Advisory Committee on Historical Diplomatic Documentation June 18-19, 2001
- Robert Schulzinger, Chairman
- Meena Bose [Ad Hoc Consultant]
- Elizabeth Cobbs Hoffman
- Michael Hogan
- W. Roger Louis
- Frank H. Mackaman
- Brenda G. Plummer
- Anne Van Camp [Ex Officio]
- Marc Susser, Executive Secretary
Office of the Historian
- Marc Susser, Historian
- Nina Howland
- Rita Baker
- Ted Keefer
- Myra Burton
- Dan Lawler
- Paul Claussen
- Erin Mahan
- Matthew Conaty
- David Patterson
- Evan Duncan
- Douglas Selvage
- Vicki Futscher
- Kent Sieg
- David Geyer
- Luke Smith
- David Goldman
- Laurie Van Hook
- David Herschler
- Gloria Walker
- Joe Hilts
- Susan Weetman
- Susan Holly
Bureau of Administration
- Brian Dowling, A/RPS/IPS
- Celeste Houser-Jackson, A/RPS/IPS
- David Mabon, A/RPS/IPS
- Keidth White, A/RPS/IPS
National Archives and Records Administration
- Margaret Hawkins, Life Cycle Management Division
- David Langbart, Life Cycle Management Division
- Don McIlwain, Initial Processing and Declassification Division
- Michael Miller, Director, Modern Records Programs
- Jeanne Schauble, Director, Initial Processing/Declassification Division
- Nancy Smith, Office of Presidential Libraries
Central Intelligence Agency
- Jolene Lowrie, Office of the General Counsel
- Patricia P, Office of Information Management
- Michael Warner, Deputy Chief, History Staff
National Security Agency
- David Hatch, NSA Historian
- Michael Ketchum, Deputy Director of Declassification
- Bruce Craig, National Coordinating Committee for the Promotion of History
OPEN SESSION, June 18
Approval of the Record of the February 2001 Meeting and Other Business
Chairman Robert Schulzinger called the meeting to order at 1:30 p.m. and introduced new member Brenda Gayle Plummer of the University of Wisconsin at Madison. The minutes of the previous meeting were approved, and the Historian's Office (HO) was praised for having prepared them so quickly. He then turned to Historian and Executive Secretary Marc Susser to make his report
Susser reported on the activities of the office:
- He introduced the three newest members of the HO staff, plus one intern. Three more new employees were expected in September, but more personnel were still needed if the series were to achieve the 30-year line required by law. A historian slated for the joint CIA-State position was in the clearance process.
- The manuscripts of the "prototype" Framework and Cold War Foreign Relations volumes for the Nixon administration have been completed and turned in to begin the declassification review process. A new production schedule had been established for the Nixon-Ford volumes within the next 5-6 years, with milestone completion dates.
- HO was still trying to get a better technical format for the Nixon tapes at NARA; it was agreed that more than one pair of ears was needed to interpret each tape.
- There had been no significant problems with access or turnaround time for the Kissinger Papers. David Patterson had discussed with Peter Rodman the issue of excessive material withheld from transcripts of telephone conversations, and was successful in having 50 percent of the transcripts restored.
- Susser and David Herschler planned to visit the Ford Library next week to explore facilities for research. Two teams of 3 historians each would go to Ann Arbor later this year to copy materials of general interest. The publication schedule for the Ford volumes would be subject to review, depending on the progress of the Nixon volumes.
- A digital format seemed to be the best alternative for e-publications in order to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act and to keep costs within reason. The estimated cost of a digital e-pub, using a State Department contractor, was probably $12-15,000 per volume. A chapter in the Global Issues volume was serving as the prototype.
- The Committee had reviewed several Access Guides that morning; these were expected to help future researchers as well as users of the volumes.
- Three Foreign Relations volumes had been published so far this year, and four more are scheduled for release: 1964-1968, vol. XVI, Cyprus; Greece; Turkey (August); 1961-1963, vol. XXV, General; United Nations (September); 1964-1968, vol. XXVI, Indonesia; Malaysia-Singapore; Philippines (September); and 1972-1976, vol. III, Foreign Economic Policy; International Monetary Reform, 1969-1972 (September).
- HO was still seeking access to the records of the President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board (PFIAB).
- Declassification was still a hurdle, and a position in the Declassification Coordination staff was being posted.
- HO was exploring with an electronic publisher ways to package Foreign Relations volumes in e-books for classroom use as a means of broadening the series' audience.
