Advisory Committee on Historical Diplomatic Documentation, December 16-17, 1996
Open Session, December 16
The meeting was called to order at 1:40 p.m. with one member of the public, Page Miller, present. The minutes of the last meeting were approved. Chairman Warren Kimball noted that no one had been reviewing the classified minutes. Michael Hogan has agreed to review them from the last meeting but will make no report unless he finds an anomaly.
Kimball said that there would be no remarks from Acting Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs Nick Burns or Deputy Assistant Secretary Bennett Freeman as indicated on the agenda. Freeman might make an appearance, but he is ill and may not be available. Executive Secretary William Slany had no comments from either of them.
Report by the Historian
Kimball then called for the report by the Historian. Slany said that he wanted to make a distinction--David Patterson would report on current compiling issues while he would make a general report on the status of the series.
Production of Volumes. He said that the last of the print volumes of the Eisenhower subseries had been released on December 3, 1996. Slany called it the end of "an epochal effort" and said that it represented closure of a sort. Only one microfiche supplement remained out of the combined total of 75 volumes covering the Eisenhower administration. Slany reported that the Eisenhower volume was the 13th (including one microfiche supplement) to be published during 1996, and that this total was a high-water mark for the series, representing the publication of about 50 volumes in 4 years "pretty close" to the 30-year line. He said that HO was likely to publish the same number in 1997, but that far fewer volumes would be published after that unless declassification problems were solved. Only one volume had been cleared in the last year. He added that these issues would be discussed in the next day's session. Slany explained that the declassification issues almost entirely turned on CIA and State Department concerns around the world, i.e., on the question of whether the government can clear its most sensitive intelligence information. He said that Patterson would talk about the Johnson volumes.
Other HO Projects. Slany said that HO had been involved in other activities which had drained away resources from the Foreign Relations series, including:
- The Dayton History Project: One full-time and one part-time position.
- Nazi Gold Project: State is leading the government-wide effort to determine U.S. policy during and after World War II relating to looting and restoration of assets and the matter of existing assets. Slany said that the project occupied much of his time plus that of David Herschler, two Foreign Service officers, and two other contractors. The work was "terribly important and terribly difficult," he said. The CIA "probably" has records, but the historians are still trying to access them. Most records held by the Department of Defense had been declassified. Thousands of feet of Treasury materials have been moved to the Archives during the last month and were undergoing "crash" declassification review. He said that NARA has been swamped by researchers interested in the materials. Slany explained that he had tried to minimize the role played by the HO staff in the project, but that it may be necessary to involve other historians.
Office Staffing. Slany also reported that the staffing levels in the Office were the same as before. HO lost Kerry Hite to the CIA, but was fortunate to gain Susan Weetman to take up the duties of declassification coordinator. He noted that it was very important to make sure that the declassification of documents was letter perfect because HO must not compromise its reputation by making a mistake. He said that the Office has not, for many years, failed to record a deletion.
The Office currently is trying to fill one historian position. Candidates for the additional position, already proposed to Under Secretary Pat Kennedy, are still being identified. This would keep the Office at 1991 levels. Otherwise, staff and resources are "adequate." Slany said that the Office's travel budget would be pared by $20,000 this year because of the proximity of the Nixon materials in College Park.
CD-ROM Project. He reported that the Office was moving forward and that all the Kennedy volumes would be available on CD-ROM. The first CD, which would include 10-11 volumes, would appear in 1997. Kimball asked what had happened to a previous PA Bureau proposal to group Foreign Relations volumes with other current Department information. Slany reported that the Foreign Relations material would be separated on its own CD-ROM. Vince Davis asked how they were selling, and Slany said that they hadn't been produced yet.
Kimball then asked a technical question on whether you could print from the CD-ROM. Vicki Futscher said that printing should not be a problem. Jane Picker asked if the CD-ROM would be compatible for both Macintosh and IBM format; Futscher said yes.
Comments From Committee Members. Kimball then said he had a question on the Dayton Project. He said that Freeman had assured the Committee that it would not affect HO resources, but that this clearly wasn't the case. The Nazi Gold project ought not to either. How does this stand? Slany answered that HO has prepared a proposal for a separate historical research unit to allow HO to maintain its staffing levels. Kimball then asked if these type of projects would then be sent to the new unit; Slany said yes.
Kimball said that he and other Committee members often get calls asking when various Foreign Relations volumes would be completed. He asked if HO could have a Web page to disseminate this type of information. Futscher said "We will have to look into it." Kimball asked if it was easy to put a Web page up. Futscher said that the Department already has one, and that we can have a presence on it.
Kimball then asked if the Committee would have another opportunity to talk about the CIA. Slany responded that while the CIA's History Staff had not been invited to the meeting, there would be a discussion at the next day's session of the recent letter from Acting Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs Nick Burns to Nora Slatkin.
