Advisory Committee on Historical Diplomatic Documentation, June 6-7, 1996
Open Session, June 6
Chairman Warren Kimball called the session to order at 9:10 a.m. After welcoming the attendees, Kimball stated that the meeting was open and moved immediately to the first item of business--changes to the agenda. He said that the day's session would be a busy one with an especially busy afternoon. He asked the Committee to be ready to restart after the lunch break promptly at 1:30 p.m. since it would be difficult to finish all of the afternoon's business within the allotted time. He asked for comments, but there were none.
Kimball then asked for any corrections to the minutes of the last session. Slany said that the comments of Michael Kurtz had arrived late and currently were being added to the draft. Kimball said that the Committee would postpone discussion of the minutes until Friday and asked Slany to deliver the report of the Executive Secretary.
Report of the Executive Secretary
Personnel Changes. Slany began his report with a discussion of personnel changes in the Historical Office. David S. Patterson has been chosen to be Deputy Historian and General Editor, for which Slany said that he was very grateful since this was "a very important change." He said that at this time in the development of the Foreign Relations series it was important to have a General Editor with substantive expertise, which David Patterson was well qualified to provide.
Slany then said that David Herschler had been selected to fill Patterson's former position as Chief of the Arms Control and Economics Division, and that he would be taking up his duties "as of yesterday." He explained that the status of the other vacancies in the office was unclear and that one previously selected historian had decided, late in the selection process, not to join the Department. He explained that because the Historical Office was staffed "above the Department of State ceiling," the position would have to be posted again before it could be filled. Hopefully, a historian would be recruited at either the GS-9/11 or 12/13 level, he added. Details of the vacancy would be passed on to the Committee members as soon as they were available.
Slany explained that, because of his promotion, Herschler would be leaving the declassification unit and that the position would be filled in accordance with a general reorganization to improve efficiency and operate within the Bureau's position ceiling. Possibly, the editorial and declassification units will be combined, "solving several problems at once" and reprogramming resultant vacancies into historian positions. He explained that the current system was not efficient and that there had been a "severe drop off" in productivity. The delays are due, not so much to outside agencies which have been adhering to the 120-day deadline, but because of inefficiencies within the declassification unit. Slany said that creation of the new division also would free up some badly needed historians. These changes will likely take place this summer.
Foreign Relations Publication. Slany said that the publishing program was continuing successfully, "partially meeting the mandate of the law," but that both Kennedy and Johnson volumes still were pending.
He also said that the materials released in connection with Cuba, discussed at the last meeting, had not engendered many visits to the reading room, although a half-dozen articles had been published. Kimball asked if many hits had been recorded on these materials in the State Department Web site. Both Slany and Patterson explained that the tracking was done by another office but that they would try to find the answer. [Through the end of May, 46 hits were recorded for the press release on the Cuba documents.] Slany explained that the release of these documents had occurred under a new procedure whereby the list of cleared documents will be made available to NARA for volumes otherwise held up in the publication process. This will facilitate private research. He explained that the release had gone smoothly, and both the National Archives and the Presidential Libraries had received notification "well in advance of publication" so that everyone would have access to the declassified materials.
A discussion of the "special volumes" including the retrospective on Guatemala would be taken up in closed session on Friday. Slany said that the intelligence volume (1945-1950), which has been in the making for 10 years, would be released in July and that the Department and the Agency possibly would be holding a joint ceremony with NARA to mark the release of the documents plus many more that were not used. He added that he hoped the ceremony would be an augury of getting the Agency to release more documents.
Additional Research Access. Dr. Slany reported that agreement had been reached on access to the Nixon papers, and that an agreement with Dr. Kissinger was nearing on access to his papers at the Library of Congress. That agreement would have a much less complicated review procedure. He also reported that David Patterson, David Herschler, and David Humphrey had been granted access and would be reviewing the papers of the President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board. He noted that a discussion of access to records of the Department of Justice would follow later in the session. "We are continuing to press for access to broaden the Foreign Relations series," he said.
Committee Comments. Kimball then remarked that in light of the discussion of internal delays in the publication of the Foreign Relations series, it struck him that fixed decisions on deadlines would be as useful for the Historical Office staff to follow as for other agencies. Slany and Patterson agreed. Kimball also raised the issue of advance notification of declassification to the National Archives and to the Presidential Libraries. He felt that if this was not done, processing problems could result, but added, "this is probably not a big problem." Slany said that PA/HO would make certain that prior notification was done so that there would be "no false expectations." After additional general discussion on this topic, Nancy Smith of NARA agreed that the process had worked well for the Cuba documents release.
Kimball said that he would have some questions and comments on the Nixon Project, but would reserve them for the proper agenda item. He then turned to David Patterson for his report.
Report of the Deputy Historian/General Editor
Patterson thanked the members of the Committee for their kind words and said that he hoped there would be a "honeymoon period." On a more serious note, he said that he hoped to earn the confidence of the Committee in the face of a daunting task. Patterson explained that he would avoid great detail in his report in favor of discussing his perception of the role of General Editor and the problems he foresaw, followed by discussion.
Production of the Foreign Relations Series. The mission of the Historical Office as defined by the 1991 legislation was to publish a comprehensive documentary history of foreign affairs within a 30-year timeline. "I'm committed to this," Patterson said; "it is do-able." "If we don't achieve this goal, the responsibility will be ours and mine," he continued, asking for the Committee's support.
He explained that to an extent HO's mission of timeliness as well as completeness is incompatible. The reconciliation of these competing interests has become more difficult now as the process of compiling becomes more complicated and time-consuming. While access has broadened, there is a strict time-frame and no new additional resources. The historians were now examining multiple sources beyond the traditional ones like the Department of Defense and ACDA. Access to CIA documents, for example, had brought additional declassification problems. Patterson also said that the taped telephone communications were a gold mine but very time-consuming to research, process, and use. He added that tapes from the Johnson Library were still coming in, and would always be a burden for researchers.
Patterson suggested that if publication within 30 years is the target, there may have to be some compromises on research strategies. The result of these realities is that meeting the 30-year guideline will require strategic adjustments such as researching with greater selectivity rather than reading all files in toto, front-to-back. Completeness can not be defined as "every file and every folder." He said that the Historical Office must do the best that it can to continue to provide the most important documents in each compilation. He then said that there would be inevitable compromises to get the job done. "We can't insist on 100 percent completeness. Maybe 99 and 44/100ths," he quipped.
Patterson explained that the other part of his role would be to set realistic completion dates. He had asked the division chiefs to come up with these dates and they would be expected to adhere to them. The Nixon volumes would be a real problem, but HO's greatest asset was the experienced division chiefs and compilers, and even the newest members of the staff already had been with the Historical Office for a year. He said that the challenge for the division chiefs would be to keep a handle on everything. An Advisory Committee subcommittee (consisting of Leffler and Tucker) had been formed to work with him on meeting the 30-year deadline and would aim to produce a strategy paper, which, Patterson explained, would be very useful to him.
Declassification Issues. Another compromise must be made in the area of declassification. Greater access to other collections means more sensitivities which will cause problems in all volumes, he explained. Patterson said that he hopes to reduce process delays which were exacerbated by the 7-month vacancy in the position of General Editor. He hopes to cut current delays in the appeals process, get documents to HDR and outside agencies as quickly as possible, and hold to the 120-day declassification deadline. He also commented that he plans to launch formal appeals as soon as possible and not wait to press State, for example, while awaiting a response from the CIA. The Historical Office should be proactive. "I prefer not to delay," he said.
