisions on the agenda of the next HLP meeting. There was a discussion of ensuring high-level attention to the High-Level Panel.
Hogan suggested drafting a letter summarizing the problems with the CIA based on Slany's paper. Zelikow asked if the problems of acknowledgement came because the HLP is not doing its job or because CIA is not following up the HLP decisions. A discussion revealed that the process also includes drafting guidelines for declassification, and the CIA is now using these guidelines as a means to deny information. The CIA had initially argued that it would release documents provided the NSC was willing to acknowledge the fact of the covert action. However, now that the HLP has agreed to acknowledge the covert action, the CIA keeps coming up with reasons not to release the information (amounts of money, liaison relationships, activities in-country, etc.). The initial understanding by NSC was that documents would be released, and they are being released but with significant excisions. NSC has been urging that State and NSC resist the CIA excisions, but NSC staffers have not always been willing to take the initiative.
In response to Zelikow's question, Slany explained the process: HO drafts an issue statement concerning a particular covert action; the draft issue statement is given to the CIA and NSC; the HLP decides to acknowledge the covert action; CIA drafts guidelines (that must be agreed to by State and NSC) to declassify documents. In cases where the guidelines have not been agreed, adjustments have been made at the staff level, although that has not always been effective.
Zelikow wondered if this were a problem that should be resolved from the inside, but Slany pointed out that the CIA Historical Review Panel has already raised it. The HRP is getting involved in an attempt to reconcile what CIA and HO are telling them about the success of the HLP. Hogan noted that he thought it was time for the Committee to weigh in, and he suggested a draft letter to Rubin summarizing the problems and the lack of progress and urging a meeting with a high-level CIA official. He stated that the HLP needs to meet. All agreed that the letter to Rubin would ask him to personally re-engage the HLP at his level in order to get documents declassified. Hogan said that he and Kimball would work on drafting such a letter and circulate the draft to members.
Zelikow raised the issue of the President's Daily Briefs (PDBs) and the CIA's contention that they are not subject to declassification because they fall under the category of exempt information. Keefer thought that it was based on legal precedent that privileged advice to the President is not subject to declassification. Zelikow took issue: juridically no written memoranda to the President should be exempt. He said that we are not talking about notes prepared for/from an oral briefing of the President, but a written memorandum to the President. (Humphrey added that the document also goes to other high-ranking government officials and not only the President.) Kimball asked how do we appeal CIA's decision not to release the PDBs. Zelikow suggested that Slany write a letter to the CIA General Counsel asking for a written justification (a legal opinion) explaining why the PDB is exempt from declassification. Then either the State's Legal Adviser's Office of the Department of Justice can challenge CIA's opinion.
Luke Smith stated that the CIA should differentiate between the PDB and Kissinger's memos to the President which summarize the PDBs and other intelligence information (and many of these memos are currently being selected for inclusion in upcoming Foreign Relations volumes). Geyer added that all of the information in the PDB is not uniquely CIA's, but comes from other sources. The PDB is important because it provides a link to the President. Zelikow explained that PDB is similar to the NID, but not identical. He said that the National Intelligence Daily (NID) is often a "scrubbed down" version of the PDB, and as such the PDB is often more readable.
Slany said that he would write a letter to the CIA about the PDBs and could also draft a letter to Rubin explaining the problem. Hogan noted that the letter to Rubin that he and Kimball were drafting about the CIA problems should say that Slany is writing to the CIA concerning the PDB.
Keefer next brought up the problems with the historians' access to DO material; the DO is not providing copies of selected documents. He said the CIA is reinterpreting the law to mean that "access" does not include giving HO copies of the documents. Hogan said that he would bring up these problems in his letter to Rubin. Zelikow thought it should also be included in Slany's letter to the CIA General Counsel in order to give the Center for the Study of Intelligence some clout in its approach to the DO.
The meeting adjourned at 11:30 and the Committee went into Executive Session.