Mel Leffler asked about reports in the newspapers on 50-year closures on some of the Safehaven papers. Were these new Department of State documents? Slany said there were very few State documents, only a few files on the Tripartite Gold Commission. Leffler asked if State had opened its documents on schedule. Slany replied that they were "98 percent" open, but that Treasury had a large number of unopened files, about 5,000 cubic feet of records at Suitland, which were supposed to be available in January. David Herschler interjected that the material had been moved to Suitland and was in the process of being reviewed and declassified. Slany added that CIA possibly had some records and FBI has some as well. Jean Schauble of NARA said that there were some State documents from portions of the early State decimal files that were not included in the systematic review of State documents by NARA. When Leffler asked why not, she replied that these were consular and other administrative files of lesser interest. NARA had been concentrating on political and national security files. Committee member
Leffler then asked how the Treasury records related to the NARA declassification schedule. David Langbart said the files are from the Office of the Assistant Secretary for International Affairs. They were scheduled for earlier transfer but were delayed pending completion of Archives II. The Tripartite Gold Commission records have been transferred in the last 3 years.
Leffler asked about the status of the signals intelligence records regarding the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union. Langbart responded that the records were among the 1,500 boxes of records transferred to the National Archives last year by the National Security Agency. He added that the details are available on the Archives Web site.
Report by the General Editor
Status of the Series. Patterson next presented his report to the Committee on the status of the Foreign Relations series. He noted that not a lot that was dramatic had happened since the Committee's previous meeting. The last Eisenhower volume, on arms control and national security policy, had been released, completing HO's work on the Eisenhower presidency except for a massive microfiche supplement to the arms control/national security policy volume. Of the two unfinished volumes for the Kennedy years, the compiling of additional documents for the volume on the Soviet Union was completed, and he was working with the compilers toward completion of the volume on the United Nations and the Organization of Foreign Policy. Several compilations on the Johnson presidency had been completed since the last meeting, including those on Korea, Cuba, and the Dominican Republic. The Latin America volume was almost done.
Compiling the Nixon volumes. Several volumes on the first Nixon administration were underway or would soon be started. David Herschler, Jim Miller, and Bruce Duncombe were all well along on their research in the Nixon papers and State central files at NARA. The Office is still scheduled to meet the 30-year deadline for publication of the 1969-1972 subseries. The question of the number of volumes for the first Nixon administration is still an issue. Four volumes on Vietnam might prove insufficient. Also up for question was the number of volumes to be devoted to arms control and national security policy, given the significance of the issues and the extensive documentation. The two volumes planned for the Soviet Union might, however, take up the slack on these issues. Patterson also noted that the one volume planned on Latin America might not be sufficient.
Research for the Nixon volumes, in particular research in the Nixon papers at the National Archives, was going smoothly. The Nixon Project was in the process of hiring people for the two positions for which the State Department had provided subventions, and hopefully they can begin work soon on the tapes. At our request, the Nixon Project staff was making a photocopy of President Nixon's desk diary for our use.
Kimball noted that the schedule for the Nixon volumes indicated that some volumes would be published prior to the 30-year line; he asked whether publication of documents before they were 30 years old posed any problems for CIA or the British. Patterson noted that the agreement with the British specified that they would clear documents before they were 30 years old but we wouldn't publish them prior to the 30-year mark. Kimball also indicated that a very positive review of the two 1965 Vietnam volumes would soon appear in Diplomatic History. However, the author, Lloyd Gardner had raised the question of whether HO was making adequate use of non-governmental manuscript collections and memoirs. Patterson noted that while HO compilers do not publish material from memoirs, they do cite them in their footnotes.
There followed a discussion among Kimball, Humphrey, Patterson, and Schulzinger to clarify the definition of non-governmental records. Kimball admitted that he was not sure what type of records he was referring to, but compilers should reference all the sources they have found useful. Schulzinger brought up an example of what he thought Kimball was referring to: records in the Pennsylvania State Archives on Nixon's "Pennsylvania channel." Kimball agreed that this was the type of records he meant. Patterson noted that he urged compilers to track down relevant private papers. Davis raised the issue of whether the National Archives could accept private papers, and in the ensuing discussion it was stated that the National Archives could do so.
The Committee adjourned for a break.
Public Access to Department of State Historical Records
When the meeting reconvened at 3 p.m., Kimball began by referring to a meeting that morning of a working group committee of the whole which had addressed the issue of declassifying and opening the records of the Department of State. He noted that agreement had been reached at the meeting on a number of issues. The issues related in broad terms to those documents over which the State Department had complete declassification authority as against those in which there were other agency equities to be considered. He asked David Langbart of the National Archives to address the factors bearing on the declassification and release of State Department documentation, and to define the priorities established by the Archives for the declassification review of that documentation.