- The Interagency Working Group on Nazi and Japanese War Crimes (IWG) was nearing the end of its work on German records and was proceeding with Japanese records.
- The international conference of editors of diplomatic document projects was a success.
- HO was exploring joint projects with local groups and universities, including conferences and reports.
- The Clinton History will go on-line on the Department's web site in late June, about 6 months after the change in administration.
- If HO were to meet the 30-year schedule, more staff would be necessary.
Susser was considering the desirability and feasibility of adding a second senior management/deputy position for such an augmented staff. One deputy would continue to be the Editor of the Foreign Relations series; the other would oversee general office management and policy-related research.
When the floor was then opened to questions, Frank Mackaman asked about the Museum. Susser replied that the museum was currently "treading water." The top positions in the Public Affairs Bureau had yet to be filled, and it was clear that a fund-raiser, as well as staff, were needed. The Museum offered great possibilities for public outreach and educational programs.
Elizabeth Cobbs Hoffman asked why some Foreign Relations volumes on the production chart had been held up for, in some cases, 2-5 years. David Herschler explained that four volumes had been before the High-Level Panel for up to 2? years. Schulzinger pointed out that the Foreign Relations Status Report had been expanded since the last meeting to provide more information. All agreed that HO needed to remind delinquent agencies when they fell behind in declassification, and such letters might need higher-level signatures.
Anne Van Camp asked about access to PFIAB records. Susser replied that a letter was being drafted setting out the Department's view that PFIAB records were federal records and that Department of State historians should have access to them under the Foreign Relations statute.
Schulzinger asked how the prototype Access Guides (20-30 typescript pages) would be made public, and was told that they would be on the web. There were no plans to publish them, but options were open. Michael Hogan asked about repackaging Foreign Relations volumes, and if there were a possibility that the Historian's Office might get some revenue from it. Susser replied that HO would likely get no revenue from publishing materials already in the public domain. Mackaman suggested that the National Archives Trust Fund might be a precedent for deriving revenue from this initiative, and Hogan also suggested setting up a trust fund for raising revenues. Schulzinger agreed that a case could be made that selecting and compiling documents for Foreign Relations increased their value. Susser said that he would check with the Department's lawyers.
Schulzinger then called on Mackaman for the report of the Electronic Records Subcommittee.
Report of the Electronic Records Subcommittee
Mackaman reported that the subcommittee had met with representatives of the Department's Office of IRM Programs and Services (A/RPS/IPS) and the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) to discuss the transfer of the Department's electronic records to the Archives. The subcommittee was disappointed that IPS and NARA had not yet finalized a pilot project to transfer 10,000 cables in electronic format, but was pleased to learn that IPS had identified the records to be transferred and the format it will use. The only thing left to do before the transfer could take place was for Diplomatic Security (DS) to conduct a final security "cleansing" of the files. At this point, Keidth White of IPS interjected that he had spoken with DS and the "cleansing" would be done soon. Mackaman responded that this was good news and concluded that a letter to the Secretary or Under Secretary complaining of inaction on this issue would not be necessary at this time, but should be done if no transfer had taken place within 30 days.
Mackaman noted that the subcommittee was disappointed that there was as yet no plan to transfer all the records but understood that the April 2000 target date had been extended to April 2003, after the Department sought and received approval from the Information Security Oversight Office, in accordance with E.O. 13142, for an extension in order to complete the declassification review of State Department records, specifically those in electronic and micrographic form. The disappointment, therefore, was offset by the news that the April 2003 transfer will include more records than had been scheduled for April 2000. The subcommittee was also pleased to learn that IPS and NARA will meet to discuss the State Department's general records management practices. Finally, the subcommittee asked that IPS and NARA provide it with a transfer plan with specific milestones before the October 2001 Committee meeting. Michael Miller of NARA added that NARA will need researchers to evaluate the records transferred in the pilot project and asked Committee members to provide names of possible candidates.
There was some discussion of the possible use of tags on new electronic records to identify non-historical and therefore non-permanent records; Mackaman commented that this was an important issue which should be addressed by the full Committee. Schulzinger also noted that he had attended a session at the OAH meeting on the problems involved in preserving data from older software. Mackaman said that NARA and IPS had coordinated their efforts on this problem, and Miller pointed out that the State Department's records were being transferred to NARA in ASCII, so there should be no problem with software changes.
Impact of the Kyl and Lott Amendments
Schulzinger introduced Michael Miller to discuss the impact of the Kyl and Lott Amendments on the opening of records at NARA.
