Advisory Committee on Historical Diplomatic Documentation June 4-5, 2003
- Robert Schulzinger, Chairman
- Meena Bose*
- Diane Shaver Clemens
- Margaret Hedstrom
- Elizabeth Cobbs Hoffman
- Warren Kimball
- W. Roger Louis
- Robert McMahon
- Edward Rhodes
Office of the Historian
- Marc Susser, Historian
- Edward Keefer
- Monica Belmonte
- Dan Lawler
- Todd Bennett
- Erin Mahan
- Myra Burton
- David Nickles
- John Carland
- Linda Qaimmaqami
- Paul Claussen
- Peter Samson
- Evan Duncan
- Doug Selvage
- Vicki Futscher
- Jim Siekmeier
- David Geyer
- Luke Smith
- Renee Goings
- Doug Trefzger
- David Goldman
- James Van Hook
- David Herschler
- Laurie West Van Hook
- Susan Holly
- Gloria Walker
- Nina Howland
- Susan Weetman
Bureau of Administration
- Brian Dowling, A/RPS/IPS
- Harmon Kirby, A/RPS/IPS
- Nicholas Murphy, A/RPS/IPS
- Margaret Peppe, A/RPS/IPS
National Archives and Records Administration
- David Kepley, Office of Records Services, Washington, DC
- William Leonard, Director, Information Security Oversight Office
- Howard Lowell, Deputy Assistant Archivist for Records Services, Washington, DC
- Marvin Russell, Special Access/FOIA Staff
- Jeanne Schauble, Director, Initial Processing and Declassification Division
- Nancy Smith, Office of Presidential Libraries
Central Intelligence Agency
- Sue K., Foreign Relations Coordinator
- Patricia P., Historical Collections Division
- Adam Hornbuckle, Director, NARA Declassification Project
Department of Energy
- Ken Stein, Director, NARA Declassification Project
- Bruce Craig, National Coalition for History
OPEN SESSION, June 4
Approval of the Record of the February 2003 Meeting Chairman Robert Schulzinger called the meeting to order at 1:41 p.m. He introduced three new members of the committee: Robert McMahon, Edward Rhodes, and Margaret Hedstrom. The committee then approved the record of the February minutes.
Report by the Executive Secretary
Schulzinger called for a report by the Executive Secretary and The Historian, Marc Susser, who noted the following activities:
- Linda Qaimmaqami recently joined the Office. There are 2 FTE and 6 contractors in the pipeline who should be starting work by September 30. If HO is able to keep all of its new personnel, the office should be able to meet the 30-year deadline by the end of the decade. David Herschler said that HO will have 36 historians by the fall, and will only need 4 more to be fully staffed.
- Susser discussed HO's first annual conference on diplomatic history, which focused on the newly-released Guatemala (1954) volume. Over 125 people attended the conference, including the Guatemalan Ambassador to the United States and a number of foreign journalists. HO plans to publish the conference papers.
- Susser also led a delegation to Moscow during the third week of May to discuss HO's ongoing joint documentary project with the History and Archives Department of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs on the era of detente. The Russians, he said, view the project quite positively, and Susser's Russian counterpart, Director Churilin, said that Foreign Minister Ivanov periodically checks on the project's progress. The two sides have filled gaps in their respective document collections.
- Edward Keefer said that the joint volume will focus on the dialogue between U.S. and Soviet officials, with particular focus on conversations between Kissinger and Dobrynin and Kissinger and Gromyko. In contrast, the Foreign Relations volume on the Soviet Union will contain more documents on U.S. policy decisions.
- In response to a question from Schulzinger, Keefer said that the joint volume will be published in both Russian and English editions. Documents from the two sides will be translated by the Department of State's Language Services experts and by the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, for publication in their respective languages.
- Susser informed the committee that HO would be hosting a reception for the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations (SHAFR) conference in June. Well over 150 people were expected to attend, and Deputy Secretary Richard Armitage would address the group.
Status Report by the General Editor
Schulzinger called on the Foreign Relations series General Editor, Edward Keefer, to present his report.
