Advisory Committee on Historical Diplomatic Documentation June 17–18, 2019
- Richard Immerman, Chairman
- Laura Belmonte
- Mary Dudziak
- David Engerman
- Adriane Lentz-Smith
- Trudy Peterson
Office of the Historian
- Kristin Ahlberg
- Carl Ashley
- Margaret Ball
- Forrest Barnum
- Sara Berndt
- Josh Botts
- Myra Burton
- Tiffany Cabrera
- Mandy Chalou
- Elizabeth Charles
- Thomas Faith
- David Geyer
- Renée Goings
- Charles Hawley
- Kerry Hite
- Adam Howard
- Aiyaz Husain
- Virginia Kinniburgh
- William McAllister
- Michael McCoyer
- Christopher Morrison
- Mircea Munteanu
- David Nickles
- Paul Pitman
- Alexander Poster
- Kathleen Rasmussen
- Matthew Regan
- Amanda Ross
- Seth Rotramel
- Daniel Rubin
- Nathaniel Smith
- Melissa Jane Taylor
- Chris Tudda
- Dean Weatherhead
- Joseph Wicentowski
- Alexander Wieland
- James Wilson
- Louise Woodroofe
- David Zierler
Bureau of Administration
- Jeff Charlston
- Marvin Russell
National Archives and Records Administration
- Marci Bayer, Textual Records Division/Accessioning Branch
- Cathleen Brennan, Textual Records Division/Archives II Reference Branch
- William Fischer, Director, National Dclassification Center
- Philip Heslip, Textual Records Division/Textual Processing Branch
- David Langbart, Textual Records Division
- John Laster, Office of Presidential Libraries
- Don McIlwain, National Declassification Center
- Amy Reytar, Textual Records Division/Archives II Reference Branch
Department of Defense
- Cameron Morse
- George "Frosty" R. Sturgis
Central Intelligence Agency
- Steve G.
- Rhonda M.
National Security Council
- Ellen Knight
- Bill Burr
- Seth Denbo
- Lee White
Open Session, June 17
Approval of the Record
Richard Immerman called the meeting to order. After introductory remarks, Immerman moved for approval of the minutes from the March HAC meeting. Adriane Lentz-Smith seconded, and the motion carried unanimously.
Remarks by the Director of the Foreign Service Institute
Immerman introduced and then yielded the floor to Ambassador Daniel B. Smith, Director of the Foreign Service Institute (FSI). Ambassador Smith stated that he was delighted to speak with the Committee and noted that as of May 26 the Office of the Historian (OH) is now officially part of FSI. He mentioned that his introduction to OH was during a university visit while OH was under the leadership of David Trask. Smith then announced the recent appointment of new OH Director Adam Howard, and congratulated Howard and Deputy Director Renée Goings for adeptly managing OH’s move to FSI during the larger reorganization of the Bureau of Public Affairs. Smith mentioned that OH historians were already teaching at FSI and he hoped to develop a robust relationship in the future between the two organizations using OH’s repository of historical and institutional research. Smith also stated that OH would stay at Navy Hill. Smith finally remarked that he and his deputy Julieta Noyes were eager to advance the work of the Foreign Relations of the United States(FRUS) series, and had already engaged with a few volumes that had outstanding declassification issues.
Immerman expressed to Ambassador Smith how excited the Committee was that FSI had taken on the Office of the Historian. Immerman continued that it was terrific to have him onboard and that this was a “momentous” moment for the office. The good news, Immerman continued, was that we finally had a new Director of OH; the bad news was that until the office hired a new general editor, Adam Howard would be doing two jobs.
Moving on to the HAC’s foremost concerns, Immerman identified current declassification issues as being quite severe. The Department of Defense was the chief problem, but not the only problem. Other key worries included the planned transit of documents from the Presidential Libraries to the National Archives and the elimination of the Remote Access Capture (RAC) program. After years of steady progress for the office, the future looked more uncertain. Immerman again stated that he was delighted that FSI would help OH navigate these issues and that the HAC would be happy to assist.
Report by the Executive Secretary
Adam Howard said this was the first time OH has had to seek a new organizational home within the Department. He praised the great fit with Ambassador Smith and FSI, and noted how OH is building on its preexisting relationship with FSI.
