Learn about the beta
Office of the Historian

Chapter 10: “A Civil War in the Department,” 1986–1990

The acceleration effort undertaken between 1984 and 1988 stabilized the FRUS publication lag in the mid-1980s but left key issues unresolved. Between 1986 and 1989, HO published 26 volumes at an average publication line of 31 years. HO still faced obstacles to accessing highly-classified materials controlled by other agencies. Foreign governments continued to influence U.S. decisionmaking about the release of historical secrets. Most significantly, U.S. Government officials and the academic community still held discordant views about the scope of the series, which reflected incompatible positions about the nature of the U.S. Government transparency regime. The accelerated FRUS series embodied a compromise that resulted in translucency, rather than transparency. By the mid-1980s, HO found itself attempting to navigate a very narrow space between public expectations for openness and official demands for security. Could the Office produce volumes that the U.S. Government would be willing to release as an official publication, while also meeting public expectations for FRUS’s integrity? As the Department’s relationship with the HAC deteriorated in the late 1980s, HO struggled to salvage a worsening FRUS problem.

As the Department pursued the FRUS acceleration plan between 1986 and 1989, the CDC—supported by Under Secretary of State for Management Ronald Spiers—grew increasingly hostile to the HAC’s insistence that the Committee required broader access to classified material to assess the integrity of Foreign Relations volumes. As PA and HO efforts to forge a compromise failed, the Department’s relationship with the HAC soured. After the FRUS volume documenting U.S. relations with Iran between 1951 and 1954 was released in 1989, readers denounced it as so incomplete and misleading that it constituted a “fraud.”1 A major “FRUS problem” emerged early in 1990 after HAC Chair Warren Cohen resigned in protest when the Department’s declassifiers abandoned an agreement for limited Committee access to classified documents. The Iran volume and Cohen’s resignation exposed the Department’s 1980s retreat from transparency just as the Cold War ended and many Eastern bloc countries opened long-closed records in an unprecedented fashion. Questioning U.S. Government credibility, the academic community, the news media, and, most consequentially, the U.S. Congress championed greater openness.

FRUS Acceleration, 1985–1988

Reagan’s acceleration directive fostered U.S. Government-wide coordination of declassification procedures and scheduling. In advance of a February 11, 1986 interagency meeting chaired by Under Secretary Spiers,2 HO and CDC honed the Department’s strategy to meet the “1960 by 1990” objective. HO’s task was easiest since only 12 volumes in the 1958–1960 awaited compilation; these volumes, Slany promised, would be complete by the end of 1988. The declassification workload was more substantial. CDC had to review 28 volumes between 1986 and 1990. Other agencies had to handle 34. Since the NSC waited until other agencies completed their reviews before beginning its own, it faced the largest clearance burden: 44 volumes in only 4 years. Even if all volumes were cleared, the Department and GPO had to push 50 through the printing process. Complicating this already formidable task, Slany sought to mitigate the size limitations imposed on printed volumes by producing 11 microfiche supplements that also required declassification. HO also wanted to bring a highly-visible subset of the series to a 21-year line by completing the FRUS volumes covering Vietnam during the 1960s by the 1990 publication deadline. All of the nearly 20 officials who attended the Spiers meeting, most of whom served as records managers and federal historians, agreed that the production targets proposed by HO and CDC could be achieved.3

To meet these production targets amidst Gramm–Rudman budgetary caps, HO tightened page limits for FRUS manuscripts. To lower the cost of producing the series, the Department and GPO contracted with a commercial printing firm to perform some FRUS editing and publishing tasks. These savings came with a “tradeoff between volume size and cost. Each additional page above 800 . . . has a dollar cost associated with it.” Imposing the new page limit on already-compiled volumes forced HO to “decompile” cleared manuscripts “to ensure that only the most important documents were included.” To assuage fears that these cost constraints would decimate FRUS, HO emphasized the potential of relatively inexpensive microfiche supplements to make up for the shortfall. As HO’s budget grew more strained in 1987, Slany proposed that microfiche bear more of the aggregate publishing burden. Although HAC members recognized the necessity of cutting FRUS production costs, they were anxious about the implications of narrowing space constraints and HO’s increasing reliance on microfiche supplements to stay within its budget. They worried that both the comprehensiveness and the utility of the series was jeopardized by these “solutions.”4

The FRUS acceleration initiative forced transparency skeptics to offer rhetorical support to the principle of openness. In the fall of 1984, Director of Central Intelligence William Casey responded to a coalition of the AHA, the OAH, and the Society of American Archivists demanding “a commitment to maximum possible openness” with assurances that he too “admir[ed] the Department of State’s distinguished series” and “recognize[d] its important role in informing the American people about their government’s foreign policy.” Although Casey rejected their principle “when in doubt, declassify,” he promised that the CIA balanced “the need to protect our national security interests” with “the opposing equity—enlightenment of the American public.”5 At the time, the CIA pursued this balance by securing from Congress a blanket exemption of its operational files from the Freedom of Information Act.6 In exchange, the Agency promised to consult with academic experts to augment its systematic review program. In May 1985, Casey cited advice offered by these experts (several of whom were current or former HAC members) and acknowledged that “the Foreign Relations volumes . . . are the appropriate and preferred vehicle for publishing finished intelligence and other documents relating to intelligence activities abroad.”7 The Agency employed similar language in response to Reagan’s directive.8 Although it stopped short of providing direct HO access to CIA files and ignored the issue of documenting covert operations, the Agency’s acknowledgement of FRUS’s special status as a vehicle for disclosure marked a rhetorical retreat from the restrictive posture of the late 1970s and early 1980s.

The acceleration effort also influenced the Department’s consultations with foreign governments regarding FRUS clearances. While the Department maintained its policy of expanded FGI consultations, the FRUS acceleration effort encouraged U.S. officials to elevate their priority within the broader range of U.S. diplomacy.9 Although foreign government requests for continued protection of their information reinforced bureaucratic fears of releasing sensitive records, U.S. officials resisted foreign pressure when it threatened to upend agreed-upon FRUS production deadlines. The most significant of these requests for secrecy involved Japanese appeals to exclude documentation of several sensitive issues in FRUS volumes covering the 1950s. As Japanese diplomats explained, the Japanese media “pays a great deal of attention to U.S. FRUS publications and other releases which contain material pertaining to Japan.”10 Despite obvious parallels with the foreign government concerns that the CDC cited to justify the 1980 re-review and expanded FGI consultations earlier in the decade, the Department’s declassification staff resisted Japanese pressures in 1986 and 1987. In part, their response reflected bureaucratic defensiveness: the old clearance system may have been flawed, but subsequent CDC reviews surely provided sufficient protection for foreign government equities. The CDC also explained that the Japanese démarche jeopardized FRUS acceleration targets. Echoing Trask in 1980, Dwight Ambach, chief of the Systematic Review Division, complained that Tokyo’s efforts to censor FRUS “rais[ed] an important question of principle: Can a foreign government exercise control over release of USG information. The answer clearly is no.” He assured the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs that past declassification reviews had been “responsive” to “GOJ [Government of Japan] sensitivities” and that “no negative publicity” followed the release of earlier volumes despite Japanese fears.11 In meetings with Japanese Embassy officials in May and August 1987, Ambach promised to tweak declassification guidelines and explore the possibility of “re-checking” material released at the National Archives, but “made clear” that the Department “was proceeding with 1955/7 and 1958/60 FRUS.”12 Ambach’s stance notwithstanding, unforeseen challenges prevented the release of these two volumes until 1991 and 1994.13

Despite early progress toward meeting production targets in 1986, the government-wide acceleration plan collapsed in 1988 when an unpredictable bottleneck in the declassification system brought the entire FRUS production process to a standstill. Although HO met its compiling targets and the CDC and other agencies generally met their clearance deadlines, the NSC had to stop reviewing FRUS manuscripts in 1987 when the Iran-Contra scandal monopolized its declassification resources.14 The NSC resumed reviewing in 1988, but at a slow pace.15 Nearly half of the accelerated volumes planned for publication by 1990 missed the 30-year line.

“A Burden for the Department”: Debating the HAC, 1986–1989

As HO accelerated FRUS production between 1986 and 1990, relations between the Department and the HAC grew increasingly adversarial. The late 1980s clash between the HAC and the CDC illustrated the more general polarization between champions of transparency and guardians of security in American society as the Iran-Contra scandal exacerbated public skepticism of the integrity of the U.S. Government. The HAC’s feud with the CDC reflected fundamental disagreements about authority, responsibility, and accountability for the FRUS process. Because the HAC claimed authority to ascertain whether FRUS provided an objective and comprehensive account of U.S. foreign policy, Committee members demanded access to documents withheld in whole or in part from the series. The HAC considered the Department as a whole responsible for producing FRUS and held the entire Department accountable for maintaining its reliability and utility. The CDC bitterly opposed HAC attempts to insert itself into the declassification process. CDC officials considered the HAC mandate limited to affairs under the jurisdiction of the Bureau of Public Affairs. Despite PA and HO efforts to broker a compromise between insistent academics and resentful declassifiers, relations between the HAC and the Department worsened. As HO and PA lobbied Under Secretary Spiers to forge a compromise, officials from CDC and Management Operations (M/MO; later Management Policy, M/MP, and Financial and Management Policy, M/FMP) campaigned to neutralize the HAC. A “civil war within the Department” erupted over whether to placate or terminate the Committee.16 The contest climaxed in early 1990 when HAC Chair Warren Cohen resigned just as media and congressional criticism of the Iran volume peaked. The resulting “FRUS problem” forced the Department to wage its campaign for subordinating transparency to security in a much less hospitable environment.

The FRUS acceleration effort encouraged the HAC to evaluate how security and budgetary constraints affected the series. Although concerned about HO’s “decompilation” of volumes to meet cost-driven page limits and its growing reliance on microfiche supplements, the HAC focused its attention on the CDC’s declassification decisions. The Department rejected HAC proposals to appoint a representative of the academic community to participate directly in the clearance process and serve as an “ombudsman” for U.S. Government transparency or provide a public report describing the clearance process in 1985 and 1986.17 In advance of the 1986 HAC meeting, Slany worried that CDC intransigence over the Committee’s access to classified documents would encourage the HAC to complain about excessive secrecy and make it impossible to “assure the credibility of the Department’s publication.”18

At the HAC meeting in November, the CDC failed to placate the HAC. With the acceleration schedule projecting output of “more than 50 volumes . . . in the next four years.” Slany emphasized the need for pre-publication review to provide early warning if “volumes were flawed in some serious way.” The Committee shared Slany’s objective, but insisted that a meaningful assessment of the series had to investigate “deletions made during the declassification process to determine the accuracy of the remaining record to be published.”19 In the afternoon session, a team of CDC officers and declassifiers briefed the committee on CDC operations and its clearance decisions for four FRUS volumes. Instead of satisfying the HAC, the briefing fueled its demands, both to examine excised documents and to improve editorial practices for alerting readers to deleted material. After “an impassioned exchange” with members of the HAC, CDC reviewer William Galloway fumed that “historians would never be satisfied with the government’s actions or what could be revealed about them” and insisted that “the government must have the last word.” Galloway’s adversarial tone prompted Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs George High to intervene and explain that, “in the post-Vietnam era[,] the public was not wholly trustful of the government and that it behooved those in public service to be as forthcoming as possible in terms of openness about their work.”20

