Advisory Committee on Historical Diplomatic Documentation, December 10-11, 1998
Open Session, December 10
Committee Chairman Warren Kimball convened the meeting at 9:10. He explained that Anne Van Camp could not attend because she was recuperating from a serious auto accident. He then informed the Committee that there may be some modifications to the agenda to accommodate the inclusion of additional information during the course of the day.
Approval of the Minutes of the October 1998 Meeting
Executive Secretary William Slany apologized to the Committee for the several last-minute changes in the agenda that may not have reached everyone. These were caused mainly by difficulties in obtaining an acceptable meeting room in the Department. The Office would try to avoid such last-minute chaos in the future. Kimball noted for the record the Committee's appreciation of Michael Kurtz's offer of meeting space at the main building of the National Archives.
Kimball then referred to the draft record of the October meeting. Slany noted that the Committee's minutes have been the object of several FOIA requests, requiring a slight modification in how they are reviewed and approved for public access. It may be necessary that the Department's FOIA staff reviews the original approved minutes before any redactions are made.
Paul Claussen pointed out that the FOIA staff would need to review the minutes for classified information and raised the issue of "off-the-record" matters. Slany indicated that in some cases "off-the-record" information is blacked out. Kimball recalled the "uncomfortable process" the Committee went through with respect to what should be included in the public minutes and that there needed to be a balance. He inquired if the FOIA staff can be given a time-frame for review in order to avoid delay in release of the record. Slany responded affirmatively, and added that if notes are taken they cannot be blacked out for "off-the-record" remarks. Claussen noted that portions of the minutes can be withheld from the public if they are classified. Nina Noring pointed out that the problem at issue was that certain minutes had been requested under the FOIA and they contained blanked out sections where classified information had been deleted. IPS was required by law to review those sections, but if they were legitimately classified they would not be released; or as in this case would be cleared by State and referred to CIA whose equity was involved. This did not involve "off the record" comments, which after all were off the record and not included in the minutes.
Returning to the record of the October meeting, Michael Hogan indicated that on page 9 there was an inconsistency in the number of issue statements approved by the High-Level Panel. It was agreed that the number would be changed to 8 approved issue statements. Hogan noted that he had read the draft record carefully this time. Kimball inquired if there were any other changes and, hearing none, proclaimed the minutes approved as corrected.
Records of the President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board
Kimball then indicated that Slany had nothing to add to his summary cover memorandum to the briefing package, and asked if the Committee had questions or comments. He noted that the status report on Foreign Relations volumes indicated that 24 of the 25 volumes covering the Kennedy administration had been published and inquired which one was delayed. David Patterson responded that the volume concerning organizational and United Nations matters was in the late stages of declassification review, with several documents concerning the intelligence establishment that had been cleared by CIA awaiting review by the President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board (PFIAB). He expressed his concern about the PFIAB situation.
Slany noted that former Senator Warren Rudman, the current chair of PFIAB, has taken the public position that no documents should be released, no matter how old. Kimball stated that Rudman was from Vermont, and the group responded in unison: "New Hampshire," to which Kimball noted, "same difference."
Philip Zelikow pointed out that some PFIAB documents were released as a result of the JFK review. Patterson indicated he thought these were only documents housed at the Kennedy Library. David Humphrey stated that Rudman had appealed the JFK PFIAB release to the White House. Noring explained that the Assassination Records Review Board (ARRB) staff had selected a number of documents on Cuba and Embassy Moscow from PFIAB files that they had declared relevant under the JFK Act. These had been reviewed and cleared for the most part by State, CIA, and other relevant agencies. PFIAB, however, had objected to their release. The ARRB had overruled PFIAB, but PFIAB had then appealed to the White House just as the ARRB disbanded and there was no one to argue against the PFIAB appeal. The White House (NSC) so far has not actedd on PFIAB's appeal and these records are being held from release pending a decision. Ted Keefer emphasized that Rudman was concerned about PFIAB's own records.
Kimball stated that the Committee needs advice as to how to react to this problem. Patterson commented that PFIAB has 120 days under the Foreign Relations statute to review the documents. Kimball said it may be useful to provide PFIAB with a history of declassification of intelligence records.
Kimball suggested that the Committee send a letter to Rudman on access to and declassification of intelligence records. Humphrey noted that Rudman claims that PFIAB offers "private" advice to the President and, therefore, is not subject to most information access requests. Langbart explained that PFIAB is not considered a federal agency under the Federal Records Act. Zelikow said that scholars are beginning to appreciate the role PFIAB plays in the decision-making process. He recommended that the Committee send a letter to the National Security Council, using the precedent of the Kennedy Assassination Review Board to break the "logjam." Zelikow thought the White House would be reluctant to support Rudman if the issue became public. Kimball saw no problem with this proposal; the Committee needs to encourage Rudman to think responsively.
Patterson said that, although he had done some research using PFIAB records at the National Archives, he had not yet received the copies of the documents selected. Slany commented that the Committee should register its "sense of urgency" in using PFIAB records. Zelikow replied that the proposed letter should emphasize the importance of PFIAB records. Humphrey reported on his use of PFIAB records for the volume on the organization of foreign policy under the Johnson administration; he found the documents very important. Humphrey also understood that some PFIAB documents had been released under the FOIA; the PFIAB staff, however, appears to be unaware of this release.
Patterson reminded the Committee that PFIAB had not yet responded to the last submission of documents for declassification. Kimball wondered if the proposed letter might create a problem that does not otherwise exist. After explaining the issue to Michael Kurtz, who had just entered the meeting, Kimball suggested that Zelikow could draft the letter, if necessary, after consultation with Patterson and Kurtz. Zelikow asked if the agreement between the Department and PFIAB gave the director, Rudman, the right to veto declassification decisions. Slany replied that the agreement gave PFIAB the same rights that have been given other agencies.