On June 3, HO released its Foreign Relations volume on the foundations of the Nixon Administration's foreign policy. Keefer said that he would appreciate comments from the HAC and the general public about the volume because it is the first of its kind. Herschler pointed out that it is already up on the HO website.
Schulzinger said that he was very impressed with the online version. The volume marks a new departure for Foreign Relations, which has become more thematic. The Foundations volume focuses on the intellectual context of Nixon's foreign policy.
Kimball asked whether the HO staff and the committee had read the memorandum about the restructuring of the Foreign Relations series. He suggested that everyone do so. The plan, he said, was not written in stone; the memorandum is a living document.
The Foundations volume, Kimball said, is the cornerstone of the new series and shows the result of the HAC's intellectual engagement in the Foreign Relations process. Kimball stressed the need for user feedback and suggested that HO organize a session on the volume at the next SHAFR conference. Schulzinger agreed that a SHAFR panel would be a good idea.
Elizabeth Cobbs Hoffman said that she was pleased to hear about all the progress that HO was making, specifically, all the new projects and staff.
Declassification and Opening of Department of State Electronic Records
Schulzinger moved to the next item on the agenda: State's declassification of records older than 25 years. He introduced Margaret Peppe from IPS.
Peppe updated the committee on State's declassification effort. She noted that Lee Lohman, a former Minister Counselor for Management Affairs in London and Cairo, has replaced Frank Machak as the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Records and Publishing Services. Schulzinger said that the committee would like to meet him at its next meeting. Peppe said that she would try to arrange that.
The dates have slipped, Peppe said, on the transfer of electronic records from State to NARA. The records for 1973 will not be transferred in June as originally planned; instead, records for both 1973 and 1974 will be transferred, hopefully, in August. IPS is continuing to make significant progress in the declassification review effort. The delay is that IPS has not been able to brief senior management at State due to pressing world events such as the war in Iraq.
Peppe said that IPS had a very good meeting with NARA recently on the transfer of electronic records. NARA and IPS discussed the handling of FOIA cases following the transfer and how to mark the electronic records as declassified.
Schulzinger inquired about State's plans for meeting the automatic declassification deadline of 25 years. Peppe said that IPS had been working on that. Peppe said that IPS will have to re-prioritize existing human resources and continue to look for technology solutions and other streamlining measures. It is unclear whether IPS will receive additional resources for declassification to meet the 25 year deadline. Brian Dowling, head of the Department's systematic review program is reviewing the draft plan.
Schulzinger said that if IPS determines it cannot meet the deadline with existing resources, it should put something in writing so that the HAC can discuss the problem with the appropriate level of management within the Department. Peppe said that IPS will eventually do that if necessary, but would prefer to work internally within its own management chain.
Hedstrom asked if IPS planned to release 2-year batches of records in the future as in the 1973-74 case. Peppe said that the plan is to transfer electronic records on a yearly basis.
Schulzinger then introduced Howard Lowell from NARA. Lowell discussed the development of access to electronic records databases on NARA's website. Since the inauguration of the new website on February 12, there have been about 300,000 visits to the site. On April 4, an AP story seemed to suggest that all the Archives' records were available on the website; as a result, it had over 80,000 hits, and the website experienced technical difficulties.
The database, Lowell said, returns one record every second, and over the past 3 months, the site was down for only 30 minutes. The largest number of hits was on the collection about Irish immigrants during the potato famine. NARA, he said, has learned a number of lessons from the rollout of the new database and has tested the site with the help of faculty and students at the University of Maryland.
Declassification of Department of State Records
Brian Dowling began by saying that the Department's work on the IWG project was over. In response to a question as to whether these records had been reviewed under Kyl-Lott, he said he thought that such a review would be unnecessary.
Dowling discussed the difficulty of getting adequate personnel to perform the tasks facing his office, and said that about 1 to 2 weeks are required to train someone to do the job. He noted that WAEs are only able to work 1/2 the time of full time employees. He discussed two goals. First, he would like to have every WAE working 300 hours before September 2006. Second, he would like to get FSOs who were between assignments working on declassification issues. This would help improve the personnel situation.