The 1986 HAC meeting set Department officials and Committee members on a collision course. The Committee’s draft report, submitted to HO in February 1987, warned that “we cannot report to our colleagues that Foreign Relations is, as historically it proudly has been, as complete and open a record as possible. We hope so, but we cannot be sure.”21 Deputy Historian Neal Petersen presciently warned that the HAC “nipped very hard on CDC, so hard that it might impair our functional relations with that office, or cause some in the Department to wonder about the Committee’s continued usefulness.”22 On March 12, Bradford Perkins (Warren Kuehl’s successor as HAC chair) sent Secretary Shultz a slightly revised version of the report and requested an appointment to discuss the HAC’s concerns.23

As Petersen feared, the 1986 HAC report sparked conflict within the Department. The struggle pitted HO and PA against the CDC and officials in M and escalated from a debate over the HAC’s access to classified information to threaten the HAC with termination by the fall of 1987. At the end of March, Under Secretary of State for Management Ronald Spiers affirmed to Perkins that the HAC’s views were “a key element” in ensuring that the FRUS acceleration effort did not erode the “long standing accuracy and completeness of the series” and recognized the continued value of the academic community’s “candid advice and vigorous support” for FRUS. He agreed to meet with Perkins in June 1987.24

Conflict between HO and the CDC shaped planning for the Spiers–Perkins meeting throughout the spring. Dwight Ambach attributed HAC criticism to “their perceived need to demonstrate . . . that they are vigorously pursuing academic community interests [and] . . . a lack of realism.” “The most useful role the Committee could play,” he insisted, “would be to advise HO on the composition of future FRUS volumes and selection of topics, leaving details of compilation and clearance to historians and declassifiers.”25 Slany criticized Ambach’s guidance as “painfully defensive about the Advisory Committee’s recent report and adding enough inaccuracies to almost guarantee that the Perkins meeting will be a waste of time.” He explained that the Committee would only endorse the Department’s acceleration plan if it could assess the documents removed from volumes by HO or withheld by CDC.26 The final briefing memorandum to Spiers outlined PA and CDC options echoing starkly divergent views of the role the Committee should play. PA suggested that the HAC receive access to the requested information to evaluate the integrity and comprehensiveness of FRUS. CDC advised Spiers to “reiterate . . . the Department’s determination to maintain the quality and comprehensiveness of the volumes, without offering access to classified information.” The CDC wanted the HAC to trust, but not verify.27

Although Spiers’s meeting with Perkins seemed to enable compromise between the HAC and the Department, officials in M and CDC co-opted the follow-up process. The HAC’s critics shifted the intra-Departmental debate away from determining the appropriate level of access for the Committee and toward determining whether to continue the HAC’s existence. After meeting with Perkins, Spiers decided to implement, on a trial basis, PA’s recommendation to give the HAC access to still-classified materials denied clearance for publication in FRUS and solicit HAC comments on “proposed written declassification guidelines.” At the same time, however, he called upon PA, CDC, and the Department’s legal staff to work with M/MO (Management Operations) to “review . . . the activities and membership of the [HAC] to ensure that” the HAC was “fulfilling its purpose of providing advice, ideas, or recommendations to the Department” and determine whether its “membership [was] balanced in terms of the points of view represented and the functions to be performed.” Spiers supported compromise, but enabled the HAC’s critics in the Department to undermine the Committee’s legitimacy.28

During the rest of the year, HO scrambled to defend the HAC against MO and CDC initiatives before the 1987 annual meeting. Despite Slany’s warnings that “fundamental changes in the composition of the Committee would have serious negative consequences for the Department,”29 Management Operations staff30 recommended limiting the HAC’s role, broadening its membership, and intensifying Department management over its operations. MO accepted CDC contentions that the HAC “functioned to a considerable degree as a special interest pressure group” lobbying for “professional academic interests . . . in disclosure matters [that] are in conflict with government security concerns.” This advocacy, MO warned, “pose[d] unacceptable potential risks to national security and the conduct of foreign relations.” Moreover, MO suspected that the HAC “exacerbated . . . the normal healthy differences between A/CDC and PA/HO.” While it concluded that terminating the HAC would be “premature at this time,” MO recommended against “having an advisory committee second guess [the Department’s] informed judgments on declassification.”31 Slany resisted MO’s analysis. He insisted in October that “the Committee’s role in presenting the outlook of declassification ‘consumers’ is valid and deserves to be strengthened.”32 In November, Slany accused “Department critics of the Committee and the acceleration of the FRUS series” of exploiting the HAC controversy to undermine HO. He accepted that “the present controversy between PA/HO and A/CDC is probably unavoidable” but had “the virtue, if kept within bounds, of providing the Department with nearly automatic control limits to both openness and secrecy.” Maintaining the HAC and devising “mutually agreeable procedures for briefing and limited access to classified information,” HO believed, provided the best means for “the intelligent continuation of this balance.”33

The impasse over the HAC within the Department alarmed Committee members. When the unresolved internal debate forced the Department to postpone the Committee’s 1987 meeting, Perkins warned Slany that “several of your Indians” on the Committee “are restive and are tempted to stray off the reservation” by undertaking a mass resignation to publicize their concerns about the series’s integrity. The threat of a public backlash led the Department to defer decisions about the HAC’s future until after its next meeting, rescheduled for January 1988.34

At the delayed meeting, both sides worked to defuse tensions. Deputy Assistant Secretary High outlined the Department’s continuing efforts to respond to the HAC’s concerns and steered discussion toward editorial matters that would ease CDC anxieties. HAC members expressed willingness to accept any method for declassifying FRUS as long as the Committee had a “mechanism to verify the accuracy and comprehensiveness” of volumes. CDC reviewers again offered detailed, frank, oral briefings about their reviews of specific volumes. This time, Committee members “applauded” the declassifiers’ “forthcoming briefings.” After praising a “most useful and informative” dialogue with a CDC reviewer, Committee member Robert Dallek urged the CDC to recognize the “extraordinary cynicism in the American public about U.S. foreign policy” and “the need for [public] consensus and support.”35 Committee members pronounced the meeting “a step forward.”36 In its annual report for 1987, the Committee characterized the detail of CDC’s briefings as “unprecedented,” enabling members to learn “a great deal about the general criteria used by the CDC.” The report nevertheless requested that “this method of mutual education and reassurance . . . be further developed” to assure that the Committee “received enough information to meet [its] responsibilities.”37

The era of good feelings, however, lasted only a few months. In the spring of 1988, the CDC acted to undermine HO (and deflect responsibility for FRUS delays) by accusing its leadership of mismanaging the series.38 CDC officials also transgressed bureaucratic channels by attempting to forge an independent “new dialogue” with HAC Chair Perkins. Amidst deadlock within the Department, Slany briefed Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs Charles Redman that “CDC has persuaded M/MO that [the HAC] has become obtrusive and needs to be reined in and restructured.” If this judgment held, he warned, Committee members would conclude that their “usefulness is near an end.” He predicted that the HAC would “probably resign—with some dudgeon” if the deadlock continued.39

The HAC conveyed exactly this intention, along with its complaints about the CDC, to Congress. On May 20, Page Putnam Miller, the Director of the National Coordinating Committee for the Promotion of History (an advocacy and lobbying group created by professional historical associations in the early 1980s), wrote to Senate Intergovernmental Affairs Committee Chair John Glenn (D–OH). She solicited congressional assistance to ensure that FRUS “adhere to the thirty year time line established by President Reagan and that these volumes present as complete and open a record as possible.” Miller alleged that weak oversight allowed the CDC to “function [in] an extremely slow and cautious manner.” She confided that HAC members, “frustrated that they are being used to rubber stamp and not to advise, are considering resigning en masse” and suggested that “some indication of congressional concern about this problem could be most helpful.” Arguing that “scholars who write contemporary history are a valuable national resource,” Miller concluded that “it is in the best interest of the country to have its contemporary history written on the basis of as much open, nonprivileged information as possible.”40 As a result of Miller’s letter, Committee on Intergovernmental Affairs staff requested a briefing from CDC officials in the summer of 1988. Until 1990, though, Congress remained passive.41

As the academic community lobbied Congress, the CDC convinced Under Secretary Spiers to veto HAC access to classified documents or declassification criteria. When M, MO, and PA agreed to share additional classified information with the HAC in advance of a June 14 meeting between Redman and Perkins, the CDC appealed to Spiers. The Department’s declassifiers attributed the HAC’s intransigence to HO, noting that “eight years ago [Trask] used the HAC (and supporters in Congress) to lobby against the Department’s declassification program after [the coordination] function shifted from HO to CDC. . . . The Department was embarrassed, and suffered.” CDC officials warned Spiers that “further accommodation . . . will only make a bad situation worse for the Department” and predicted “that the Department will suffer again” unless the HAC accepted that it must “serve the Department’s expressed needs rather than the interests of the academic organizations it represents.”42 The week before Redman’s meeting with Perkins, Spiers revised his guidance to Redman to accord with CDC preferences.43

The CDC received further reinforcement for its position on the eve of Redman’s meeting. On June 13, Slany informed PA that HAC member Deborah Larson made comments at a SHAFR panel (on which a CDC reviewer also participated) that “may have come up to the line of disclosing classified information, or . . . may have actually passed over it.” Slany urged Redman to convey to Perkins at his meeting that “Prof. Larson’s public discussion of the contents of an oral declassification briefing works against the Committee’s expectations to access to still-classified documents.”44 During their June 14 meeting, Redman informed HAC members Perkins and Warren Cohen that the Department would not grant the level of access requested by the Committee. Redman declared that “the Committee’s concerns about the Department’s declassification procedures cannot be allowed to become an investigative effort.” Consigned to the defensive by Larson’s indiscretion, Perkins and Cohen agreed that the Department “should have the chance to make a good faith effort” to satisfy the HAC’s requirements within the framework of oral CDC briefings.45 Despite the HAC’s frustration over having to “operate in the dark,”46 it was prepared to see if the Department’s refinements to existing consultative mechanisms could work effectively before taking public action.

In the aftermath of Redman’s meeting with Perkins and Cohen, the Department prepared to crack down on the HAC. Immediately after the meeting, Slany was hopeful that “the dust has settled a bit” from “a bad patch—civil war in the Department over the role of the Advisory Committee and revolt among the Committee members.”47 Slany’s optimism was misplaced. Despite the HAC’s willingness to compromise, Spiers was tired of the protracted debate over its role. In early July, he decided that the “whole area” of the relationship between the CDC, HO, and the HAC “needs review. . . . Right now it is entirely unsatisfactory & I don’t trust any of the present players fully. We need to look at objectives, procedures & resources” to determine the future of the Department’s FRUS program. Spiers asked Carl Dillery, a trusted troubleshooter and deputy chief of MO, for advice.48

A month later, Dillery counseled Spiers to “return the [Committee] to a useful, constructive role.” He portrayed the Advisory Committee as a “pressure group” reflecting a “‘publish or perish’ academic environment” that “presented [Committee members] a clear conflict between their advisory duties and their own professional interests, and put them in an adversarial relationship with those responsible for safe-guarding national security information.” Dillery suggested that the Department revise the HAC charter to proscribe its “virtual obsession with the issue of declassification,” remove its “PR function,” and broaden its membership “to . . . promote challenge and debate rather than self-serving unanimity in the HAC meetings.” Since “academicians have no special experience to qualify for second guessing bureau desk officers or CDC professionals” on clearance decisions, Dillery saw no reason to expand the Committee’s access to classified material. To emphasize the stakes of the Department’s decisions regarding the HAC, Dillery cited Miller’s letter to Glenn as “an indication of how far the committee is willing to go in confronting the Department.” Noting complaints to the Inspector General about Slany’s mismanagement lodged by Deputy Historian Neal Petersen, he also wondered whether the Department should conduct an Inspector General investigation or initiate “a change in management direction” to prevent troubles within HO from “undercut[ting] efforts to correct the HAC’s relationship with the Department.”49 Just as the CDC employed criticism of Slany’s management of HO to retaliate against his support for the HAC, Dillery used Petersen’s complaints to undercut the HO/HAC position. Spiers approved Dillery’s recommendations.50