Series Format. Patterson said that he could, if the Committee wanted, discuss the Foreign Relations format. He believes that the prefaces are too long-winded, repeating information found elsewhere in the front matter. Kimball said that perhaps this issue should be taken up in the Leffler/Tucker subcommittee. Patterson agreed, but said that he would very much like the Committee's views on some of these things. Kimball felt that it would be best to broach these issues first in the subcommittee. Patterson said that perhaps the subcommittee could initiate a discussion and the Advisory Committee could react by autumn. Kimball agreed.
Hogan then asked if Patterson would be working with the subcommittee on the "strategies of compromise" that might be necessary in the production of the Foreign Relations series. Patterson said yes, but that he had basically outlined his thoughts and intentions in his presentation. He explained that general declassification issues appear and disappear and that it may be easier to get documents declassified for smaller countries than for larger states or NATO allies. He added that Bennett Freeman had indicated that a favorable decision may be in the offing on the Thailand documents. "This is quite different from Japan," he said.
Hogan said that he was thinking of the strategies to be implemented in the decision-making process on the selection of documents, and expressed concern that the Foreign Relations series would somehow be less comprehensive. Patterson then remarked that the series was much less complete in the past than it is today. Hogan said that he had inferred from the discussion that the volumes would be even less complete now. Patterson said that decisions probably would be made on a case-by-case basis because some documents would be "no win" and a waste of time to pursue. In some instances, it would be better to "save our energies."
Kimball said that at the time when the new Advisory Committee was founded, a lack of declassification success had developed a tendency within the Historical Office toward "pre-censorship," which he felt was "all too pervasive." Kimball expressed concern that such an attitude did not develop again. Patterson strongly disagreed and said that has never been the case in the selection of documents, but that it might have been true in the case of appeals.
Slany added that the opposite has occurred lately and that the Department leadership has weighed in on several cases. He said that if anything, everyone has the sense that the situation is not hopeless and that something can be done. Kimball rejoined that he was just offering his view of what he thought the attitudes were like 5 years ago.
Status Report on the Johnson Volumes. Patterson noted that he has spent his first few weeks as General Editor reviewing the status of the series, trying to determine where we will be in mid-1997, against reasonable targets he expects the division chiefs to meet; where we will be by 2002; and when resources will be freed-up for the Nixon series. What stands out from this review, Patterson said, is the enormous number of volumes in the pipeline.
There will be 34 volumes in the Johnson series. Four have been published, one is currently at press, and four volumes are at various stages of production. Seven volumes are almost fully declassified and in the final editing stage--they should be typeset by the end of 1996. Another four volumes are compiled and in various stages of declassification.
Fourteen Johnson series volumes remain to be compiled. Seven have been started and should be completed by August or September 1996, releasing resources to work on the Nixon series. The last seven volumes will be started by the end of 1996 and should be completed by the end of 1997. HO currently has one researcher working in the Nixon papers, and Patterson expects that one or two more should begin within the next month or so. As many as six researchers may be working in the Nixon papers by the end of the summer.
In summation, Patterson said HO was well past the half-way mark on the LBJ volumes and had received excellent cooperation from other agencies. He cited the Johnson Library in particular for its cooperation, first under the leadership of David Humphrey and now under Regina Greenwell. Patterson noted that he has never heard an unfavorable word from the historians about the Johnson Library and that he anticipated similar support from the Nixon Project. While most of the Johnson Library research has been completed, he expects a few additional trips this summer, which he will coordinate with Ms. Greenwell.
Committee Comments. Nancy Smith, NARA liaison, had nothing to add to Patterson's report. Slany said it was worth noting that HO's research had no negative impact on the work of other scholars at the Library. In fact, we may have helped the research community by identifying records on particular topics. The relationship, he commented, had been mutually satisfactory.
Kimball asked whether all Johnson volumes would be done by the beginning or end of 1997. Patterson responded that they should be completed by the end of that year. Kimball noted that the Perkins Chart did not reflect this and asked for a revised version by the next Committee meeting. He said that he receives many questions on prospective publication dates and has found inaccuracies in past charts.
Leffler, referring to Tab B, page 2, items 4-18, of the material prepared for the meeting, asked if it were accurate that these volumes will come out by the end of 1996. Patterson replied affirmatively, explaining that many are pre-LBJ materials.
Commenting on the release of the Cuba documents, Smith commended Slany and Herschler for preventing a crisis by faxing her copies of the material in a timely manner. Smith explained that NARA had been concerned that if documents were released without notification it would put the Archives in an awkward position. Kimball thought Slany had addressed the issue earlier, and Herschler responded that this was now standard procedure. Kimball expressed confidence that the notification procedure would work well in the future.
Report of the Subcommittee on the Nixon Project and Foreign Relations Research
Mike Schaller said that he and Vince Davis had toured the Nixon Project at Archives II with Nancy Smith and were briefed by the staff on Wednesday. He indicated that it had taken them some time to understand the two legal agreements governing the release of textual and recorded materials. Schaller's principal concern was the emphasis that the Archives was placing on getting the Nixon tapes processed and opened for research at the expense of access to the paper records. Noting that NARA had limited resources and the Nixon people could object to the release of any information, he felt that getting access to the paper records could take a long time, in spite of good intentions. He also expressed the hope that the positions State currently funds for the Johnson Library will be transferred to the Nixon Project at the end of this fiscal year. In closing, Schaller expressed regret that the subcommittee was not allowed to spend time reviewing any of the documents, noting that all he was able to do was run his finger along some of the tapes.
Davis indicated that he shared Schaller's frustration. While the Nixon Project staff had been accommodating, they could not show the subcommittee very much, and all they had seen were boxes on shelves in a "warehouse."
Hogan asked if NARA had a schedule for releasing the Nixon tapes. Smith responded that there were a number of agreements, but the one for the Foreign Relations series deals only with the paper records. NARA purposely focused on getting HO access to the paper records first because, based on the Nixon estate's concerns, it would have been even more time-consuming to try to get access to the tapes. The agreement on the tapes, however, is a public one and has a 5-year timeline with a target date of 2001. NARA is hopeful that the Nixon estate will begin reviewing some of the tapes sooner and posing their concerns to the review panel. If this happens, some of the tapes will be open before 2001.
Smith said that NARA's first priority is to release the Cabinet Room tapes--including National Security Council material--which should provide good material for the Foreign Relations series. Following this, NARA will have four or five chronological releases of material from 1971 forward. Most of the Nixon Project resources will be dedicated to opening these tapes because of the ongoing lawsuit, Smith explained. She said that although there will be no written transcripts, there are very detailed lists compiled over the last 20 years of litigation.
Kimball asked if the tapes will be open to the public with national security and personal material deleted. Smith explained that NARA will produce an edited copy of the original and the HO will have access to all but the personal material. However, she had not yet worked out with the Nixon estate how many different edited versions there would be. Kimball said that NARA and Patterson need to collaborate so that he can prepare realistic work schedules in HO based on the availability of material.
Hogan asked whether a private company would be allowed to transcribe the tapes and Smith replied that they could once the material is opened after the turn of the century. She added, however, that since it was a voice-activated taping system the tape quality is very poor; 100 hours of NARA staff time were needed to transcribe one hour of tape. In response to a query, Smith also noted that HO itself will be free to make transcripts of the sanitized tapes, but emphasized that NARA does not have the resources to do so.
Kimball asked again about the availability of notes describing the tapes or any other finding aids that could reduce research time. Smith said that NARA has a voluminous log that they were trying to edit into a more usable form, but she had not come to an agreement yet with the Nixon estate as to whether it will be available to HO. Kimball responded that it had been his experience that if an item is not specified in an agreement, it is often not available later and he felt that access to the logs was too important an item to miss. Smith indicated again that NARA had been putting its emphasis on getting access to the textual records because they knew the Nixon estate would be more amenable to such an agreement.
