Advisory Committee on Historical Diplomatic Documentation, October 8-9, 1998
Open Session, October 8
Chairman Warren Kimball called the meeting into order at 9:10 a.m. The minutes from the last Advisory Committee meeting were approved. Kimball asked Rita Baker how the record of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA ) discussions of the last HAC meeting were resolved. Baker said any decision that the HAC had reached on this issue was not written down. Kimball recalled that he thought the CIA wanted their comments to be off-the-record and wanted to change the minutes to indicate that the CIA specifically wanted it this way. He reiterated that he and the Committee were uncomfortable with CIA comments not being in the minutes; he wanted them to be recorded.
William Slany, the Historian and Executive Secretary of the Committee, said that the way in which the minutes are prepared is not fixed. He suggested that dual minutes could be produced, a set with CIA comments and another set without them. Robert Schulzinger felt that there had to be a record of CIA comments and that it ought to be assumed that they are on-the-record. Kimball suggested that at lunch the Committee look again at the minutes from the last meeting.
Report by the Executive Secretary
Slany summarized his report to the Committee, referring the Committee to his written report for the details. He mentioned that there will be two vacancies for historians and that there has been some talk with representatives from the PA Front Office about how and when to fill these positions. He cited the end of the current fiscal year and the absorption of the U.S. Information Agency into the State Department as reasons that may delay filling these positions. He added that two senior Foreign Service officers have recently joined the staff of the Historian's Office to do research. He recounted a trip that he and Deputy Historian and General Editor David Patterson recently made to Bonn, Germany, to attend the 5th International Meeting of Documentary Editors. He said 12 countries were represented, including Italy, Japan, and Israel. The group discussed electronic publishing and their relationship with their respective foreign ministries. Slany reported that Germany has published records dating from 1968-1969, while Britain has departed from publishing its multi-volume chronological documentary series.
Slany announced that Washington will host this conference of international documentary editors in late spring/early autumn 2000. This conference, he said, would press for a broader opening of records on an international scale, and use a specific historical event, such as the Bonn's highlighting the 1968 Czech crisis, as a way to compare coverage and raise issues among the participants.
Slany requested comments from the Committee on holding such a conference in Washington. Kimball asked when the Department of State would revise its pamphlet on access to archives in other nations. Slany replied that the Nazi Gold report in December will include a guide to the archives. Although this guide would focus on Nazi era archives, it would be asking the same questions as a more general survey. Kimball asked about the process of getting this information out to the academic community. In response, Slany noted that scholars can examine the PA/HO Web site. Kimball stated that he was uncertain how much information was getting out to the public via that route.
Patterson suggested a cooperative venture with the National Archives, noting that he and David Herschler had spoken with people at Archives about 10 years ago concerning an update for the guide to diplomatic archives in other nations. The only version was published in 1978. He added that the participation of private sector representatives participant was important in the conferences of official documentary editors. For example, the National Security Archives sent people to the last two documentary editors conferences. Kimball asked if PA/HO receives volumes from the other nations' series. Slany replied that we do, but Foreign Relations is the "superpower" of the official series and sets the tone and agenda for many of the other publications.
Access to the Kissinger Telephone Conversations at the Library of Congress
Kimball then introduced David Wigdor from the Manuscript Division of the Library of Congress.
Wigdor discussed the problem of access to the Kissinger telcons. He stated that he had achieved a "fairly good" resolution. PA/HO staff will have unlimited access to the transcripts, which they will mark for review and copying by representatives of Kissinger. Kissinger's staff will copy documents and redact personal information or comments. A procedure is in place to have those decisions re-assessed. PA/HO staff must sign a confidentiality agreement, and can begin work in January 1999. Kimball then reviewed the process: PA/HO staff has unimpeded access; Kissinger's representative decides what can be copied; documents to be collected for Foreign Relations will go to Kissinger's representative for review.
David Humphrey asked about the ground rules for redacting. Wigdor replied that personal and confidential items and personal references would be taken out. For example, Kissinger's comments on the abilities of a newspaper reporter might be removed. PA/HO can appeal what has been redacted. Harriet Schwar asked how staff will know what has been redacted or denied. Wigdor stated that staff can go back to the original documents. Michael Hogan asked about appeal procedures. Kimball stated that the second review by Kissinger's representatives-once documents have been selected for a volume-is a courtesy, not a requirement.
Humphrey wanted to know why we had to wait until January since some Nixon-era manuscripts were already completed. Wigdor stated that this was when Rosemary Neiss, Kissinger's representative, will have time to review our materials. Right now, she is busy with the third volume of Kissinger's memoirs. Wigdor also pointed out that there are many Foreign Relations volumes from the Johnson administration which have not yet been published. Kimball suggested that PA/HO staff could review the materials now, but not make their copying requests until January. Wigdor stated that the staff would have to wait until January. He noted that there were 40 boxes of transcripts and that HO staff could not take notes.
Kimball asked how HO staff would find specific documents, and Wigdor pointed out that they were in chronological order. Kimball also asked why the staff could not take notes. Wigdor stated that Kissinger was worried about personal materials. He will not permit notes, or even lists of documents. Wigdor suggested the HO staff tag what they wanted copied for review by Kissinger's representative and reminded HO staff that there was no guarantee about turn-around time on these documents. Wigdor emphasized again that Kissinger had two concerns: to help government historians while protecting against disclosure of personal references. He will allow access but wants to be able to review.