Kimball then raised an issue regarding the agenda; he said that the representatives from the Department of Energy were unable to attend the meeting as scheduled. Kimball thought they should, as a matter of principle, come to the next meeting. Schulzinger recalled that Committee members were supposed to go to DOE, armed with "Q, X, Y, and Z" clearances, to review records. He thought the Committee should proceed with this plan. Kimball agreed, remarking that this would "up the ante."
Status of the Kyl Amendment
Margaret Grafeld, Director of the Office of IRM Programs and Services (IPS), began her report on the status of the Kyl Amendment by stating that there was good news: a draft plan has been put together by an interagency working group that will offer a waiver for agencies that presently do line-by-line declassification review. She noted that Peter Sheils and Fred Smith of IPS were State's representatives on the working group. Smith, an attorney whose Foreign Service career had encompassed both State and ACDA, brought a special perspective to the working group.
Kurtz commented that he was somewhat less optimistic than Grafeld. He described the effort to produce the current draft plan as an "arduous process," noting that there had been 14 separate versions before the current draft was accepted by the working group. He noted also that DOE still had many concerns, especially about documents that are in the pipeline to be released and may have been reviewed by those agencies which do not do line-by-line reviews. Originally, the working group hoped to get the draft plan to the Hill by January 15, but he did not believe it would be ready by then. He indicated, however, that Bill Leary at the NSC was pushing the process along. Kurtz added that once the plan received final approval from the working group and the agencies, it would go to the Hill where it would sit for 60 days. Kimball asked whether it would be open there for public comment, and Kurtz said he was not sure but believed so.
Kimball asked Kurtz whether the issue of developing a clear definition of RD and FRD had been resolved. Kurtz responded that it had not and added that DOE's own declassifiers often come up with differing definitions. He indicated also that the issue may cause more problems in the future so he may decide to close some collections to force DOE to come up with a clearer definition.
Kimball asked if there was anything the Committee could do, noting that he had sent a letter to Secretary Richardson, but received no reply. Grafeld indicated that the reply came through the White House from General Kerrick. Kimball acknowledged receiving the Kerrick reply. Schulzinger described the Kerrick reply, however, as a non-reply, which indicated only that the White House was very interested in the issue but offered no responses to Committee's questions. Kimball noted that Podesta had released a very good signing statement on the subject. Kurtz suggested that when the plan goes to the Hill for comment, it would be good for the Advisory Committee to weigh in. Kimball asked if we had any friends on the Hill to which Kurtz replied, "fewer than you'd think."
Kimball asked how the amendment would affect the release of State Department material. Kurtz claimed that it should have no impact since State, like Defense and CIA, do line-by-line reviews. Kimball asked HO to keep the Committee apprised if problems do arise. Grafeld indicated that there were two potential problems: first, that DOE may leave the definition for RD and FRD vague; second, that DOE may decide after the public comment period to change the rules and not certify that documents reviewed line-by-line can be released. Kimball responded that it was important then that the Committee get its comments on the record during the 60-day period.
Kimball concluded by stating that we have to be concerned about access to and clearance of RD/FRD material for Foreign Relations. Who's going to watch this ball? Kurtz replied that he would be glad to.
State Department Plan To Declassify Documents on General Pinochet
Kimball then raised the Pinochet issue. Grafeld noted that there was a meeting today at NSC on the issue. Kimball emphasized that HO and the committee needed to do all it could to enhance the process of releasing material on Pinochet. Grafeld commented that the Secretary had already signed an action memo on the issue and that Morton Halperin and Ambassador Schaffer were on board to deal with it. The action memo stated that the effort should concentrate on the 1973-1990 period but reach back to 1968. Grafeld stated that the process involved throwing out a net and getting everything possible open, with an eye to maximum disclosure and, ultimately, dissemination of the documents on the Web site, though also with an eye to protecting rights of living heads of state. The goals of the project were: compile, review, declassify, and disseminate. The interest was in declassification rather than producing a white paper to tell the story.
Kimball expressed his concern that HO be involved in the process as part of producing a "gangbuster" volume on the issue. Grafeld responded that she welcomed HO's help but her operation errs on the side of more (rather than less) and will be dealing with material beyond HO's interests. Schulzinger asked where HO stands on compiling documentation on the issue. Keefer indicated that HO had not started compiling but had a historian prepared to do so. Kimball stated that HO historians are supposed to be given access to all records, and if they are part of the process this will be useful for compiling Foreign Relations as they would be given expedited and broader access than they sometimes get and at the same time they can provide expert advice. Grafeld acknowledged that such advice could be helpful but noted that one had to tread a fine line in suggesting to agencies what they can or should do. For example, she can't tell NSC that State historians can do a better job searching NSC files than NSC can. Kimball stated that we need to draw up talking points describing how HO can both assist and benefit by the task force's work.
Slany pointed to the example of the preparation of the Nazi gold study which provided a road map through 15 million pages of documents. The utility of a Foreign Relations volume on Pinochet would be to provide a capstone collection of all the main documents plus a guide through all the other documents selected. Schaller agreed strongly with Slany's view.
David Geyer pointed out that HO would not be compiling general documentation on human rights in Chile but would focus on U.S. policy regarding Allende's overthrow and the human rights abuses that followed. Kimball disagreed, noting that there were plans for a Foreign Relations volume on human rights. Zelikow, however, expressed doubts that HO really had a great interest in all this documentation and stated that HO would have access anyway to the relevant material. He called the project a whirlpool from which HO should keep its distance. Kimball commented that he wished that Zelikow had raised that issue earlier. He then tabled the matter.