In September 1988, Spiers implemented Dillery’s plan.51 Spiers expressed concern to Redman that continuing disagreement with the HAC “could pose serious public relations problems for the Department” and doubt that “further efforts to satisfy the committee’s requests . . . will solve the problem.” He advised PA to focus the HAC’s attention on “substantive issues directly related to the content of the FRUS volumes,” ensure that the Committee served the Department, and broaden its membership to prevent it from acting as “a special interest pressure group.” Spiers asked Redman to cooperate with MO to revise the Committee’s charter in advance of the upcoming November HAC meeting.52 In response, Redman emphasized the progress made since the January meeting to satisfy “the legitimate concerns of [the] Committee,” which included “assuring the diplomatic history community of the Department’s commitment to an accurate, objective, and comprehensive historical record.” This responsibility gave the HAC “a legitimate interest in declassification procedures.”53

Over the next two months, the Department temporized. In October, PA succeeded in deferring an MO-requested Inspector General investigation of the HAC “pending conclusion of ongoing discussions.”54 On November 8, Dillery reported to Spiers that, after two months of work, his staff and PA “have been unable to agree on a set of charter revisions and a strategy for achieving our objectives with the committee.” During that time, however, Dillery had been “persuaded” by “PA’s strong view . . . that the effort to change the charter would be counter-productive and politically embarrassing.” Rather than risk public relations problems, Dillery advised Spiers to take a wait-and-see approach. If PA followed through on taking a “more assertive management role,” and if parallel CDC efforts cultivated academic community confidence in its activities, Dillery hoped, “we may have been through the worst of Committee abuse of its position.” Nonetheless, he urged Spiers to give Redman a “pointed reminder of his responsibility to manage the HAC in a way which will minimize abuses.”55 For its part, the CDC counseled Spiers to reject Redman’s assurances and to disabuse the HAC’s pretensions to “review of the Department’s declassification activities.”56

Spiers followed Dillery’s wait-and-see recommendation, renewing the Committee’s charter57 without major changes on November 10. In doing so, he asked PA to “manage the Committee with more purpose and persistence than has perhaps always been the case.” He warned that the Committee’s last report “provided ample evidence that the status quo is unsatisfactory” and urged PA and HO “to tell the Committee exactly what you want from it.” Spiers concluded ominously: “I am prepared to revoke the Committee’s charter at any time should its activities pose a burden for the Department as a whole which can no longer be justified by the benefits PA receives from its continued existence.”58 Although Spiers preferred to avoid a messy conflict with the HAC, he would not concede the Committee’s competence to assess declassification decisions.

Between November 1988 and November 1989, the HAC enjoyed a well-timed rapprochement with the Department. At the December 1988 annual meeting, Warren Cohen, the new HAC chair, noted that the Committee disagreed with the Department about the scope of its mandate. However, he agreed “to set [access issues] aside to concentrate on the pressing issues confronting the Foreign Relations series as it moves into the 1960s. . . . He and the Committee felt a new spirit of cooperation on all issues, and they were generally encouraged.”59 Dillery reported to Spiers that PA “did a good job at the annual HAC meeting” and forecasted that “this potentially controversial situation has cooled off a bit at least for the time being.”60 The HAC’s subsequent report maintained that only full access to excised and denied documents would “restore full trust and credibility,” but proclaimed that “the Committee is prepared to try” by continuing to rely upon the CDC’s “detailed and helpful briefings.”61 After the transition in PA leadership following George H.W. Bush’s victory in the 1988 Presidential election, Slany urged the new Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs, Margaret Tutwiler, and High’s successor as Senior Deputy Assistant Secretary of State, Kim Hoggard, to broaden the HAC membership by inviting the American Economics Association, the Society of American Archivists, and the International Studies Association to join the Committee. Slany hoped this would satisfy Dillery’s request to expand the HAC’s membership.62 Slany’s new superiors approved his plan and, in the summer of 1989, successfully lobbied M/MP to appeal an Office of Management and Budget recommendation to terminate the HAC as part of a general initiative to eliminate unnecessary federal advisory bodies.63

In the run-up to the HAC’s 1989 annual meeting, Slany urged Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs George Kennedy to participate as fully as possible so he could “set the tone of what the Department wants from the Committee.” In that vein, Slany briefed Kennedy on the CDC’s longstanding “sharp conflict with the Advisory Committee.” He observed that “these relations have improved over the last six months, thanks to some of the declassification leaders, but the management of the issue requires constant attention.”64 In fact, FPC (the Office of Freedom of Information, Privacy, and Classification Review—the CDC’s bureaucratic successor after the summer of 1989) efforts to improve relations with the Committee proved disastrous at the subsequent meeting. According to HO’s later reconstruction of events, the acting head of FPC, Eugene Bovis, had offered some degree of access to secret Department of State documents withheld from FRUS during the summer.65 Unfortunately, one of Bovis’s deputies scuttled this tentative resolution to the HAC–Department feud. “Mr. [Richard] Morefield, the principal action officer on the declassification of Foreign Relations volumes,” Slany later reported, “decided that he after all did not have authority to release classified documents to Committee chairman Cohen or anyone else on the Committee” despite their security clearances.66 The resulting confusion “jeopardized the positive dialogue” that had arisen between the Department and the Committee in advance of a pivotal HAC meeting.67

The FRUS Problem: The Iran Volume and Warren Cohen’s Resignation

The Iran, 1951–1954 volume68 demonstrated how the erosion of transparency and the subsequent compromises made to accelerate FRUS production jeopardized the integrity and purpose of the series during the 1980s. Coupled with the fallout from Warren Cohen’s resignation in 1990 (discussed below), the Iran volume illustrated a “FRUS problem” that inspired the academic community, the media, and Congress to act to renegotiate responsible historical transparency and defend the Foreign Relations series in 1990 and 1991.

The Iran volume presented two separate but interrelated challenges that highlighted HO’s untenable position in the 1980s. First, Anglo-American consultation and collaboration in addressing challenges posed to Western security and economic interests in Iran had grown so close in 1952 and 1953 that it was impossible for FRUS compilers to document U.S. policy without including British equities. Secondly, this cooperation culminated in a publicly-known covert operation that the United States Government did not want to officially acknowledge. The sensitivity of relations with Iran during and after the Islamic Revolution of 1978–1979 exacerbated both of these problems. Policies to protect intelligence activities and records containing sensitive foreign government information made it impossible for the Department of State and the U.S. Government to publish an Iran volume that conformed to FRUS standards for responsible historical transparency.

Shortly after Department historians compiled the 1951 and 1952–1954 Iran volumes, diplomatic considerations complicated their clearance and publication. The 1952–1954 compilation was completed by the end of 1976 and HO submitted it for Department clearance in the summer of 1978.69 Amidst the turbulent strikes and mass protests that gripped Iran in the autumn of 1978, U.S. officials confided to British policy planners that “State Department records for the years between 1952 and 1954” were under review for release, “with possibly damaging consequences for the UK as well as the Shah.” Henry Precht, the Department of State country director for Iran, warned that the documents, “if released[,] . . . would [have] some very embarrassing things about the British in them.”70 Precht promised the British that he would “continue to sit on the papers” and HO agreed to defer “final” clearance of the Iran compilation until “mid-1979.”71

Near the end of the year, British diplomats consulted directly with HO historians about the FRUS declassification process. John Glennon (then the Associate Historian for Asia, Africa, and the Pacific) and Paul Claussen (then the Chief of the African and Southwest Asian Group) confirmed that, under existing procedures, only British-origin documents would be cleared with London before publication. Any U.S. documents containing British information would be reviewed for release by U.S. officials. The HO memorandum of conversation noted assurances that “Foreign Relations volumes were not regarded as ‘scoops’ by reporters interested in sensational developments.” In contrast, the British account of this December meeting emphasized the various veto points that could be leveraged to delay the release of the 1952–1954 Iran documents.72 Shortly after the 1979 hostage crisis began, the Department postponed clearance review of both the 1951 and 1952–1954 Iran volumes.73

After the release of the American hostages in January 1981, the Department resumed mandatory and systematic clearance reviews of Iran-related materials, including the two postponed FRUS compilations. Henry Precht co-drafted clearance guidelines that Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs (NEA) Peter Constable forwarded to Clayton McManaway and CDC on February 10, 1981. The first of NEA’s guidelines was “no release of documents that would reveal intelligence sources, methods, plans or operations.” NEA also identified specific goals for FRUS. Noting that “a simplified and distorted version of the events of this period has become political dogma in Iran and elsewhere,” the guidelines expressed hope that “the release of the full diplomatic record would help provide a better balance in accounts of our role.” Reflecting Precht’s earlier conversations with the British, however, NEA advised that “it will be essential to cover our dealings with the British. To exclude the story of US–British cooperation on Iran will not give a true picture of US decisions. We suggest that the Department consult with the FCO [U.K. Foreign and Commonwealth Office] to work out practical arrangements for possible release of documents from this record.”74 Although NEA professed eagerness to release the “objective” history of U.S. relations with Iran, its declassification guidelines and insistence on coordinating with British officials who had already expressed misgivings about the planned volumes prevented the release of documentation concerning some of the key activities undertaken by the U.S. Government in Iran between 1951 and 1954.

Anglo-American declassification consultations took place in July 1981 under the procedures for clearing FGI established in the aftermath of the 1980 re-review. In a meeting with British diplomats and declassification reviewers, CDC and EUR officials explained that, in their review of the Iran compilations for 1951 and 1952–1954, “we are concerned partly about the possible impact on our relations with Iran in the future. But even more than that, we are concerned to avoid possible ill effects on our close relationship with the UK.” Echoing the NEA guidelines, they admitted “it would be virtually impossible to give a fair and comprehensive report on our own role without revealing the British role as well. Given the closeness of our liaison during this period, coupled with ubiquitous evidence of our disagreements,” the U.S. participants hoped consultation would allow both countries to protect contemporary interests and relationships. The Americans invited their British counterparts to veto publication of material that the Department already knew London preferred not to see published.75 The British obligingly reported that they were “reviewing the records of this era with extreme care” and agreed that, “in this case, it is clear that records of sensitive discussion among officials of the two countries must be withheld beyond the thirty-year line.”76

As Department officials met with the British, HO worked to complete the volume. In the spring of 1981, HO proposed declassification of additional documents obtained from the CIA.77 In the summer of 1982, the CDC updated Glennon that declassification was “held-up” by “UK sensitivity, UK docs, UK fgi.”78 At the end of 1982, HO combined the 1951 and 1952–1954 Iran compilations so that publication of the 1952–1954 Egypt compilation could move forward.79 In January 1983, the CDC denied clearance of the supplemental documents from CIA “because they reveal sensitive intelligence activities, sources, and methods.”80 Just days afterward, the CDC forwarded 139 other documents to the British Embassy for clearance decisions. The package included the CDC’s proposed excisions and denials “as a means of suggesting the margins of our criteria.”81