Miller noted that the Kyl Amendment authorized Department of Energy (DOE) reviewers to review classified material and the Lott Amendment extended that review to already opened files. DOE begins by surveying collections at the series level. If some Restricted Data (RD) or Formerly Restricted Data (FRD) material is found, the reviewers go through that particular series page-by-page. At present, the reviewers are going through open material and material of "high-interest." Following that review, they will move on to material that has been declassified but not yet placed on the open shelves.
Miller explained where NARA stands with the Kyl Amendment. Approximately 171 million pages have been surveyed; 45 million are still in the queue to be audited and surveyed. NARA is trying to narrow the scope of the audit.
Jeanne Schauble explained that NARA has tried to prevent whole series from being removed from the shelves for auditing, a more liberal approach than DOE initially had toward the audit of records. She further explained that the State Department is re-reviewing records so that they can be given certification as to whether they contain RD or FRD material. Those certified records can then be put back on the open shelves.
Miller said that DOE has 50 people at NARA conducting the audit under the Kyl Amendment. The entire process is both time and labor intensive. Brian Dowling of IPS explained that the training process is lengthy and requires a 5-day training class, which is required by DOE for the certification of records.
Brenda Plummer asked if the 750 million pages consisted of records with State Department equity. Schauble replied in the negative and explained that the 750 million was the entire universe of records to be reviewed. Miller interjected that there are 31,600 cubic feet of records with State equity.
State Department Review of Records Under Executive Order 12958
Brian Dowling of IPS reported on progress in review and declassification of the Department's 25-year-old and older records. He noted that IPS was responsible for numerous projects, such as systematic declassification review of State Department records and the Japanese War Crimes project. Dowling handed out a June 2001 IPS statistical report, which showed that the Department was doing very well with declassification review of its 25-year-old or older paper records, which was almost finished. They were now working on documents from 1975, 1976, and 1977. Most of the remaining files awaiting review were the Department's electronic records. He noted that almost 93 percent of the files listed--those in State custody and those not in State custody at NARA--were completed. There were 1.73 million pages of files not in the Department's custody which had not yet been reviewed, of which 0.18 million pages were Army referrals. He reiterated that the almost 5 million pages of files in Department of State custody not yet reviewed were almost all electronic. There were also a few unreviewed records left in INR, which needed to be processed.
Dowling said that much of this review is done at the Systematic Review Office in Newington, Virginia. He himself has two offices--one in the Department and one at Newington. He noted that resources were critical. IPS uses specialist hires ("while actually employed" or WAEs) brought back from Foreign Service retirement. Each project has its own specialists. There were 2,000 boxes of documents at Newington reviewed for anything relating to Nazi War Crimes. The relevant documents are screened, annotated, and sent to specialists in Washington, who decide if they are relevant to the Executive Order. Before the documents are sent to NARA, they are reviewed by the IWG staff and then hand-carried to NARA. Dowling said that IPS is ready to start on Japanese records relevant to the War Crimes project, and the same process will be followed. He noted that the Japanese records will also be very sensitive.
IPS has a total of 70-75 WAEs working on these projects along with Systematic Review. WAEs work in three locations--the Department, Newington, and College Park (i.e., NARA). He noted that the review procedure is labor-intensive, and there are physical limitations related to working full-time at a computer. Dowling explained that the 75 WAE reviewers do not work full time; because of salary restrictions, the number of hours each WAE employee can work is limited. He hoped the Nazi War Crimes project will be finished by the end of the summer, and noted that systematic review is ongoing, along with the Japanese War Crimes review.
Schulzinger opened the floor to questions. Mackaman noted that there were 4.4 million pages of electronic records to be reviewed, and Van Camp asked how long this would take. Dowling replied that he could not be sure. Four or five work stations have been set up for the SAS review at IPS headquarters, and he hoped the work would be completed by late 2002 or earlier.
Looking at the statistical report Dowling handed out, Schulzinger noted that in addition to 4.4 million pages of electronic records, there were another 1.5 million pages of referrals, all of which had been done prior to this Executive Order. Schulzinger commented that the next biggest item on the chart were the Army referrals, 0.18 million pages, and commented that the Committee needed to meet with someone from the Defense declassification staff. Van Camp asked who was keeping track of these projects. Dowling said that he was responsible for reporting each month how many resources were devoted to each project.
Schulzinger asked NARA representatives how much of a backlog there was in processing the Department of State records in its possession. Jeanne Schauble replied that the backlog was not just from the Kyl Amendment. Part of it was the Washington National Records Center backlog resulting from the enormous amount of new State Department records that had been brought in. She noted that most of NARA's declassification effort has been devoted to the IWG with almost no time left for State records.