Declassification of Department of State Records
Peter Sheils, Division Chief for Compliance and Research in IPS, distributed two pages of data on declassification efforts. Mackaman suggested that Grafeld, Director of IPS, discuss reorganization efforts. Grafeld first mentioned the recent Office of the Inspector General (OIG) report, which was prepared after a great many interviews at IPS. The report found that the Department has been carrying out its systematic declassification program in an exemplary fashion. It contained three main recommendations. The first suggestion concerned staffing. The report urged that overcomplement FSOs rather than retired annuitants should be utilized for declassification efforts. The justification was that it would save money. Second, the CAS acronym could be handled in some instances by Department of State reviewers. Third, the OIG "second guessed" some withheld material, which Department reviewers considered to be still sensitive.
Grafeld then briefly outlined the recent reorganization and consolidation efforts among the Department of State, the U.S. Information Agency (USIA), and the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency (ACDA). Each functional area prepared reports on consolidation, but they have been very "closely held." She had not yet seen the new report on the consolidation currently in progress. The authorization act signed by President Clinton in mid-October of this year required that ACDA be abolished in April 1999, and USIA be abolished in October 1999. Two new under secretaries would be created in the Department of State: Public Affairs and USIA would answer to a new Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy, and ACDA and PM would report to the Under Secretary for Arms Control and International Security. USIA's and ACDA's records management and declassification functions would be transferred to Records and Publishing Services (A/RPS), of which IPS is a part. Currently USIA and ACDA each have their own declassification offices with approximately 50 people. Reorganization is a very sensitive issue now. Pat Kennedy, Assistant Secretary for Administration, is leading the consolidation effort. USIA is moving its declassification operations to the Newington site next to the Department of State office. ACDA is expected to join them.
Kimball urged Grafeld to keep the Advisory Committee updated on this issue. Grafeld said she would bring representatives from both agencies to the meeting after next. Nancy Bernkopf Tucker asked about the record of USIA and ACDA in declassification efforts. David Langbart of the National Archives stated that his experience is that USIA is declassifying 99 percent of its materials. It generally withheld only documents with other agency equities. He also noted that ACDA has an ongoing declassification effort with which he is not familiar. Some discussion ensued concerning special storage facilities being built at Newington for USIA. Craig McKee pointed out that the USIA systems connect to those of other agencies and thus have to be secure.
Grafeld pointed out that the Committee will now be involved in the work of USIA and ACDA. David Patterson added that the Historian's Office had gained experience with USIA records while preparing several of the Kennedy administration volumes.
Grafeld noted that she planned to make changes slowly and carefully during the consolidation process. In the end, RPS may have over 700 employees. Kimball asked how this would change the "chain of command" for the Historian's Office. Slany stated that he expected no change because HO will still report to the Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs under the new Under Secretary.
Following her discussion of the impact of foreign affairs agency reorganization upon the activities of her office, Grafeld raised the issue of the respective roles and responsibilities vis-a-vis declassification. She acknowledged the Committee's advocacy role in the process, but described the blurring of function in her office's encounters with HO. For example, she noted that IPS did not get word of High-Level Panel decisions and was, therefore, hindered in applying them to FOIA/Mandatory Review actions and ISCAP determinations. Her office wants to perform its function in the best possible way that it can.
Report of the Subcommittee on Electronic Records Issues
Mackaman then reported on the results of the previous day's meeting held at NARA by the Subcommittee on Electronic Records Issues. He noted that representatives of three parties were involved with that meeting-the Committee, State, and NARA. They discussed the general issues at State affecting the disposition and release of records, including the Y2K problem, resources reorganization, microfilming, procedures for dealing with top secret records, and archival practices in State record centers. He noted that Ken Thibideaux of NARA had presented an issues paper regarding steps that NARA has taken to deal with State records, including categorization of transferred material, accessibility of such records, and alternative options available in the transfer process. Mackaman noted that he was much more optimistic than he had been last June, at which time he had been "very concerned" regarding the ability of State and NARA to effect a successful transfer and to make the records available on a timely basis. Given the progress reported on at the meeting, however, he now was "increasingly comfortable" with the procedures being planned.
He noted that IPS accepted NARA's of the ADAM system for access and both were developing its concept and policies for use. He described the nature of this collaboration as "excellent" and praised as "impressive" the quality of the personnel assigned to this task. He reported that the transfer of the records would take place by the prescribed deadline and that public accessibility would be available at that time. He outlined the participation of the Committee in this effort in terms of assisting in the development of the ADAM concept, an activity which might entail the addition of an HO staff historian to the planning meetings. The Committee and HO could act as "surrogate researchers" and provide the planners with feedback on preferences and expectations. In addition, the Committee could act as an advocate for the funding of this program. Other subcommittee members Nancy Tucker and Vincent Davis concurred in Mackaman's recommendations.
Sheils seconded the need for funding in general and the helpful role of the Committee. Michael Kurtz of NARA then remarked on the deadline set by the Executive Order, noting that only 15 months remained to remedy the problem and that there was "still much to do." All of the efforts regarding documentation needed to be concentrated. Perhaps, he suggested, contract help could be elicited to develop the ADAM system. NARA was committed to seeing through the transfer successfully and that accessibility followed. He noted that the Archivist was able to get an enhanced budget in the area of records. He therefore was "optimistic yet sober" regarding the work ahead facing NARA and State on this issue.