Dowling stated that his group has 22 million pages to review, in addition to 47 million pages of re-review work, not including the reviews in the presidential libraries, which are significantly behind. These figures do not include the electronic reviews that take place in SA-2.
Dowling said that the work on 1975 is nearly finished for the office, post, and lot files. The 198 boxes of P-reels (microfilm material that is being converted to paper for the reviewing process) are not completed. The bulky files are completed for 1975. When the P-reels are completed, this will mark the completion of the 1975 reviews. Dowling indicated that he hoped to finish 1976 by the end of 2003; at the moment, his group is about 10% of the way through the office, post, and lot files for 1976. He noted that unlike some government agencies, his group does not redact documents.
Schulzinger asked Dowling if he thought that the Department would meet the 2006 deadline to have all records through 1981 reviewed for declassification. Dowling replied that he believed it would be difficult to meet the deadline. Dowling explained that IPS previously had a 5-year FOIA backlog that had been greatly reduced by contractors. He said that it was too early to propose a similar use of contractors to meet the 25-year review deadline. He explained that the Nazi and Japanese War Crimes projects had taken enormous resources away from the 25-year review. He said that he should know by the end of the year whether IPS would be able to meet the deadline with present resources. Dowling stated that if IPS gets to the 2-year line and there is still a considerable backlog, then IPS may have to consider the use of contractors. He stated that when the present contractors finish with the FOIA project, IPS may want to consider using them for the 25-year program.
Hedstrom asked how much the amount of material increases after 1975. Dowling replied that the numbers do increase for each year from 1977 to 1981, but not substantially from year to year.
Dowling stated that the biggest problem for IPS has been having to re-review previously declassified materials for Kyl-Lott relevance. Lisa Cobbs Hoffman asked if there was any way for IPS to review only those materials most likely to contain sensitive information.
Dowling replied that the bulky files have been a real problem. (These files were often created when a post decided it was time to clean out its files and put everything in boxes and ship them back to Washington). The bulky files can contain documents from many different years, covering numerous subjects. The file folders are often not labeled and each piece of paper in the box must be checked.
Roger Louis asked if the paper documents from which the microfilm was created have been destroyed. Margaret Peppe replied that in all but a few instances they had been. The microfilm copy is the official record copy. Peppe explained that the Central File copies should not contain marginalia. Copies of cables and other documents located in the lot and post files that contain marginalia are considered record copies and so the paper files are kept.
Schulzinger said that things appear to be going well in IPS. If things continue on schedule, the electronic records should be available to the public 6 to 9 months after their transfer to NARA. The 25-year review also appears to be going well.
Dowling said that if the Department of Homeland Security comes out with a mandate similar to the Department Of Energy (DOE), all of the previously reviewed material would have to be re-reviewed and that would create additional problems in meeting the deadline.
The committee would like a copy of Dowling's IWG report, which he said would be out sometime this fall.
The committee adjourned for a break at 2:50 p.m.
CLOSED SESSION, June 4
The committee reconvened at 3:07 p.m.
Report by the General Editor
Before asking the general editor to give his report, Schulzinger asked about the Treasury documents that had been holding up the clearance of certain volumes. Herschler explained that NSC had approved the release of the documents without need for Treasury clearance.
Keefer presented an update on efforts to comply with the 30-year line. Before he began, Warren Kimball indicated that he hoped the Perkins chart provided to HAC members before each meeting could include a note on changes from the previous chart. Keefer said there were no major changes since the last meeting.
Of the 34 volumes planned for the Johnson Administration, 27 have been printed, and 5 others have been cleared and are ready for publication in 2003-2004, while the Congo and Japan volumes are still in clearance. While 2 retrospective volumes have been published, 5 more are planned. For the Nixon/Ford Administrations 57 volumes are projected; 16 of those volumes will be published in electronic form only. Among the Nixon/Ford volumes, 3 have been published, 2 have been fully cleared and 2 others are partially cleared. Keefer explained that the strategy for complying with the 30-year line involves working on Nixon and Ford volumes simultaneously.