Howard noted that since the last HAC meeting, four volumes had entered the declassification process. He said this year OH also will begin publishing on the website old “microfiche supplements” that were compiled decades ago but have been mostly inaccessible because of the microfiche format. These 13 collections of extra documents were compiled to supplement published FRUS volumes on related topics. OH plans to publish at least one per year, with the first slated for release at the end of 2019.
Immerman then opened the floor for comments and questions.
Seth Denbo of the American Historical Association asked for additional explanation of how the FRUS program will fit with FSI’s mission and agenda.
In response, Smith gave his assurance that nothing will interfere with work on FRUS. He said his expectations were more about making Department officers better aware of what is available from FRUS and OH that will benefit them in their own work. Howard added that OH historians already make use of FRUS documents in their teaching at FSI and will be exploring ways to expand that.
Trudy Peterson suggested that it would be helpful for Howard to provide some additional details about the impact of the closing of the Remote Archives Capture (RAC) project and the forthcoming transfer of all classified documents from the Presidential libraries to National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) facilities in Washington.
Howard said it was not yet clear when the document transfer actually would occur, but OH recognized that access for FRUS historians will be a critical issue to resolve. Meanwhile, OH will miss the logistical benefits associated with the local availability of scanned documents on RAC research workstations.
Laura Belmonte asked what were supposed to be the advantages of transferring the classified documents to Washington. Howard said NARA officials had cited cost savings, and Immerman added NARA had claimed it will increase declassification efficiencies. Immerman noted that the HAC had expressed its serious doubts that these advantages would in fact materialize. He also said that declassified documents would have to be sent back out to the libraries, and warned about the possibility for delays, mistakes, and even lost documents.
Mary Dudziak said this issue was just one example of how NARA budget cuts were spiraling out to have greater negative effects. She said there needs to be greater communication and broader awareness among the many segments of American society that will be affected. Immerman observed that in the fall of 2019 NARA will be hosting a meeting of “stakeholders,” defined as members of the historical community, but suggested that it might be a good idea to try to expand the attendance (including possible representation from FSI).
Immerman invited Bill Fischer of the National Declassification Center to offer any additional comments on these issues. Fischer said he had nothing to add at that point.
Immerman then concluded the session and the meeting broke for lunch.
Closed Session, June 17
Status of Declassification of Department of State Records
Immerman opened the meeting at 1:04 p.m.
Office of Information Programs and Services (IPS)
Charlston opened by mentioning that the last time he presented to the HAC they had discussed declassification guidance. He brought copies of the Department’s declassification guide for the group to examine. He then provided an update on IPS progress, which is on track to make all anticipated updates to documents for the National Archives.
He also noted a financial issue in which it was discovered that funding for the IPS was low, so a number of declassification reviewers have been laid off until the end of the fiscal year (September 30). But he anticipated that all 2019 production goals would be met.
Immerman asked what happened to create this shortfall. Charlston replied that it was a combination of circumstances including expenses related to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) surge, a delay in the transfer of money, and contractual obligations. He assured the Committee that FRUS review had been protected and remains unaffected by this issue and he forecast that FRUS-related goals would be met by year’s end.
Charlston then provided an explanation of the 25-year review process, per Immerman’s request. Charlston said that IPS identifies equities in documents which are then sent out to the relevant partner agency for review at 25 years. He said they have gotten through over 90 percent of the 2019 goal. Regarding electronic records, review requirements are on the way up, and these numbers will benefit by the co-location of the staffs focusing on paper and electronic records. Charlston then reported that for the time being he is no longer Division Chief, but is acting Director of Global Publishing Solutions. He expects to be back in his previous position by the end of the year.
Charlston then provided an update on Mandatory Declassification Review (MDR) postings—the release to all policy has been implemented but was not yet clearly posted. He then discussed the declassification guide and noted that the guide is designed to be used by highly-trained, highly-skilled reviewers who have gone through a rigorous training process. He explained that the guide is not a tabular breakdown as is the case with guides for other agencies. This allows for greater flexibility in declassification decisions, and explains the success of the release rate for paper records.
Mary Dudziak and Charlston discussed what is subject to continuing classification. He then explained that the structure of the guide allows for a great deal of willingness to accept declassification guidance, but that this style may be on the way out. Subsequent guides will likely be more cut and dry and therefore more in line with the style of other agencies.
Immerman then noted that this is a big issue at the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). For example, he noted, no one will have an encyclopedic knowledge of what has been released—so when a reviewer does not know if something has, their inclination will be not to release it. Where can a reviewer go to verify if something has already been declassified?