Sheils then noted several changes since his previous report to the Committee. Work was close to completion at the Newington complex and State reviewers were being reassigned to College Park where it was anticipated that the rate of review of State material would accelerate. He also revised a previous report given to the Committee concerning the size of the Department's microfilm collection of telegrams from the period July 1973 through December 1975. The previous report had indicated that 1.2 million pages of records on microfilm required declassification review. The 1.2 million figure, however, referred to documents rather than pages. The total number of pages in this category requiring declassification review was actually an estimated 3.6 million. The page figure is preferable to use because it corresponds to other statistics given in the report. Sheils also reported that his office was developing a new prototype to deal with the microfilm collection that involved a "best practices" solution. In another area, Sheils indicated that the review of the Dulles microfilm at Princeton University had been largely completed, although transfer and other agency equity issues remained.
Tucker then requested a status report on INR files. Sheils replied that the declassification review had not yet begun, although IPS had apprised itself of the situation. The need for IPS and INR to focus on other projects had delayed work in this area. Tucker asked how INR's anticipated move to temporary quarters would affect the declassification process. Sheils responded that INR had separated 100 boxes of material for retirement and systematic review under the Executive Order. Grafeld noted that INR retained a large body of records, some of them dating back to 1945. Recently, when INR received a FOIA request for everything on cryptology, it had to review material in 45 cabinets. This experience had helped develop an appreciation that the older records should be retired. INR was now in the process of winnowing down to the records they actually needed to do their work. They had retired 300 boxes, and had the 100 boxes ready to be retired. Much of this material is codeword and will need to go to a sensitive compartmentalized information facility (SCIF). INR was planning to house it in the Department of State facility in Newington where they would upgrade to a SCIF. Kimball asked if they would use the same SCIF as USIA at Newington. Grafeld said she wasn't sure, it might be they would enlarge it. INR was concerned about its operational records and that it would not have room for a large number of records in temporary quarters. Kimball asked that Sheils add a line or two to his declassification report on INR files. Tucker seconded that idea.
Grafeld raised the subject of State's previously reviewed records at NARA and said she did not know why the Committee wanted CIA to review them. Kimball responded that this involved two separate issues. The first concerned State-exempted material denied under previous executive orders; the second pertained to State records, cleared by State under the current E.O., but requiring CIA declassification review before release. Slany noted that the CIA had assigned staff to review the second group of records, but did not want to review the first group, which included papers from the Truman, Eisenhower, and Kennedy administrations, because State was exempting them from its own review under the current E.O. Herschler noted that in reviewing these records at NARA, CIA could make an on-site decision regarding "CAS concurs" type equity and scan the more substantive equities. Sheils noted that there are about 1.5 million pages of State-exempted material. Grafeld pointed out that many of these older records remained classified because researchers had not requested their review. Kimball said that researchers shied away from requesting previously withheld documents because they presumed that they would continue to be withheld.
Kimball asked if there was a schedule for review of this exempted material. Sheils replied that there was a tentative one. Kimball asked if RPS/IPS could give CIA a schedule and get them started. Grafeld said that CIA could look at the documents any time. Kimball responded that they could, but they won't.
Michael Kurtz reported that he had discussed scanning with CIA's Ed Cohen at NARA II. They hoped to review 1 million pages of NARA holdings. There have been difficulties in the negotiations and CIA has not yet agreed to give NARA authority to declassify and redact a particular acronym. Marvin Russell of NARA stated that working level reviewers at NARA wanted to review the materials with CIA equity that State has tabbed for release. Kimball asked if there should be at least an HO/Committee ear listening to this process. Could the Committee act as a facilitator? Kurtz said that he would organize a dialogue.
Hogan interjected that the Committee has heard this discussion over and over. Kimball pointed out that CIA will be meeting with the Committee in the afternoon.
Grafeld suggested that it was important to prioritize resources and do work just once. IPS would be willing to review the 1.5 million pages if the Committee thinks it is important. Kimball suggested that a Committee subcommittee could look at these records and get a sense of their value and priorities. Mackaman suggested that it was a basic archival policy to review everything once before going back again. He suggested that Grafeld might have a staff study done of the pros and cons of changing this policy. Grafeld said that rather than doing a lot of staff studies, she would rather just review the 1.5 million pages. Mackaman observed that the suggestion of staff work and studies obviously did the trick and Grafeld's solution seemed fine. Kimball promised that the Committee/HO would work with IPS on this task. Grafeld promised to report at the next Committee meeting on the progress of the review of the exempted material. Hogan asked if she would report on a plan to do it. Kimball suggested that IPS go to CIA with the plan. Grafeld observed that she did not want to get involved in imaging and scanning.
Patterson suggested that HO historians needed to use INR files for Foreign Relations and that they needed to work with IPS on what is still in INR and what is going to NARA. Kimball asked who the NARA appraiser of these files was. Langbart volunteered that it was he and two other NARA archivists. Schedules existed for certain records and other are still closed off. Grafeld added that INR does not want to release certain schedules for fear of opening a Pandora's box of FOIA requests. Langbart noted that not declassifying schedules is not proper. Kimball believed that this was an ongoing problem and he expected the Committee would make a strong recommendation in their annual report about INR files. Grafeld thought this would help, but foresaw a battle of the Assistant Secretaries. Tucker and Kimball recalled how a few years ago a very urbane INR official briefed the Committee on its files, saying how historically valuable they were, but adding: "You will never be allowed to see these records." HO historians had access to them within the year and they have proved to be the key that unlocked access to covert operations records.
With that comment the Committee broke for lunch.
Closed Session, December 10
Status of Review Under the High-Level Panel
The Committee reconvened following lunch at 1:45 p.m. Kimball began by introducing David Holmes, CIA representative on the High-Level Panel. Kimball then stated that the subcommittee on the High-Level Panel, which had reviewed the progress of the panel the previous day, was concerned that in some cases the issue statements approved for inclusion in Foreign Relations volumes seemed to be written so as to virtually eliminate mention of the CIA, or at least to hide the role of the CIA. He felt that the "artificial separation" of the CIA from the substance of the issue statements made no sense.