Keefer then went on to speak about the U.S.-Russia project on "U.S.-Soviet Relations in the Era of Detente." The U.S.-Russia project volumes will publish Soviet documents never seen before, while most of the U.S. documents have been previously declassified.
Bose asked if Russia had an established review process similar to ours. Keefer said that the Russians are still evaluating documents from 1942. Their preferred method of documentary release is through joint publications. This is the largest release, at the highest level, ever approved by the Russian Foreign Ministry. Doug Selvage said that if both Russia and the U.S. find this kind of documentary release important then it should be followed up with a volume on 1974-1977. Rhodes asked if there will be a follow up. Susser responded that there would be a follow-up, but that it was too soon to predict the exact nature of such a volume.
In terms of the accessibility of Soviet documents, and any problems in working with the Russians, Doug Selvage said that if necessary we can use our own records to determine the date of a meeting; the Russians would then be forthcoming with documentation on that meeting. However, he noted that so far this kind of prompting had not been necessary.
Herschler said that the Russian project, because it had such a high level of support, would also include a future joint conference. This kind of exposure would move HO into the realm of cultural diplomacy. He noted that the projected larger HO staff makes this possible. In turn, this exposure could expand the office's capability, Susser added, through increased resources that could result from a higher profile.
McMahon raised the issue of electronic volumes, specifically the 1969-72 Iran volume. He wondered why this was not a print volume. Keefer responded that print and e-volumes have the same value. The decision was to publish the 1969-72 Iran volume as an e-publication, but put the 1970-73 Iran volume in print. He added that no internet volume should be regarded as a second class citizen; different publication routes simply represent different mechanisms of publication. The theory behind bilateral relationships is that they lend themselves to the Internet because the Internet expands the number of documents we can make available.
Cobbs Hoffman asked whether it had been discovered that e-publications actually could not be any larger because of declassification issues. Keefer said they could be a bit larger but not unmanageable. He asserted that the designation of volumes as print or e-publications would be flexible; some volumes might move from e-publications to print.
Keefer explained that the number of hits on electronic versions of Foreign Relations volumes on the Department web site is approximately 5,000 per month. He further explained that the strategy for publishing Foreign Relations volumes as e-publications was based on the assumption that more historical research in the future would be internet-based. Keefer also pointed out that another advantage of e-publications was that a researcher could do word searches. Kimball interjected a reminder to new HAC members: the committee was, and still is, involved in the publication strategy ("e" versus print) of volumes.
Changing subjects, Louis asked for clarification about the status of the Africa, 1969-72 volume, since the Perkins chart indicated that a contractor had revised it. Keefer explained that it was compiled by a former Foreign Service officer who had served many years in Africa. That FSO's enthusiasm had resulted in surplus documentation. Therefore it was pruned to a more manageable size. Keefer also noted that Angola and South Africa were being covered in a separate volume that was designated as a print volume.
Moving to another topic, McMahon asked whether the declassification had been straightforward on the Nixon intellectual foundations volume. Keefer replied that it had in fact been one of the easiest because it was a volume that did not deal with specific policy matters.
Schulzinger said that the committee would like a report on the status of the Japan 1964-68 volume at the next meeting. It may be time for the committee to take action.
The CIA and the Foreign Relations Series
Schulzinger welcomed the CIA to the discussion.
Herschler mentioned that three volumes had been completed since May of 2002, when HO signed the MOU with the CIA. Altogether, 12 volumes have been completed. It seems that 3 more will be declassified in the near future. The target for completing the CIA backlog of volumes to be cleared is June 2003.
Herschler stated that there were minor issues for two volumes in the pipeline, which have been solved. First, China: the issue statements have been forwarded to the NSC for approval. The Global Issues volume is nearly completed. Keefer concurred; there is only a matter of exchanging some documentation.