Kimball wanted to know if simply making a list of documents created problems. Why call a list of documents "notes?" Can the lists be left with the Manuscript Division? Wigdor stated that PA/HO could reject the agreement if it did not like it. Kimball voiced his concerns about the efficiency of this process. He doubted that the Kissinger people had even thought about a list of documents when they discussed notes. Wigdor replied that he had told them about the idea of a list, but that Kissinger's representative rejected it. He stated that the main consideration was to allow broad access with review, thus creating a process that would satisfy Kissinger about personal information. He interprets Kissinger's requirements to mean no lists or summaries of documents.
Wigdor said that he had asked about the possibility of notes, and had been told, definitively, absolutely no notes, lists, summaries, or notations. He said that he had not seen this as presenting any problem since the historians will be free to make return visits to review the telephone records. He said that getting access was the important thing.
Schulzinger said that Kissinger and his staff will know how many telephone records a historian has pulled, but the historian will not have any such record to compare to what is returned. He suggested that Kissinger's staff could keep an inventory list of the requested records, which they could make available to State historians. Wigdor replied that this was not a realistic option in his view and that he would not make such a suggestion.
Nancy Tucker asked how the State historians, then, would know if the records returned were complete. Wigdor replied that the historians could tab the records that they were interested in. Kimball suggested that State historians should give the matter some serious thought and come up with some ideas to address this problem.
Wigdor reminded everybody that Kissinger had been very reluctant to allow any access at first, and had come a long way in facilitating access. He suggested that the chronological nature of the telephone records would facilitate addressing any problems caused by redaction. Kimball noted, however, that although the telephone conversations took place chronologically, the subjects don't follow such a neat order. Thus finding a particular subject could be difficult.
Wigdor regretted that it was not a perfect world, but re-emphasized that he would not be comfortable going back to Kissinger and staff to re-negotiate and, in fact, would not do so.
Kimball suggested a courteous well-crafted letter, specifying that the historians would take no substantive notes, but just wanted to make lists of the requested records. The letter should be appreciative of the access that has been offered and should also be non-confrontational.
Slany suggested the Secretary of State could follow up with a stronger letter, if necessary. He asked if the Library of Congress could make the lists and keep them. Wigdor said that they didn't need lists, and that the Library of Congress, which is going through a downsizing of its resources, including personnel, would not do such a task. Kimball pointed out that there are lists made at all Presidential libraries and asked why we couldn't get the same with the Kissinger records.
Frank Mackaman noted, however, that when he was Director of the Ford Library, he had done research in President Ford's records, but that when he applied for access to Kissinger's records he had been denied, because Kissinger had difficulty with notes and lists being made. Therefore, from his experience, the fact that David Wigdor had gotten access for State historians was "really a good thing."
Nancy Smith noted that the Office of Presidential Libraries at NARA had worked with Kissinger's staff too, and even for them there were more restrictions than in their work with Presidential materials.
Kimball asked Wigdor if he wanted to call lists notes, and the latter said yes. Kimball then asked if access would start on January 4, 1999.
In response to Kimball's question as to how many historians would be permitted access then, Wigdor replied "as many as want to come." David Patterson joked that the Library should "plan for the deluge." Wigdor responded that all historians were welcome to come, even all at the same time.
Kimball reiterated in conclusion that a "good letter" should be prepared and he advised the group that this was a good lesson for the future, that the issue of lists should be clarified up front and needs to be part of any future negotiations for access.
At this point the group took a break, reconvening at 10:25 a.m.
Kimball asked Mackaman to explore further the issues relating to access to Kissinger's telephone conversations.
Report of the Subcommittee on the High-Level Panel Process
Vince Davis then reported for the Subcommittee on the High-Level Panel process. He commented that there had been real progress and that we may be on the eve of an era of good feelings. Acknowledgement appeared to be the key point in the HLP process. He reported that of the 17 issues proposed by HO for HLP consideration, 12 had been sent forward. Three issues were still under review in the Department prior to going forward, while two were not being sent forward by State due to the lack of unanimity in the Department. Of the 12 issues sent forward, one set (totaling 4 issues) had been reviewed by the HLP, while the other 8 issues had been handled by the "junior varsity." All 12 issues sent forward would be acknowledged in issue statements, and 9 of the 12 would also be acknowledged through publication of documents. The CIA's basic objective was to excise [xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxx]. It was apparently ready to acknowledge Washington involvement in planning. In Davis' judgment, "It looks like we've come a long way." Schulzinger agreed that the log jam appeared broken but added he was concerned by the fact that the HLP had in fact met only once and that the other cases were resolved at a lower level. He feared that this was setting a precedent in which the HLP would refuse to act unless unanimity was achieved at a lower bureaucratic level.
Slany observed that the CIA had had serious internal problems over cooperation in the release of issue statements and declassification of documents. HO would continue to refer the agreements and issue statements to the Committee for its advice. Hogan added the caveat that the process dealt with only a small universe of documents and that it was only as reliable as the historians' access to documentary records. Kimball then asked if State Department declassifiers were aware of the acknowledgements and if they could be informed on paper of the HLP process determinations. Nancy Smith added that NARA should also be informed. Page Miller asked if any procedures existed to revisit the 2 cases that State had denied. Slany responded that there existed a requirement to revisit and Herschler amplified this to state that a time frame existed for discussions.