Kimball next asked what impact allocating resources to the tapes will have on processing the textual records. Smith replied that this would create a major resource problem. Because NARA has been involved in litigation over the records for 22 years and much of this litigation has focused on the "abuse-of-power" material, NARA has done nothing with the National Security Council records. They cannot even be sure who in the Nixon administration will raise objections to release of the material.
Kimball asked if NARA had requested additional resources to meet its legislative mandates. Smith replied that although NARA is currently in a strategic planning stage, it is unlikely NARA will request additional positions due to the executive order on government employment, especially since they just received some additional funding and they cannot expect much more from a tight agency budget. Davis noted that during the subcommittee's Nixon Project briefing, a staffer remarked that NARA had been unable to locate a tape specialist, despite having advertised the position. Smith responded that it is a very difficult position to fill because it requires a tremendous capacity for concentration. The tapes have long lapses between conversations and lots of background noise, and it is often not clear who is talking and what is said.
Kimball indicated that he was concerned that NARA would not have the resources to support the Foreign Relations series and asked if Smith had indicated this in writing to HO. Smith said she had just sent such a letter to HO indicating that NARA will need a Johnson Library-type subvention to enable the series to meet deadlines. After discussing the matter privately with HO Historian David Humphrey, she felt she may want to revise that letter. In response to a query, Slany indicated that the cost for this annual assistance to NARA will be about $100,000--equal to the LBJ subvention. In addition, he said that the issue would be discussed internally during the next few weeks in connection with the FY 1997 budget.
Davis noted that there were 1,500 boxes of textual material in the National Security Council files. Smith replied that that was the easiest material to process. In addition, NARA has material for Kissinger. Patterson thought that there were approximately 5,000 boxes of material dealing with foreign affairs.
In response to a query, Smith also noted that the Archives does not have the resources to open the material to outside researchers, so they will focus on working on Foreign Relations. Kimball commented that NARA should be able to get funds from Congress to meet their obligations under the executive orders. The Committee members agreed that this was an "unfunded mandate." Smith ended by noting that compared with HO's earlier relationship with NARA, HO historians will have minimal support for work on the Nixon material.
Kimball then adjourned the session for a break.
The Committee reconvened at 10:55 a.m., and Kimball raised a point of concern for the agenda: he reported that the representatives from the Department of Justice were unable to attend the meeting due to an illness in the family. Kimball suggested that the Committee adjourn to executive session once Nancy Smith had a chance to comment further on Foreign Relations research in the Nixon materials.
Smith returned to the issue of a State Department subvention to provide staff assistance for Foreign Relations research in the Nixon materials. She explained that NARA had always put more resources into supporting the series than was covered by the subvention; this was definitely the case in Austin, as well as the other Presidential Libraries. Smith said that NARA would support research at the Nixon Project without financial help, but that she must paint a realistic picture: because of ongoing litigation the Nixon materials staff had not been able to start processing its foreign policy related materials.
Kimball replied that the Committee understood her point.
Slany stated that the Department is mindful of its own obligations under the law, which had been the original reasoning behind past subventions. He said that the subvention was an issue of available resources: the Historian's Office had not been able to expand its staff by hiring new historians, but could argue for funding for contractual support for related activities, especially since this would clearly further the Foreign Relations series in accordance with the law. Slany expressed his hope that the work done on the Nixon papers under the subvention would facilitate access for other non-governmental researchers. He also stressed the need to demonstrate the necessity of the subvention to the Department's leadership. The Historian's Office will need to work with the Office of Presidential Libraries to define the tasks for which the resources will be used. More information on the NARA proposal is needed to do this.
Bruce Duncombe gave a report on his research in the Nixon materials, a report which, he admitted, was based on only 2 days experience. He explained that there were a number of finding aids. As an example, he said he had seen a list corresponding to the President's Daily Briefing material, and looked through the boxes to see what was there. He remarked that the President's Evening Reading evidently did not always include the State Department contribution. Duncombe also gave a detailed account of his research in economic records. He said that the Nixon Project staff was very helpful and that his access was excellent.
Kimball said that his primary concern was about procedure: the request for a subsidy might suggest that NARA felt entitled to such support. He questioned whether this procedure was efficient from the standpoint of overall government operations; NARA's obligations under the law might, in fact, constitute an unfunded mandate. Kimball said that Governor Carlin was trying to address the issue but that a solution would take time. He wondered whether the Committee should support the subsidy now, but at the same time advocate the principle that NARA should allocate sufficient resources to meet its obligations (i.e., processing of Nixon foreign policy materials).
Hogan said that the Committee should support the subsidy. He agreed that it would make sense for NARA to receive proper funding from Congress, but it might be more realistic for the Committee to get money from the State Department at this time.
George Chalou pointed out the unique legal status of the Nixon materials. In this case, the National Archives intervened in the personal papers of a President, and, as a result, were faced with a unique law that stipulated tight and complicated access restrictions. The situation, he explained, was not like that faced by other Presidential Libraries.
Van Camp agreed with this statement, but added that the Libraries also had to deal with their own complications. She stressed that the agencies should be clear about priorities and identify them earlier through proper planning.
Kimball asked if there were any other comments on the subject. He said that the Committee could revisit the issue tomorrow, after it had time to think about the implications.
Advisory Committee Access to the Nixon Project
Kimball turned to an issue previously raised by Vince Davis about the Advisory Committee's access to the Nixon materials, citing the third page of appendix E in the briefing package (the Memorandum of Understanding). He referred specifically to the stipulation that NARA must be notified whenever the Committee wanted to look at the records. Kimball thought that the wording amounted to prior approval.
Smith explained that this meant that NARA should receive prior notification of security clearances. She said that the agencies also had to be notified before the Committee could look at their material in the Presidential Libraries.
Kimball wondered if this would require a letter listing name, social security number, and clearance level. He said that when the Committee goes to NARA or a Presidential library, no one seems to do anything about it.
Patterson commented that something should have been done.
Smith explained that material in NARA custody is different. NARA is supposed to notify agencies about access to their originated documents. Herschler added that this was a standard procedure. Smith said that the information security officers need to exchange the relevant information.
Kimball asked about the ninth paragraph of the agreement, concerning the statement issued by President Bush at the signing of the Foreign Relations statute: "How did that get in there?" Smith replied that the State Department had inserted the language. Kimball said that the President's statement did not represent a legal obligation, and had been opposed on the floor in Congress. He stressed that the statement implied restrictions that had no legal force, and were not binding in any other way. He had not seen this language in the agreement before, and asked for a copy of President Bush's signing statement.
Smith said that her concern was to facilitate access to the Nixon materials. Slany said that the language would not be included in another agreement.
Kimball commented that the process of getting material from the Nixon Project cleared for publication was more difficult than the Committee had thought. Smith said that NARA could not control the concerns raised by the Nixon estate or Kissinger. She described the process of listing names in the Federal Register before opening material to the public.
Kimball thought that the problems raised will have an impact on the Foreign Relations series. Smith emphasized that HO must realize that declassification must move faster, so NARA has time to review the documents and publish the list of names in the Federal Register.
Patterson thought that HO may need to print State Department copies of White House documents wherever they are found, to reduce the volume of documents falling under the Federal Register requirement.
The Committee adjourned to executive session at 11:25.
Closed Session, June 6
Implementation of Executive Order 12958 on National Security Information
The Committee reconvened at 1:30 p.m. Kimball stated that there would be some rearrangement of the agenda because two members of the Moynihan Commission staff were coming later to brief the Committee. He introduced Steven Garfinkel, Director of the Information Security Oversight Office (ISOO).