Charlston answered that in the IPS training program there are reviewers who at the beginning are withholding far too much, but as they progress through the training learn to release appropriately. Through the review process they learn how to make those determinations. They have to be able to answer why a withholding protects national security, and if they can’t, then the information will be released. The high rates of release should be a resource for other reviewers.
Immerman asked if the training for reviewers lasts two weeks. Charlston confirmed that it did and that the total process takes about 6 months until reviewers are fully prepared.
A conversation ensued about other issues raised in the declassification guide. Charlston explained that FRUS is at the forefront of changing the guidance in going after material older than 25 years. This opens up high level discussions that push the declassification barriers further afield, and it gets things declassified above and beyond what the extant guidance allows. Immerman noted that this would be a good rebuttal to those who would say FRUS has outlived its usefulness. Charlston agreed and said FRUS has a global impact driving public access to information.
Office of Presidential Libraries
Laster opened his remarks stating that Immerman had asked for an update about NARA’s planned consolidation. He replied that he had nothing new to add to the last update. The year 2020 remains the target for the move of classified material from Presidential Libraries across the country to the National Declassification Center in Washington, D.C. The easiest will be the ones that are already nearly consolidated (e.g., Hoover, FDR, and Truman Libraries, where the classified material is already in Washington). The Obama Presidential Library will also not be affected by NARA’s planned consolidation since it is still within the 5-year period before the public can request MDRs. Every other library has degrees of difficulty.
Immerman asked about the logistics regarding the consolidation and whether it will happen in one library, then another, in sequence. Laster again responded that he did not know about how it would be planned. Howard asked who would know about the logistics and Goings asked if Jay Bosanko could be asked to discuss this at a future meeting.
Peterson asked to clarify that NARA is talking about moving both classified records and correspondence relating to previous requests for classified records. Laster responded yes, unless the correspondence is considered no longer relevant or does not contain classified material. Peterson then asked to whom members of the public will address MDRs to under this new scheme. Laster remarked that it was undecided at this point.
Belmonte stated that she recalled working at the Eisenhower Library while writing her dissertation, and going though paper files with withdrawal slips among the declassified material. Then, she could simply MDR something. She asked how researchers in the future know what has been processed but not released.
David Langbart responded that for Record Group (RG) 59, withdrawal cards are not filed alongside the Central File. Researchers need to go through both files in order to know what has been processed but not released. This may become the model for what happens under the consolidation.
Howard asked a question about the George H.W. Bush administration emails and the inability to access the emails in a user-friendly format. Laster replied that there has been no progress on that front and that the employee who worked on the Reagan PROFS Notes left. His office does not currently have someone with the technical expertise to set up the database that will allow fielded searches of the Bush PROFS data like can now be done with the Reagan emails. Laster is working to identify the person with the appropriate clearances and technical skills.
National Declassification Center
Laster yielded the floor to William Fischer and Don McIlwain of the National Declassification Center (NDC). Fischer noted it was his second HAC meeting and expressed pleasure at the opportunity to attend. He noted that the focus of the NDC was on access. Although certain records required protection from disclosure, the presumption was to release everything possible. Fischer extolled the virtues of the upcoming annual training symposium, which is to be hosted by the NDC October 1–2 at NARA II, which will help government agencies get on the same page in terms of understanding equities, access, and other important concepts. He stated that the NDC would stress the presumption of release on referral to the attending agencies; the new declassification guide would be an important tool in this effort. The agencies with the most volume of classification referrals and equities will be present at the symposium, with Fischer outlining a major focus on Department of Energy Restricted Data/Formerly Restricted Data matters consuming roughly half-a-day of the conference.
Peterson, referring to Laster’s remarks, asked if NARA and the NDC knew for certain enough space was available to house the classified Presidential Library material. Fischer indicated that sufficient space was available as the libraries had reported the size of their holdings and enough territory had been converted for that purpose at NARA II. The space would also include the classified paper records from the Obama administration.
McIlwain then took the floor. Referencing a handout, he noted the work NDC was performing to loosen up the process of declassification by liaising with equity-bearing agencies. Immerman interjected to ask if the interlocutors at other agencies were as responsive as Marvin Russell at the Department. After noting that Marvin was sui generis, McIlwain asserted other agencies had been receptive to suggested steps to reduce older document backlogs by asking agencies to “review historical documents with a historical perspective” to reduce the FOIA logjam. Similar steps were being taken to reduce the Mandatory Declassification backlog. He then turned to the indexing-on-demand system which had proved very popular with researchers with more than 19 million pages having gone through the process.