After Davis concluded his comments by noting the departure of Britt Snider to the CIA's Inspector General's office, Schulzinger reiterated his concerns about the effect of cutting the HLP principals out of the process. Slany responded that the State Department's principal was strongly behind the effort, although, with the constraints on his time, he preferred to see an acceptable solution at a lower level. Kimball then asked if State in effect had a veto over whether the HLP met. He had thought that the Committee could send these issues forward. Slany responded that State had to achieve a unity of accord before it brought forward a case. The Committee pressed on the issue of the "veto" arguing that it could provide a precedent for CIA to refuse to meet. Slany and Herschler responded that chain of command was a vital part of the bureaucratic process and if State appeared at a meeting without unanimity, the issue was lost in any case.
Report of the Subcommittee on Records Management Issues (Including Discussion of the Kyl Amendment)
Anne Van Camp reported on the meeting of the Records Management Subcommittee. In addition to herself as chairman, the meeting was attended by Kimball and Mackaman of the Committee; Peter Sheils, Ken Rossman, and Steve Lauderdale of the Office of IRM Programs and Services (A/RPM/IPS); and Michael Kurtz and Kenneth Thibodeau of the National Archives. The participants had discussed the eventual transfer to the National Archives of the electronic portion of the Department's Central Files. Van Camp said that the transfer was supposed to happen in 2000 and seemed to be proceeding well. She recalled that the Committee had expressed concern last year about whether the Archives could meet this deadline. Kurtz, however, assured the subcommittee that the deadline would be met; the Archives--moved by the Committee's concern regarding lack of progress--also agreed that communication with the Committee must be improved. Kurtz had promised that the Committee would be informed and that he would prepare a paper for that purpose.
Van Camp then reported that the Archives had approved an increase in the budget to cover the transfer of electronic records, both in terms of systems and software. She briefly described the new system to meet this challenge, the Archival Database Access Mechanism (ADAM). Van Camp explained that timing was an issue, once the system was secured and access provided. According to the current timetable, the Department's electronic Central Files would provide the first test of the system's ability to provide access to users. The system should be operational by late spring 2000. That, she said, was the good news.
Van Camp then reported that the bad news concerned the so-called Kyl Amendment--legislation sponsored by Arizona Senator Jon Kyl to protect the unauthorized disclosure of Restricted or Formerly Restricted Data (RD/FRD). She said that the bill, which had already passed a joint conference Committee, would probably be signed by the President some time soon. The bill represented a compromise including a reference to page-by-page review for RD or FRD information. Van Camp said that, although there was some awareness in Congress about the Committee's concerns, the bill required a 60 day moratorium on declassification. Kurtz explained that the moratorium would be in effect until a new plan was developed; the 60-day waiting period would begin once the plan is submitted to Congress. Van Camp said that the Archives believed that the Kyl Amendment would halt any further declassification, including material already reviewed but not yet available for research. Van Camp thought this was a bad situation.
Kimball asked whether the Department should send a letter to the Archives explaining that its records have always been subject to page-by-page review. Since the Department does not allow bulk declassification, Kimball inquired if a letter to this effect would release its records from the restrictions of the Kyl Amendment. Kurtz agreed that Kimball had raised a good question. He said that the Archives is currently working with the Department of Energy to produce a list describing those records that may include RD or FRD information. The Archives has also tried to explain to DOE that a page-by-page review which would ostensibly meet the criteria of the Amendment had already been done--within the normal limits of human fallibility. Kimball wondered if there might be a way to approach DOE directly to "short-circuit" the process. Kurtz thought the waiting period would be much longer than 60 days. The Archives would discuss the series descriptions with DOE to determine if any re-review is necessary. Kurtz said that a full review of Archives records would take 90 years to complete. He knew that we would rue the day that the term "bulk declassification" was inserted in the Executive Order on World War II era records.
Kimball expressed his frustration: he did not know where the legislation came from and why the Committee did not find out about it sooner. He asked again whether the Department could go straight to DOE, say that the Department's records were already in compliance with the Kyl Amendment, and move on. Margaret Grafeld thought that DOE would claim that the Department's reviewers did not know what to look for. Nancy Smith replied that even some DOE reviewers did not know what to look for. Kurtz admitted that training in this regard is a problem. Grafeld explained that the document review process at DOE is compartmentalized, including separate review for national security, law enforcement, privacy, and other matters. If the Department has to go through this bureaucratic process it will result in an enormous drain on resources. Kurtz said that the Amendment would effectively stop declassification at the Archives.
Page Putnam Miller expressed concern that the legislation was vague, particularly in the language requiring the Archives and DOE to develop a joint plan. She reiterated that the 60-day waiting period would only begin once Congress receives the plan; a moratorium on declassification would remain in effect until then. Van Camp worried that some agencies might use the Kyl Amendment as an excuse for failure to meet the Executive Order on declassification. Kimball said that the Committee should make some recommendation on how to proceed on the Kyl Amendment. He asked for comment from the Committee members, or other participants, on the most effective means to avoid the problems posed by the legislation. Sheils reminded the Committee that, since the Amendment is a "done deal," there is no legislative relief. The Department must comply with the law, but he hoped that a fast track would be found for those agencies already in compliance. Shiels noted that Kurtz was meeting with DOD that afternoon on the issue and could discuss it with them then.