Report by Steven Garfinkel, Director of ISOO. Garfinkel stated that there are days when implementation of E.O. 12958 seems to be going very well and days when everything seems to be falling apart. The executive order shook up the government and focused attention on issues of classification and declassification. Agencies have begun to get a handle on their classified material. During this interim period, there have been delays, but many positive things have been happening.
Garfinkel reviewed the history of the drafting of the executive order, noting that the key point involved the date for automatic declassification. ISOO had much experience with older classified material which showed that almost all 40-year-old records were declassified after review. At 30 years, over 90 percent were. A brief experience during the Carter administration showed that at 20 years, approximately 60 percent were declassified. The drafters' initial goal had been to make implementation as inexpensive as possible through automatic declassification. They initially provided for a drop dead date of 40 years.
After the 40-year drop dead date leaked to the press, a New York Times editorial attacked the proposed executive order, saying that it was a step backward from Nixon's 30-year line, not mentioning that Nixon's 30-year line was for systematic review and not automatic declassification. After President Clinton saw the editorial, he responded that they had to do better. He eventually made the decision for a 25-year line. Agencies then argued for exemptions, and eventually there were nine exemptions, subject to interpretation.
Garfinkel noted that the agencies had been trying to comply with the new E.O. but in a manner that ISOO had not foreseen. Many agencies have begun doing systematic review on a page-by-page basis for almost all their classified records, although this had not been ISOO's intention because of the expense.
Garfinkel noted a number of positive trends:
- The amount of material classified in government has been shrinking in recent years; documents that were routinely classified in previous years now are not. The biggest change has been within the intelligence community. Before, almost all its documents were classified, but now it is attempting to distinguish between documents requiring classification and those not requiring it. One example occurred at a recent meeting, at which the CIA representative gave a detailed unclassified biography of his past, something which would not have been possible 18 months earlier.
- He had expected that the "dinosaurs" would have to die before any radical change could take place, but has found that some surprising people are now advocates of openness. Therefore, he thinks that the process can work, even with the 25-year figure. However, it will be much more expensive than anticipated, and there is a question as to whether Congress will fund this.
- He estimated that 90 million pages were declassified in FY 1993-FY 1995. He thinks that the pace has been even faster in FY 1996.
- The interagency appeals panel (ISCAP) just held its first meeting. Frank Machak and Michael Kurtz are members, and the panel chair is Deputy Assistant Attorney General Roslyn Mazer. He noted that Machak had spoken for openness at the meeting. ISCAP is a review panel for appeals beyond the decisions of agency heads. Right now it deals only with mandatory review appeals. If it works well, this may end many FOIA appeals.
What is not working well? A couple of agencies have not gotten started. He had attended a White House meeting on this problem, which may lead to progress. Otherwise, in the year 2000 those agencies' documents will be automatically declassified and they will complain. He noted that there would probably be much complaining anyway.
Kimball asked what the drop dead date was. Garfinkel replied that it was April 17, 2000. Kimball noted that the Advisory Committee had written several letters to ISOO. In July, they had asked for the establishment of close monitoring of agency compliance with the executive order. He asked whether this had been done. He also wanted to know if there had been excessive file exemptions.
Garfinkel said that guidelines are required under the executive order; Michael Kurtz raised this with him at each interagency meeting. His concern is the resource problem. He noted that the major problem delaying declassification is sending the same document around and around and he wondered whether this could be short-circuited. He pointed out that originally with the 40-year line there had been no file exemptions. With the 25-year line, agencies had insisted that there had to be some way to distinguish between files with no classified material, those with some classified material, and records replete with classified material. Thus, file series exemptions for the third category had been allowed and agencies had been given 6 months to identify these.
ISOO had not realized, however, how little many agencies knew about their classified files. Garfinkel pointed out that the Department of State was in much better shape than most agencies. The Department of Defense had asked for a 6-month extension but had now given ISOO a list of files, some of which were good but some of which were universal. Garfinkel noted, however, that some agencies which had asked for universal file exemptions intended to do systematic review and not to evade declassification. President Clinton has to respond to these requests for file series exemptions.
Kimball said that the Advisory Committee had long been concerned with the problem of other agency equities and had urged ISOO to issue specific instructions regarding these. Were there any?
Garfinkel replied that other agency equities were hard to define and that defining them was likely to make matters worse instead of better. The critical thing was sharing information and they were a long way from this. They needed a network of people who shared information with each other. He pointed out that there was an ax, the drop-dead date, hanging over agency heads. This was much more effective than pressure from ISOO.
Kimball reiterated that the Advisory Committee had long been unhappy with the problem of other agency equities. For example, Department of State documents cannot be declassified if there is CIA equity. He noted that the executive order and the drop-dead date were vague on this and asked if CIA equities in Department of State files could be declassified on the drop dead date.
Garfinkel replied that they could be and that it was incumbent on the originating agency to notify other agencies regarding their equities. Thus, the CIA had to tell the Department of State the categories of exempted information.
Kimball asked if sources and methods was such a category. Tony Dalsimer replied that it was.
Kimball said that the Committee wanted to force the CIA to review these documents. Could this be done? Garfinkel said the approach of the year 2000 will force such a review. Kimball asked whether the CIA would say then that sources and methods were exempt. Garfinkel responded that this would be unacceptable under this executive order. They cannot just say that "sources and methods" or "foreign government information" are presumptively classified. He expects that CIA will review the documents because the executive order is a sword hanging over its head. Kimball asked if the CIA agreed with this interpretation, to which Garfinkel responded that everyone he had talked to did. Nancy Smith commented that CIA thought it had file exemptions, but that some were subject exemptions which would be unacceptable.
Van Camp asked what ISOO was doing to help agencies comply with the executive order. Garfinkel replied that everything he did related to this in some way. There were some good days and some bad days. He thought that they would never go back to an executive order without a drop-dead date. Van Camp asked him to be more specific. Garfinkel said that ISOO shows agencies not doing well how other agencies are complying. It will soon do inspections at a couple of agencies. He noted that ISOO had not done any inspections since 1993, in part because they have only nine professionals, but that with the new executive order, it was very important that they do inspections to determine whether and how agencies were implementing it. Finally, ISOO was very involved in training and education. It has a new booklet on how to mark classified information. Van Camp commented that the inspections should be useful.
Kimball asked Garfinkel about paragraph 2001.51(a) of the implementation order on automatic declassification. He quoted from the paragraph: "The Archivist will not declassify information from another agency without authorization from that agency." He asked how that related to the concept of a drop-dead date.
Garfinkel said that the executive order cannot be superseded by an implementing instruction. A drop dead date mandated by the executive order is governing. He stated that the agencies had wanted this sentence added to the implementing order in order to make clear that the agencies controlled the declassification process of records that had been accessioned by NARA. It was not intended to supersede automatic declassification, which is by the authority of the executive order, rather than through action by NARA.
Davis expressed skepticism that the automatic declassification system would function as intended.
Garfinkel stated that the present executive order differed from previous ones relating to declassification in that under this order the onus was on agencies to act to keep information classified. This is the reverse of the procedure called for under previous executive orders. He noted, however, that some records, such as CIA records and passport files are protected by statute in addition to their classification and would not be opened automatically by declassification. Records still in agency custody would not be automatically accessible, even if they were automatically declassified.
Kimball asked when the ISPAC advisory committee would be constituted.
Garfinkel admitted that the delay in constituting the committee lay in ISOO's slowness in processing information received from proposed constituent groups. Two such groups--the media group and the civil liberties group--have failed to put forward candidates. Kimball asked Garfinkel whether he thought the White House would act quickly to constitute the committee when it received the recommendations from ISOO. Garfinkel was not optimistic.
In closing, Garfinkel offered to provide the Committee with a copy of the by-laws of the appeals panel.