While the Department solicited official British views, HO staff crossed the Atlantic to investigate released British records. Historian Nina Noring confirmed that documenting U.S. policy toward Iran from 1952 to 1954 required telling the British story. “Even before the Brits were kicked out of Iran,” she explained, “the 2 countries were working almost as 1 team to resolve the oil dispute, with numerous documents being passed back & forth, joint reports being written by the 2 Ambassadors in Tehran, with the result that many US docs were incomprehensible w/out seeing Brit docs.” Noring described the British records as “looking at the same thing from the other side of a mirror.”82 In April, HO passed along the material gathered at the Public Records Office to the CDC in the hope it would “prove useful” as the Department completed its declassification review.83

The CDC’s preliminary review, completed in August 1984, gutted the volume. CDC denied clearance to “a good deal of substance . . . particularly re[garding the] Mossadeq ouster.” HO analysis indicated that “many [excisions] appear to be short passages & relate to Br[itish] fgi matters.” In total, the CDC denied 28 documents and excised another 83. The CDC decision, Glennon concluded, “requires a long look in context of all the galleys as to whether we feel enough is left to go ahead.”84 Noring agreed that “some of the denials & excisions were excessive.”85 Responding to an inquiry from John Lewis Gaddis, a leading Cold War historian, who asked “if [the Iran volume] would go the way of the Guatemalan volume” at the November HAC meeting, Glennon responded “one would find more in it than the Guatemalan volume but not everything a historian would want” and that “the deletions . . . were made largely because of information obtained from Great Britain.”86 HO scored a small victory when the CDC restored two publicly-available documents to the compilation in February 1985, but the volume remained woefully incomplete.87 After interagency clearances delayed by the NSC’s Iran-Contra bottleneck were completed in the summer of 1988,88 the Department conducted a final review of the manuscript using the same guidelines that NEA forwarded to the CDC in 1981.89 HO accepted the clearance decisions on September 20, “before anything happened to close the ‘window of opportunity.’”90

To the consternation of the HAC, HO did not follow the precedent of the Guatemala volume by including a disclaimer in the incomplete Iran volume. In its 1988 report to the Secretary of State, the HAC had registered its “uneasiness about how well the series will represent the reality of American foreign relations when the bulk of covert actions . . . is omitted.” When documentation of a significant covert operation could not be printed in a FRUS volume, the HAC demanded, “at [a] minimum, . . . a disclaimer in the published volume indicating that operations beyond the purview of the Department . . . were involved.” The HAC warned that “to do less would approach fraud—and subvert the credibility of the series.”91 After the HAC criticized the volume in November 1989, Glennon explained that “there was a question as to whether we could clear a meaningful disclaimer.”92 There is no evidence, however, that HO tried to do so. Glennon later elaborated that “the very mention of covert action in any disclaimer [would have become] itself non-declassifiable.”93 The fateful volume lacked any editorial warning that significant material had been withheld when it was released on June 19, 1989.94

The Iran, 1951–1954 FRUS volume exposed all the compromises made to adapt to the erosion of transparency and accelerate the series during the 1980s. Between 1978 and 1984, Department officers in geographic bureaus and the CDC made judgments about the sensitivity of historical documents and the necessity of consultation with the British that eviscerated the Iran volume. The Department’s self-censorship exemplified, but also obscured, the restrictive impulses toward historical transparency that prevailed throughout the U.S. Government. During the 1980s, declassification reviewers in other federal agencies such as the CIA, Department of Defense, and NSC did not have to apply a very heavy hand to sanitize documents already excised by State reviewers. At the same time, the Department’s transfer of the interagency declassification coordination function from HO to the CDC in 1981 left FRUS historians and the HAC uninformed about who made critical decisions. After blame settled—incorrectly—on the CIA, HO and the HAC misapprehended the source of the problems they encountered during the 1980s, which later contributed to unrealistic hopes for the solutions devised in 1991.

The Historian’s Office shared responsibility for the Iran volume debacle. FRUS historians could have been more assertive in their efforts to promote greater openness in the 1980s. They should have recognized that the Iran volume was too incomplete to be published without damaging the series’s reputation, consulted with stakeholders across the government and the academic community, and devised alternatives to releasing an unacceptable volume. Instead, HO pursued the tantalizing prospect of accelerating FRUS offered by the staff study and the Presidential directive. By the mid-1980s, Department of State historians embraced a program of publishing incomplete volumes to improve the timeliness of the series. Their efforts to satisfy the academic community’s demands to accelerate the series incrementally compromised the integrity of Foreign Relations and helped to spark the crisis that gripped FRUS in 1990 and 1991.

That crisis began on November 16, 1989, one week after the fall of the Berlin Wall.95 The fateful 1989 annual HAC meeting began smoothly. At the outset of the first session, Warren Cohen “thanked Mr. Bovis and Mr. Morefield for being cooperative in past misunderstandings regarding the classification/declassification procedures.” The FPC’s briefing during the afternoon session also proceeded smoothly until Cohen “asked if he could see the documents which were described in this session, those that were not Top Secret or other-agency documents.” Morefield responded negatively. He reported that “the Committee had only Secret clearances, and most of these documents were Top Secret and non-Department of State documents. All the Committee would be able to see were just a few of the least impressive [documents] and he was not sanguine that they could see even these.” Cohen immediately objected that HDR’s response violated “the bargain that had been struck with the Department” and “stressed that the integrity of the series demanded that the Committee insist on seeing these deletions.” Morefield ultimately refused to provide the HAC access to any denied materials during the meeting.96

The Iran volume provided a stark backdrop for Cohen’s outrage at the FPC’s refusal to allow the HAC to assess the integrity of the series. The volume’s failure to document U.S. involvement in the overthrow of Mossadeq was exactly the kind of damaging gap in FRUS’s comprehensiveness that the HAC had worried about since the implementation of the acceleration plan in 1986. The volume’s publication redoubled the Committee’s determination to play a stronger role in assessing volumes before publication, either to urge HO to delay incomplete volumes until more favorable clearance decisions could be secured or to insist that they include disclaimers that could provide marginal protection for the general reputation of the series. The FPC’s retreat from the muddled assurances that it had offered Cohen during the summer could not have been more disastrously timed.

The day after Morefield refused to share classified documents with the Committee, the HAC assessed the Iran volume. The Committee commissioned Bruce Kuniholm, an Iran expert who served in the Department’s Policy Planning Staff in 1979–1980 before he became a professor of public policy and history at Duke University, to review the volume. Kuniholm “concluded that the publication of . . . a seriously misleading account of U.S. relations with Iran at a critical juncture constituted ‘something like fraud’ by the Department of State.” He thought the Iran volume “called into question the credibility as well as the purpose of the series.” The HAC “generally applauded and concurred in . . . Kuniholm’s assessment of the volume.” Cohen “agreed that the volume was badly flawed” and worried “about the impact on the series as a whole of publishing obviously misleading accounts.” Committee member Ronald Spector raised “a fundamental decision for the Department: whether or not to claim [FRUS] is a complete record of U.S. foreign policy.” Cohen concluded that the Committee “had to let the Secretary know that this was a serious problem which was undermining the series. The purpose of the series is to give the American people an accurate record of U.S. foreign policy. It is essential to warn the reader that important aspects are not included.”97

The “civil war in the Department” precluded effective damage control as the FRUS problem exploded into public view during the spring of 1990. In an attempt to preempt Department critics eager to retaliate against the Committee’s criticisms, Slany reported that the “meeting . . . was the most useful, businesslike, efficient, and least contentious session of this decade.”98 Within HO, however, he recognized that he and his staff had to “undertake important new initiatives in the Foreign Relations series” to address inevitable controversy. By the end of the month, Department historians were working to include more detailed information about editorial methodology and declassification procedures in published volumes, develop “a workable action plan . . . to meet the substantial academic criticism of the . . . Iran volume,” and find ways to incorporate disclaimers in other problematic volumes. HO also redoubled its efforts to persuade Department officials to grant the HAC access to classified documents.99

Despite growing HO and PA concerns, FPC rebuffed initiatives to satisfy HAC demands. Instead, FPC advised HO to try new approaches to cultivate academic support for FRUS, including a “major outreach effort by all HO historians” and a new Presidential directive endorsing FRUS.100 Experience had taught FPC that “there is no reason to believe that giving in to the HAC’s demands . . . would help relations” since “each concession by the Department has only led to new requests . . . and to bad feelings which detract from . . . positive accomplishments.”101 FPC’s suggestions, and HO and PA responses, centered upon immediate problems, like bureaucratic confusion and avoiding serious damage from academic criticism. Neither side addressed the core issues that perpetuated the intra-Departmental feud and the HAC’s exasperation.102

By early 1990, the Department could no longer evade its fundamental disagreement with the HAC. Department declassifiers and management staffers regarded any Committee involvement in declassification policy as illegitimate. They also insisted that FRUS—and the historical record—had to conform to security requirements established by Presidential order, statute, and Departmental regulations that they purported left no room for subjective judgments. PA, HO, and the HAC rejected this conception. Although they agreed that legitimate security concerns should determine what and when information could safely be released, HO and the HAC rejected that such determinations could be made arbitrarily, without regard for the integrity of the official U.S. Government record of its foreign policy. They also insisted that responsible historical transparency required outside oversight and advice. No middle ground remained between these two diametrically opposed positions.

After months of futile efforts to persuade the Department to live up to its agreement to share classified documents with the Committee,103 Warren Cohen publicly resigned as HAC chair on February 15, 1990. He informed Secretary of State James Baker that “the Department has reneged on the agreement I spent two years negotiating and undermined my credibility with the professional organization[s] to whom I report. The entire process by which the committee attempts to serve the Department by insuring the integrity of the historical record has been brought into question.” Recent developments convinced Cohen that “the Foreign Relations of the United States series, the most respected diplomatic record in the world, has been compromised—and the Committee has been denied the means to remedy the situation.” Under such circumstances, neither he nor the other members of the Committee could “protect the integrity of the series, the reputation of the Department, or testify to the concern of this administration for providing an honest historical record.” In an attached explanatory note summarizing the dispute over the HAC’s access to classified information and explaining “the importance of providing for the credibility of the FRUS series, already compromised by the recent Iran volume,” Cohen questioned, “in the absence of an acceptable response from the Department, . . . not only the continuation of the Advisory Committee—which some in the Department would eliminate happily—but also of a Foreign Relations series, the integrity of which can no longer be assured.”104 Cohen’s resignation soon generated considerable academic, media, and congressional criticism of the Department.

Amidst the earliest rumblings of these pressures—but before Congress proposed legislation to provide a statutory mandate for both the Foreign Relations series and the HAC—Carl Dillery solicited guidance from the Department’s Office of the Legal Adviser (L) to support a renewed effort to terminate the Committee. “In addition to recording continuing management problems,” he informed L that “the minutes [of the 1989 HAC meeting] also raise the possibility of legal issues.” Dillery implied that the Committee members’ “professional interests,” specifically in “the earliest and fullest publication of documents,” constituted a “conflict of interest” given the “security responsibilities of the State Department and other U.S. government agencies.” He also used HO’s past arguments that the HAC served an important public relations function against the Committee by asking whether the public dissemination of HAC “discussion . . . in which the members agreed that one FRUS volume was ‘something like fraud’” promoted Department objectives. Dillery promised to employ L’s views “in making recommendations on the future of the committee.”105

Dillery badly misjudged the Department’s freedom to maneuver against the HAC in 1990. Cohen’s resignation and criticism of the Iran volume garnered more public attention for FRUS than the series had received since the release of the Yalta Papers in 1955. Unlike the Yalta episode, the publicity surrounding FRUS in 1990 transcended partisan divisions. The furor also reflected the success of academic initiatives to shape public discourse. The Department’s initial responses to critical letters, editorials, articles, and resolutions reflected the erosion of transparency during the previous decade; Department officials remained reactive, defensive, and discordant with mounting public skepticism about government secrecy.