Schulzinger commented that it seemed as though most Department of State records had been declassified and yet researchers at NARA still did not have access to these. Therefore, they had reason to complain. Schauble explained that NARA had a real problem because most of the State records had been reviewed prior to the Kyl Amendment and therefore had to be re-reviewed and certified. NARA reviewers, however, are coming to the end of their IWG work and will be able to turn to the State records. Miller said that NARA plans to turn to the State records in 2002.
Nancy Smith of NARA's Office of Presidential Libraries said that the Presidential Libraries have a different concern. They need Department of State declassification guidance for the Carter Library, which they do not yet have. The State guidelines NARA has are good through the Ford administration, and the Presidential Libraries have been using them. Schulzinger noted that in 18 months, the 25-year line kicks in for Carter. He asked how DOE coordinates its review with the Presidential Libraries. Are they notified concerning documents withdrawn by DOE? Smith replied that the Kyl and Lott Amendments do affect Presidential Libraries. They do a page-by-page review and at least two DOE-trained archivists are at each Library. She said DOE has to notify them or the record remains open. Finally, Schulzinger noted that the Committee needed to revisit the effects of the Kyl Amendment.
At the break, Susser and Schulzinger presented a plaque to Anne Van Camp in recognition of her 10 years of distinguished and insightful service on the Committee.
CLOSED SESSION, June 18
State Department Declassification Review of Documents Under the Nazi War Crimes Records Act
After the Committee received a sampling of the records reviewed under the Nazi War Crimes Records Project, Dowling explained that a classified document could be: 1) declassified and released in full, 2) remain classified, or 3) released in part with redactions. Dowling elaborated on the redactions in the documents in the handouts, explaining that they were applied to protect personnel information, intelligence material, and diplomatic relationships. As an example, Dowling pointed to one particular document whose full release might be controversial and cause difficulties for current U.S. Foreign Relations.
Dowling next turned to the overall status of the project: At SA-13 (Newington) alone, 2,068 boxes have been reviewed, resulting in 6,606 relevant documents examined for a total of 34, 503 relevant pages. The total number of pages reviewed at Newington was 5,170,000. There remain to be reviewed about 592 boxes, with an approximate page count of 1,480,000. About 16,000 pages are in the system being processed now for release to NARA. To summarize, State has screened more than 12 million pages for relevancy, determined 230,000 to be relevant to the project, and declassified 215,000 of that number for release.
The Interagency Working Group (IWG) executive directorship, composed of 15 members, was not complete; the Bush administration had yet to fill one of the four "public" slots. Nevertheless, Dowling predicted, most of the work would be complete by August or September, with NARA taking possession of the records by January 2002. He also indicated that preliminary work had begun on Japanese war crimes records, which would take 1-2 years to process fully. Dowling reaffirmed the role of the Historian's Office as the "clearinghouse" for the war crimes records projects, and heralded the results to date as a significant achievement.
Susser explained that the thrust of the IWG is openness, and that HO sought to help all parties involved in the project in pursuit of that goal. Herschler stated that withheld material included more recent documents related to the negotiations that took place subsequent to the two Eizenstat interagency reports on Nazi gold. He said that while declassification might not be as far along as one might hope, only 25-30 documents were denied from thousands that were released. Herschler said that the constant vigilance needed to focus officials on declassification was a "constructive process."
Schulzinger asked about the Eizenstat records: was their continued classification part of a prior arrangement, or was such restriction customary when speaking confidentially with government officials? Susser explained that some of the Eizenstat records were considered sensitive by the relevant State Department bureau because of their impact on current relations. Dowling commented that controversial material from the past sometimes shapes current and future negotiations, explaining the bureau's reluctance to release those records.
Schulzinger remarked on the many instances in the sample documents where a foreign government official's name was excised, and he questioned the process under which an individual's name is deemed politically sensitive. Dowling pointed out that there were virtually no redactions of this nature in documents earlier than 1995. Schulzinger concluded that the currency or date of a document, not its subject matter, was the determining factor in redacting a prominent name. Dowling added that some State Department bureaus were sensitive about releasing names of current officials or business leaders, many of whom served in World War II. The bureaus were concerned about the impact of a release on ongoing negotiations or diplomatic relations.
Hoffman asked if the redacted material would ever be re-reviewed for subsequent release. Dowling reminded the Committee of the automatic review of redacted or rejected material; it begins 7-10 years after information is initially restricted from the public.