Kimball wondered if there might be a way to get the President to issue a signing statement. If the Amendment is going to destroy the Executive Order on declassification, he explained, then the President should seriously consider such a statement with "mitigating language," but the Committee would have to get working on this today. Turning to Kurtz, he asked what the Committee could do to help mitigate any damage from the legislation. Kurtz responded that he would report the Committee's concerns later that day when he attended a meeting at Archives II on this issue and would report the Committee's recommendation that those agencies that already do a page-by-page review be placed on a separate compliance track. Kimball asked Kurtz if it would be advantageous for the Committee to meet with the people from DOE. Kurtz felt it would and said he would convey the request for such a meeting to the DOE people he was meeting that afternoon. Kimball cautioned Kurtz to phrase this request carefully since many at DOE are less amenable to openness than the folks at CIA.
Grafeld noted that DOE has a zero-tolerance policy and they have examples of documents that have been released even though they include RD. We will have to prove that there have been no major security breaches as a result of the release of these documents. Kurtz added that DOE is inconsistent in how it defines Formerly Restricted Data and Restricted Data. Rossman commented that they have a zero-tolerance for those types of documents they can define. Nancy Smith suggested that the Information Security Oversight Office come up with a clear definition for RD and FRD.
Grafeld stated that the Committee should take advantage of the fact that some agency heads might be upset that their declassification efforts are coming under criticism through this legislation. Kurtz added that according to the legislation the agencies will have to determine what resources they need to implement its provisions, to which Kimball interjected sarcastically that they should start with a billion dollars. Kurtz continued that, in fact, DOD is already using figures in the billions.
Van Camp asked if the State Department had considered the legislation and its implications, to which Grafeld replied that it has not had the opportunity. Kimball then asked what prompted the Kyl amendment. Kurtz responded that it was drafted in response to concern on the Hill from DOE staffers. Kimball lamented that the Committee should have been notified about this effort earlier. Page Miller commented that an article was published in August warning that something along the lines of the Kyl legislation was coming up. Kimball responded that he missed the article and that the Committee needed some sort of system to alert itself to these things. Kurtz added that the Society of American Archivists was planning to approach Congress.
At this point in the discussion, Kimball decided to outline the steps the Committee should take in response to the legislation: meet with representatives from DOE this afternoon; contact Kurtz later in the day to find out what came out of his afternoon meetings; and have Grafeld provide the Committee with her office's input on this situation. Kimball also asked the Committee whether it should send a wake-up call to PA Deputy Assistant Secretary Foley and Assistant Secretary Rubin immediately, adding that if Archivist Carlin and Secretary of State Albright recommend a signing statement it would prove helpful. Schulzinger inquired if there was anyone still in the White House that was involved in drafting E.O. 12958. It was noted that Podesta was still there. Grafeld asked if the Committee should contact Senator Moynihan, to which Kimball responded that all key Senators should be contacted. Nancy Smith added that she had met with leaders of many key agencies and they seem excited about the legislation, viewing it as a prototype.
Kimball asked Kurtz and Page Miller to pull together a draft statement and try to figure out when the bill was scheduled to go to the White House. Kimball said he would also make some calls and throw some names around. He and Kurtz agreed to coordinate by telephone that afternoon.
Van Camp then introduced the second issue her subcommittee considered, which while not politically problematic like the Kyl legislation, was technically problematic. The issue was utilization of electronic and microfilm versions of the State Department Central files. She noted that if one item on a microfilm reel is classified then the entire reel cannot be released. At present, Van Camp claimed, IRM had no good solutions. At this point Sheils interrupted, adding that although they had no good solutions they were exploring options such as printing out declassified documents or working with a contractor. Kurtz and Grafeld agreed to work together on resolving these problems. Kimball offered the services of the Subcommittee which, he noted, included two archivists. Grafeld then introduced Steve Lauderdale and sketched his background in technology and history. He will be attending meetings in the future and will deal with electronic records issues.
Van Camp and Grafeld next brought up the Y2K problem, noting that it would drain resources. Grafeld sketched some of the problems in becoming Y2K compliant. She commented that the Department may not make the March 1999 goal but would be ready by December 1999.
Mackaman commented that the Subcommittee had been assured by NARA that its building infrastructure was adequate to provide access to electronic records in an online fashion. Kimball asked whether NARA will be looking into providing offsite access. Kurtz responded that it was. Mackaman stated that there was no technical reason why worldwide access to NARA electronic records would not be feasible. Kimball commented that this was a different message than was given the Committee in June. Van Camp stated that she was guardedly optimistic on the issue of access to Department of State electronic records.
Sheils distributed progress reports on declassification of State Department records and indicated that progress has been made. For example, the Princeton University Dulles microfilm project was 90 percent completed. Kimball stated that he wanted the user community notified of its completion and asked Sheils to let Slany know.
The meeting adjourned for lunch at 11:53 a.m.
Closed Session, October 8
Procedures for the Declassification Review of Foreign Relations Volumes With Intelligence Information; Status of the High-Level Panel Process
The Committee reconvened at 1:40 p.m. Kimball raised the issue of whether the notes on discussions with CIA officials should be on or off the record. He said that the Advisory Committee is a public committee and added: "It makes us extraordinarily uneasy to go off the record." The Committee would honor requests from the CIA to go off the record, but he asked that such requests be kept to a minimum. The CIA representatives present indicated agreement.