Report by Michael Kurtz and Ken Rossman. Kimball then called for the joint report by Assistant Archivist Michael Kurtz and Ken Rossman of the Office of Information Services. Kurtz reported on the transfer of State Department documentation to NARA and the declassification of those records. He noted that staff members of the State Department and NARA have worked out an agreement on how to accession the records being reviewed for declassification in the State Department. This agreement included an understanding of how to handle the material being withdrawn from the files for various reasons. He added that NARA is applying survey techniques to identify records that require page-by-page review. He concluded that the important procedural issues relating to these records have been addressed in the agreement.
Kimball observed that the Committee was generally pleased with the responsiveness of ISOO, NARA, and the State Department to its concerns. He cited the good work being done by declassifiers at Newington. He noted that an issue which remained to be addressed related to the necessity for withholding entire documents because of a few words.
Report by Nancy Smith. Smith reported on how NARA is dealing with the implementation of the executive order with regard to documents in the presidential Libraries. She said that NARA has managed to get the agencies involved to focus on the need to do something about their documents or equities in documents held in Presidential Libraries. She added that she hoped the file exemption categories would not have the effect of undercutting the impetus to review and declassify documentation. She noted that the review process includes material in Presidential Libraries going back to the Hoover administration. She referred to the External Referral Working Group, which is monitoring a scanning project at the Johnson Library. This project promises to facilitate the process of bringing the agencies involved to review their equities in the Presidential files. The agencies have agreed to expedite the declassification review of the scanned material. Negotiations have been undertaken with the agencies to try to ensure that the release of information will be as comprehensive as possible.
Smith conceded that the scanning system she had outlined did not constitute automatic declassification. She noted that NARA's objective is not to tell the agencies how to implement the executive order, but to try to help insure that they did so. She also recognized that the scanning project was a pilot project and pilot projects can succeed or fail. But at present, she said, the system looked promising and seemed to be the most cost efficient method being considered. She also noted that there was no possibility of simply automatically declassifying documentation in the Presidential Libraries after 30 years. In response to a question from David Humphrey, Smith said CIA seemed particularly interested in the project because the agency apparently recognized there was a good deal of CIA equity in Presidential Library files, which was going to have to be reviewed for declassification.
Kimball asked whether the Department of Energy and the Army were cooperating in the project.
Smith said that DOE was concerned about its equities in Presidential Libraries but pleaded a lack of resources to deal with the problem. She said that a disk with DOE material will be sent to DOE and the Archivist will push the agency to respond.
Kimball expressed concern about a rumor that DOE was requesting file exemptions that were very broad. Kurtz responded that this was a concern which was being addressed with support from the White House. As a result, DOE had assigned a number of reviewers to deal with the documentation being identified by NARA.
Kimball asked when the pilot project would be completed. Smith answered that the project should be completed in 6 weeks. The question at that point, she observed, would be how to build upon the pilot project if it proved to be a success. She felt that NARA would probably apply the technique to declassification backlogs at other Presidential Libraries.
Kimball pointed out that older records still classified in Presidential Libraries from Hoover forward constituted an embarrassment. He wondered what could be done to deal with the problem.
Smith noted that NARA planned to deal with the older records but added that pressure for access to the older records was virtually non-existent. The pilot project dealing with the Vietnam and Soviet Union files in the Johnson Library was currently taking precedence.
Kimball asked about procedures for the Advisory Committee to review State Department equity materials in NARA holdings in order to meet the statutory requirement to randomly sample State materials for declassification action. Smith responded that there should be no problem in arranging for such access.
Slany asked how much information concerning the pilot project was in the public domain. Smith noted that she had discussed the project at professional conferences and added that information concerning the project had been put on the Internet. She felt, however, that it was premature to give the project too much publicity.
Slany said that the historical societies were curious to know what was going on. Smith responded that she was willing to address the issue at meetings of professional societies.
Slany asked whether Smith had seen the results of redactions being made in the documentation identified in the pilot project. Smith said that the returns were still too limited to form a judgment.
Kimball reacted to a reference to the fact that some agencies were withholding entire documents whereas others are redacting information when only a portion of a document is still sensitive. Smith felt that no major problem existed in that the agencies that are withholding entire documents are releasing a very high percentage of the documents they are reviewing. She said NARA does not want to tell the agencies how to deal with declassification.
Kimball asked that the Committee be furnished with information relating to this concern as it derived from the results of the project.
Dalsimer observed that there were high release and low release agencies. The State Department was a high release agency. The CIA, he noted, was a low release agency and would withhold a high percentage of documents if not for a redaction process.
The Committee took a break at 3:30 p.m.
Preserving the Electronic Records of the Department of State
When the Committee reconvened at 3:45, Kimball introduced Ken Rossman of the Office of Information Services (OIS). Rossman began his presentation on State Department electronic records with a slide presentation. The Electronic Central Foreign Policy File System began in 1973 and is still evolving. Its current title is OASYS (Official Archival System), and it includes all telegraphic traffic since 1973 that was copied to Washington, as well as selected correspondence. The Automatic Telegram System (ATS) supplements office records and post files. Office records are being electronically imaged and will be indexed, which will eventually replace existing microfilms. All text will then be on-line.
On May 6, OIS stopped indexing cable traffic by hand. As of May 13, 21 million documents are on-line. OASYS will provide permanent on-line access for a 23-year period, will simplify declassification, and make possible replication of existing data and software-independent tasking. The InfoChron system will allow any bureau, office, or post to ask for cable traffic for a given period and receive it on a CD. Collection would be possible for a small post within 2 hours. Information would be searchable by word.
Rossman said that OASYS's goal was to collect 24 million documents, which left 3 million "errors." Some months had not been picked up from the tape, and this was in progress. The system collected about 1 million documents per year, but about 40 percent were "administrative trivia" that would not be worth preserving. He had raised the matter with the National Archives, but there was general agreement that wholesale deletion would be politically impossible. OIS was trying to work out schedules for review and disposal of future electronic records.
Kimball asked whether the TAGS system remained in use (it would). Rossman said that Econ, Mil, Pol, Soc, Sci, and Tech would be preserved. Much Admin, Business, Consular, and Operations materials could be disposed of at 2, 3, or 6-year intervals. He said that 24 million documents equaled 4 days of E-mail, the Department reportedly generates 250,000 E-mail messages per day, and that FOIA requests now ask for E-mail. Rossman then asked for questions.
Herschler asked whether OASYS covered everything. Rossman replied that it covered all telegrams since 1973 and an index of the Written Correspondence System. They hoped to convert the text from microfilm later. Although more documents were being scanned, post files had not yet been screened. The system would be hardware/software irrelevant and could eventually be available on the Internet.
Kimball then asked Michael Kurtz of NARA to report. Kurtz said that an internal working group was devising an access system for OASYS. The State Department project was a wedge into wider issues, since other agencies use other systems. He demonstrated the basic principles with a sample telegram from the Embassy in Brussels. Retrieval would be possible by context elements, OASYS fields, structure elements, or text. The integrity and authenticity of the documents could be guaranteed. Devising a government-wide system would be expensive as NARA accessioned hybrid systems. Working with written documents would be more difficult than with cable traffic, given such features as letterheads and marginalia. Remote access would make State Department records more accessible than ever.
Kimball asked whether State's records constituted a pilot program. Kurtz said that it was the first major bloc. Rossman said that he wasn't sure whether State was on the cutting edge, but it was exciting to have a historian request something and receive it, and all the reftels, on a CD from the same database. Since a CD could hold up to 50,000 documents, the system would be in place in time for use in Foreign Relations research. Kimball asked whether State would train researchers. Rossman said that the larger system was for internal use. There were plans for limited access, especially given the classified materials. The system should be easy to learn.