The academic community supplied the first wave of criticism of the Department. In March, the OAH, SHAFR, the NCCPH, and the AHA adopted a joint resolution expressing concern about “changes during the last decade in the editorial review process for handling sensitive material” that caused an “appalling increase in the amount of incomplete and deleted documents” in recent FRUS volumes. The resolution urged the Department to empower the HAC and “restore the integrity” of the series.106 The OAH forwarded the resolution to the Department and Congress in April and requested a meeting with Secretary of State James Baker to discuss the “serious plight” of FRUS.”107 The Society for History in the Federal Government (SHFG) endorsed the joint resolution in May, arguing that the declining reliability of FRUS presented “a sad commentary on the manipulation of history for the sake of contemporary political concerns.”108

Journalists soon magnified academic complaints about the “FRUS problem.” On April 4, the Chronicle for Higher Education published an article highlighting historians’ criticisms of the Foreign Relations series and broader U.S. Government policies on declassifying historical documents.109 Two weeks later, the Washington Post quoted many of the same figures making many of the same arguments in an article noting the “odd” coincidence of a “worsening . . . dispute” over transparency in the United States amidst unprecedented openness and accountability across Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union.110 The Washington Post article inspired numerous questions about the U.S. Government’s declassification policies at Assistant Secretary Tutwiler’s daily press briefing on April 16. Although she agreed “in principle” with suggestions that declassification policies could be reformed “at a time when the Soviet Union is opening up,” Tutwiler insisted that “it is not as easy as just waving a magic wand and saying, ‘Let’s change it.’”111 On April 22, the National Public Radio news program “All Things Considered” featured an interview with Warren Cohen about the Iran volume and the HAC’s lack of access.112 Cohen also wrote an op-ed entitled “Historygate” in the May 8 edition of the New York Times, requiring Tutwiler to endure another round of questions.113 The Times followed up on Cohen’s piece with an editorial that characterized the Iran volume as “‘Hamlet’ without the Prince of Denmark—or the ghost,” criticized the Department’s “putting out history in the old Soviet mode,” and urged Baker to “restore the integrity of its much valued series on American diplomacy.”114 Even after Congress introduced legislation to govern FRUS in May, Cohen continued his public “tempest” in the summer and fall with articles in the Foreign Service Journal and World Monitor.115

At first, academic and media criticism did little to spur high-level Departmental action to reverse the past decade’s erosion of transparency. PA managed the Department’s public response through HO. Slany tried to assuage concerns from the academic community with expanded outreach to professional societies at the OAH, SHAFR, and AHA annual meetings as well as informal briefings emphasizing the Department’s efforts to forge a compromise with the HAC.116 Although he characterized Cohen’s actions as “ill advised,” Slany also suggested that PA should atone for the Department’s inattentiveness to the “gravity or urgency of the concerns” by meeting with aggrieved historians.117 Slany’s responses to press inquiries emphasized the mounting challenges facing the series and the Department’s initiatives to ensure the quality and timeliness of FRUS volumes covering the Eisenhower era.118 In May, Slany recommended that PA highlight the release of the FRUS volume on the 1956 Suez crisis, whose large size, documentation of “major intelligence operations,” and “expanded preface” could “be seen as the Department’s partial response to the recent expressions of concern” about the series.119

Departmental attention to its FRUS problem broadened only when the media joined scholars in criticizing FRUS in mid-April. To address the April 16 Washington Post article, FPC/HDR suggested defending the “highly creditable” FRUS series and explained why the HAC’s security clearances were insufficient for the kind of access demanded by Cohen and his supporters. Tutwiler ignored their advice when she agreed with reporters that declassification policy could be liberalized.120 The declassifiers were more effective in pressing their views in the Department’s response to the May 16 New York Times editorial. Their reply, drafted before the introduction of FRUS legislation in the Senate, explained that the Department’s transparency program “provided richness and detail about United States foreign policy to historians, political scientists, and interested citizens unmatched by any other government.” It also argued that “even after 30 years, many foreign policy issues remain remarkably alive and tied to present activities.” Without careful review and judicious constraints on openness, “releasing sensitive information—even from decades ago—may adversely affect our ability to do business with [other] countries and to advance our national interests.” The response concluded that statutory exemption of CIA operational files from FOIA requests in the mid-1980s provided de facto congressional endorsement of the declassifiers’ cautiousness regarding historical records.121

Far from endorsing the Department’s actions, congressional engagement with the “FRUS problem” challenged Cold War information security policies. On April 27, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chair Claiborne Pell (D–RI) and Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Chair David Boren (D–OK) expressed “concern” to Secretary Baker regarding the academic community’s “serious questions about the integrity” of FRUS. They asked the Secretary to “look into this subject to ensure that the integrity of our diplomatic history remains intact.”122 Alongside the introduction of FRUS legislation, they took their concerns about the future of the series to the public the next month in an article in the Boston Globe.123 Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan (D–NY) addressed the FRUS controversy in a June New York Review of Books article on “getting our government back in order” after the Cold War, where he lamented that “we are poisoning the wells of our historical memory . . . the secrecy system has gone loony.”124 In June, Senator Mitch McConnell (R–KY) and Senate Republican Policy Committee Chair William Anderson (R–CO) forwarded constituent concerns about the integrity of FRUS to the Department and urged that they be investigated and addressed.125 House member David Price (D–NC) echoed this concern “as a former academic and a representative of university communities” in July.126

The “civil war in the Department” ended only with outside intervention. When Congress acted in 1990, the Department belatedly undertook efforts to redeem the Foreign Relations series to preempt legislation. In a 1993 oral history interview, former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs George High criticized officials like Dillery and the leadership of the FPC for “represent[ing] a point of view and philosophy reflecting what American values were back in the 1950s, not the realities of the late 1980s.” Misled by outdated expectations that the public would defer to their claims of national security imperatives, “the Department’s leadership failed to recognize its weakness.” Because of this overconfidence and misperception of public attitudes, High explained, “the whole matter went to Congress” and “the historians’ demands were passed into legislation. . . . The Department got the worst of all worlds. Now it is required by law to release information it sought to withhold.”127