Report by David Langbart. Langbart stated that per agreement with the Department, NARA prepared an accessioning/declassification plan for the Department's records dating through 1975. He listed the priority categories as follows: 1) records already in the National Archives, 2) strictly top secret lot files in the RSC dating through 1975, 3) a small collection of Miscellaneous Record books, 4a) post records dating through 1975, 4b) lot files dating through 1975 at Suitland, and 5) secret and below lot files in the RSC dating through 1975. He stated that all lot files ending no later than 1966 have gone to the National Archives or are scheduled for transfer.
A discussion ensued between Leffler and Langbart concerning the relative priority accorded various categories of State Department records in the declassification review process. Leffler was concerned about the rank ordering of the secret lot files, which were listed on the Archives schedule as priority no. 5. He felt that these files merited more expeditious treatment. Langbart responded that declassification was going forward simultaneously on all of the categories. He noted, however, that the declassification process on the Record block currently in hand might take longer than anticipated because the block of records was so large and so complex, covering the period 1969 through 1975.
Ken Rossman indicated that the priorities established by the Archives were intended to facilitate the efficient movement of the files to the Archives. He anticipated that the entire group of files would be reviewed and declassified within 5 years. He also indicated that the several priorities were being worked upon simultaneously.
Davis noted that the issue seemed to be one of semantics. What were being described as priorities were in fact being handled as five separate projects without regard to priority.
Schauble stated, in response to a question from Kimball, that the rate at which the records can be opened to researchers will depend largely on processing requirements.
Kimball asked that the Archives provide a bottom line date at which to anticipate the opening of lot files containing materials through 1966.
Report by Tony Dalsimer and Nancy Smith. Turning to the issue of those documents in State Department files in which the declassification was complicated by other agency equities, Dalsimer and Nancy Smith reported on a trip to the Truman Library to assist in applying guidelines for the declassification of documents in this category. They judged the trip to have been successful. A joint trip to the Kennedy Library for a similar exercise is in the offing. Smith reported that she had initiated the use of the guidelines at the Hoover Library and added that they are also being applied at the Eisenhower Library. Kimball noted that he had been informed that the Roosevelt Library was also applying the guidelines.
RAC Project and Review of Agency Equities. Kimball addressed the RAC (Remote Archives Capture) project. He noted especially that Under Secretary of State Kennedy had stated his agreement that the RAC project is worthy of Department support. Leffler indicated that he felt the minutes should reiterate strong Committee support for the RAC project. He noted that the Committee was previously on record as supporting it.
Van Camp observed that the Committee had heard from the CIA concerning their equities in State Department documentation. The CIA indicated that funds had been allocated to send people to scan 1.5 million pages of State Department documentation at Archives II to address the CIA equities involved. Kimball noted that the CIA representative was vague on how the project would be implemented. Leffler felt the Committee should go on record as supporting this project.
Dalsimer stated that the CIA is working out a reimbursable detail for HDR reviewers to work on State Department equities in CIA files. The CIA also plans to create a system of coding copies of documents with CIA equities so that after declassification action has been taken on them, they can be reintegrated into the files at NARA.
Public Notice by NARA of Declassification of DOS Records. Having concluded the discussion of the morning working group session, Kimball asked the Archives representatives present if there was a way of making researchers aware of the additional State Department materials that are becoming available as a result of declassification actions.
Schauble indicated that working up a continuing list of documents as they became available and putting it on the Internet would be very labor intensive, and could only be done at the cost of processing other materials.
Kimball said that he was not suggesting a document-by-document listing of materials as they became available, but felt that a researcher should be able to come in and find out that additional materials had been opened in collections previously searched. Leffler echoed his concern.
Schauble stated that the Archives did not have a computer system capable of doing what Kimball asked. Kimball countered that thought needs to be given to changing the Archives record-keeping system to make it transferable to an electronic system.
Marvin Russell of the NARA noted that the Archives has a list of State Department documents with CIA equities, but the list is on a COBOL-based system, which cannot be downloaded onto the Internet.
Transfer of CIA Records to NARA
Kimball moved on to the issue of the CIA scheduling their records for declassification review and transfer to the Archives.
Langbart observed that the Archives had taken up the Committee's concern about the scheduling of CIA records. There is presently an ongoing evaluation by the Archives of CIA record-keeping procedures. Since he is not involved in the evaluation, Langbart could neither anticipate the outcome nor predict when the report might be finished.
Slany reverted to earlier remarks about things which were having or could have an impact on staff time, such as the Nazi gold project. He noted that some historians' time was being taken up by the Department's effort to create a permanent exhibit on U.S. diplomacy. Patterson stated that he and Keefer had reviewed some of the texts for the exhibit for historical errors. Slany stated that HO had not volunteered to take a larger role in creating the exhibit because he was concerned about it taking up too much staff time.