Herschler announced that beginning in the next 3 month period, there will be approximately one volume per month going into the declassification process. Because HO is trying to get the 6 outstanding volumes through the process, the outflow of volumes will significantly increase soon.
It is impossible to predict how long it will take an individual volume to be cleared by the CIA, Herschler stressed. This is because different volumes have different amounts of CIA equity. In the aggregate, however, HO can adjust for this in order to control the flow of volumes on both sides.
Herschler concluded by underscoring the benefits of the mutual education process between the CIA and HO which began in the run-up to the writing of, and agreement on, the MOU. This mutual education has benefited both sides, in facilitating work on the series. The joint off-site meeting of HO and CIA staff has also increased understanding.
The CIA representatives said that at the CIA, the reviewers of the volumes are treading water. The CIA is bringing in people from other locations to review the volumes, and will try to find even more resources; however there is no guarantee that these will be forthcoming in the very near future.
Agreement still needs to be reached on documents produced by other agencies with CIA equity, where the documents have been declassified without CIA coordination. If a CIA document was mistakenly declassified by the CIA, the Agency will stand by that decision. But if another agency declassified a document with CIA equity that the CIA never had a chance to review, the Agency would like a chance to review that document and consider re-classification.
Kimball asked where these documents of concern were, and if they were published. The CIA said that some were in Foreign Relations, some were in NARA, and some were in Germany manuscript which were recently declassified by State. The CIA made the point that formal reclassification might draw attention to these documents considered sensitive by the CIA. A simple redaction might work.
Kimball stated that if a document is released, there is not much that can be done. He wanted to know if the CIA's re-classification represented a problem with the process inherent in the MOU. The CIA said that the documents that have CIA equity that were released without CIA review are a problem, but the MOU and Foreign Relations process are not a problem.
The CIA suggested that documents released with CIA equity that were never reviewed by the CIA should be catalogued to see if there are "repeat offenders." This might prevent further problems.
Luke Smith asked what would happen if someone finds a document in Foreign Relations that the CIA wants to re-review. The CIA said that Foreign Relations deadlines would not be affected because of reviews of such documents. Geyer argued that the main problem was how to avoid mistakes regarding declassification. Kimball maintained that the MOU process seemed to be working smoothly.
The CIA reported that the meeting of representatives from the CIA's Historical Review Panel, State's Historical Advisory Committee, and the Office of the Historian provided a useful forum for discussing the prospects for retrospective volumes on covert operations in the Foreign Relations series. As a result, all three sides agreed to go forward with the proposal.
James Van Hook briefly described his three functions as joint historian:
- to facilitate access to CIA records;
- to provide advice to State historians; and
- to work on two of the retrospective volumes.
He added that Doug Selvage, who is compiling the Foreign Relations volume on European Security, had recently visited CIA to conduct research on related intelligence matters. Selvage said that his volume, which covers a 7 year period (1969-75), would focus more on the Conference on Security in Cooperation in Europe (CSCE) than on the Mutual and Balanced Force Reduction talks.
Van Hook reported that he was continuing to compile the retrospective volume on Iran. He recently completed the first half of the compilation, which Luke Smith, his division chief, is currently reviewing. Van Hook noted that another retrospective volume on covert operations during the Truman and Eisenhower administrations (1947-60) had been the subject of discussion at the joint HRP/HAC meeting earlier that morning. He added that the CIA has agreed to facilitate access for research on this volume.
McMahon asked whether HO historians have access to all relevant reports. Van Hook replied that they do.
Kimball asked about the verification of the Foreign Relations volume on the Dominican Republic and Cuba. Keefer said that the verification meeting had taken place, and had been very lengthy.
Kimball thought that the time had come to put the retrospective volumes on the Perkins Chart, which tracks the progress, or lack thereof, of individual Foreign Relations volumes. Kimball also suggested that HO draft an unclassified summary of its plans for the retrospective volumes. Van Hook agreed that the idea merited further consideration.