Holmes responded with the caveat that he had been involved with the High-Level Panel process only since the previous September and could only talk from that limited perspective. He stated that his approach as the CIA representative on the panel was to try to make the process work. He felt that basic information on many issues relating to the CIA's involvement in the foreign policy process could be released. He said that reviewers in the Directorate of Operations have considered on a case-by-case basis instances of covert actions in which the CIA was the executive agent of policy. They worry about liaison relationships that might be negatively impacted by the release of information in Foreign Relations. He noted that CIA has acknowledged that it was the executive agent with respect to operations in Tibet and British Guiana. But, he added, as a general principle, the CIA was not prepared to confirm a CIA presence in a particular country and therefore would have problems with the release of documentation that revealed the CIA as the action arm of covert operations abroad. In a positive vein, Holmes noted that the CIA has cooperated with HO in drafting a general statement relating to covert operations for inclusion in Foreign Relations volumes, including a detailed account of the executive oversight of such operations.
Kimball stated that the limitations cited by Holmes would result in at best the release of incremental bits of information on important CIA activities. He said that was not the way to establish CIA credibility. Holmes reiterated that there was great concern in the CIA about confirming CIA operations in any particular country.
records of entities such as the 303 oversight committee but withhold those portions that reveal the CIA involvement in the operations reviewed by the Committee. He asked whether the CIA could strip away this obvious fig leaf. Robert Leggett, of the CIA's Office of Information Management, defended the necessity to protect the CIA's anonymity in such cases. Kimball responded that his concern was that the Foreign Relations series should not be made to look silly as a result.
Hogan asked Holmes to define the standards under which the CIA would be prepared to acknowledge CIA activities in the field. Holmes agreed to do so.
Hogan asked if the issue statement could refer to the introductory statement on covert operations. Holmes replied that he thought it could. Leggett noted that it will be very difficult to get the CIA to acknowledge operations in the field.
Hogan asked whether the difficulty concerned the kinds of operations involved. Holmes responded that the difficulty related more to the sensitivity of the CIA's position in many countries, and to the liaison relationships involved in all countries. He pointed to the presumption of confidentiality as an important factor. Leggett felt that reviews on a case-by-case basis were necessary and particularly where liaison relationships were not involved. Holmes said it is necessary to act rationally in making these decisions but that acknowledging an operation is very difficult. Hogan asked rhetorically if they knew of any case in which the release of 30-year-old information had had serious consequences.
Kimball asked if anyone had considered the consequences of non-disclosure. He mentioned one case in which the release of the documentation involved might have a positive rather than a negative impact. Holmes said that CIA is concerned in that individual case with a particular group which is a dangerous organization. CIA fears that the release of the information at issue might trigger a violent reaction.
Zelikow observed that Foreign Service and CIA officers in the field "acquire no advantage" as a result of the release of documentation in Foreign Relations. When consulted it is easy for them to say no to such release. Zelikow felt that such an attitude was shortsighted. He noted that it is impossible to inflate beliefs abroad about the role played by the CIA. He thought that a great deal could be done to deflate overblown beliefs about CIA activities if the United States could document what the CIA has and, more importantly, has not done. Leggett replied that we're doing this to some degree.
Zelikow commented that more documentary disclosure would improve our credibility. Returning to the issue of CIA presence, he suggested that CIA distinguish between the fact of CIA presence and the details involved. He said no one in most countries, for example, believes that CIA has no presence. The presence could be acknowledged and the details could be obscured without compromising the Foreign Relations mission.
Holmes replied that he understood Zelikow's point but that the Directorate of Operations was concerned because they had given assurances to their counterparts. He said this is a deeply ingrained cultural issue in DO. He said he couldn't promise quick results but could promise that he would make a real effort and would see that issues were considered on a case-by-case basis.
Zelikow referred to a British documentary on Tibet which had shown interviews with four CIA people. Holmes expressed interest in receiving information on what had been revealed about a given operation. Kimball said that when CIA refuses to recognize what is in the public domain makes CIA look silly. He said it isn't a culture, it's a habit, and habits can be changed.
Tucker said the bottom line is documents. Issue statements without documents will never be sufficient. Leggett pointed out CIA had released documents on British Guiana. Kimball said one case is not enough.
Leggett thought CIA's record so far on High-Level Panel cases was good. Kimball pointed out that some issues were still in dispute. Schaller referred to a forthcoming volume on Greece. Leggett repeated that this is a special case. Kimball said the Committee was willing to accept that, although they didn't agree.
Tucker pointed out that they used to hear the same kind of arguments from the Department of State, which had now become far more open. Leggett pointed out that the Department had opposed release in some cases. Tucker replied that the Committee did not agree with all the Department's decisions but that her point was that the Department was now releasing far more than it had in the past and that governments hadn't fallen.
Kimball urged Holmes to take the Committee's views back to CIA. Holmes assured him that this issue is receiving attention at top levels in the agency.
Access to Certain CIA Files for the Preparation of Foreign Relations
Kimball raised the problem of citation of CIA materials. Holmes said he thought they had worked that out. He will send Slany a note with forms of citation attached. Kimball said if this was not satisfactory, the Committee would want to know.
Holmes referred to the issue of access to a series of particularly sensitive files. CIA is prepared to give HO historians access to these files but would consider the question of copying on a case-by-case basis. Copies will have to remain at CIA, but they will be available for reference. Oliver pointed out that the files are supposed to be asset files. They are supposed to contain nuts-and-bolts documents, not policy documents. Leggett said problems arise because there are some documents in the files that shouldn't be there. Holmes said that if there are documents in the files that don't belong there, CIA may be able to give State copies of the documents from other files.