HO Access to Nixon Materials
Slany asked Herschler to comment on HO's access to the Nixon materials. Herschler indicated that the office had obtained verbal agreement from the Nixon estate to use tapes with Foreign Relations content. Access to the tape logs should begin in January. Herschler went on to discuss research in the textual files of the Nixon project. He noted that three researchers were currently doing research on five volumes in the Nixon materials. No problems had arisen in using these files. NARA has just hired two archivists on the basis of the State Department subvention provided to facilitate HO's work in the Nixon materials.
Herschler stated that former Secretary of State Kissinger has recently agreed to give HO historians access to all copied U.S. Government documents in the Kissinger Papers at the Library of Congress but is still considering the question of access to the telephone conversations, which have a different legal status. He stated that HO has a finding aid to the collection, including the telephone conversations.
Langbart noted that the Nixon Project may be receiving additional NSC materials now held by the NSC, depending on the final outcome of the court case dealing with the status of NSC materials as presidential records or federal records.
Issues Pertaining to Declassification of Foreign Relations Volumes
Kimball asked if HO had established an internal policy concerning declassification review deadlines. Slany replied that it had.
Kimball asked about the 30-year issue. Slany replied that declassification problems may prevent our reaching the 30-year line. Kimball asked about the internal problems Slany had mentioned a year ago. Slany replied that it was difficult to foresee how the series can proceed without knowing what is expected to be in the volumes. We may be in the situation of compiling volumes that we can't publish. Patterson noted the problem of resources and staff. If a separate research unit is created within HO, it will draw upon some of the staff compiling resources. Volumes need to be compiled before they can be declassified.
Slany referred to the question of whether the FOIA can be used to get access to volumes the Office is working on. Kimball noted that the FOIA contains an exemption for working papers and asked if that didn't apply to compilations in progress.
Other Agency Advisory Committees
Page Miller asked if they wanted a report on CIA and DOE. She is on a task force for DOE (the openness committee) and the advisory committee for CIA. Both have special legislative protection. DOE appointed a special panel of scientists a year ago to study guidelines for RD material. Her committee recommends waiting for the panel report. The CIA advisory committee is trying to bring about change but they have very little access to information. The committee will have a chair-Fred Starr-for the first time next year. George Herring, John Gaddis, and Gaddis Smith are all going off the committee.
Kimball referred to a conference at the USIA. Dalsimer explained that it was a declassification conference, one of a series of interagency meetings put together by CIA, including CIA, NRO, USIA, and other agencies, which reported on their plans for declassification. NARA representatives were there. Miller noted that U.S. Archivist John Carlin stressed the equities issue in his keynote address.
Picker asked about NARA accessions of USIA records. Langbart said very little has been accessioned. Dalsimer stated that USIA has created an organization for declassification using active duty people on 1-year assignments and that they have a computerized system of record-keeping. Patterson noted that USIA has a reference library with some declassified documents.
Leffler reported that the DOD advisory committee is trying to focus on JCS and OSD records. The latter are not available at NARA after 1954. The committee is trying to get progress on access to OSD records and on getting more records sent to NARA. The committee is chaired by DOD Historian Al Goldberg. It has made no progress in the past year.
Kimball referred to a draft working paper for reorganization of information resource management (IRM), which is to take effect in January. Rossman said it had been redrafted. Kimball said the reorganization will affect HDR and the declassification progress. If the Committee wants to have any input, it needs to do it fast.
The session ended at 5 p.m.
Closed Session, December 17
After calling the meeting to order at 9 a.m., Kimball said that Under Secretary Kennedy would join the Committee for lunch. Slany said that Kennedy might not join the lunch, but might come beforehand. Hogan thought that the Committee had previously met Kennedy for lunch. Kimball confirmed that they had met in October. Hogan wondered what they had talked about at that time. Kimball recalled that on the issue of personnel, Kennedy had delivered as promised.
Kimball also remembered that the Committee had raised the so-called Remote Archives Capture, or RAC project. Slany said that Kennedy is aware of the RAC project, but that further discussion was limited at this time by the absence of Mike Kurtz. Patterson mentioned that Kennedy had sent the Committee a letter on the RAC project. Kimball said that a major problem with the RAC project was the interaction of State with other agencies. Hogan added the problem of budgetary concerns. When Kimball said that Dalsimer ultimately reports to Kennedy, Slany wondered whether Dalsimer would be able to make a clear case for State support. Kimball suggested that the Committee not "whine a lot" at lunch, which would create the wrong impression. Hogan recommended that the Committee note that the RAC project is an ongoing expense, and simply thank Kennedy for his support. Slany said that another issue was how to ensure that the RAC project actually resulted in making files available to researchers. Kimball questioned whether that should concern State, since information access is the concern of NARA. Kimball suggested that the Committee move to executive session at 11:30 in order to prepare for the luncheon with Kennedy.