Schulzinger summarized the joint HRP/HAC meetings. The two sides, Schulzinger stated, had made progress, finding more areas of agreement than disagreement. The CIA agreed with this summary. The CIA representatives also thought that the joint meeting had given the HAC an idea of how CIA works with the HRP.
The committee adjourned for the day at 4:23 pm.
CLOSED SESSION, June 5
Revision of E.O. 12958 on Classification and Declassification of National Security Information
The committee reconvened at 9:05 am.
The session began with a discussion of the revised E.O. 12958. Bill Leonard, Director of the Information Security Oversight Office, provided an overview of the revisions and stated that the most significant aspect was what the order preserved: the 25-year automatic declassification rule. Leonard noted that beginning with the Truman and Eisenhower administrations, the framework for the classification and declassification of documents was frequently altered. This time, the essential elements of the existing framework have been preserved. There will be no wholesale changes to the rules and regulations governing classification and declassification. Leonard hopes that this E.O. creates precedents for future administrations to only tweak, rather than rewrite the executive order.
Leonard went on to say that the difference in the amended executive order is that automatic declassification will become a reality by December 31, 2006. Agencies will have to have a plan in place, and understand the resources needed, because there will be no extensions and no further review of documents.
Leonard dismissed concerns about more information being classifiable. He stated that with one narrow exception, any information that was classifiable the day the amended E.O. was issued was classifiable the day before. There is a provision that allows for the reclassification of previously released (25 year or older) material. However, only agency heads such as the Secretaries of State and Defense or their deputies can make that determination, and Bill Leonard must be notified.
Schulzinger called for comments by Nick Murphy, of IPS. Murphy agreed with Leonard's assessment, concurring that the amended E.O. in fact had not fundamentally changed the standards governing the classification and declassification of national security information. He pointed to the order's language regarding the declassification of foreign government information, a particular concern of the committee's, which stated that only such information that seriously and demonstrably harmed U.S. Foreign Relations would remain classified. Moreover, Murphy stated, ISCAP always sharply questioned the failure to declassify such information.
Murphy went on to say that the Department had thoroughly briefed its reviewers about the provisions of the amended executive order, and he believed that State's Office of the Historian was in a position to gauge any changing standards in the declassification of foreign government information.
Jeanne Schauble of NARA concurred with both Murphy and Leonard, maintaining that the amended executive order did not radically depart from previous executive orders governing the classification and declassification of national security information. In particular, she pointed to the fact that the amended executive order preserved automatic declassification. Without it, Schauble maintained, agencies would lack the necessary incentive to review the documents in which they had equities, effectively halting the declassification process. NARA, she said, lacks the resources to declassify millions of pages of documents alone.
Nancy Smith of NARA concurred with Schauble's point that the amended executive order's preservation of the principle of automatic declassification ensured the continued interest by agencies necessary to push the declassification process along.
Schulzinger proposed that the committee conduct a survey to evaluate those documents that had been declassified, and those that had not been, by the Department of State's reviewers so as to gauge the practical effects of the amended executive order. He proposed that the committee conduct such an investigation at its next meeting in September 2003.
Cobbs Hoffman asked Leonard if the Kyl-Lott review or issues involving homeland security could "derail" the automatic declassification process envisioned by the amended executive order. Leonard assured the committee that the amended executive order attempted to balance automatic declassification with the protection of sensitive information. Leonard expressed confidence that neither Kyl-Lott nor other issues would "derail" automatic declassification and that the amended executive order would work.
Schauble also responded to Cobbs Hoffman's question, telling the committee that, while the Kyl-Lott review would not affect automatic declassification, records were actually often unavailable to the public until the review was complete. DOE reviewers, she said, wanted to review "everything" before records were made available to the public.
Kimball expressed confidence that Department of State reviewers would interpret the amended executive order in such a way as to facilitate declassification. But he expressed skepticism that reviewers in the Department of Defense and the Central Intelligence Agency would do likewise.
Kimball then asked Murphy if, in preparation for the committee's September survey of the declassification process under the amended executive order, the Department of State's reviewers would flag any documents judged to contain foreign government information.