Immerman requested an update on the P-reels. Fischer observed there were two significant issues currently with the P-reel material. The 1980–1981 microfiche had been digitally scanned, but had not as yet been reviewed while the 1982–1994 records had not been converted to a reviewable format. Fischer stated NDC was working to facilitate electronic review, but that issues with precedent and record provenance had arisen. The fact that the P-reels constituted a record copy and that certain material had been included in them made the process regrettably complex. However, Fischer argued that given the importance of the material contained within the P-reels it would continue to be a priority of his to resolve these issues and process it. Immerman thanked Fischer for his attention to the issue, noted its importance, and suggested it would be raised at future HAC meetings.
Langbart reported that since the last HAC meeting the National Archives has accessioned the following volume of foreign affairs and intelligence records: 30 feet of Record Group 59; 11 feet of Record Group 84; 2 feet of Record Group 286; 46 feet of Record Group 457; and 18 feet of Record Group 490.
He continued his reporting by noting the amount of new foreign affairs and intelligence records that have been processed by NARA since the last HAC meeting: 204 feet of Record Group 84; 63 feet of Record Group 286; and 220 feet of Record Group 420.
He concluded his reporting on accessioning and processing by noting that the amount completed was less than expected due to the loss of staff. Immerman asked for elaboration of that point. Langbart replied that declines in dedicated staff have slowed the accessioning and processing of records. National Archives II dedicated records processing staff has been reduced from 51 to 40 employees. Staff reassignments have helped a bit. Generally the archives are experiencing staff attrition and a lack of back fill.
Dudziak inquired about the NARA budget in terms of a balance between funding and staffing. Langbart replied that budget cuts equal staffing cuts and that, while he could not come up with the exact number, he would ask about the decline in funding for staff. Dudziak commented that the specific information would helpful for starting to organize a response. Immerman added that they know there have been cuts generally, but the HAC would like more information about decisions on spending and staffing. Peterson commented that it used to be that the cost of buildings and maintenance were static for NARA, and that any cuts taken would necessarily be inflicted on staffing. Immerman emphasized again that the committee needed more specific information about funding and the processing of records.
Langbart responded that no hiring is happening and that NARA has a backlog of processing records. He noted that the strategic plan is to make access happen, but that it can be difficult to access records that have no finding aids because they have yet to be processed. All records are supposed to be added to the catalog, which has very minimal description, but that is not the same as a detailed finding aid. So, for example, the National Declassification Center can finish declassifying a group of records and there can be a long delay in making those records available and providing finding aids to researchers.
Immerman asked who decides on the level of detail in the finding aids. Langbart responded that he personally thought that there should folder lists. Archivists make judgements about details, but there is often only a box list available including only the first and last folder title and not every folder in the box.
Immerman noted that the backlog in processing must be driving decisions to lessen details in the finding aids. Peterson stated that augmented approvals for finding aids are reviewed by senior staff, at least according to the management plan. Langbart replied that they are not reaching the required standard for augmented finding aids and so minimal guides are the norm.
David Engerman reflected that each researcher faced unique challenges determined by the specific subject of interest and that processers had different mandates. Belmonte stated that the most in demand records should get priority.
Langbart transitioned to his reporting on reference services, which has been very busy following the government shutdown. Overflow cart storage is now in action and the crowds of researchers approaching the door are totally unprepared. Adriane Lentz-Smith described her students as well-intentioned and deserving reference assistance despite a potential lack of expertise in researching and asked what exactly makes a researcher ill-prepared.
Langbart said that most researchers make no effort at all to prepare before they arrive: they don’t find out in advance what records they might want to see; they don’t read the Frequently Asked Questions information on the website; they don’t review the related documentation in the FRUS series; and they often want to see records that aren’t even in the building. Immerman read aloud an email that he received from a frustrated researcher describing how staffing shortages and the one-cart-at-a-time policy are undermining access at the archive.
Langbart responded that he could ask research services about specifics but that the reference branch at NARA II is down by 2 employees. NARA II is losing experienced and knowledgeable staff to retirement and suffering with a lack of experienced replacements.
Langbart next reported on the status of the catalog, which has had many general problems. An ongoing 13-month effort to improve the catalog has made it more stable yet deficiencies remain. At a minimum, every item in the catalog is supposed to have a finding aid. The binders in the researcher room are now obsolete. Researchers must go into the catalog to locate records.