Steve Phillips pointed out that it had taken him 8 months to get access to these files. Harriet Schwar stated that the files on the Congo contained many policy documents and were certainly not limited to nuts-and-bolts matters.
Discussion of access to these files concluded with assurances from CIA that this would be treated on a case-by-case basis and handled more expeditiously than in the past.
Kimball raised the issue of finished intelligence on the seven friendly countries. Holmes stated that CIA had reached a decision that they will not invoke any kind of blanket exemption for those countries.
Automatic Declassification Review of State Department Records Containing CIA Equities
Kimball then turned to Rich Warshaw and Harry Cooper on the subject of CIA's automatic declassification review of Department of State records containing CIA equities. He read what the Committee had said on this subject in its last report and noted that the Department of State IG had reiterated some of the Committee's criticisms. The Committee was weary of declassification review of CIA records not resulting in any significant transfer of CIA files to NARA. There appeared to be no CIA commitment to work together with NARA and State on this. CIA had refused to provide guidelines for the DOS reviewers who had been tagging CIA equities in their files. Over half of the non-substantive references to CAS could be easily excised by State reviewers but CIA insisted on doing all of its own review, leading to grotesque delays. The Committee did not believe that this would interfere with CIA doing its job and it endorsed the State IG report on this.
Warshaw pointed out that the IG never consulted the CIA, which did not agree with its description of its equities. Cooper then summarized a status report on CIA declassification, stating that CIA had transferred one million pages to NARA, including 411,000 pages of photos and 174,000 redacted pages. It had scanned for electronic review 389,000 pages of CIA-equity documents at NARA, 261,000 pages at the Kennedy Library, 95,000 pages at the Eisenhower Library, and 1.64 million pages of CIA historic documents. CIA's 1999 goal was to review five million pages, four million from CIA holdings. CIA had also initiated alternative processing for review at NARA with on-the-spot excisions of innocuous references to CAS and CIA names unrelated to substance. He pointed out that CIA did not agree that all CAS references were innocuous. He agreed that in Record Group (RG) 59, many CAS reference were innocuous, but he argued that in RG 84, they were more significant. He noted that CIA was paying for NARA overtime employees working under the supervision of CIA contract employees. They will authorize NARA to redact innocuous references to CAS and to release the documents. In response to a question, Cooper said that if documents contained substantive information related to CAS, CIA reviewers would make the necessary excisions.
Kimball commented that he looked forward to the day he could report that these documents were available. The Committee had been waiting many years. For now, the report would have to state that the record was still not available to the American public. Cooper replied that the process was in place. They were just waiting for NARA processing. Kimball replied that he believed him, but noted that the check was still in the mail. Warshaw pointed out that one million pages had been released to NARA on September 1. Kimball emphasized that the Committee was concerned with CIA equities in State Department records. Cooper said that CIA had released 5000 pages in DOS records at NARA.
Warshaw reiterated that CIA did not agree that all references to CAS were innocuous. He said that CIA had to determine whether the CIA equity in a particular document was sensitive or not but that they now had a process that would address the Committee's concerns.
Hogan asked what made a reference sensitive. Cooper said that "according to CAS" meant that the information was CIA information and had to be evaluated for sources and methods. On the other hand, "CAS concurs" was usually innocuous.
Kimball agreed that substantive information in company with "CAS" could be sensitive but argued that the removal of "CAS" would make it non-sensitive. Oliver argued that this was not necessarily so. Warshaw reiterated that these documents had to be reviewed on a case by case basis. Kimball said that he would not argue with CIA on this. It had the right to set its own procedures.
Zelikow asked what kind of review CIA could accept. Could it possibly accept DOS reviewers doing this with CIA guidelines? Cooper pointed out that State does a "pass or fail" review whereas CIA would redact the documents. Kimball asked about the possibility of guidelines stating, for example, that "CAS concurs" could be excised. Warshaw replied that CIA was experimenting with NARA reviewers working under CIA supervision. Kimball repeated that the Committee was "weary" of this ongoing problem.
Kimball raised the matter of CIA equities in the DOS documents reviewed under the previous Executive Order, and the Department's current exemption for those documents. He said that Michael Kurtz was going to put together a meeting of himself, Grafeld, Slany, and Warshaw, or their representatives, to discuss this and that it should be resolved soon. Warshaw said this would be fine.
Discussion With the Office Managers on the Future of Foreign Relations
Mackaman opened the session by explaining that the Committee was still gathering information and this session was another opportunity for them to explore the conceptualization of the series and office management issues. Humphrey asked about the extent of the planning process: was this a 5-year plan, a 15-year plan? Would it be phased in? This was an important especially when considering electronic records.
Patterson pointed out that the volumes were getting better; timeliness is a problem but the volumes are better.
Tucker noted that the Committee itself is divided, but Kimball said that the Committee is unanimous in its view that it is important to examine the series. It will be a "process" of discussion and opinion-gathering.
Hogan made four points: 1) the series is better than before; 2) timeliness is a problem; 3) some adjustments are necessary; and 4) there is a split of opinion in the Committee on what to be done.
Claussen said that the Internet allows the possibility of publishing "preliminary volumes," possibly on issues stretching into the 1980s, with the clear understanding that the volume would be superseded by a final printed volume. This would allow treatment of topics on which documents can be declassified, especially on a issue that has some continuity from where the current print volumes are and the preliminary Internet volume. As for comprehensiveness, he thought that the volumes should include information on the "process" of foreign policy formulation, i.e., organizational information. He noted that the Foreign Affairs Manual, which has classified sections, should be a source for the volumes.