Committee member McMahon asked if the committee could look at withdrawals from 1950s collections. He said that he had found many withdrawals in the records he had examined for his research and that he doubted that so much material from that period could still be sensitive. Kimball said that the committee had pushed the Department hard on this issue in the past and lost the fight.
Kimball noted that the exemptions in both the new and older executive order dealing with foreign government information were quite large. He cited what he considered a classic exemption: conversations between officials from two different governments in which the parties expected that the conversation would be confidential--noting that this basically covers all diplomatic discussions. He asked if a distinction could be made in implementing the new executive order between older and more current documents. He also regretted the fact that the phrase "presumption of harm" had been removed from the section of the new executive order dealing with foreign government information.
Leonard responded that the revised executive order states that 25-year or older material cannot be withheld unless serious and demonstrable harm to U.S. interests can be demonstrated. Schulzinger suggested that the HAC conduct a survey of the material being withheld to monitor the implementation of the new executive order.
Kimball asked what the word "provenance" meant in the executive order. Murphy responded that the agencies need to consider the fact that a document came from a foreign government when making their declassification decisions. Margaret Hedstrom asked if the decisions are also based on other countries? national security and not just our own. Leonard responded that such an assumption is made if a foreign government's national security affects our own. Murphy noted that Idi Amin's national security concerns would get no consideration.
Bose asked if it was the speakers collective impression that the 25-year rule was beneficial because it prodded the agencies? declassification efforts. Schauble responded that it was and noted that some agencies, such as Treasury and Commerce, are not actively reviewing their documents for declassification. As a result, their records will be declassified in bulk in August 2006.
Schulzinger thanked the guests, noting that the discussion had prompted the committee to revisit a central duty under its statutory mandate, to visit the State Department records center regularly and check up on how the executive order is being implemented.
The committee adjourned at 9:56 am for a break.
Status of Declassification under the Kyl-Lott Amendment and Other Related Issues
The committee reconvened at 10:25 a.m.
Schulzinger began the session by requesting an update from Ken Stein on the Kyl-Lott review process. Stein indicated that DOE reviewers were keeping up with their tasks and that they had implemented quality control to ensure that the review process functioned as planned. Stein explained that DOE relies on State to identify and excise much of the relevant RD and FRD as material is reviewed for declassification. Then DOE goes through that material again to verify that it has been reviewed properly. There are occasional issues that arise during the review and it is a learning process. Stein had not brought review data for the interagency and State reviews on Nazi war crimes, but said that he would e-mail information regarding the status of these reviews to the HAC.
Schulzinger asked Stein how long it would take to complete the review. Stein explained that DOE had already processed approximately 200,000,000 pages to ascertain which would need additional review. This number had already been reduced by 20,000,000. Approximately 180,000,000 pages were sent to NARA to eventually be made public. Stein anticipated that the entire project would take about 4 to 5 more years to complete the re-review. The records would either be re-reviewed by their originating agencies, or they would await re-review at NARA. To facilitate this review, Stein said, State would need to check its own records for RD and FRD. Stein added that the experience that DOE had to date indicated that the training process for re-review worked very well and was an effective means to inexpensively process the material in question.
Adam Hornbuckle then gave his update on the Air Force review of records. He reported that the Air Force had completed review of 4.2 million pages and that the review had had minimal impact on HO research efforts. Items withdrawn from State Department records would be available to the general public through the FOIA process.Hornbuckle anticipates that the Air Force should complete its review of State Department records by the end of CY 2003.
Jeanne Schauble (NARA) said that the special reviews were moving along smoothly, with the Air Force handling initial reviews and DOE picking up latter reviews. She indicated that the process only occasionally impacted researchers, but that NARA had attempted to minimize any problems. Schauble hopes to find a way of simplifying the process so that only one group would be necessary to address both Air Force and RD or FRD issues. She applauded DOE for having worked more smoothly since Stein's arrival and indicated that he has provided weekly progress reports to NARA. Schauble's only concern was that the DOE review sometimes lasted longer than 30 days.