Public Access to Historical Records at NARA
Kimball introduced Nancy Smith of the Office of Presidential Libraries. Kimball asked if Smith had received a report on the proceedings of the previous day. Kimball said that the Committee had received a letter from Kennedy, in which Kennedy committed State to the RAC, although State would continue to pursue budgetary alternatives. Smith wondered if NARA could have a copy of the letter. Kimball said no, although he affirmed that the letter was a strong statement of State's commitment to the RAC project. Kimball asked if there were any further questions.
Smith emphasized that the Presidential Libraries did many things to move toward declassification, of which the RAC project was but one means. Smith reported that last year the libraries had declassified more material than she could recall.
Kimball was reminded that the Presidential Libraries use an "openings list," which indicates which documents that have been declassified, including those as a result of re-review. Kimball said that previously withheld documents may be released without notifying the researcher. Smith explained that NARA had ways to announce the opening of material: in Prologue and by annotating the withdrawal sheet. In the latter case, the researcher should contact the supervisory archivist at the Presidential Library. Kimball said that he was not talking about the Presidential Libraries since their system although antiquated is at least working. Van Camp said that Jean Schauble had mentioned that NND has a database, but it is not accessible to other database systems. Van Camp thought there should be a way to make this database available to the researcher. Smith said that she would talk to Kurtz to see if a declassified database could be set up. Kimball replied that this would be useful. Dalsimer reported that the NND database is available as a paper record, but the researcher cannot gain access over the Internet. Kimball agreed that something should be done to make the NND database more accessible for research.
Kimball asked if anybody else had any questions for Smith. Patterson asked if the review board would give expedited service to HO in the event someone objected to release of documents selected for Foreign Relations. Could that message be conveyed to them in writing? Nancy Smith said that she would be happy to convey the message to the review board and added that when the process was begun in 1987 it took a long time, but that it doesn't now. It was just a group of archivists at the beginning, but now it will go a lot quicker with the review board. Patterson asked if the review board had a backlog. Smith said that they had a small one. Kimball suggested that the Foreign Relations series be informally discussed with the review board, saying that it would be useful to plan ahead, rather than get behind and try to solve problems after they arise.
After asking if anybody had any further questions on this matter, and the response being "no," Kimball said that the next subject for discussion was Foreign Relations declassification, and he asked for Slany's report.
Declassification of Foreign Relations Volumes
Slany said that he would begin by explaining the present relationship with the CIA, saying that it was the most important part of the declassification problem. He said that before Tom Donilon resigned in November as Chief of Staff and Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs, he had taken personal interest in this problem and had tried to sum up the relationship with the CIA in a letter to Nora Slatkin of CIA. The letter was sent after Donilon's resignation and was signed by Acting Assistant Secretary Nicholas Burns. The letter summarized good progress on access, but noted that a lot of outstanding issues still remained to be solved. Patterson, Herschler, and Slany, who had contributed to the drafting of this letter, conferred with the historians and others at the Center for the Study of Intelligence about this letter. The CIA historians were upset about it because they believed it emphasized difficulty more than cooperation.
Access to and Declassification of CIA Documentation. Slany said that there were two main issues with the CIA. The first problem was the differing access to CIA documents from one HO historian to another, resulting in different volumes having different levels of CIA documentation. Slany said that he had tried to explain to Kay Oliver what he meant by different levels. Some State historians, he said, were assisted by a CIA historian who facilitated maximum access. Other State historians do not get anywhere near as much access. "We have wide variations of access; I have asked to have a more consistent process."
Slany said that Oliver had replied that the State historians should read the literature more, but that he had responded that the literature does not tell what and where. Slany emphasized that access is a very real issue that makes HO vulnerable to criticism for variations in volumes. As an example of the varying levels, he noted that the Congo volume for 1961-1963 was subject to strong criticism that major CIA involvement was being omitted. The criticism was reminiscent of that concerning the 1951-1954 Iran volume in 1990.
Leffler asked what the CIA's response to this was. Were they saying that the State historians were not framing their requests correctly?
Slany answered yes, that Oliver had said that State historians had not been able at times to frame their requests appropriately, but he thought that the problem rested as much with the CIA History Staff. Robert Schulzinger said that this was the classic organizational view that their documents belong to them, the "name of the rose syndrome." Slany said that the Office has to make the case for greater access and it has to be done soon or he fears some volumes will get bad reviews for failing to publish a complete record of major events.