Kimball asked about transfer of records to NARA. Kurtz said that a lot needed to be done. Rossman said that declassification procedures needed to be devised.
Van Camp said that OIS had produced a model to be proud of, after which Kimball asked how the Advisory Committee could help the process. Kurtz said that other users might want to be involved at the prototype stage.
Activities of the Commission on Protecting and Reducing Government Secrecy (Moynihan Commission)
Kimball then introduced Eric Biel and Sheryl Walter of the Commission on Protecting and Reducing Government Secrecy. Biel summarized the work of the Moynihan Commission thus far. Three roundtable meetings had been held in Dallas, Gaithersburg, Maryland, and at the National Archives, with the last meeting taking place on May 16. AHA and OAH had sent a joint letter to Senator Moynihan on February 16 about their concerns. Moynihan had read extensively about postwar and early Cold War espionage cases that had formed the basis of the present system of classification and declassification, as well as personnel security. Biel estimated that the Commission would be meeting in July to review preliminary staff recommendations. There was much interest in a partnership between government and academia, with State and the Advisory Committee as a model. The final report would not be ready until February. Walter said that the Foreign Relations program was a model for other agencies. The intelligence community's declassification program was still in the planning stage.
Kimball observed that the intelligence community was considering a new category of controlled material: SBU, "Sensitive but Unclassified." He asked whether the Commission had considered this new problem. Biel said half the staff of the Commission had been detailed from other executive agencies: three from State, and one each from CIA, NSA, and DIA. The Commission's intent was not to increase the scope of control. It had surveyed 45 to 50 agencies asking how they protected "sensitive" documents. There was no agency-wide consensus about methods. No conclusion had been reached about a potential SBU classification. Kimball said that more needed to be found out about this new category. Control needed a means of decontrol. There was agreement on the need for further investigation.
Kimball agreed about State having set a good example for other agencies. Skepticism was not too strong a word to describe the Advisory Committee's views about its counterparts. The CIA never acknowledged the report of its Advisory Committee, while DOD had rejected suggestions out of hand. He also said that the executive order should be put into law if it was to work.
Van Camp said that declassification by subject or by event, as the CIA had done, was un-archival. She hoped that the Commission would avoid that approach. Walter agreed that concentrating on one area was a good excuse to avoid releasing others. Kimball noted that the CIA documents on the Kennedy assassination had cost a dollar a page to release.
Kimball said that the Advisory Committee could provide historical perspective. It took time for outsiders to develop working relations with insiders. Both had to commit to a system to make it work. Legislation requiring advisory committees might be a start. Biel said that much discussion was expected among the Commissioners in July about whether the legislative approach would be best. Senator Moynihan had not been impressed by earlier turf battles between congressional committees. In reply to a question from Van Camp, Walter said that nothing would be published prior to the final report. Biel said that a Web page might have been helpful.
Biel said that the Commission probably would hold its final meetings in July. Some members might not be available during or after the elections. Moynihan might write a book about government secrecy. No meetings were likely before the elections, and the draft report would not be ready for the Commissioners to review until later September or early October. Kimball said that the Advisory Committee expected to adopt a resolution the next day about "targeted information."
Davis asked whether model legislation would be included in the report. Biel was not sure. An executive order would be easier to change than a law, although it would be easier to modify an executive order if the President were re-elected. By late summer or early fall, the Commission hoped to develop information concerning a revitalized executive order. Input from the Advisory Committee would be welcome.
Kimball said that he would find out where State stood. He said that he was impressed with Morton Halperin's comments at the May 16 roundtable on declassification and about where legislation would be helpful, although he had not written them down.
The meeting adjourned at 5:20.
Closed Session, June 7
Inclusion and Declassification of Intelligence Documents for Foreign Relations Volumes
Kimball opened the meeting at 9:10 a.m. by introducing David Patterson to speak on the issue of inclusion and declassification of intelligence documents.
Patterson began his presentation by noting he would add a third aspect to the issue by talking about access to intelligence materials. He informed the Committee that HO is in the process of acquiring access to the papers in the President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board's files through 1977. He said that three HO historians--himself, David Humphrey, and David Herschler--will have access to these files and are currently undergoing briefings to prepare for review of the materials.
Patterson acknowledged, as mentioned at yesterday's session, that HO has access to more intelligence materials, such as at INR. He stated that INR has topical and geographic files, which contain good information. The HO historians have found good documents in INR, and he illustrated that point by referring to information found in the course of his own work on the role of CIA support of organizations and foundations operating in support of U.S. foreign policy objectives.
HO historians also have expanded access to CIA materials, but Patterson expressed concern about CIA access. He stated that HO historians are not sure what they are looking for at CIA, and based on what they are told by CIA history staff members they may think that CIA has no relevant documentation on a particular topic. He emphasized that the CIA history staff is not to be considered as research assistants to HO historians but rather are there to provide guidance. HO historians should try to be as specific as possible when making requests to CIA and persevere.
Patterson then addressed the issue of potential self-censorship by HO historians, which had been raised at a previous session. The real question is how long are we willing to fight for the inclusion of denied documents. He stated that he had not witnessed self-censorship in the compiling stage of a volume, noting that manuscripts always included a large amount of intelligence information. He added that a volume may contain intelligence documentation that has no obvious bearing on foreign policy, that in effect leads to a dead end, but in his opinion that type of information might be considered for inclusion because it may have been given high-level consideration. Patterson illustrated that point with an example from his own work concerning a proposed policy of no first use of chemical weapons. He noted that the proposal went through several draft statements, which were reviewed at high levels by people like Rusk and McNamara, but it was eventually sabotaged by people in the administration. Despite that outcome, the issue was significant because it received serious consideration from administration principals. He went on to say that in some instances resolution of an issue is not clear, for definitive documents may not be found. Nevertheless, the issue should be pursued.
Patterson then turned to the declassification issue. He began his remarks by reminding the Committee of guidelines for use of documents on covert actions and intelligence for Foreign Relations presented by David Humphrey at a recent meeting. Patterson expressed his support for those guidelines and suggested that all compilers be given a copy of them. He noted that Humphrey had prepared a one-page statement summarizing the guidelines that could be given to the Committee members for their use when reviewing volumes. (Copies of the statement were given to Committee members.)
Patterson then turned to the main question of how declassification problems, whether in the Department of State or with other agencies, should best be handled. He raised the question of at what stage the Advisory Committee should get involved in the declassification process--at the beginning when problems arise, during the course of an informal or formal appeal, or at the very end. He also suggested that the Committee could look at the documents in question to determine if their inclusion or exclusion affects the integrity of the volume as a whole.
Kimball responded by stating that the legislation clearly gives the Committee specific power and responsibilities with regard to the matter, but the thrust of that authority is negotiation of disputes. In his personal view, the Committee would always act in accordance with the law, but, he added, the Committee existed to help and can get involved in declassification matters at any stage. He concluded that the Committee was here to help; HO should just ask.
Hogan commented that HO should alert the Committee when problems arise. The members should be kept informed so they could suggest ways to handle specific problems.
Kimball noted that the Committee had intervened early, well before the statutory time frame, in the Dimona case. That case created a useful exchange and, perhaps, provided a precedent for future cases.
Patterson explained that HO anticipates some declassification problems arising soon and asked whether he should raise specific issues now so the Committee could consider them. Patterson assured the Committee that the Office wanted the members' help with declassification matters and their judgment on specific or groups of documents as they related to the basic issue of integrity of the volumes. In response to an inquiry, he asked whether the Committee wanted him to mention the anticipated problem areas or provide the members with a list of specific volumes. He suggested that he might recap the kinds of issues arising from the Johnson volumes and noted that problematic areas include INR documents containing summaries of CIA activities as well as summaries of covert actions. In Africa there was a policy decision taken by the Johnson administration to de-emphasize covert operations. As Patterson pointed out, the information in those documents was more general than specific, although the collections contain specific documents as well; but the CIA (and HDR also in some cases) denied the release of these documents.