Mackaman noted that these were the kinds of new ideas the Committee was interested in exploring.
Schwar voiced concern about the lack of resources (i.e., historians). She said that if all the staff historians are performing research in the same time period they can work more effectively because they can share information about sources.
In discussion of comprehensivess, Hogan asked about the number of volumes for the Nixon administration. Herschler hoped that the office would not be too tied to a subset determined by Presidential administration, but Keefer believed that Presidential administrations are the best ways to break up the series. The beginning of a Presidency often marks the beginning of new foreign policies and a new foreign policy team.
Herschler tentatively agreed but thought that research should be started beyond any given administration.
Concerning some sort of electronic supplement, Keefer thought that any such supplement designed to compensate for fewer volumes would invite criticism. Kimball agreed and noted that any change would have to be accompanied by a public effort to explain and justify the change.
Schulzinger emphasized the use of outside consultants or experts to advise and implement any electronic publishing effort and pointed out that the technology would have to be good for the future. Schaller expressed his hope that such an electronic publication would not be a "document dump," but would be something that would be useful to scholars. Mackaman agreed that the HO "value added" component-headings and annotation-would have to be present.
Kimball noted the enormous archival expertise and knowledge of the HO staff, which should be shared with the series' users. He thought that the Committee's search for a revised Foreign Relations series should be for an effective vehicle to share that knowledge. Keefer suggested including an annotated source list that explains which records are most important. Mackaman noted that technology offers the opportunity to accomplish this.
Schwar said she had assumed that electronic publication would mean facsimile publication of documents; if we were going to invest the resources to do all the preparation for print publication, why not publish in print? Kimball saw a possible electronic publication as some intermediate stage between a document dump (as the microfiche supplements were) and a full volume. Keefer said that it was necessary to think carefully about any supplement, which would have to have an integrity of its own. Hogan noted that the important principle in the discussion is that the concept of an electronic publication is an option that should be considered. Keefer suggested publishing electronically a full file series.
Weetman pointed out that publishing more documents, in whatever format, means more declassification, which means more resources for the declassification coordination function-a consideration that is often overlooked. Schwarr said if we were going to publish the same number of documents, some in print and some electronically, it would be a net loss. Keefer said we should "remember what we do best and keep doing it."
Claussen noted the necessity of evaluating the user community and targeting young people. Herschler agreed that we need to better understand the audience and its expectations for the series.
Patterson pointed out, in connection with the microfiche supplements, the value and importance of the printed guides, which include many of the HO "value added" material: preface, source list, and document summaries. Slany noted that he was pleased to hear these new ideas.
Tucker said that more declassification was inevitable because more documents would be published-in whatever way. If no more documents would be published, she favored keeping the printed series.
Hogan reiterated the importance of thinking about options and possibilities. He asked if anyone thought if any of the more recent volumes were too long. Keefer admitted that some of the volumes he compiled for the 50s and 60s were repetitive, especially when there are only a few major issues involved.
Kimball asked that it is important to keep in mind what we want from technology. He believed that declassification is a serious bottleneck but pointed out that there were other bottlenecks that were slowing the series. We must all keep in mind that access to documents is the most important point for the Committee members and their constituencies.
Davis mentioned that we must remember that accuracy is more important than speed. He explained that he foresaw that classification would be a very different thing in the futures, especially with the end of the Cold War. He also pointed out that the State Department had so far escaped the serious post-Cold War downsizing that other foreign affairs agencies had suffered, but that it was probably inevitable. He thought that the Historical Office was very much at risk in any bureaucratic reorganization in response to the end of the Cold War.
Zelikow said that he thought that the Foreign Relations volumes were "great," but that the series must make changes in order to adapt to a changing world. These changes might be in terms of the scope of the volumes, the amount of historiography that would be included, quality control, and the modes of publication. These could be used to rank order the staff's suggestions.
Schaller said that it was important to ask where will the change lead? Toward more documents, more access, more declassification. We want a series that does more better. He agreed with Schulzinger that we will need outside technical expertise.
Schulzinger emphasized that there are subjects-global issues-that should be included in a new Foreign Relations series that aren't included now. Hogan seconded that view.
The session ended without discussion of office management issues.
Closed Session, December 11
Discussion With the Staff on the Future of Foreign Relations
Staff not present:
- Donna Hung
- Dan Lawler
- Susan Holly (on leave)
- Jim Miller (on vacation)
The session began at 9:07 a.m. In his introductory remarks Mackaman said that the committee was interested in hearing the staff's comments on Slany's vision for the Foreign Relations series. The Division chiefs met with the Committee yesterday afternoon and now was time to hear from the staff. He opened the floor for comments and David Geyer said that some of the staff may find it difficult to speak with a manager present. Mackaman said he had no problem with Bill absenting himself for the duration of the discussion. Warren Kimball reported no problem with that and Slany departed for the cafeteria.
In response to a query, Mackaman said that this process was driven by the Committee's concern about the timeliness of the series.
David Goldman said that deadlines, resources, and declassification were the principal problems, rather than expansion of the series as Slany had proposed. Expansion of the series would require more resources and increase office workloads.
Steven Phillips said that there was too much stress on management. The key to what HO should produce was what its public wanted. He said that the process should not drive the product and thought we should proceed from the question: "What should Foreign Relations be?"
Geyer said he thought that resources and declassification issues were fundamental to the problem.
Kimball said that Slany's paper had addressed the nature of the Foreign Relations series and the possibility of re-thinking it. Some members of the academic community were more interested in cultural history than in traditional diplomatic history. When asked about what a "dream volume" might look like, Kimball replied, "Ask me in 12 months." A dummy volume could be assembled to test new ideas and concepts.