At Kimball's invitation, Gerald Haines, Chief of the CIA's History Staff, introduced Lloyd Salvetti, Director of the CIA's Center for the Study of Intelligence, and James Oliver, the Chief of the CIA's Historical Review Program. David Holmes, the new CIA Representative on the High-Level Panel was unable to attend the meeting.
Slany told the CIA officials that the Committee had heard a report in the morning session about the progress of the High-Level Panel. Out of 17 issue statements, 8 have been approved by the Panel. Of those 8, 6 have resulted in a re-review of documents and 2 have resulted in the decision to publish the issue statement only. He invited the CIA officials to comment.
Oliver noted that the appointment of Holmes is an indication of the priority the CIA places on the Foreign Relations series. Holmes enjoys the confidence of the DCI-an important asset.
Robert Leggett of the CIA's Office of Information Management said that Holmes had been briefed on HO's concerns. Leggett noted that he is the in-house facilitator for Foreign Relations clearance and added that he works closely with Holmes. Leggett described the clearance process within the CIA and concluded that the High-Level Panel has proven to be an important, productive step forward. He then discussed in some detail the issues taken up by the High-Level Panel and the resolution of those issues to date.
The issues prepared for the first Panel included Italy (two issues), Indonesia, the Philippines, and one other country. This is the only instance thus far in which the principals representing the CIA, State, and the NSC have met to consider the issues. There was general agreement prior to the meeting of the first panel that one of the issues should be "taken off the table." The four remaining issues covering three countries were addressed and issue statements approved.
The issues proposed for the second and third High-Level Panels were considered by lower-level officials of State and CIA. Unless HO objects to the results of these deliberations it will not be necessary to convene the Panel to consider the issues involved. The issues put forward for the second Panel included Iran, Pakistan (two issues), and British Guiana. Issue statements were agreed upon and documents reconsidered in light of those statements. The CIA is waiting for HO's reaction to the action taken on the documents. The third High-Level Panel includes issues relating to Greece, Israel/Jordan, Thailand, and the Dominican Republic. CIA's proposed revisions in the issue statements were returned to HO at the end of September. The CIA is awaiting a package of issues for a fourth High-Level Panel.
Leggett said that from the perspective of the CIA the process is working. He added that a key to facilitating the process lies in the ability of HO historians to identify problem areas early in the preparation of manuscripts.
Schulzinger said that his subcommittee had looked at the documents involved in the High-Level Panel review. The subcommittee felt that with one exception the excisions proposed by the CIA had been consistent. [xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx]
Leggett said that the CIA had agreed with State to release information on the coordination of policy in Washington. He made reference to the records of 303 and 40 Committee discussions. [xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx] Leggett offered to submit for further review one excision cited by Schulzinger. He stated that if HO has problems with the excised documents in these cases, we should take it up with him.
Kimball asked for and received from Leggett an assurance that the CIA was prepared to release policy-related discussions in the 303 Committee. He commented that CIA seemed to want to lay responsibility for covert actions on the administration or U.S. Government, rather than on the Agency. Leggett and Salvetti responded, noting that proposals to the 303 Committee have often been requested by high-level officials from a number of agencies and, in any case, policy decisions to pursue a course of action are made at this level.
Kimball asked the CIA to reconsider the Greek case. Leggett responded that the CIA had agreed to release an issue statement [xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx]
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Slany asked Leggett to describe the CIA process in dealing with issues for the High-Level Panel. Leggett said that he sends the documents to the relevant directorates. They send their recommendations to David Holmes, who prepares a position paper with guidelines regarding what can and cannot be released, which he discusses with the Agency's Executive Director or Deputy Executive Director. Leggett stated that when the High-Level Panel meets, Holmes has the authority to negotiate. He emphasized that once the meeting with NSC has taken place, CIA will not change the guidelines. Leggett monitors the process to ensure that a good-faith review is done in accordance with the guidelines. He reviews the documents, and if necessary, goes to Holmes to resolve conflicts.
Research and Preparation of Foreign Relations Volumes With Major Covert Actions and Intelligence Records
Kimball noted that CIA had said in the past how helpful it would be if HO gave it advance notice concerning potentially sensitive issues in volumes being compiled. Kimball further noted that it would be helpful if CIA took a more pro-active role in the research of HO historians. He asked if CIA historians were getting more access to the files. Haines responded that CIA historians now had almost complete access to CIA files and have tried to be extremely helpful to HO historians. He pointed out that the CIA History Staff has its own mission and only six professional historians to carry it out. Haines asked Nina Howland to comment on her recent experience at CIA. Howland praised the work done by Scott Koch in locating CIA documents for the first Nixon volume on Africa. She had just finished her 5th day of research at CIA. Haines commented that the CIA History Staff has developed a good rapport with HO historians.
Kimball pointed out that previous briefings on CIA historians' access to CIA files did not agree with this, and Hogan noted that those briefings had indicated that CIA historians did not have access to CIA finding aids. Haines responded that that had changed. Kimball said that for a long time the Committee had asked CIA to let HO have access to those finding aids and asked if there was any possibility of this now. He pointed out that this would save CIA resources.