Hogan asked about the status of documents that were not in U.S. custody. Susser stated that the IWG public members were interested in access to Japanese Government records. He noted that during the postwar occupation of Japan, Japanese records were seized and taken to the U.S., but many were subsequently returned before being copied. No one was entirely sure what was seized or what was returned. There was some discussion of whether an accounting of the returned Japanese documents might be in General Douglas MacArthur's papers in Norfolk, VA. Susser concluded by stating that the IWG would look into access to Japanese records.
Hoffman lauded the accomplishments thus far, and deemed the percentage of records that had been released to be an impressive figure. She asked Dowling about electronic records research. Dowling commented that the software, although not perfect, appears adequate. Initial bugs are being worked out, and substantive work has begun.
Schulzinger asked if HO would publish a report based on the results of the undertaking. Susser replied in the negative.
There was a discussion of the impact on archival practices of such targeted declassification projects. David Langbart of NARA explained that in some cases NARA was getting copies of original records, but in other cases, NARA was receiving full series of original records. In these cases, targeted declassification had accelerated records transfer schedules. Roger Louis concluded that there were some benefits to such targeted declassification projects.
Schulzinger noted that sometimes declassified records were still not available for users. He suggested that Susser speak with Under Secretary for Management Grant Green in order to shorten the delay between the declassification of State records and their public availability.
Future of the Foreign Relations Series
Michael Hogan presented the subcommittee report on the future of the Foreign Relations series. He reiterated the problems faced in obtaining the release of the volumes on Cyprus and Indonesia for the Johnson administration. The Cyprus volume, he noted, is already published and ready to be shipped. The volume has already been held up for up to 2 years due to both CIA and State Department concerns. The Indonesia volume is also printed, but the changing political situation, including the pending impeachment of Indonesia's Prime Minister, will likely delay release.
A second problem facing the Foreign Relations series is the inclusion of materials from the President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board (PFIAB). The subcommittee recommends, Hogan said, pending the success of informal contacts, that the State Department's Legal Adviser's Office send a letter to PFIAB explaining the necessity of including documentation from its files in the Foreign Relations series.
The subcommittee also looked at three draft "access guides" prepared by the Historian's Office; it was "very impressed" with the drafts, especially those on Global Issues and Africa for 1969-1972. The CIA, he noted, has expressed reservations regarding the access guides.
The subcommittee was optimistic that the pace of publication will soon pick up. By the end of the year, the Historian's Office will have hired eight new people, but, in order for publication to accelerate to reach the 30-year line, even more personnel will be needed. The subcommittee encouraged the development of a structured training and mentoring program for the incoming staff. It was also "terrific," Hogan added, that staff from HO have attended a number of professional conferences in recent months.
The subcommittee also examined several prototypes on the use of memoirs or published primary materials as a substitute for denied documentation in Foreign Relations volumes. The prototypes provided by HO, Hogan said, worked well. The CIA, however, had expressed opposition to the use of memoirs. David Patterson said that the HO staff is still looking for a good example of how memoirs might serve as a substitute for still-classified documents. Another concern of the CIA, Patterson speculated, was that the inclusion of memoir material in a State Department publication would constitute an official acknowledgment of a covert operation. Keefer explained that the CIA currently reviews manuscripts to determine that information is not classified, not if the information is accurate. Hogan reiterated that, if the CIA won't allow the publication of relevant documentation, HO should publish reliable primary accounts in the form of an editorial note.
Hoffman wondered what the Committee could do to expedite the declassification of documents, particularly those referred to the CIA. Susser reported two recent cases: one referral was on Tenet's desk awaiting decision; another was a past decision to postpone review of another volume. Schulzinger suggested using a "tickler" to remind recalcitrant agencies of deadlines for declassification review, including, if necessary, intervention from the Under Secretary for Management. Susser replied that it might be necessary to move from reminders to more urgent representations. Hoffman recalled that Committee raised this issue with the CIA at nearly every meeting.
Mackaman said that e-publication of the available documentation would allow HO to indicate if material was missing. Susser noted, however, that CIA opposed the idea. Herschler reported that CIA had already objected when HO wanted to publish volumes electronically with interim versions of documents under appeal. Hoffman said the Committee did not want to alienate the CIA but did not know what else to do.
Keefer continued to report on his meeting that morning with CIA representatives. There were some good signs: some members of the CIA Historical Review Panel (HRP) were pushing for release of documentation. There were, however, some bad signs. The CIA, for instance, was questioning access guides as well as e-publication. The CIA, in his view, also questioned the document selection of HO historians. The CIA, Keefer concluded, was clearly asserting its views.