Schulzinger conveyed the HAC's recognition that the process was progressing and conveyed appreciation for the updates and progress reports as evidence that the job was getting done.
Schulzinger asked whether there were any questions for Hornbuckle or Stein. Hedstrom inquired whether the Air Force and Department of Energy reviews addressed a problem that was finite in scope or one that would continue indefinitely. Schulzinger responded that the problem was a retrospective one; Stein confirmed that both reviews were addressing a problem that was finite. Stein then noted, for the benefit of the new committee members, that unclassified reports to Congress describing the findings of Department of Energy reviewers could be found on the web at www.osti.gov/opennet/.
David Goldman asked whether NARA keeps a master list of file boxes that have been withdrawn for review. He said that some NARA staff members have said that it is difficult to identify which groups of files are under review and which are not. Schauble replied that agency reviewers have direct access to the stacks and are supposed to sign boxes out and in. The reviewers have been asked to follow this procedure many times, but they do not always do so. NARA cannot maintain a master list of boxes that have been withdrawn for review because the turnover is too rapid. There is one NARA employee who is trying to keep track of which boxes are under review, but agency reviewers must follow the box sign-out/sign-in procedure for the tracking process to be successful.
Schulzinger thanked Stein and Hornbuckle for their reports and for the progress each of their agencies has made in the review process. He invited Stein and Hornbuckle to keep the committee informed, but said that it may not be necessary for them to attend HAC meetings on a quarterly basis. Both Stein and Hornbuckle promised to send reports to the committee on a quarterly basis.
Schulzinger then invited Nancy Smith to report on the status of the Remote Access Capture (RAC) program. Smith was happy to report that since the last HAC meeting, the Department of State had joined the RAC program. She is currently discussing with Brian Dowling how best to manage State Department materials at the Nixon project. Meanwhile, NARA will begin scanning Truman Library materials next week and would soon begin scanning national security intelligence files at the Ford Library. Smith said that she was concerned about the implementation of the 25-year deadline in 2006. At present, agencies are concentrating on dealing with 25-year old material. However, once the Executive Order takes effect in 2006, Reagan era materials will immediately be affected. This poses a serious problem because the volume of classified material generated by the Reagan administration is estimated to be in the range of 7 to 8 million documents.
Schulzinger asked whether the Reagan administration applied stricter standards in determining which documents to classify; Smith replied that, generally speaking, the more recent administrations tended to have more intelligence information.
Smith noted that NARA continued to work with Department of Energy and Air Force reviewers. Progress was being made and Smith expected that the deadline for the 25-year-old material would be met. Smith concluded by saying that targeted Nixon materials will be scanned next.
Dowling observed that as a result of its late entry into the RAC program, State is now engaged in a serious game of catch-up. Dowling had recently sent 3 people to review the materials at the Carter Library. In the week that they were there, they were able to review 200 of the 2,500 boxes of material; as such, there remained 2,300 boxes of material still to be reviewed at the Carter Library, in addition to all of the outstanding material at the Ford Library.
Brian Dowling said that documents needed to be skimmed quickly to determine which should be scanned. Nancy Smith interjected to point out that classified information was sometimes buried in the middle of a document. The current review process set back the 25-year review of the 70 million documents that had been started. Dowling estimated that the scanning at the Carter library should be done by the summer, if another group set out as soon as the previous one returned. Although it was not easy to find people to do the work, he thought one more trip would finish the job. It was in State's best interest to make these trips, since they reduced the workload at Newington. Dowling was unable to supply the details that Margaret Hedstrom requested as to how many of the 200 boxes at Carter still remained to be scanned. Nancy Smith observed that the RAC guidance was not very helpful with the State material. Schulzinger expressed gratification that State was working on this project, even if it necessarily took resources away from other projects. Nancy Smith added that since State is the majority equity holder, it makes planning for the executive order much easier--60% of the equity holders are involved.
Schulzinger wanted to make sure that a report from NARA on redacted Department of State files was on the agenda for the next meeting.
At 11:01 a.m. the meeting adjourned for staff comments and executive session.