Leggett said that he thought that the ideal situation would be to have a State historian assigned to the CIA History Staff, maybe for 2 years on a rotating basis. Kimball saw no point in this unless the historian had access to CIA finding aids. Haines said that he/she would have such access. Salvetti commented that this suggestion made sense to him. Michael Hogan asked why a detailed historian would be given access that a regular HO historian would not have. Salvetti said such a historian would have to be polygraphed. Slany asked how this would differ from having a person at CIA under State subvention. Leggett said that an HO historian would provide valuable expertise.
Kimball said this concept was "on the table" and asked if there were any more issues that needed to be raised. Keefer noted that HO's access to selected files had been reduced. HO historians could get access to these but could not make copies; they could only make notes to be reviewed. Haines pointed out that these files were the most sensitive files in the Agency and that it did not want them widely distributed. He agreed that the policy had changed in limiting access, but explained that the policy on this had not been finally decided. Kimball noted that the Committee had had access previously and expressed hope that there would be a reasonable solution.
Salvetti stated that he had been an operations officer, but that he now has a different responsibility. He was also teaching a class on covert action at the National War College and knew the importance of making documents available. He noted, however, that these particular files are extremely sensitive. He hoped this problem could be resolved. Kimball pointed out that these files are 20-30 years old. Herschler noted that HO does have an access agreement with CIA. CIA documents are returned and copies are made only for declassification purposes. He said that HO has a good record on this. Leggett said that HO needs to ensure that it has good procedures in place for returning CIA documents, and noted that this subject often gets raised internally within CIA.
Kimball said that he wanted to turn to the problem of the citation of CIA files, which had a long history. He noted that Leo Hazlewood had promised that this would not be an issue. He had read through the papers on this and could see no reason for this problem. Kimball said that it is imperative that Foreign Relations provide historically usable citations. He recognized that some folder titles are classified.
Oliver said that he also was a new guy. He could see the Committee's logic, but was not as familiar with this issue as he would like to be. He wanted to work this out. Kimball suggested that Haines could help work out a process for classified sources. Oliver said he needs to examine this closely and promised to work on it quickly. He said his understanding was that job numbers were somewhat random and therefore should not be a problem. Leggett said they have a copy of Hazlewood's memo on this. He thought part of the problem was the lack of institutional memory.
Haines commented that citations to these sensitive files were harder than the others. In some cases, the name might have to be excised. Oliver noted that you could trace it through the job number. Salvetti pointed out that each file had its own number.
Kimball asked about the "seven countries" issue. Oliver said that the "seven countries" policy was being reviewed internally. OIM had sent a paper to the DDI on the need to reconsider the policy in light of the Foreign Relations law, the public interest in openness, and the end of the Cold War. Their paper was with the DDI and he was hopeful that this would be resolved in a way that would be acceptable to HO and the Committee, even if not completely to their satisfaction.
HO-CIA History Staff Cooperation
Slany invited Haines and Patterson to discuss cooperation between HO and the CIA History Staff.
Patterson said HO is working on a retrospective volume regarding the development of the intelligence community for the years 1950-1960. Two people from HO are currently compiling the record from documents already collected. These documents will provide a good basis for the volume. Patterson said that HO is working with Mike Warner from the CIA in a cooperative arrangement. The CIA will do the research in its files and also help State research the CIA and other intelligence agency files. Warner visited HO to review the State collection and comment on the selection of certain documents. Patterson said he hoped that Mike would be able to devote more time to this effort and complete his part of the collection soon. Patterson said that there was a copy of the draft Memorandum of Understanding in the briefing packet the Committee received.
Haines stated that he had signed the MOU. He said the CIA was planning to add to the State materials, and would like to have State come over to CIA to review them. Haines said that he hoped to have a manuscript sometime in 1999. He said he was very pleased with the selection of documents.
Kimball said that the Committee had proposed similar cooperative agreements in the past. He stated that there are some projects where a joint effort will provide better access, better records, and therefore a better product for the Historian's Office.
Slany expressed concern about the issue statements on which CIA's re-review of documents is based. The issue statements are drafted on the basis of the documents in the manuscript. He said that he would like CIA to look more carefully at both the documents collected and the issue statements drafted to see if the statements accurately and adequately describe the covert action. Slany also said that he would like to see the CIA declassify more documents on covert actions.
Haines stated that he has talked with Lloyd Salvetti about expanding the role of not only the CIA, but of the whole intelligence community. He said that this is one of the areas he would like to explore-he would like to take these cooperative efforts beyond the Foreign Relations series and involve more agencies than just CIA and State.
Kimball said that it was a great idea and would be very helpful if CIA would open the door for Foreign Relations. He said that we are lucky because the law is behind the series.
The CIA Declassification Program and Its Impact on the Foreign Relations Series
Kimball raised the problem of withdrawn documents in State Department records at the National Archives that contain CIA equities. Oliver stated that the CIA 25-year declassification effort will get to these records. He said that the CIA was concerned about documents containing their equities being released under the 25-year rule without adequate review.
Kimball stated that Rich Warshaw has explained the CIA declassification "factory" to the Committee, but that it was not very helpful. Kimball said the Committee was interested not in input, but in output and how it related to State files and the Foreign Relations series.
Oliver said that the Committee has underestimated Warshaw's effort. He said that the CIA has developed a plan showing what will be declassified and what will be "excepted" from review. He said that the CIA is going to the presidential libraries to review documents. He said they want the same thought process to go into documents reviewed at NARA.