Louis asked whether the Committee should focus on pushing the CIA for publication of the volume on the Congo as an initial case for Committee activism on CIA declassification. Hoffman reported that the subcommittee that reviewed the proposed supplemental volume on the Congo, 1960-1968, found that the new volume represented a more complete historical record. Hoffman stated that the Committee should recommend that HO and the CIA give the highest priority to declassification and publication of this volume.
It was determined that the issue statement for the volume had been sent to the CIA, and Schulzinger asked how long the review would take. Herschler replied that it would take 120 days; if the CIA rejected the issue statement and HO took the issue to the High Level Panel (HLP), the panel would have another 60 days to make a decision.
Louis asked Susser what would be the most effective way to secure timely publication of the volume. Susser said that either the CIA could agree to publication, or HO would have to refer the issue to the HLP. There is no short-term solution.
Before adjourning, Bose commented concerning the Kyl and Lott Amendments, pointing out that they appeared to lead to a waste of time and effort. Schulzinger agreed, and said that the Committee should ask Secretary Powell to weigh in on this question.
The Committee adjourned for the day at 4:45 p.m.
CLOSED SESSION, June 19
The CIA and the Foreign Relations Series
Schulzinger called the meeting to order at 9 a.m. and welcomed the CIA representatives. Susser opened the morning session with some comments on HO's evolving relationship with the CIA. He discussed the March trip by HO staff to meet with CIA officials. The subjects discussed at that meeting included the documents awaiting DCI review for release covering four topics. Susser described the tendency of CIA reviewers to question the judgment of HO staff in their selection of CIA documents for inclusion in their respective volumes. He noted the difference between reviewers and historians and stated that there was "no alternative but for each side to do its job."
CIA then described the review process within the CIA. All of the issue statements for the volumes in question had to be reviewed by the DCI. The CIA's Office of General Counsel had determined that the DCI needed to be aware of exactly what the CIA was acknowledging. The DCI made his decision based upon written recommendations from the appropriate subordinates.
Schulzinger further questioned the CIA representatives regarding their review process. What he particularly wanted to know was that if a given issue statement was approved, would the documents relating to that issue then be releasable-- i.e., had they already been reviewed? CIA responded that the documents had been reviewed following a High-Level Panel decision on an issue statement. Before final release of the documents, though, the issue statements would still have to be approved by the DCI. CIA noted that the High-Level Panel remained an option for HO to pursue if it felt that the CIA reviews at various levels were unsatisfactory.
The CIA reported that on Monday morning (June 18) Susan Holly and Ted Keefer attended the meeting of the CIA's Historical Review Panel (HRP). The CIA believed that the historians' attendance was very beneficial and had greatly helped the CIA to better understand HO's concerns and viewpoints on the issues. The CIA reported that HRP Chairman Robert Jervis, after examining several issue statements and declassification guidelines, believed that creating more detailed statements and guidelines, although taking additional time and effort, should result in an easier and better declassification review. He also encouraged the use of the HLP and a joint review of Foreign Relations processes.
The Committee was glad to hear that four High-Level Panel issues were proceeding, but mentioned that it had been reported that some in the CIA have "concerns" regarding HO's plan to publish access guides, volumes in electronic format, and/or volumes that utilize published memoirs, and that they object to such publications as being outside the purview of the Foreign Relations statute. The Committee wanted to know who in the CIA was expressing these concerns and why.
The CIA General Counsel's office responded that it is the office that had these concerns. It is not that the CIA objects to such publications, but rather that CIA would like to have more information about them. OGC explained that State HO had agreed to provide written examples of the proposed use of memoirs to Cia for review and comment. Regarding the Access Guides, the CIA believes that some of the references to CIA's holdings are far too detailed and would prefer a more generic approach. With regard to electronic publications, the CIA would like more information about the purpose of such publications. Are they to be a substitute for or supplement to the print volumes? How does HO determine which volumes will be print and which will be electronic? Are the criteria for selecting documents different for electronic volumes than for print volumes?
HO responded that for reasons of time, length, and topic, some volumes will be print volumes and some will be electronic. (All print volumes will also be posted in electronic format on the HO website, as they currently are.) The "major" Foreign Relations issues will be produced in book form, but no matter what the format (print or electronic), the standards for selection remain the same.