Kimball asked whether any of these incidents fell under the 11 covert actions acknowledged by the DCI. Herschler replied that some cases related to the same countries but to a different time frame. In that case, the DCI treats it differently and would deny the document.
Hogan asked whether HO anticipates wholesale declassification problems and if the summary documents are useful. Patterson replied that many volumes, such as the Southeast Asia volume on Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, and the Philippines, have a strong covert operations component.
Kimball asked for clarification of the declassification problems: namely, are they merely being anticipated or is it already known that problems exist. Patterson replied that both situations now exist. HO has now or will have in the next 3-4 months several problem volumes. He pointed to currently known declassification issues regarding the Japan volume and potential problems with the Pueblo crisis as examples. With regard to the latter, documentation on the Pueblo crisis could reveal how intelligence was collected, which could be a serious issue, and could contain NSA documents that may create declassification problems.
Kimball stated that the Committee should not be involved in potential problems. He also noted that the NSA is now taking a different approach to declassifying documents, so everyone would have to wait and see how they deal with Pueblo documents.
Patterson added that Bennett Freeman expected a favorable decision on the Thai documents now under formal appeal with Under Secretary Moose.
Kimball asked whether any of the documents had been rejected by the CIA, to which Herschler answered that four documents had been rejected. Ted Keefer pointed out that only two documents had been rejected, and noted that this was a case in which CIA's decision was in some respects better than that of the State Department.
Slany added that the complaint is that HO has not been diligent enough in pressing for a final decision to be made. One of the reasons for the delay was that HO lacked a general editor for 7 months, and, since his appointment, that Patterson has had to divide his time between two positions. Donilon set up an appeal procedure, but until we can prove that the system will not work, there is nothing that can be done. He also added that there is no way to know if a majority of documents will be denied, particularly now that HO has more intelligence documents that ever before. There is a real danger that if the problems persist and increase, HO will not publish a complete volume again in the near future.
Kimball referred to Slany's comments at the previous day's session regarding reorganization and suggested that internal deadlines could be worked into the reorganization efforts. They are useful to HO's approach to other agencies and could be effective internally as well.
Patterson stated that he saw declassification issues and related matters as a central part of his job as general editor. He also pointed out that Herschler will now be wearing two hats until his replacement is found. When a new head of the declassification section is in place, HO will have to focus on the appeals and move on them as fast as possible.
Kimball suggested that the Committee would not do anything for the time being, to which Slany responded that the Committee has done quite a lot already and now we would have to see how our own leadership responds. The urgency of the situation is fully recognized. Kimball suggested that, given what Bennett Freeman said the other day, HO should get some test cases in the works to see how the process works.
Publication of Foreign Relations, 1945-1950, Emergence of the Intelligence Establishment
Kimball moved on to the next agenda item by introducing Kay Oliver, who along with Slany and Patterson would address the topic of a retrospective volume on intelligence and foreign policy. Oliver and Slany would also comment on the publication of Foreign Relations, 1945-1950, Emergence of the Intelligence Establishment.
Oliver reported that a commemoration of this joint CIA-HO project as well as the upcoming 50th anniversary of the National Security Act that created the CIA was planned for July 24 at the National Archives. Oliver admitted the heavy public relations dimension of the event, but noted there would also be a panel discussion on the volume and on what the documents added to knowledge. At the same time, CIA is attempting to declassify additional documents used by HO in researching the volume at that time. Oliver was also hopeful that a declassified history of the CIA, written by a CIA history staff member a few years ago, will also be made available.
Slany added that the volume is an unusual one. He explained that about 10 years ago an earlier Advisory Committee had recommended retrospective volumes, and this volume is the result of that suggestion. Slany added that the volume is not only a history of the CIA, but also tells the story of how the Department of State abdicated its role in the area of intelligence. The volume has nothing to do with operations, but it looks at intelligence, managerial, and administrative decisions made during the period. It could be the initial volume of a series of retrospective volumes.
On July 24 Tom Thorne, former Deputy Director of INR, and others who compiled the volume will be among the speakers. Mel Leffler will comment on the substance of the volume; Slany will explain how the volume fits into the Foreign Relations series; and Tom Donilon as well as other senior State Department officials will probably attend. Slany noted that he would like to think that this volume represents the first step in a series of cooperative efforts between CIA and HO.
Patterson asked who the CIA speakers will be.
Oliver replied that the tentative list includes Nora Slatkin, Brian Latell, Ken McDonald, Mary McAuliffe, who actually worked with HO on the volume, and probably Tom Troy. She also noted that the Deputy Archivist, Lew Bellardo, will be encouraged to speak briefly. With regard to attendees, Oliver noted that the room was large enough, holding 75 or so people, to invite a reasonable selection from both offices, the Advisory Committees, as well as some academics, and some archives personnel.
Kimball, Slany, and Rita Baker arranged for page proofs to be sent to interested Committee members prior to the July 24 commemoration.
Other Retrospective Volumes on Intelligence and Foreign Policy
Kimball then shifted the focus of the meeting to the more general issue of retrospective volumes on intelligence and foreign policy.
Slany recounted that at the last Advisory Committee meeting, the Committee asked Slany to develop a plan to produce retrospective Foreign Relations volumes. He said that he was concerned about the delay in producing a Guatemala compilation. Essentially it was a resource problem and a solution was not near at hand. He said a preliminary selection of 150 documents from a collection of 5,000 has been chosen by two senior Foreign Service officers but this selection would not be enough to be published as a separate volume nor did the documents have annotation. He said they would have to be part of a retrospective volume, which would include the record of covert actions in Iran and Indonesia, and such a volume would not be ready until 1998 at the earliest. He suggested that the Advisory Committee consider a preliminary release of these 150 documents as a preview of the volume. He said that the 1954 Guatemala coup continues to receive much public interest and attention and there is a growing expectation that the long-withheld documentation on the subject will be released soon. A release along the lines of the release of the declassified record for 1961-1963, vol. X, on the Bay of Pigs and Mongoose volume would be another step in meeting the law. The documents are 42 years old and their release would also be in keeping with the intent of the new executive order.
Kimball thought a preliminary release of a selection of documents would be a good way of winding up this issue. He said that this is necessary because Guatemala continues to garner a lot of public attention. Oliver asked for clarification on what was meant by a "partial release" of these documents.
Kimball emphasized that the Advisory Committee's patience is at an end waiting for this supplementary volume to be published. He said the Committee has waited 4.5 years for the volume and wants to avoid any further delay. For the Committee members, this is a political problem because they are continually asked when the documents that caused the Committee's creation--Iran and Guatemala--be released. This is why pre-release of a selection of the documents is a good idea given the lack of personnel resources. An early release of a partial compilation does not preclude publication. The Committee has not forgotten about documents that should be added to the Iran and Indonesia volumes.
Oliver said that the CIA has undergone its own review of documents on Guatemala. The CIA, she said, has agreed on general guidelines for the declassification of such documents and that she was hopeful something would be forthcoming by August 30. She added that the CIA is not legally bound to declassify these 150 documents since the method of their release is different from that which is normally followed when a Foreign Relations volume is published. However, she said, the CIA may declassify these documents on a voluntary basis.
Davis asked if there are two separate reviews going on and how many of the 150 selected documents are of CIA origin.
Slany answered "yes" to the first part of the question, and answered that about "149" documents are from the CIA in response to the second question.
Oliver said that the CIA's objective in doing its own systematic review of Guatemala documentation is to pass to NARA a large body of documentation, which will likely include a lot of the 150 documents chosen by the senior Foreign Service officers.