Kimball said that the Committee has had a lot of briefings on this subject. He said there is still a lot of work to be done because CIA will not allow delegation of review authority to State or NARA. There is still an enormous backlog and problem getting State documents released by the 25- or 30-year time line because of the CIA equities.
Oliver said that he needs more information about this problem and will talk to Warshaw about his program. Kimball said that it might be useful to give Oliver the minutes of the last two meetings. Leggett said that a list of action items would be more helpful than just reading the minutes. Kimball thought a list was a good idea but noted that the Committee could not be limited by it.
Oliver said that the CIA conducts a line-by-line declassification review of its documents. He said that the CIA, especially the DO, is concerned about the inadvertent release of CIA equities contained in other agency documents.
Kimball said he is concerned about where the CIA is in its declassification effort and where it is going. He said the CIA should take a look at its effort and maybe re-think some of these issues. Clear, precise, limited redaction authority could be given to State to help resolve one problem that often arises. Kimball said that roughly 75 percent of all State documents withheld because of CIA equities involve one specific acronym.
Oliver said that he will take that back to the CIA.
Retrospective Foreign Relations Volume on Guatemala
Slany then discussed the retrospective volume on Guatemala being prepared by HO. He said that HO aims to publish the volume by the end of 1999. He said it would be ideal if the 100 boxes of CIA material on Guatemala could be reviewed and available at NARA at the same time. This material would be very useful to academics.
Oliver stated that the CIA shares HO's desire to get the material declassified. He said the CIA is committed to declassifying 17,000 pages of materials, but that within the DO records there are another 180,000 pages of materials, someof which have been judged by the CIA historians to be "peripheral" and do not meet NARA standards for permanent records.
Kimball said that is not what the NARA appraisers have said. Oliver said that a NARA appraiser came to the CIA, reviewed the materials, and recommended that a significant portion should be disposed of because it did not meet NARA requirements. Kimball said that there is still a "huge" amount of material out there that is important. He asked Oliver if the CIA could at least review the "good" records.
Oliver replied that the CIA is already committed to having the "good" records reviewed. But the issue is one of resources. He said, for example, if the CIA had to choose between reviewing the last iota of Guatemala records or a significant NIE on the Soviet Union, he would have to apply the resources to the NIE. He said the CIA is committed to reviewing the 17,000 pages of material which have been judged to be the most significant records. Kimball suggested that CIA have some historians and a NARA appraiser take a look at these other materials.
Oliver replied that the CIA has been told orally by NARA that it has completed its review and a significant portion of the records do not meet NARA standards. Haines interjected that it is NARA's job to evaluate the records, not CIA or State historians.
Oliver stated that he is aware of the sensitivity of this material. He said he knows the importance the Committee places on this issue. Kimball stated that the Committee wants to make sure that the CIA does not forget about important material outside of the 17,000 pages. Oliver said "noted." He said that now that the JFK assassination project is winding down, the CIA will be able to devote expert resources to other important historical projects.
Kimball thanked the CIA for coming. He expressed his hope that Salvetti will be able to help the Committee and HO better understand the DO perspective. He said that part of the problem is "not speaking the same language." He hoped that Salvetti will help "bridge the gap" between HO and the DO.
Leggett said that he was proud of the process established and progress made during the past year with regard to the High-Level Panel.
Kimball replied that the proof of the effectiveness of the High-Level Panel will be in the amount of actual documentation released after the covert action has been acknowledged. He said the Committee is guardedly optimistic. He then again thanked the CIA for coming.
Kimball called the meeting to order at 3:30 p.m. after a break. Commenting briefly on the question of access to President Nixon's diary, Kimball suggested that the Office approach David Eisenhower, President Nixon's son-in-law, who reportedly is the only person with access to the diary.
Subcommittee Report on the High-Level Panel Process
The first order of business was a subcommittee report by Davis concerning disclosure statements on High-Level Panel operations. Kimball asked if the documents reflected what was in the issue statements. Davis indicated that the first batch of documents did, but there was not enough time to evaluate the next two batches of documents.
Kimball asked what precautions could be taken to ensure that issue statements with few or no documents attached did not become an easy way out. It was the practice to send issue statements to the subcommittee for full review if no documents were released. The Committee should develop an ongoing procedure to constantly monitor the process. Davis suggested that the subcommittee be converted to a Standing Committee. Tucker asked whether the subcommittee saw every issue statement. Kimball indicated that there was a huge volume of documents, which could take up to 4 days to review, but that he could not judge an issue statement without looking at the documentation. Hogan said that currently the Committee looked for what had been taken out rather than reviewing over 1,000 pages of backup documents. Kimball asked if it would be useful to have the subcommittee routinely look at the issue statements as well as read through all the documents. It should be a standing policy that issue statements without documents, in cases where no documents were cleared, should be a special focus.
Humphrey raised the issue of Greece, which had been going on for 5 years. The former Ambassador was against disclosure; the current Ambassador supported disclosure. The issue statement had been forwarded to CIA, which had revised it. More negotiations were needed. Humphrey quoted Miller's concerns that omitting critical documents about Greece, or allowing declassified documents about a proposed covert action to be excised would impair the credibility of the volume. Kimball asked whether the revised HO proposal mentioned the 303 Committee. Herschler said that it did, and that other revisions included "boilerplate" and had not gone to the Panel. He added that the text of the issue statement had not been resolved and required further discussion. [xxxxxxxxx xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx] One document had been inadvertently declassified by NARA; he reminded the Committee that the principle of declassification was to protect what should remain classified.