Kimball asked if the INR documents that HO historians have access to don't provide the operational codenames. Ted Keefer said no. Harriet Schwar said that the INR documents are mostly high level, like 303 Committee records, rather than operational. Luke Smith said he had gotten good material on Cuba because of the assistance of CIA historian Mike Warner, who originally worked in the Directorate of Operations (DO). Luke Smith added that that a CIA historian's relationship with DO was a key factor.
Leffler asked if this problem had been brought up by high-level State Department officers like Donilon. Slany said that it would have been, but Donilon resigned before he had had time to do so. Leffler thought that this really needs to be done.
Kimball wanted to look at the law, but had forgotten his green book. He stated from memory that the law required that other agencies "shall cooperate" and provide "full and complete access." He said that the law was unambiguous and straightforward on this matter.
Patterson then shifted to problems of declassification, noting said that the CIA is reluctant to declassify where an operation has not been publicly revealed. Patterson felt it was a violation of the Foreign Relations law to deny access, but HO will have to keep insisting if we expect to make a lot of progress on this issue.
CIA Recordkeeping. David Herschler stated that CIA recordkeeping was very idiosyncratic. The Committee had been told, with respect to Iran, that records were inadvertently destroyed, although it is very difficult to confirm these destructions. Anne Van Camp said that NARA had been having good discussions with the CIA about their records and asked if anybody from the Archives was in a position to say whether the CIA had destroyed its Iran files or just couldn't find them. Langbart said he knew something about ongoing contacts with the CIA, but he was not in a position to comment.
Kimball asked if there were not legal requirements concerning CIA recordkeeping. Langbart said that these were all Federal records under the 1950 Federal Records Act. He said that the present Records Act was one of a series, and that this requirement had been well-defined through this series of acts. Kimball asked if there were any exemptions for recordkeeping for the CIA. Langbart said that to his knowledge there weren't. Nancy Smith said "Except that all agencies can glomarize," i.e., they can fail to confirm or deny the existence of records. But Langbart pointed out that this does not exempt the CIA from having to follow provisions of laws and regulations relating to the disposition of records. He said that the word "glomarize" came from the Glomar Explorer. He added that NARA had had excellent cooperation from the CIA recently.
Kimball said that if the CIA is breaking the law concerning the oversight of recordkeeping, then the Committee should contact the CIA's Inspector General. Langbart said that this concern raises the issue of NARA's authority over records. He said that NARA is not the records police, that it can only issue guidelines. Kimball said that he had not said that we know, but that we have reason to fear this was happening.
Leffler said that someone from NARA should brief the Committee on this issue, and Kimball said that this had been promised "at the right time" but didn't know if the evaluation would be ready in time for the next meeting. Leffler said that there must be a way to explore this. Kimball said there was, that if it was appropriate somebody would be brought in. Langbart said that the CIA always claims that their records have been destroyed according to approved schedules.
Slany raised the issue that CIA historians said that they had interpreted some of the discussion at the Advisory Committee meetings to mean that historians were not interested in intelligence analysis for the Foreign Relations series. Slany said that he had replied that the Committee had never said that. He hoped that he was right about that.
Kimball noted that Hazlewood had said that "covert operations" and "covert activities" were two different things. He said we have to be very precise. Leffler said that people are very interested in how intelligence analysis affects policy.
Kimball asked, "How do we know what questions to ask?" Jane Picker said one has to employ the interrogatory process: get them to tell us what to ask.
Patterson said that the meeting with the CIA historians was a good meeting at the working level. The HO staff had written some good reports giving good, specific examples of problems concerning counter-intelligence, CIA 303 Committee records, and other missing or unavailable records. He emphasized that HO historians should make their request letters as specific and detailed as possible. He said that Oliver seemed to be getting an understanding of the problem. David Herschler had been very specific in his requests and had gotten a lot of material. He said that HO and CSI historians had agreed to meet periodically at the working level. The historians from each agency working on a Foreign Relations volume might issue a report upon completion of research at CIA. He emphasized that we needed to have a good working relationship with the CIA historians.
Kimball agreed that "we have to work with the situation" and that there was "no sense in angering people whom we have to work with." Still, he said, we've had a problem for 2 years and it was frustrating. Leffler said that he thought that we were getting a lot more cooperation from them now. He saw some progress. Patterson agreed that there is cooperation, but still, he said, we have to prod them to get the best results. Herschler had had to keep after them for 6 months to get all the good material he got.
Herschler said that once he had access the CIA was generous with its resources, that he had worked in DO with two staffers. Kimball said that we shouldn't have to give them all this specific information in our requests. Oliver claimed HO wanted a license to browse, but to Kimball's mind that was exactly what the law required.
Michael Hogan asked if HO had access to CIA finding aids. Herschler said that we do have access to printouts and registries, whatever the CIA historians could provide. Kimball asked if there were new historians at the CIA and Herschler and Keefer replied affirmatively.