The CIA asked whether HO planned to publish any more microfiche supplements or were the electronic publications designed to replace them. HO answered that no more microfiche supplements would be produced. In some cases the electronic publication will be a supplement to the print volume in the same way the microfiche was, and in other cases it will be a stand-alone collection. A good example is the China volume. There were many important but lengthy memcons that could not be included in the print volume and are being put into an electronic supplement.
The CIA then stated that they also had a number of procedural questions about the electronic publications, such as how footnotes would be handled. They also had questions about HO's plan to release "preliminary" versions of the volumes.
The Committee stated that there appears to be some confusion about the roles of HO and the CIA reviewer in the selection of documents to be included in Foreign Relations volumes. CIA responded that it is the purview of the HO historians to select those documents they want to include in the Foreign Relations volumes. The CIA reviewers are only questioning why HO would select more operational documents over others that would be easier to declassify.
The Committee stated that HO is concerned that the CIA only wants to declassify those documents that they feel are the most historically relevant when the only question the reviewers should be asking is what harm will result to national security if the information is released. The CIA replied that that is the standard used by the reviewer. They are not questioning HO's right to choose appropriate documents, but are trying to understand the basis for that choice.
HO stated that they understood CIA's concern about the operational level of the documents HO has selected, but sometimes those are the only documents available that show what the policy was and how it was implemented. If the CIA knows of better documents, HO would hope that CIA would identify them. (At a later point in the discussion one of the CIA representatives agreed that it was the job of the CIA History Staff to bring other and possibly better documents to the attention of State historians.) The CIA promised to check and make sure that the directorates aren't keeping back any relevant documents. CIA pointed out that an historian's choice of venues for research, if focused outside CIA, may limit the selection of finished intelligence available for review
The Committee asked if the four HLP cases that are awaiting the DCI's signature would be completed by the Committee's next meeting in October. The CIA stated that depending on the DCI's schedule, the memos should be signed within the next 2-3 weeks.
The Committee then asked how the CIA felt about the release of volumes on the web before final declassification. The CIA responded that this had been proposed by HO for the Vietnam 1967 volume. HO, however, wanted to put the volume on the web with the initial CIA review recommendations, while CIA preferred to have the disputed documents removed until the appeal was completed. The CIA said that they were comfortable with the principle of preliminary volumes, but not with including "draft" CIA review recommendations. As for the 1967 Vietnam volume, all had agreed to await the imminent release of appealed documents.
HO objected to CIA's characterization of their review recommendations as "draft" and stated that it is HO's position that once the CIA response is received, that response is deemed to be final. Any decision to appeal rests with HO, and should HO decide to appeal, that decision does not change the finality of the initial CIA recommendation. The purpose of an appeal is obtain the release of additional information, not to provide CIA with a mechanism to reconsider its prior decision and if it chooses excise additional information.
The Committee put forward three options for such preliminary releases:
- post the volume on the web without the disputed documents;
- post the volume on the web with the disputed documents as currently reviewed;
- post the volume on the web without the disputed documents (with appropriate place holders) or with possible substitute documents.
The CIA stated that they objected to the use of memoirs as substitutes for denied information. However, before making any definitive statement on HO's inclusion of memoir literature, they would have to see the context in which it was being used.
The Committee stated that the whole purpose of preliminary releases is to make volumes that have extended declassification problems available to the public. The Committee then proposed that if the four issues currently before the DCI have not been resolved by the October meeting, the volumes be posted on the web without the disputed documents and with an appropriate disclaimer.
Susan Weetman observed that there would still be a good deal of time-consuming work to do before such an electronic publication could be made available. She pointed to final clearance of the manuscript by the NSC, verification of the manuscript by IPS, and typesetting by the GPO as governing how long it would take to publish.
Schulzinger proposed that the 1967 Vietnam volume should be used as a test case. He suggested that if a negative response was received from the CIA on the appealed documents, the Historian's Office should act after October to publish in an electronic format as much as was possible of the manuscript.
Report of the Subcommittee on the Retrospective Congo Volume
The Committee reconvened after a break at 10:35 a.m. Hoffman reported on behalf of the subcommittee that had reviewed the recently-compiled Congo volume. She noted that the volume falls into two parts. The first, covering the period 1960-1963, serves to fill the gaps not covered in a previous Foreign Relations volume. The other part covers the period 1964-1968. Hoffman read a statement relating to the volume, previously reviewed by the Committee as a whole, to be entered into the minutes. The statement reads as follows:
The Committee carefully reviewed the proposed Congo volume, 1964-1968, with its supplement--for 1960-1963. The volume, as proposed sheds new light on major, highly significant events in the history of U.S. relations with the Congo in the 1960s. It gives a much more complete historical record, showing the multiple components of the political effort.