  1. Bruce Kuniholm, “Foreign Relations, Public Relations, Accountability, and Understanding,” Perspectives (May–June 1990), http://www.historians.org/perspectives/issues/1990/9005/9005NOTE1.cfm and Claiborne Pell and David Boren, “Why US foreign-policy records are ‘a fraud’: Government agencies distort history by covering their tracks,” Boston Globe, May 27, 1990, p. A22.
  2. See Shultz to Robert McFarlane, Frank Burke, John Poindexter, Malcolm Baldrige, Ralph Kennickell, Caspar Weinberger, James Baker, John Block, and William Casey, January 4, 1986, Department of State, 1986 P-Reels, P860055–0787 through 0804. These letters were transmitted only after Ronald Spiers approved Roger Feldman to Spiers, January 2, 1986, Department of State, 1986 P-Reels, P860045–0322 through 0323, which explained the resource implications of the steps outlined in Bernard Kalb through Spiers to Shultz, December 18, 1985, Department of State, 1986 P-Reels, P860055–0807 through 0810. Spiers approved the Feldman action memorandum on January 3, and Shultz approved the Kalb action memorandum on January 4.
  3. See passim, Department of State, CDC Lot File 95D113, Box 2, Presidential Directive 1985 and Charles Stuart Kennedy interview with Henry Bardach, March 12, 1996, Library of Congress, ADST Oral History, http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.mss/mfdip.2007bar02.
  4. Slany to Kuehl, March 17, 1986 and Slany to High, September 30, 1986 in Department of State, HAC Lot File 96D292, Box 5, [Correspondence 1986]; Slany, HO status report, October 15, 1986, Department of State, HAC Lot File 96D292, Box 5, Status Report-1986; minutes of 1986 HAC meeting, Department of State, HAC Lot File 96D292, Box 5, Advisory Committee Minutes-1986; Petersen to Slany, February 4, 1987, Department of State, HAC Lot File 96D292, Box 5, Report of the Committee-1986; and report of 1986 HAC meeting (attached to Perkins to Shultz, March 12, 1987), Department of State, HAC Lot File 96D292, Box 5, Perkins, Bradford Meeting 1987; Charles Redman to Spiers, June 2, 1987, Department of State, 1987 P-Reels, P870103–1398 through 1404 (and P870122–1080 through 1088); Slany, HO status report, December 16, 1987, Department of State, HAC Lot File 96D292, Box 5, [Status Report 1988]. Accelerating FRUS during the era of translucency strained relations within HO. In a spring 1988 complaint to the Department’s Inspector General, Deputy Historian Neal Petersen alleged that mismanagement, rather than budgetary constraints, led to the “decompilation” requirement. As Petersen explained, “the Historian’s Office is now telling the public that due to demands of PA and the Department the series must be cut and transferred in substantial part to a microfiche format. PA/HO contends that the pinch is such that volumes already compiled, edited, and declassified must be slashed on a crash basis. Completed work is being discarded on a massive basis. This is not to deny the seriousness of the Department’s budget crisis or the need for tight controls on all spending. The fact is, however, bad management and invalid priorities within PA/HO pose a greater threat to the series than external restrictions.” Regarding decompilation, Petersen described how, “in order to reduce the size of volumes over-compiled at his [Slany’s] direction, The Historian instructed the FRUS staff to remove large numbers of already-edited and cleared documents. The meticulous work of many years was wasted. . . . The cutting is being done on short notice with severe damage to substance. . . . This enormously wasteful process is The Historian’s answer to a problem he himself created by mismanaging the planning and compilation of FRUS, first as Editor, then as Historian.” See Neal Petersen memorandum, March 23, 1988, pp. 1 and 16, attached to Dillery to Spiers, August 4, 1988, Department of State, Bureau of Management, Under Secretary for Management Files, 1988 (Lot File 90D066) (henceforth M Chron Lot File 90D066), Box 6, Sept. 16–20, 1988.
  5. Nicholas Burckel to Casey, October 19, 1984 and Casey to Burckel, November 8, 1984 in CREST, CIA–RDP86M00886R002000100012–9.
  6. Congress passed the CIA Information Act, P.L. 98–477, in September 1984 after years of Agency efforts to secure relief from the “administrative and financial burden the FOIA places on the intelligence community.” See Richard Fairbanks to David Stockman, April 1, 1981, Department of State, 1981 P-Reels, P810075–1079; “Bill Summary & Status, 98th Congress (1983–1984), H.R. 5164,” Library of Congress, Congress.gov website, http://beta.congress.gov/bill/98th-congress/house-bill/5164; National Security Archive website, “The CIA Information Act of 1984,” http://www.gwu.edu/~nasarchiv/news/20030505/cia.htm; Reagan signing statement, October 15, 1984, The American Presidency Project, eds. Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/print.php?pid=39243; and attachments to McDonald to Slany, May 6, 1985, Department of State, CDC Lot File 95D113, Box 1, CIA General.
  7. Draft Director of Central Intelligence to Committees of Congress attached to McDonald to Slany, May 6, 1985, Department of State, CDC Lot File 95D113, Box 1, CIA General.
  8. [Name not declassified—Director of Information Services] to Deputy Director for Administration and Chief, DCI History Staff, November 26, 1985, CREST, CIA–RDP88G00186R000901170001–7 and Casey to Shultz, January 21, 1986, Department of State, CDC Lot File 95D113, Box 2, Presidential Directive 1985.
  9. See, for example, Hamilton to Timothy Ramish, December 12, 1983, Department of State, CDC Lot File 95D113, Box 4, FRG; Bardach to Dave Lambertson, January 25, 1985, Department of State, CDC Lot File 95D113, Box 3, Australia: Pre-1985; H[enry] B[ardach] note, February 28, 1986, Department of State, CDC Lot File 95D113, Box 3, British Government; Secretary of State to All Diplomatic Posts, February 25, 1986, Department of State, SAS, 1986 STATE 057676.
  10. Toshio Tsukahira memorandum, August 1, 1985, Department of State, CDC Lot File 95D113, Box 3, Japan 1986 & Previous.
  11. Dwight Ambach memorandum (and attached memoranda and talking points), April 14, 1987, Department of State, CDC Lot File 95D113, Box 3, Japan 1987-.
  12. Ambach meeting notes, May 19, 1987 and August 19, 1987, Department of State, CDC Lot File 95D113, Box 3, Japan 1987-.
  13. See passim, Department of State, CDC Lot File 95D113, Box 3, Japan 1986 & Previous and Japan 1987-.
  14. For the initial optimism, see Shultz to Reagan, April 30, 1987 and Colin Powell to Shultz, May 6, 1987 in Department of State, CDC Lot File 95D113, Box 2, Presidential Directive 1985. For the difficulties with NSC clearances, see Melvyn Levitsky to Carlucci, August 7, 1987, Department of State, 1987 P-Reels, P870125–0632 through 0633; Grant Green to Levitsky, August 26, 1987, Department of State, 1987 P-Reels, P870143–2211; and Levitsky to Carlucci, September 9, 1987, Department of State, 1987 P-Reels, P880041–1389; High to Redman, April 5, 1988, Department of State, CDC Lot File 95D113, Box 2, Presidential Directive 1985; and Levitsky to Powell, April 13, 1988, Department of State, 1988 P-Reels, P880099–1178.
  15. Redman to Shultz, June 15, 1988, Department of State, CDC Lot File 95D113, Box 2, Presidential Directive 1985 and Levitsky to Powell (with attached report to Reagan, June 1988), June 24, 1988, Department of State, 1988 P-Reels, P880115–1826 through 1829. One exchange between NSC staffers illustrated White House attitudes toward the series in 1987. On April 29, as the NSC reviewed the negotiating history of the ABM treaty, NSC Legal Advisor staffer Nicholas Rostow briefly sketched the story of “one of the great achievements (in my view) of the United States: the publishing history of Foreign Relations of the United States” to several of his NSC colleagues. Rostow noted that “no foreign government has protested the American habit of publication so far as I know.” Peter Rodman replied the next day that Rostow had “passe[d] too lightly over the precedents of the China papers and the Yalta papers” in his account and suggested that “perhaps the lesson is that document release has often been used as a political weapon.” See Nicholas Rostow to Alison Fortier, Robert Linhard, Peter Rodman, Steven Steiner, Paul Schott Stevens, and William Tobey, April 29, 1987 and Rodman email to Rostow (copied to Stevens, Linhard, and Fortier), April 30, 1987 in Reagan Library, Nicholas Rostow Files, Box 15, Unclassified Chron File April 1987.
  16. Slany to High, August 5, 1988, Department of State, HAC Lot File 96D292, Box 5, Advisory Committee Membership (1989–1990).
  17. Minutes of 1985 HAC meeting, pp. 18–21, Department of State, HAC Lot File 96D292, Box 4, Minutes 1985. Instead of a public report, John Burke approved Slany’s request to share with the Advisory Committee the CDC’s response to the HAC’s draft annual report for 1985, which elaborated on his presentation at the November meeting and which Slany described to HAC Chair Warren Kuehl as “the most detailed report about [the CDC’s] policies and activities that has been put on paper.” See John Burke to Slany, January 16, 1986 attached to Slany to Kuehl, January 22, 1986, Department of State, HAC Lot File 96D292, Box 4, Status Report-1985 and Slany to Kuehl, March 17, 1986, Department of State, HAC Lot File 96D292, Box 5, [Correspondence 1986].
  18. Kuehl to Slany, September 12, 1986; Slany to High, September 30, 1986; and Slany to Kuehl, October 16, 1986 in Department of State, HAC Lot File 96D292, Box 5, [Correspondence 1986].
  19. Minutes of 1986 HAC meeting, p. 7, Department of State, HAC Lot File 96D292, Box 5, Advisory Committee Minutes - 1986.
  20. Draft minutes of 1986 HAC meeting (with Ambach comments), pp. 10–12, Department of State, HAC Lot File 96D292, Box 5, Advisory Committee Minutes—1986. Compare to Ambach, classified appendix to minutes of 1986 HAC meeting, November 6, 1986, Department of State, HAC Lot File 96D292, Box 5, Advisory Committee Minutes—1986.
  21. Bradford Perkins to Slany (with attached draft Perkins to Shultz and draft report of 1986 HAC meeting), January 17, 1987, Department of State, HAC Lot File 96D292, Box 5, Report of the Committee - 1986. Perkins’s cover letter to Slany stated that “a few of the [published FRUS] volumes raise the question whether or not a full and faithful rendering of the record has been presented.”
  22. Petersen to Slany, February 4, 1987, Department of State, HAC Lot File 96D292, Box 5, Report of the Committee—1986.
  23. Perkins to Shultz (with attached report of 1986 HAC meeting), March 12, 1987, Department of State, HAC Lot File 96D292, Box 5, Perkins, Bradford Meeting 1987.
  24. Spiers to Perkins, March 30, 1987 and Redman to Spiers, March 25, 1987 in Department of State, HAC Lot File 96D292, Box 5, Perkins, Bradford Meeting 1987.
  25. Draft Donald Bouchard to Spiers, [no date - drafted May 15, 1987] attached to Ambach to Slany, May 21, 1987, Department of State, HAC Lot File 96D292, Box 5, Perkins, Bradford Meeting 1987.
  26. Slany to High (with attached draft Redman to Spiers and talking points), May 27, 1987, Department of State, HAC Lot File 96D292, Box 5, Perkins, Bradford Meeting 1987.
  27. Redman to Spiers, June 2, 1987, Department of State, 1987 P-Reels, P870103–1398 through 1404. No record of the Perkins–Spiers meeting has been found.
  28. MO explained that “upon completion of the review, conclusions and recommendations will be presented to Mr. Spiers in a decision memorandum.” See George Moose to Bouchard, Redman, and Abraham Sofaer, July 28, 1987, Department of State, HAC Lot File 96D292, Box 5, Advisory Committee M/FMP Proposals.
  29. Slany to High, July 21, 1987, Department of State, HAC Lot File 96D292, Box 5, Advisory Committee M/FMP Proposals.
  30. According to an oral history interview of Carl Dillery, the Deputy Director of Management Operations (and the official responsible for MO’s coordination of the HAC review), MO existed to “provide [M] with a little staff so that he could have the horse power to study issues and especially those things that went across bureaus” and so that “he had somebody else who knows something about [a given issue] to bounce [a Bureau request] off and get an independent and nonvested opinion.” See Charles Stuart Kennedy interview with Carl Dillery, March 2, 1994, Library of Congress, ADST Oral History, http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.mss/mfdip.2004dil02.
  31. Dillery to High, Slany, Ambach, Hamilton, and Dennis Gallagher (and attached draft memorandum), October 1, 1987, Department of State, HAC Lot File 96D292, Box 5, Advisory Committee M/FMP Proposals.
  32. Petersen to Slany, October 2, 1987, Department of State, HAC Lot File 96D292, Box 5, Correspondence-1988.
  33. “Review of Advisory Committee on Historical Diplomatic Documentation,” revised by Slany, November 2, 1987 attached to Slany to High, November 2, 1987, Department of State, HAC Lot File 96D292, Box 5, Correspondence-1988.