Dudziak asked a question about the interface between searching and browsing. Langbart replied that a user can back out of a location in the catalog and browse to another group or larger series of records.
Langbart concluded his reporting by describing the progress on the reintegration of telegrams into the Central Foreign Policy File as slow-going. Immerman noted that the budget usually seems to be the final answer regarding limitations on access to records.
Department of Defense
Following a break, Immerman called the meeting back to order and welcomed George “Frosty” Sturgis, Chief of the Defense Office of Pre-publication and Security Review (DOPSR). Sturgis greeted the Committee and introduced Cameron Morse, the Policy Team lead and Department of Defense (DOD) liaison to the Interagency Security Classification Appeals Panel (ISCAP).
Acknowledging the strain between his unit and the Office, Sturgis emphasized his commitment to improving the relationship. He noted 60 of the 62 pending FRUS cases brought before the ISCAP had been cleared thanks to the work of Morse and his team. Sturgis also recognized Ellen Knight for her assistance in working with the National Security Council to close those cases. Both Howard and Immerman echoed his praise of Knight’s efforts.
In the six months since he started in his position at the head of DOPSR, Sturgis said he had received four new significant issues from Howard relating to FRUS declassification, and that he had returned two of them already. He underscored his commitment to address perceived problems in the DOD declassification process by reaching out to other agencies, continuing to meet regularly with Howard and other members of the Office team, and exploring ideas to improve the DOD system.
Morse noted that Sturgis came to DOPSR from the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) declassification division and had years of experience in document declassification in addition to a previous career in the Air Force. Adding that Sturgis had already met with Goings and Carl Ashley, as well as himself, Howard stated that he was already seeing results despite still having a number of things to work through.
In expressing the Committee’s appreciation for their attendance and participation, Immerman informed Sturgis and Morse that while he thought ISCAP’s actions were fabulous, both the Committee and the Office aimed to avoid resorting to ISCAP to resolve declassification issues. He cautioned that while DOPSR might not look particularly good in the annual report, he hoped for a much more effective working relationship in the future, within the constraints of the current system.
Sturgis echoed Immerman’s sentiments by stating his goal was to avoid any FRUS volume going to the ISCAP again. He then outlined the roles and responsibilities of his office, explaining that DOPSR facilitates the declassification of documents for the FRUS series by identifying the equity owner for each document, sending the material to that contact for review, consolidating the replies, and then replying to the Office of the Historian with the assessments. The issues often arose when the equity owner second-guessed the DOPSR referral and sent the material on to additional entities for review before providing their response.
Immerman asked if the DOPSR responsibilities included FOIA requests as well as FRUS, and Morse explained that their office did not handle the DOD’s FOIA response process. Those duties fell to another office that was a separate unit. In response to Immerman’s inquiry about staff numbers and resources available for the FRUS portion of their mission, Sturgis estimated that the FRUS responsibilities amounted to full time work for two and a half positions—just over 60 percent of the work load—that was divided among the four staff members in the office.
Dudziak asked how Sturgis could avoid future ISCAP involvement when so much of the process involved reviewers outside his own office. Sturgis admitted this posed a challenge, but stated he invited members of the DOD community to work toward a compromise about what could be released. Asked whether the DOPSR would push back if a document was denied by a reviewer, or wait for the Department to push for the information release, Sturgis and Morse explained that by communicating with the declassifiers to identify just what the DOD really needed to protect would help them in their effort to pare down redactions by narrowing in on exactly what information needed protection. While reviewers hesitate to release information if they are unfamiliar with the subject, a combination of training and the historical input from FRUS compilers help to give context that assist in the process. To that end, they had implemented a proactive quarterly training program for declassifiers to improve the quality of their reviews.
While this addressed the issue of review quality, Immerman noted that another problem plaguing the DOD declassification process was timeliness. One idea Sturgis mentioned was the possibility of revising the FRUS statue to accommodate longer review timelines. When Immerman warned that revising the statute was a problematic, Sturgis suggested that another way to manage the timeline would be to involve DOD earlier in the FRUS process. Morse added that the possibility of going to electronic document transfer—rather than courier-carried hard copies—would save time.