The Committee urges the Historian's Office and the CIA to give the highest priority to the declassification and publication of this volume. Specifically, we recommend that the Historian's Office forward the Congo volume issue statement and relevant documents to the CIA immediately. If the CIA does not accept the issue statement, we recommend that the issue statement be submitted to the High Level Panel for consideration well in advance of the committee's October meeting.
Hoffman said that the Committee was impressed with the rather comprehensive issue statement drafted by the compiler of the volume, Nina Howland. CIA acknowledged that the CIA had received a copy of the proposed issue statement and would react to it.
Schulzinger stated that the Committee would like to know by the time of its October meeting that the four volumes discussed earlier in the morning with the CIA representatives as posing unresolved clearance problems had been acted upon by the CIA. If action on the volumes was not complete by that time, the Committee would like to see the Historian's Office publish electronically what can be published without the contested documents, which could be added later.
In response to a question, about the Japan volume for the Johnson administration, Keefer stated that the Japan volume was delayed because of both State Department and CIA concerns. Schulzinger thought it possible to publish the volume on the web with markers for disputed documents or publish it with memoir materials. HO should go forward with the project, despite the difficulties. He suggested the possibility of creating a subcommittee for the October meeting to examine the difficult and sensitive issues surrounding the volume.
Schulzinger changed topics and announced the dates of the last Committee meeting in 2001 would be December 17-18. He also suggested a possible meeting between some Committee members and representatives of he Agency's Historical Review Panel.
Bose raised the issue of what would be the process of appeal/review on memoirs. Patterson stated that the focus would be on what was written at the time. Some secondary sources could be used for quotations from declassified documents. Hogan said that agencies may not acknowledge covert actions, but HO could publish volumes with a disclaimer.
Declassification of Foreign Relations Documentation by the National Security Agency
Deputy Director of NSA Declassification, Michael Ketchum, introduced himself and NSA Historian, David Hatch. Ketchum then explained the status of NSA's declassification efforts.
He began by noting that NSA's declassification had been reorganized so that all review goes into one process. When the NSA analyzed the requirements of Executive Order 12958, it realized that it needed an automated system to meet the requirements of reviewing 10.5 million pages, in addition to 35 million pages of World War II documents. The agency approved 100 positions for the purpose of accomplishing this automated review. The records were digitized and indexed, and retired NSA annuitants with the necessary skills were hired to do the reviews.
The NSA FOIA process, on the other hand, was in a lot of trouble, with 6-year backlogs. The FOIA process, Mandatory Declassification Reviews (MDRs), and the review of special studies have been automated. Because of the advantages of consolidation, automation, and subcontracting, after 90 days NSA will be able to start significantly reducing the FOIA and related backlogs. With the automated system, NSA is able to review 3 million pages per year at a cost of $2.08 per page.
Foreign Relations documents are logged in as MDRs. His staff just recently found in its backlog two Foreign Relations documents that had been received in 1999. These documents have been designated for immediate review and will be completed in 30 days or less.
Ketchum asked for questions. Hogan asked if the NSA used DIA's automated system. Ketchum said that they did not. Bose asked whether any documents will be automatically declassified. Ketchum said that none would be. Van Camp asked whether there were any Foreign Relations documents at NSA that were still unaccounted for. Ketchum replied that they were checking for that possibility in the backlog. Weetman noted that a list of Foreign Relations documents outstanding at NSA was provided in the Committee's briefing material.
Van Camp asked how documents were selected for the NSA's website. Ketchum said that if they received two or more requests for the same document, it goes on to their website, as do documents specifically suggested by NSA Historian David Hatch. Hogan asked if NSA would post a document on its website if they had received both a FOIA and a Foreign Relations request for its declassification, but before it was actually released in a Foreign Relations volume. Ketchum said that it was possible but unlikely.
Patterson next introduced NSA Historian David Hatch, and noted that Hatch had been very helpful to State historians in obtaining documents related to the Pueblo and Liberty crises. Hatch said that he was glad to help State historians with their Foreign Relations searches at NSA. Van Camp asked if the Kyl and Lott Amendments had affected the ongoing declassification review at NSA. Ketchum said that they had not.
Hogan asked how NSA had been able to be so efficient. Ketchum said that NSA had been lucky to have had a good subcontractor, and that its consolidation and automation strategies had worked well.
Schulzinger thanked the NSA representatives for coming, and adjourned the meeting for off-the-record staff comments.