  34. Perkins to Slany, October 15, 1987 and chronology in Slany through High to Redman, May 4, 1988, Department of State, HAC Lot File 96D292, Box 5, Correspondence-1988.
  35. Minutes of January 1988 HAC meeting, Department of State, HAC Lot File 96D292, Box 5, Minutes-1987.
  36. Petersen memorandum, January 11, 1988, Department of State, HAC Lot File 96D292, Box 5, Correspondence-1988.
  37. Report of January 1988 HAC meeting attached to Perkins to Shultz, February 19, 1988, Department of State, HAC Lot File 96D292, Box 5, 1988–Advisory Committee Report.
  38. Kenneth Hartung to High, April 26, 1988 attached to Machak to Robert Johnson, May 8, 1990 and draft Johnson to G[eorge] Alfred Kennedy, May 9, 1990, Department of State, CDC Lot File 95D113, Box 3, Historical Advisory Committee 1990. CDC accusations followed on the heels of Deputy Historian Neal Petersen’s March 23, 1988 charges of waste and mismanagement in HO under Slany’s direction to the Inspector General, although the nature of the complaints differed in the two cases. See Petersen memo, March 23, 1988 attached to Dillery to Spiers, August 4, 1988, Department of State, M Chron Lot File 90D066, Box 6, Sept. 16–20, 1988.
  39. Slany through High to Redman, May 4, 1988, Department of State, HAC Lot File 96D292, Box 5, Correspondence-1988.
  40. Page Putnam Miller to John Glenn, May 20, 1988 attached to Dillery to Spiers, August 4, 1988, Department of State, M Chron Lot File 90D066, Box 6, Sept. 16–20, 1988.
  41. Dillery to Spiers, August 4, 1988, Department of State, M Chron Lot File 90D066, Box 6, Sept. 16–20, 1988.
  42. Richard Faulk to Spiers, June 2, 1988, Department of State, HAC Lot File 96D292, Box 5, Perkins, Bradford Meeting-1988.
  43. Spiers to High and Hartung, June 9, 1988, Department of State, HAC Lot File 96D292, Box 5, Perkins, Bradford Meeting-1988.
  44. Slany through High to Redman (and attached Noring memorandum, June 13, 1988), June 13, 1988, Department of State, HAC Lot File 96D292, Box 5, Perkins Bradford Meeting-1988. After Redman’s meeting with Perkins and Cohen, High reported to MO and CDC that Larson had resigned from the Committee. See High to Dillery, Hartung, and Ambach, June 23, 1988, Department of State, HAC Lot File 96D292, Box 5, Perkins Bradford Meeting-1988.
  45. Memorandum of conversation between Perkins, Warren Cohen, Redman, High, and Slany, June 14, 1988 (attached to High to Dillery, Hartung, and Ambach, June 23, 1988), Department of State, HAC Lot File 96D292, Box 5, Perkins Bradford Meeting-1988. See also Slany’s handwritten meeting notes and Slany through High to Redman (with attached talking points), June 13, 1988 in Department of State, HAC Lot File 96D292, Box 5, Perkins Bradford Meeting-1988.
  46. See, for example, Warren Cohen’s concluding remarks in his review of Foreign Relations of the United States, 1952–1954, vol. XII, Pt. 2, East Asia and the Pacific in Journal of American History (December 1988), pp. 1027–1028.
  47. To sustain the constructive trajectory, he advised PA to begin laying the groundwork to implement some of the MO suggestions by “sounding out the American Economics Association and the Society of American Archivists on their willingness to join the Committee.” If this was undertaken alongside “careful preliminary discussions . . . with the existing organizations represented,” PA could placate critics of the HAC within the Department by broadening its scope without alienating existing constituencies. See Slany to High, August 5, 1988, Department of State, HAC Lot File 96D292, Box 5, Advisory Committee Membership (1989–1990).
  48. R[onald Spiers] to Mary [Ryan], July 7, 1988 and Ryan to Dillery, July 11, 1988, Department of State, M Chron Lot File 90D066, Box 6, Sept. 16–20, 1988.
  49. Dillery to Spiers, August 4, 1988, Department of State, M Chron Lot File 90D066, Box 6, Sept. 16–20, 1988. The Inspector General did not undertake an investigation of HO in 1988, though its 1990 report on PA concluded that “it is time for far greater bureau oversight of and support for the historian’s office.” The inspection identified “serious management problems in PA/HO,” including “trouble engaging in prior planning, meeting deadlines, utilizing staff efficiently, and communicating both within HO and with other offices.” These deficiencies sapped staff “trust and esprit . . . causing [HO] to register the lowest morale in the entire bureau.” See “Report of Inspection: The Bureau of Public Affairs,” October 1990, Department of State, ISP/I-91-2.
  50. R[onald Spiers] to Larry [Grahl], August 4, 1988 and Grahl to Dillery, August 10, 1988 in Department of State, M Chron Lot File 90D066, Box 6, Sept. 16–20, 1988.
  51. Dillery to Spiers, September 15, 1988, Department of State, M Chron Lot File 90D066, Box 6, Sept. 16–20, 1988.
  52. Spiers to Redman, September 16, 1988, Department of State, M Chron Lot File 90D066, Box 6, Sept. 16–20, 1988.
  53. Redman to Spiers, September 23, 1988, Department of State, M Chron Lot File 90D066, Box 6, Sept. 26–30, 1988 and Redman through Dillery to Spiers, November 2, 1988, Department of State, M Chron Lot File 90D066, Box 7, Nov 7–10, 1988.
  54. Chronology attached to Slany through Kim Hoggard and Kennedy to Margaret Tutwiler, March 2, 1990, Department of State, HAC Lot File 96D292, Box 6, Advisory Committee-1990-Correspondence & Memos.
  55. Dillery to Spiers, November 8, 1988, Department of State, M Chron Lot File 90D066, Box 7, Nov 7–10, 1988.
  56. Sheldon Krys to Spiers, November 14, 1988, Department of State, M Chron Lot File 90D066, Box 7, Nov. 14–16, 1988.
  57. Following general Department procedures for its advisory committees, the HAC’s charter must be renewed every two years. This usually occurs as a routine matter that involves no substantive changes.
  58. Spiers to Redman, November 10, 1988, Department of State, 1989 P-Reels, P890058–1591. The renewed charter can be found in Department of State, HAC Lot File 96D292, Box 5, 1988–Charter (Advisory Committee).
  59. Minutes of December 1988 HAC meeting, Department of State, HAC Lot File 96D292, Box 5, 1988–Minutes of the Advisory Comm.
  60. Dillery to Spiers, December 21, 1988, Department of State, M Chron Lot File 90D066, Box 8, Dec. 19–21, 1988. See also Redman to Spiers, December 15, 1988, Department of State, M Chron Lot File 90D066, Box 8, Dec. 7–16, 1988.
  61. Report of December 1988 HAC meeting, Department of State, 1989 P-Reels, P890097–1170 through 1173 attached to Cohen to James Baker, March 7, 1989, Department of State, 1989 P-Reels, P890097–1168 through 1169.
  62. Slany through Hoggard to Tutwiler, June 1, 1989, Department of State, Bureau of Public Affairs, Front Office Files, 1989–1990 (Lot File 93D287) (henceforth PA Lot File 93D287), Box 1, FRUS-Advisory Committee 1990 Activities & Members.
  63. Slany through Hoggard to Tutwiler (with attached draft Tutwiler to Dillery, July 20, 1989; Susan Tait to All Advisory Committee Executive Secretaries, [no date]; Bill McQuaid to Committee Management Officers, and review of HAC, June 27, 1989), July 20, 1989 and Slany through Hoggard to Tutwiler (with attached revised draft Tutwiler to Dillery, July 26, 1989), July 25, 1989 in Department of State, HAC Lot File 96D292, Box 5, Advisory Committee M/FMP Proposals.
  64. Slany to Kennedy, October 6, 1989, Department of State, PA Lot File 93D287, Box 1, FRUS-Historical Advisory Committee 1989.
  65. Chronology attached to Slany through Hoggard and Kennedy to Tutwiler, March 2, 1990, Department of State, HAC Lot File 96D292, Box 6, Advisory Committee-1990-Correspondence & Memos. A slightly earlier HO attempt to reconstruct CDC/FPC promises to Cohen was more guarded, reporting that, according to Bovis, “the tone of the [August] meeting was conciliatory but no commitment was made at that time to show the Committee the documents.” See Glennon to Kennedy, February 20, 1990, Department of State, PA Lot File 93D297, Box 1, FRUS-Advisory Committee 1990 Activities & Members.
  66. According to a later account, Morefield and the FPC “determined” some time in the fall of 1989 “that for the Department to give permission [for the HAC to see classified documents], three criteria had to be met: the Committee’s need to know had to be established; the Committee’s level of security clearance had to be defined (the Committee has only a Secret clearance); the question of other agency permission for the Committee to look at non-DOS documents had to be pinned down.” The FPC concluded “that there was insufficient time before the November 1989 meeting to obtain for the Committee a Top Secret clearance or to secure other agency clearances to see non-DOS documents. Therefore, at best the Committee could see only DOS documents which were Secret or Confidential.” See Glennon to Kennedy, February 20, 1990, Department of State, PA Lot File 93D287, Box 1, FRUS-Advisory Committee 1990 Activities & Members. Morefield was one of the hostages taken at the U.S. Embassy in Tehran in 1979.
  67. Noring to Slany, October 31, 1989, NARA, RG 59, Entry UD–WX–595: Bureau of Public Affairs, Office of the Historian, FRUS Clearance Files, 1945–1957 (96D068) (henceforth FRUS Clearance Lot File 96D068), Box 6, FRUS, 1952–1954, Vol. X, Iran (clearance folder) and Slany to Hoggard, November 21, 1989, Department of State, PA Lot File 93D287, Box 1, FRUS-Historical Advisory Committee 1989.
  68. Foreign Relations of the United States, 1952–1954, vol. X, Iran, 1951–1954.
  69. M. P[aul] C[laussen] note, March 26, 1979, NARA, RG 59, PA Lot File 82D297, Box 6, The Historian’s Office 1979.
  70. Summary record of British-American planning talks and B.L. Crowe memo, October 12, 1978, Documents 22 and 23 in Byrne, NSA Electronic Briefing Book 435, http://www2.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB435/docs/Doc%2022%20-%20October%2010-11.pdf and http://www2.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB435/docs/Doc%2023%20-%20October%2012.pdf. We are indebted to Malcolm Byrne for sharing these documents with the Office of the Historian in 2011.
  71. M. P[aul] C[laussen] note, March 26, 1979, NARA, RG 59, PA Lot File 82D297, Box 6, The Historian’s Office 1979.
  72. Richard Muir to Robin Gorham, December 22, 1978, Document 33 in Byrne, Electronic Briefing Book 435, http://www2.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB435/docs/Doc%2033%20-%20December%2022.pdf; memorandum of conversation among Muir, H. L. Dufour Woolfley, Glennon, and Claussen, December 21, 1978, NARA, RG 59, Kogan Papers Lot File 83D230, Box 2, Foreign Gov. Inf: Great Britain. We are indebted to Byrne for sharing the British document with the Office of the Historian in 2011.
  73. Baehler to Trask, June 13, 1980, Department of State, FRUS Clearance Lot File 04D114, Box 3, Dissent Channel Package (1980).
  74. Peter Constable to McManaway, February 10, 1981, Department of State, 1981 P-Reels, P810069–1519 through 1520 attached to Tracy through Richard Kennedy to Walter Stoessel, April 2, 1981, Department of State, 1981 P-Reels, P810069–1517 through 1518.
  75. Pickering talking points, July 13, 1981 attached to McManaway to Eagleburger, July 24, 1981, Department of State, CDC Lot File 95D113, Box 4, UK 1.
  76. Memorandum of conversation among Blayney, Carrick, McManaway, Pickering, Campbell, and Galloway, July 13, 1981 attached to McManaway to Eagleburger, July 24, 1981, Department of State, CDC Lot File 95D113, Box 4, UK 1.
  77. Baehler to Pickering, March 31, 1981, NARA, RG 59, FRUS Clearance Lot File 96D068, Box 6, FRUS, 1952–1954, Vol. X, Iran (clearance folder).
  78. J[ohn] P G[lennon] note, July 28, 1982, NARA, RG 59, FRUS Clearance Lot File 96D068, Box 6, FRUS, 1952–1954, Vol. X, Iran (clearance folder).
  79. Slany to Margie Wilber, December 23, 1982, NARA, RG 59, FRUS Clearance Lot File 96D068, Box 6, FRUS, 1952–1954, Vol. X, Iran (clearance folder).
  80. Floweree to Baehler, January 7, 1983, NARA, RG 59, FRUS Clearance Lot File 96D068, Box 6, FRUS, 1952–1954, Vol. X, Iran (clearance folder).
  81. Floweree to Gomersall, January 11, 1983, NARA, RG 59, FRUS Clearance Lot File 96D068, Box 6, FRUS, 1952–1954, Vol. X, Iran (clearance folder). The British response, “U.K. Foreign Office (Blayney) letter dated November 10, 1983 to Stephen Gomersall, U.K. Embassy,” referenced in the final CDC clearance memorandum, has not been found. See Morefield to Slany, September 20, 1988, NARA, RG 59, FRUS Clearance Lot File 96D068, Box 6, FRUS, 1952–1954, Vol. X, Iran (clearance folder).
  82. Nina [Noring] to John [Glennon], February 15, 1984, NARA, RG 59, FRUS Clearance Lot File 96D068, Box 6, FRUS, 1952–1954, Vol. X, Iran (clearance folder).
  83. Glennon to Hamilton, April 26, 1984, NARA, RG 59, FRUS Clearance Lot File 96D068, Box 6, FRUS, 1952–1954, Vol. X, Iran (clearance folder).