Asked by another member to clarify the DOPSR authority in the review process, Sturgis explained that while he could negotiate with the reviewers, he did not have the authority to overrule their decisions. He could educate, but in some cases those outside the operational environment don’t know what they don’t know. Immerman indicated that regular military personnel changes set the stage for constant re-education efforts, which suggested the need for more institutionalized measures to address the issue.
Lentz-Smith suggested that the first part of the education process should emphasize that the mandate directed declassifiers to start from the position of “yes” when reviewing a document, and then asking if there was any reason not to declassify the material, rather than the other way around.
Following up on the multiple levels of referral, Kathleen Rasmussen asked how many offices or entities might review a particular document. Morse and Sturgis explained that depended on both the document and the actual equity holders involved. While they attempt to limit their referrals, often a reviewer or reviewing entity will refer it on to another unit. Once there it has to navigate through the chain of command to receive the signature from the appropriate authority. Because DOPSR is not the equity owner, their office cannot determine whether an item receives this secondary referral.
David Engerman observed that this put DOPSR in an unenviable position, and asked how the Committee could assist them in their efforts to improve the process. Asking for the Committee’s patience, Sturgis also said that the ability to use accountability to the HAC and the Committee’s reporting requirement to Congress gave weight to his efforts to get timely responses from declassifiers. Morse noted that in the weeks prior to the Committee meeting, the team repeatedly pressured reviewers for replies on specific items, even going so far as to use the HAC report as leverage.
In closing the session, Immerman thanked the team for their work, indicating the Committee hoped to invite them back. The meeting adjourned at 4:15 p.m.
Closed Session, June 18
Central Intelligence Agency
Howard called the meeting to order at 9:10 a.m. He explained the recent office changes to Steve G. and Rhonda M., including the move to the Foreign Service Institute (FSI) and renaming of the office to OH.
Steve said that he planned to update the Committee on where things stand in the process at CIA, explain some process improvements that he has implemented and is implementing, and noted that there was a new senior reviewer for FRUS, Rhonda M.
Rhonda told the committee that she is working on declassification review of one volume to learn the process of working with the desk officers at CIA. Rhonda reported that their job is to educate the reviewers, but sometimes that can be complex. Lentz-Smith asked how they educate the reviewers, and Rhonda explained that they hold briefings on what FRUS is.
Steve said that this is a good segue to the process improvements that he is implementing. The big picture declassification negotiations used to be at the desk level. They are now holding briefings and making decisions at a senior level. The discussion turned to the High Level Panel (HLP) process. Howard noted that it is a negotiation and that communication is a big part of the process.
Steve then discussed the specific volumes currently under review at CIA. He noted that since June CIA returned 9 volumes to OH (7 initial reviews and 2 appeals). They have verified 3 volumes and received 11 new referrals from OH. He also noted that two appeals will be returned to OH this week.
Howard explained the November 1 deadline for verification for FRUS planning. Dudziak asked what exactly verification is, and Howard explained that it is a method of sitting down and making sure all excisions previously agreed upon are made in each document.
At Howard’s request, Steve explained that his reviewers do the declassification reviews for FRUS and several other programs, including FOIA. He also explained that they have a new dashboard to track reviews and allow them to prioritize specific reviews. This moves volumes through the process quicker.
Howard praised the increase in productivity and communication under Steve. He noted that because of the briefings the reviewers understand OH is not trying to create headlines. Immerman noted communication issues in the past. He noted that at times there were conflicts between FRUS reviews and projects by the Historical Review Program. There was then discussion of attempting to dovetail upcoming FRUS declassification issues with upcoming projects and keep communication open for things that can help both sides. Dudziak also noted that synergy between their projects and FRUS would help everyone. Steve noted some changes in priorities on what they want to review and release.
Goings explained to the new members the history of OH relations with CIA officials in regard to FRUS. Several people added to the discussion and noted that the current relationship is very good. Lentz-Smith asked if Steve thinks the current policy changes will help the process. Steve answered that he expects good things from the institutional changes. There was more discussion of the HLP process, including the role of the NSC. Howard suggested that new HAC members look at the Memorandum of Understanding about the HLP process for better understanding, and that it is also explained in the FRUS history. There was further discussion about the expected number of HLPs in FRUS coverage of future administrations. Peterson asked if OH talks with CIA about upcoming declassification issues. Howard explained that OH and CIA are constantly in communication on these issues. Rasmussen and Howard explained to the newer members more about what the HLP is and that these days the work is done on the working level rather than with higher-level intervention.
Immerman thanked Steve and Rhonda and the session was adjourned.