Slany pointed out that Humphrey had chosen to raise the issue of Greece in a very dramatic way before the Committee, but there were procedures for review and consultation within the Office that had not yet been followed. The compilation on Greece did not run the risk of public embarrassment simply because four documents concerning intelligence-it would be equally suspect on other substantive grounds. One cannot say that elimination of intelligence documents ipso facto reflects on the volume. Slany asked Humphrey not to appeal to the Committee before the case had been resolved within the Office and the Department, or negotiated with CIA.
Hogan asked if there were any factual errors in the compilation or if the emphasis of the compilation was deceptive. Kimball said that there was no doubt that the Committee needed to look at issue statements on this and other areas, but was willing to leave it to internal discussion within HO for the time being. Tucker asked a question concerning issue statements: if there was disagreement over whether an issue statement properly reflected the documents, where would the decision rest? Kimball indicated that the ultimate decision would probably rest with HO, but the Committee would express its views. The Committee agreed to table the matter for future discussion, perhaps at the December meeting, and agreed that the internal process had not yet been completed within HO. Slany agreed that the continuation of this internal process would allow everyone's views to be developed. Schulzinger suggested, and it was agreed, that the process was so important that the membership of the subcommittee should rotate, starting at the next meeting, so that every member had a chance to participate, but keeping one of three for continuity in each rotation.
The Committee then turned to declassification issues on Greenland in the Denmark compilation for Foreign Relations, 1964-1968, Volume XII, Western Europe. Kimball and Tucker dealt with the issue, and Kimball reported. He indicated that in a fascinating way the Greenland issue echoed the issue of Greece: what happens when material is declassified in one place but not acknowledged in another. The documents involved the crash of a nuclear-armed B-52 in Greenland. The Danish Institute of Foreign Relations recently issued a report, including copies of some U.S. documentation revealing U.S. nuclear overflights of Greenland. This release violated U.S. policy of not acknowledging such incidents; the issue involved was the U.S. policy of "neither confirm nor deny." The Department of Defense, as well as higher echelons in the Department of State, object to release.
Kimball and Tucker hoped the Department would deal with the issue seriously, and felt the situation was "absurd." Zelikow had cited other instances where the "neither confirm nor deny policy" was violated. Slany and Herschler said it was still a State Department issue and there was no need for a High-Level Panel at this point. Kimball noted that the Danes had published two volumes of documents, while State had not pushed for release of the supplementary documents, and would not until those included in Foreign Relations had been released. Patterson said it would be embarrassing to State if a volume were published that did not acknowledge what the Danes have released. Kimball said that he and Tucker were "underwhelmed" by an unpersuasive draft appeal to the Under Secretary of State for Management. Slany and Patterson pointed out that the final paper would have to be a joint HO-EUR effort.
The meeting adjourned at 4:15 p.m., and the Committee went into Executive Session.
Closed Session, October 9
The session was off the record.
- Warren F. Kimball, Chairman
- B. Vincent Davis
- Michael Hogan
- Frank H. Mackaman
- Michael R. Schaller
- Robert D. Schulzinger
- Nancy Bernkopf Tucker
- Anne Van Camp
- William Slany, Executive Secretary
Bureau of Public Affairs, Office of the Historian
- William Slany, Director
- Rita Baker
- Paul Claussen
- Evan Duncan
- Vicki Futscher
- David Geyer
- David Goldman
- David Herschler
- Susan Holly
- Nina Howland
- David Humphrey
- Donna Hung
- Edward Keefer
- Dan Lawler
- Gabrielle Mallon
- James McElveen
- James Miller
- David Patterson
- Steven Phillips
- Harriet Schwar
- Kent Sieg
- Luke Smith
- Shirley Taylor
- Gloria Walker
- Susan Weetman
- Carolyn Yee
Bureau of Administration
- Margaret Grafeld, A/RPS/IPS
- Ken Rossman, A/RPS/IPS/PP
- Morris Draper, A/RPS/IPS/CR/IR
- Steve Lauderdale, A/RPS/IPS/AAS
- David Mabon, A/RPS/IPS/CR/IR
- Peter Sheils, A/RPS/IPS/CR
- Sophia Sluzar, A/RPS/IPS/CR/IR
Library of Congress
- David Wigdor, Manuscript Division
National Archives and Records Administration
- Margaret Hawkins, Life Cycle Management Division
- Michael Kurtz, Assistant Archivist for Records Service
- David Langbart, Life Cycle Management Division
- Marty McGann, Textual Archives Services Division
- Don McIlwaine, Initial Processing/Declassification Division
- Marvin Russell, Initial Processing/Declassification Division
- Jean Schauble, Director, Initial Processing/Declassification Division
- Nancy K. Smith, Office of the General Counsel
Central Intelligence Agency
- Gerald Haines, Chief Historian
- Robert Leggett, Office of Information Management
- James Oliver, Chief, Historical Review Program
- Lloyd Salvetti, Director, Center for the Study of Intelligence
- Page Putnam Miller