Hogan asked if the Department of State and the CIA could find out now which of the 150 documents are included in the CIA's own review of their documents. Oliver said two separate reviews would probably not be necessary.
Kimball told Oliver that Slany could have the 150 documents on her desk by next Thursday.
Oliver said that the CIA could not legitimately be expected to undertake a declassification review of the Guatemala documents submitted by HO unless they were intended for inclusion in a specific Foreign Relations volume. Kimball said that the documents will be put into the retrospective volume. Because the full compilation cannot be prepared now, this is a release that will meet the spirit of the 30-year line.
Oliver said that she agreed, but her opinion does not necessarily represent an official CIA response.
Kimball said that he thought that it would be great for the CIA to release more documents through its own review, beyond the review for a Foreign Relations volume.
Oliver said that she would be happy to receive the 150 documents for review, but they must be intended for a volume.
Slany said that the Foreign Relations volume on American Republics released in 1988 contained a compilation on Guatemala but lacked important documentation. This partial release will fill that gap.
Kimball asked the Committee members whether they thought this partial release is a good idea. Hogan said "yes, absolutely." Kimball looked around the room and saw that all five Committee members agreed that it is a good idea.
Nancy Smith asked if these 150 documents came from either the Eisenhower or the Truman Libraries.
Slany said that most of them came from CIA files, a few from Department of State files. He added that eight of the documents had not been declassified in 1986 or 1988 and some of these were from Presidential Libraries.
Oliver then reported on documentation on Iran. She said copies of some documentation once missing have been found at the Department of State. These documents, she said, represent only about 3 percent of the records. She told the Committee that some CIA records on Iran during this period were destroyed.
Kimball said that the paucity of records is unbelievable. Hogan asked if there was a record of what was destroyed. Oliver said the record of what was destroyed was itself destroyed.
Kimball asked if there is internal CIA evidence that other documentation existed beyond that which had been located by the CIA historian researching CIA activities in Iran. Oliver answered, "No."
Kimball asked Oliver to give an update on Iran at the next Advisory Committee meeting and asked Slany to ask the British Historical Office about their Iran records. He also forewarned Kay that the Advisory Committee has asked HO to write a report on systematic review process at Newington by August 1 to suggest ways which the CIA could declassify documents with CIA equity in them. He explained that these documents usually contain very minor CIA equity--usually an acronym. The Advisory Committee would like the CIA to excise or redact these documents at Newington so that full (redacted) copies can be sent to NARA instead of the current practice where these documents are denied and then sent to NARA with a withdrawn tab. Many documents of value are being denied because of an acronym. The issue was as old as the Advisory Committee.
Oliver said she would talk to Ed Cohen and Slany about this. Slany can explain to Cohen what Kimball and the Committee are saying.
When the Committee reconvened after a break, Kimball stated that the following items would be discussed: corrections to the minutes of the March 1996 meeting, the status of research at the Johnson Library, and the status of the bulk declassification issue.
Status of Bulk Declassification of State Department Records
Regarding bulk declassification, Kimball noted that Frank Machak had promised a response and asked Dalsimer where things stood. Dalsimer replied that Machak had not said anything to him and that he would discuss the matter further with Kimball after the session. Kimball told Dalsimer that the Committee expected an answer on this issue and that Dalsimer should tell Machak that the Committee was unable to get anything on record.
Corrections to and Approval of the March 1996 Minutes
Concerning the March minutes, Dalsimer noted there were several errors that required correction and that he had previously provided a memorandum to Kimball and Slany outlining his concerns. Dalsimer went over his proposed changes, which were accepted by the Committee and duly recorded. The March minutes were then approved by the Committee as revised. A copy will be sent to each Committee member.
Status of Research at the Johnson Library
David Humphrey then reported on research at the Johnson Library. He noted that of the approximately 8,000 recordings of LBJ telephone conversations, HO had received tape recordings of more than 1,000, and he anticipated that HO would receive a total of about 1,400 recordings. In addition, HO had received transcripts for several dozen other LBJ phone conversations. Compilers had already decided to print, extract, or quote in some significant way about 160 conversations, and he anticipated that the total would reach about 250. In addition, many other conversations had been briefly noted in annotation.
Humphrey estimated that the telephone conversations would be included in 22 of the 34 Foreign Relations volumes for the Johnson years. He noted that by the time HO gained access to the conversations, some volumes, like those on NATO, Vietnam 1965, and Laos, were so well along that it was decided not to incur the substantial delay that would have been required to incorporate the tapes. HO expected to receive all the tapes of conversations it had requested from the Library by the end of June, except those covering the period from mid-February 1968 to the end of 1968. The 1968 conversations dealt largely with Vietnam and would be provided by the Library during 1997 and 1998 in time for use in the Vietnam volumes for 1968. As to the question of the Library's public release of the tapes, Humphrey stated that the issue had not been resolved yet and that he couldn't comment other than to say that the Library was working toward public release and working chronologically
Regarding HO's overall relationship with the Library, Humphrey repeated Patterson's earlier comments about how successful it had been, emphasizing the crucial role played in that success by State's funding of two positions. It was anticipated that the two positions would not be funded at the Library beyond the end of this fiscal year, but, he stated, the issue of funding staff at Presidential libraries to deal with Foreign Relationss research needs would be a continuing one. By working in significant numbers over a sustained period in classified files encumbered with special problems, HO compilers placed a burden on libraries that fell outside their normal operating procedures. The question was not whether the libraries needed additional staff but who was going to fund it. Since HO was a regular NARA client (with only the scene changing), a good case could be made that NARA should fund it. But there were some advantages to State funding. State Department-funded personnel could be assigned exclusively to Foreign Relationss-related work, while NARA-funded personnel were often sidetracked by other duties. State funding provided a way to get special work done of particular interest to HO, and State's willingness to back its research demands with additional staffing gave a psychological boost to regular staff and encouraged responsiveness.
Hogan commented that Humphrey's point on funding was well taken, since whoever controls funding can exercise direction. A brief discussion of the transcripts of LBJ's conversations and of the 1968 conversations ensued in response to questions from Hogan and Davis. Nancy Smith commented that Humphrey had summed up the status of Johnson Library research very nicely. Kimball then suggested that it would be appropriate to send a letter of appreciation to Harry Middleton and asked Humphrey to let him know when the time was right.
At this point, the Committee went into executive session.
- Warren F. Kimball, Chairman
- B. Vincent Davis
- Michael J. Hogan
- Melvyn P. Leffler
- Michael R. Schaller
- 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
- Karen Gatz
- David Geyer
- Deb Godfrey
- David Goldman
- David Herschler
- Susan Holly
- Nina Howland
- David Humphrey
- Donna Hung
- Edward Keefer
- Dan Lawler
- Gabrielle Mallon
- Thomas B. Martin
- David Patterson
- Harriet Schwar
- Kent Sieg
- Luke Smith
- Jeffrey Soukup
- Shirley Taylor
- Gloria Walker
- Carolyn Yee
Bureau of Administration
- Kenneth Rossman, Director, Office of Information Services
- Tony Dalsimer, Director, FPC/HDR
- David Mabon, FPC/HDR
Central Intelligence Agency
- Kay Oliver, Chief, History Staff
National Archives and Records Administration
- Michael Kurtz, Assistant Archivist, Office of the National Archives
- George Chalou, Archivist
- David Langbart, Archivist, Records Appraisal and Disposition Division
- Marvin Russell, Archivist
- Nancy K. Smith, Archivist, Office of Presidential Libraries
Information Security Oversight Office
- Steven Garfinkel, Director
Commission on Protecting and Reducing Government Secrecy
- Eric Biel
- Sheryl Walter