Kimball then summarized the problems and preceding discussion with an eye to Committee recommendations or communications with the CIA.
- HO wants more access, and more consistent access. This a Center for the Study of Intelligence problem.
- An additional access problem resides with the Directorate of Operations (DO), not in CSI. He said the Committee and HO have a good relationship with CSI, but not at a high level with DDO.
- It was next to impossible to tell whether records existed at all, whether HO was being denied them, or whether they had been destroyed.
- Follow up the issue of CIA recordkeeping with NARA.
- Make a statement to CIA that both covert intelligence action/operations and intelligence analysis are important and relevant for the Foreign Relations volumes.
- Note that the Center for the Study of Intelligence was off to a good, if somewhat slow and erratic, start.
- Note that access to shelf lists is improving, as is the work with the CSI, as both sides gain more experience.
He asked if there were any more items to be raised. Picker asked if the Committee could ask for CIA records of records destruction. Kimball thought not, since that is a NARA responsibility. Ann Van Camp said that the Committee is looking for a way to regularize the process; not engaging in fishing expeditions, but attempting to get some standards.
Kimball asked what the categories of records were besides DO, DI, and DCI. Langbart said that there are whole intelligence community records, DCI records that are not CIA records. It was called the IC Staff, although now it may be called the Community Management Staff. Kimball said that this was an important distinction--that they're not CIA files and they may be kept separately. Herschler said that the 303 Committee records are maintained at the NSC, but that each agency may have their own, too. State does.
The meeting adjourned for break and resumed at 11:12 a.m.
Tape Recordings of the Kennedy Administration
Humphrey said that he would condense his 15-minute presentation into 15 seconds. The Kennedy Library had 260 hours of Presidential tape recordings: 12 hours of the President's telephone conversations and 248 hours of his meetings in the Oval Office and the Cabinet Room. About 200 meetings dealt with foreign policy. A fifth of the tapes were available; the rest were scheduled for review during 1997-1999. A detailed finding aid was available. There are two sets of transcripts: a poor-quality set that Robert Kennedy arranged to have done in the late 1960s and a partial set prepared by the Library in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Humphrey cautioned about errors in some of the transcripts: "firing bursts across the bows of Russian ships" during the Cuban missile crisis came out as "firing nurses."
Declassification of CIA Documentation
Kimball turned the floor over to HO and Committee members at 11:15 and dismissed other persons. Since declassification was the topic, Noring and Dalsimer were allowed to stay.
Slany said that the other issue with the CIA was declassification. Although the CIA's declassification staff said it was determined to meet the 120 day deadline, review did not result automatically in clearance; documents reviewed for Foreign Relations were still denied. Donilon and Burns had both asked to obtain reversals of CIA denials in respect to specific volumes, but it seemed likely that HO would have to appeal certain decisions. A three-member high-level review panel was supposed to consider documents for the Italy compilation, but had not convened. Both State and CIA had denied documents in the Thailand compilation, and HO was trying to reverse State's decisions.
Kimball said that he had not mentioned a telephone conversation that he had had with Bennett Freeman 2 weeks earlier about both compilations. Freeman was supposedly receptive, and said he would bring the matter up with Burns, who would in turn take it up with Acting Under Secretary Kennedy. This might come up at the luncheon. Slany said that Freeman had told him, regarding the Thailand compilation, if it could not be released, what could? Kimball agreed.
Leffler asked whether, regarding the Italy compilation, the CIA had objected, or not met the deadline. Herschler said that they had not met the appeals deadline because they wished to refer the case to the interagency panel. Kimball noted that State and CIA usually objected to different documents.
Slany said that the CIA was to look into how the new Executive Order applied to it. Patterson said that, on one hand, CIA pleaded resource problems in reviewing Foreign Relations documents, but, on the other hand, was spending a lot of money to review its documents in compliance with the Executive Order. The CIA also was reluctant to disclose covert actions that had not yet become publicly known, and this problem may also help to account for CIA's inability to review our documents on time. Slany said that CIA always wanted HO to supply a list of covert actions, leading Kimball to ask whether one could be compiled. Schwar then raised the question of covert actions that never took place, but were believed to have occurred.
Van Camp asked about resources in the CIA. Herschler replied that under the Executive Order, CIA had on-site declassification authority for purposes of "automatic declassification," but HO had been told that only non-exempt files were covered. Kimball said that this raised a new issue. Herschler continued that all DO files were exempt from automatic declassification, but were subject to systematic review. Kimball said that he was awaiting an e-mail about that. He had three pages of notes on HO's problems with CIA, and he hoped that the Committee would work out how to deal with them in the afternoon.
Humphrey compared one document that was released and one that was denied; both pertained to covert actions. Noring noted that the former did not mention the CIA, while Keefer noted that the first was from State and the second from the CIA. The meeting recessed at 11:38 a.m.