A discussion of the changing nature of the Foreign Relations series followed. Geyer, citing an article about masculinity under the Kennedy administration, wondered whether Nixon's references to sports would rate a volume; what would an "attitude compilation" look like? Kimball noted that new issues had emerged over time; what would Secretary Kellogg have thought of a "Human Rights volume?" Goldman suggested that a reader survey might help the office devise a social/cultural volume. Hogan suggested that a team historical consultants might review some of the published volumes and offer advice about what changes might be needed.
Attention then turned to the timeliness and comprehensiveness of the series. Some of the staff felt that declassification remained the biggest hurdle. Phillips suggested publishing declassified documents from future volumes on-line first. Paper volumes would follow once documents delayed in the declassification process were cleared. We would do this only for volumes with major declassification delays. This would be part of a larger effort to upgrade our on-line presence.
Schulzinger mentioned that since office management issues were creeping into staff remarks he thought that the committee should open the floor to "office culture" discussion. Mackaman agreed.
Nina Howland said that copying documents was time-consuming. Goldman said that perhaps other agencies could be given funds for copying relevant documents; NSC had done so for Presidential diaries. Geyer agreed and discussion ensued about the relative merits of doing ones own copying or hiring a person at Nixon Presidential Materials do HO's copying.
Tucker wondered how much opportunity staff members had to discuss new ideas or to compare notes. Phillips said that some people shared information, but Goldman added that there was no formal structure and coordination depended on the division chiefs. There were no formal group meetings. Howland said that some divisions met regularly, but there were no office-wide meetings. Geyer said that division chiefs and editors were in charge of "peer review" of compilations. Goldman noted that when there was an overlap between compilations, such as atomic energy and arms control, there might be "ghost references"-footnotes in one volume referring to documents not included in another. Several staff members mentioned that Ted Keefer was particularly knowledgeable and supportive of the compilers' efforts.
Mackaman suggested that we go around the room for final comments.
Gloria Walker said she had worked in the office for 3 years and did not have a current job classification and promotion.
Vicki Futscher offered to prepare a simple chart of what projects each staff member was involved in since most members of the staff were in the dark about what their fellow workers were doing. The Committee thought this an excellent idea.
Gabrielle Mallon said she felt "out of the loop" because she works part time and isn't in the office on Wednesdays.
Luke Smith said the Foreign Relations volumes were rated excellent and he hoped that whatever changes were made that level of excellence was maintained. He mentioned that since the declassification process was holding up the volumes it would be difficult to accelerate them unless we cut back on documentation, which no one wants to do.
Shirley Taylor said that Foreign Relations was a good product and she hoped that younger researchers would bring new viewpoints to the series.
Joyce Schimsky said that communication is a problem in the office, and that if anyone has any concerns Slany's door is always open although few go through it. The staff should approach Slany with their "grave concerns."
Geyer said that communication in the office is a big problem and when a meeting of the entire staff was convened it was merely a division chiefs meeting at which the rest of the staff sat around and watched.
Kent Sieg said that the nature of the work is solitary; that Patterson meets with the divisions from time-to-time and that at one time Archives appointed a staff member to assist with copying but that when he was asked to copy entire files that ended the assistance. Perhaps separate volumes might be published to cover covert actions.
Evan Duncan agreed that historians tended to be "solitary animals" and said that with the other projects he is responsible for--maintaining databases and answering reference inquiries he didn't have much time to focus on his Foreign Relations volume.
Nina Howland said that she hoped any change in the series would maintain its excellent reputation. She said the compiling the volumes was very labor intensive and a solitary project that she would prefer to do herself.
James McElveen had no comment.
The meeting recessed at 9:55 a.m.
- Warren F. Kimball, Chairman
- B. Vincent Davis
- Michael Hogan
- Frank H. Mackaman
- Michael R. Schaller
- Robert D. Schulzinger
- Nancy Bernkopf Tucker
- Philip Zelikow
- William Slany, Executive Secretary
Bureau of Public Affairs, Office of the Historian
- William Slany, Director
- Rita Baker
- Paul Claussen
- Evan Duncan
- Vicki Futscher
- David Geyer
- David Goldman
- David Herschler
- Nina Howland
- David Humphrey
- Ted Keefer
- Gabrielle Mallon
- James McElveen
- David Patterson
- Steven Phillips
- Joyce Schimsky
- Harriet Schwar
- Kent Sieg
- Luke Smith
- Shirley Taylor
- Gloria Walker
- Susan Weetman
Bureau of Administration
- Margaret Grafeld, A/RPS/IPS
- Morris Draper, A/RPS/IPS/CR/IR
- Steve Lauderdale, A/RPS/IPS/AAS
- Craig McKee, A/RPS/IPS/CR/IR
- Nina Noring, A/RPS/IPS/CR/IR
- Peter Sheils, A/RPS/IPS/CR
- Sophia Sluzar, A/RPS/IPS/CR/IR
- Fred Smith, A/RPS/IPS/CR/IR
National Archives and Records Administration
- Margaret Hawkins, Life Cycle Management Division
- Michael Kurtz, Assistant Archivist for Records Service
- David Langbart, Life Cycle Management Division
- Marty McGann, Textual Archives Services Division
- Don McIlwaine, Initial Processing/Declassification Division
- Marvin Russell, Initial Processing/Declassification Division
Central Intelligence Agency
- David Holmes
- Harry Cooper, Automatic Declassification Division
- Gerald Haines, Chief Historian
- Robert Leggett, Office of Information Management
- James Oliver, Chief, Historical Review Program
- Rich Warshaw, Chief, Automatic Declassification Division