Luncheon Discussion With Acting Under Secretary Kennedy December 17
During a brief luncheon discussion, Acting Under Secretary Kennedy (M) informed the Committee that he was aware he owed the Committee a response on the Thailand appeal. He was in the process of consulting with a "key third party" within the Department. He acknowledged the importance the Committee and the PA Bureau placed on this decision and asked for the Committee's patience in order to ensure the most thoughtful final decision, which he promised to have during January. [N.B.: Bennett Freeman privately told the Committee later during the luncheon that he was aware of the latest consultations and had reason to be "cautiously optimistic" that the delay would lead to a favorable outcome.]
Kennedy addressed the issue of the Department's participation in the RAC project. He acknowledged the Committee's continuing interest and concern in this project and indicated that the Department continued to study the technology as well as the overall project. He pointed out that while the CIA seemed wedded to a very complex declassification review system for meeting its obligations under the new executive order, the Department saw problems in this approach. For one, the actual documentation being reviewed in the RAC was "negligible" compared with the millions of pages declassified by the Department in each of the last 3 years. For another, the Department had problems with CIA's choice of technology.
Peggy Grafeld addressed this issue further. She noted that CIA was developing a highly specialized process technologically that was not necessarily the right program for State. It was costly and time consuming in the development process. She pointed out that there was standardized "off-the-shelf" technology--some of which the Department currently uses--that serves the same purpose from a technical standpoint and that would be far easier to adopt on a government-wide basis. The Department's declassification program, which focused resources on manual review with a thumbs-up/thumbs-down decision, using some type of risk management to determine level of review, had an established track record. The Department was committed to meeting its declassification review obligations under the E.O. and was meeting them. As for the Department's equities in Presidential materials, which was the issue for the RAC, the Department had just completed a successful trip to the Truman Library. They would continue to pursue training at the Presidential Libraries and providing updated guidelines so that more State equities could be declassified by the Library under State guidelines, thus reducing the universe of documents requiring State review. The Department would be prepared to conduct on-site review of such remaining Presidential materials at the Library. From the Department's standpoint, until a consensus on technology could be reached in the ERWG, the Department would continue to study the technology problem and proceed with its declassification review along the lines of the Truman Library test program.
Kennedy then addressed the issue of ongoing problems between the Department and the National Archives. He pointed out that Peggy Grafeld was heading up a task force to make recommendations for the reorganization of A/IM. The reorganization was far enough along so that a long revised draft document was now complete. Declassification and records management would likely be more closely tied in the new organizational structure, and the entire operation would have more senior guidance (SES level). Kimball noted that the Committee would be very willing to provide suggestions for those aspects of the reorganization that fell within its purview. They had been given copies of a smaller document but had learned that it had been overtaken by a much longer draft. Kennedy suggested that the Committee work through Bill Slany and Peggy Grafeld in keeping up-to-date on the reorganization. Kimball asked Slany to get a copy of the latest version of the reorganization document from Grafeld.
Kimball thanked Kennedy and Grafeld for their comments on the RAC and what the Department was doing. He noted that the Committee already had gotten some notion--from reports by Tony Dalsimer and Nancy Smith--that the Department's participation in the RAC, as originally envisaged, might not be the best approach and that the alternatives now being pursued might serve the Department, and ultimately the public, better. The Committee would continue to monitor progress.
Kimball also thanked Kennedy for keeping his promise on the resource issue for HO.
- Warren F. Kimball, Chairman
- B. Vincent Davis
- Michael J. Hogan
- Melvyn P. Leffler
- Jane Picker
- Robert D. Schulzinger
- Michael R. Schaller
- Nancy Bernkopf Tucker
- Anne H. Van Camp
- William Z. Slany, Executive Secretary
Bureau of Public Affairs, Office of the Historian
- William Z. Slany, Director
- Rita Baker
- Paul Claussen
- Evan Duncan
- Vicki Futscher
- Karen Gatz
- David Geyer
- David Goldman
- David Herschler
- Susan Holly
- Nina Howland
- David Humphrey
- Donna Hung
- Edward Keefer
- Dan Lawler
- Gabrielle Mallon
- James Miller
- David Patterson
- Harriet Schwar
- Kent Sieg
- Luke Smith
- Shirley Taylor
- Gloria Walker
- Susan Weetman
- Carolyn Yee
Bureau of Administration
- Tony Dalsimer, FPC/HDR
- Nina Noring, FPC/HDR
- Ken Rossman
National Archives and Records Administration
- David Langbart, Archivist, Records Appraisal and Disposition Division
- Marvin Russell, Archivist, Records Declassification Division
- Nancy K. Smith, Archivist, Office of Presidential Libraries
- Jean Schauble, Director, Records Declassification Division
- Page Putnam Miller