  84. J[ohn] P G[lennon] note, August 9, 1984 and Bardach to Slany (with attached lists of deletions), August 10, 1984 in NARA, RG 59, FRUS Clearance Lot File 96D068, Box 6, FRUS, 1952–1954, Vol. X, Iran (clearance folder).
  85. J[ohn] P G[lennon] note, October 5, 1984, NARA, RG 59, FRUS Clearance Lot File 96D068, Box 6, FRUS, 1952–1954, Vol. X, Iran (clearance folder).
  86. Minutes of 1984 HAC meeting, p. 13, Department of State, HAC Lot File 96D292, Box 4, Report-1984-Minutes.
  87. Suzanne Coffman to Glennon, December 27, 1984; Slany to Bardach, January 11, 1985; and Bardach to Slany, February 4, 1985 in NARA, RG 59, FRUS Clearance Lot File 96D068, Box 6, FRUS, 1952–1954, Vol. X, Iran (clearance folder). Since FRUS had never acknowledged, let alone documented, a covert operation, the concept of a “traditional” standard of comprehensiveness remained ambiguous in the 1980s. Although the Guatemala and Iran volumes were unarguably incomplete, security-minded officials could credibly claim that they provided the traditional scope of documentation.
  88. In September 1985, the CDC submitted 36 pages of material to the CIA. The Agency completed its review by the end of November. In early December, CDC forwarded 25 documents for the period 1952–1954 to the NSC to supplement the 20-document 1951 Iran compilation that had already been transmitted to the NSC. While awaiting NSC clearance, Glennon “decompiled” the entire Iran, 1951–1954 volume in January 1987 to make “cuts necessary to bring [it] to agreed length of 1000 pages” for optimal processing at the Government Printing Office. The NSC did not respond until the summer of 1988, when it made additional excisions to four documents to remove “very sensitive” information and protect issues “currently under review and/or discussion.” In response to HAC criticism of the volume after it was released, Glennon implied that the CIA review eliminated material (provided by the Agency) that corroborated Kermit Roosevelt’s account of the covert operation against Mossadeq in Countercoup: The Struggle for the Control of Iran (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1979), but released CIA records do not clarify whether informal consultations with the CDC helped guide the Department of State excisions before documents were submitted for CIA clearance in September 1985. In any event, the 1981 NEA guidelines and the CIA’s discussions about release policies with CDC reviewers in 1981–1982 left little room for intelligence equities to survive the Department review. See J[ohn] P G[lennon] note, September 18, 1985 and [name not declassified] to Ambach, November 26, 1985 in NARA, RG 59, FRUS Clearance Lot File 96D068, Box 6, FRUS, 1952–1954, Vol. X, Iran (clearance folder) (also in CREST, CIA–RDP87–00181R000100050004–9); [name not declassified—Director of Information Services] to Deputy Director for Administration and Chief, DCI History Staff, November 26, 1985, CREST, CIA–RDP88G00186R000901170001–7; Ambach to Reger, December 5, 1985; John Glennon note, January 5, 1987; and Nancy Menan to Morefield, July 21, 1988 in NARA, RG 59, FRUS Clearance Lot File 96D068, Box 6, FRUS, 1952–1954, Vol. X, Iran (clearance folder); and minutes of 1989 HAC meeting, p. 18, Department of State, HAC Lot File 96D292, Box 5, Advisory Committee Minutes—1989–1990 and Slany to MacDonald [sic], August 17, 1990, Department of State, HAC Lot File 96D292, Box 6, Advisory Committee-1990-Correspondence & Memos.
  89. Morefield to Richard Murphy, August 4, 1988 and Morefield to Slany, September 20, 1988 in NARA, RG 59, FRUS Clearance Lot File 96D068, Box 6, FRUS, 1952–1954, Vol. X, Iran (clearance folder).
  90. Slany to Morefield, September 20, 1988, NARA, RG 59, FRUS Clearance Lot File 96D068, Box 6, FRUS, 1952–1954, Vol. X, Iran (clearance folder) and Slany to MacDonald [sic], August 17, 1990, Department of State, HAC Lot File 96D292, Box 6, Advisory Committee-1990-Correspondence & Memos.
  91. Report of the 1988 HAC meeting, Department of State, 1989 P-Reels, P890097–1170 through 1173 attached to Cohen to Baker, March 7, 1989, Department of State, 1989 P-Reels, P890097-1168-1169.
  92. Minutes of 1989 HAC meeting, p. 19, Department of State, HAC Lot File 96D292, Box 5, Advisory Committee Minutes - 1989–1990.
  93. John Glennon memo, January 5, 1990 attached to J[ohn] P G[lennon] to W[illiam] Z S[lany], March 7, 1990, Department of State, HAC Lot File 96D292, Box 6, Advisory Committee-1990-Warren Cohen Resignation.
  94. Morefield to Glennon, May 25, 1989; Slany to Michael Privitera (with attached volume summary), June 15, 1989; “PR No. 117,” June 15, 1989 in NARA, RG 59, FRUS Clearance Lot File 96D068, Box 6, FRUS, 1952–1954, Vol. X, Iran (clearance folder) and Secretary of State to All Near Eastern and South Asian Diplomatic Posts and U.S. Embassy London, June 19, 1989, Department of State, SAS, 1989 STATE 193721.
  95. For a survey of U.S. foreign policy from 1989 to 2001, see Derek Chollet and James Goldgeier, America Between the Wars, From 11/9 to 9/11: The Misunderstood Years Between the Fall of the Berlin Wall and the Start of the War on Terror (New York: PublicAffairs, 2008).
  96. Minutes of 1989 HAC meeting, pp. 3–13, Department of State, HAC Lot File 96D292, Box 5, Advisory Committee Minutes—1989–1990. See also Slany’s post-meeting report to PA, where he reported “the current declassification leadership first sought to avoid acknowledging the information agreement with Prof. Cohen, then suggested that the Committee’s security clearance was incomplete, and finally explained that it lacked authority to provide the expected access.” Slany through Kennedy to Hoggard, November 22, 1989, Department of State, PA Lot File 93D287, Box 1, FRUS-Historical Advisory Committee 1989.
  97. During the HAC meeting, Glennon defended the volume, arguing that “the volume does contain good material” and that “the Guatemala compilation was far less complete than the Iran volume.” When Kuniholm published an expanded version of his criticism of the Iran volume in the spring of 1990 (after Cohen’s resignation from the HAC), he concluded “the misleading impression of U.S. non-involvement conveyed in the pages of the volume constitutes a gross misrepresentation of the historical record sufficient to deserve the label of fraud.” See minutes of 1989 HAC meeting, pp. 16–20, Department of State, HAC Lot File 96D292, Box 5, Advisory Committee Minutes—1989–1990 and Bruce Kuniholm, “Foreign Relations, Public Relations, Accountability, and Understanding,” Perspectives (May–June 1990), http://www.historians.org/perspectives/issues/1990/9005/9005NOTE1.cfm.
  98. Slany through Kennedy to Hoggard, November 22, 1989, Department of State, PA Lot File 93D287, Box 1, FRUS-Historical Advisory Committee 1989.
  99. Slany to Kennedy (with attached Slany to Glennon, Rita Baker, David Herschler, and Elaine McDevitt, November 27, 1989), November 30, 1989, Department of State, PA Lot File 93D287, Box 1, FRUS-Historical Advisory Committee 1989.
  100. Regarding the outreach effort, Slany informed PA that the FPC proposal ignored an uncomfortable fact: “the main source of negative comment about Department declassification probably comes from PA/HO staff,” which he “very strictly controlled . . . to prevent a worsening of the reputations of the Department declassifiers.” Slany also reported that the proposed Presidential directive was “the best of the proposals, providing we take the occasion to modernize and reduce the process of preparing and publishing Foreign Relations volumes into a realistic undertaking.” This would require a “detailed Staff Study . . . that defines the full range of implications, especially resources, for the modernized, slimmed down, and accelerated Foreign Relations series.” This reaction to the Presidential directive suggestion is telling. After hearing Kuniholm denounce the Iran volume as a fraud in November—but before the avalanche of criticism that followed Cohen’s resignation in February—Slany still prioritized improving the timeliness of the series over ensuring its comprehensiveness and integrity. See Slany to Kennedy, January 9, 1990, Department of State, HAC Lot File 96D292, Box 6, Advisory Committee-1990-Warren Cohen Resignation.
  101. Memo attached to Robert Carr to Kennedy, [no date], Department of State, HAC Lot File 96D292, Box 6, Advisory Committee-1990-Warren Cohen Resignation.
  102. On January 24, Slany predicted that “Cohen is likely to resign,” to “place an op-ed piece in the New York Times or similar newspapers,” and to “rally academic representatives to make contacts with Congressmen or their staff members.” He anticipated, incorrectly, that a vigorous Department “counter effort” focusing on the “current status of the Foreign Relations series and the importance of plans for its future can largely defuse the worst of the criticisms.” He expected “the damage to the Department or [FRUS] by such public airing of Prof. Cohen’s dispute with the declassifiers will probably be greater within the Department than outside” since “the declassifiers may see Prof. Cohen’s complaints and concerns as a justification for less rather than more effective efforts to inform the Advisory Committee about the essential soundness of Department declassification procedures.” See Slany through Kennedy and Hoggard to Tutwiler, January 24, 1990, Department of State, PA Lot File 93D287, Box 1, FRUS-Advisory Committee 1990 Activities & Members.
  103. See passim, Department of State, CDC Lot File 95D113, Box 2, Warren Cohen Resignation; passim, Department of State, CDC Lot File 95D113, Box 3, Historical Advisory Committee 1990; passim, Department of State, PA Lot File 93D287, Box 1, FRUS-Historical Advisory Committee 1989 and FRUS-Advisory Committee 1990 Activities & Members; and passim, Department of State, HAC Lot File 96D292, Box 6, Advisory Committee-1990-Warren Cohen Resignation.
  104. Cohen to Baker (with attached note), February 15, 1990, Department of State, 1990 P-Reels, P900159–0985 through 0986. Blanche Wiesen Cook echoed Cohen at the AHA annual meeting in 1990, when she entreated listeners, “if we care about [FRUS], if we think it important to continue . . . we have very narrow choices. We must insist on its integrity and we must work for guidelines to postpone publication until the record can be complete and accurate. Otherwise we acknowledge that it is time to wave goodbye to a historical anachronism: Truth in the telling of our international relations.” See Blanche Wiesen Cook, “U.S. Foreign Relations History—Is There a Future At All? A Retrospective View,” Perspectives, November 1991, http://www.historians.org/perspectives/issues/1991/9111/9111VIE.cfm.
  105. Dillery to James Thessin, [no date] attached to Slany through Kennedy and Hoggard to Tutwiler, March 2, 1990, Department of State, HAC Lot File 96D292, Box 6, Advisory Committee-1990-Correspondence & Memos. Another copy of Dillery’s memorandum bears the handwritten date March 1, 1990. See Department of State, PA Lot File 93D287, Box 1, FRUS-Advisory Committee 1990 Activities & Members.
  106. “Resolution on Integrity of the FRUS Documentary History,” approved March 22, 1990 (OAH Executive Board and SHAFR Council), March 23, 1990 (NCCPH Policy Board), and March 30, 1990 (AHA Research Division), published in Perspectives (May-June 1990), http://www.historians.org/perspectives/issues/1990/9005/9005NOTE3.cfm.
  107. Arnita Jones to Baker (with attached resolution), April 12, 1990, Department of State, 1990 P-Reels, P900159–0982 through 0984.
  108. William Dudley to Baker, May 15, 1990, Department of State, 1990 P-Reels, P900115–0154 through 0155.
  109. Karen Winkler, “Historians Criticize State Department for ‘Distortions’ and ‘Deletions’ in Its Record of U.S. Foreign Policy,” Chronicle of Higher Education, April 4, 1990, pp. A6 and A12.
  110. Al Kamen, “Historians Say Secrecy Distorts Foreign Policy Chronicle,” Washington Post, April 16, 1990, p. A13.
  111. Department press briefing, April 16, 1990, pp. 13–15, Department of State, HAC Lot File 96D292, Box 6, Advisory Committee-1990-Warren Cohen Resignation.
  112. H[arriet] D S[chwar] memo, April 23, 1990 attached to Slany to Kennedy, April 24, 1990, Department of State, PA Lot File 93D287, Box 1, FRUS-Advisory Committee 1990 Activities & Members.
  113. Warren Cohen, “At the State Dept., Historygate,” New York Times, May 8, 1990, p. A29 and Department press briefing, May 8, 1990, pp. B-2–4, Department of State, CDC Lot File 95D113, Box 3, Historical Advisory Committee 1990.
  114. “History Bleached at State,” New York Times, May 16, 1990, p. A26.
  115. Warren Cohen, “Gaps in the Record: How State has allowed history to be incomplete,” Foreign Service Journal, August 1990, pp. 27–29 and Warren Cohen, “Stop Falsifying U.S. History,” World Monitor, October 1990, pp. 14–17. George Kennedy characterized Cohen’s publicity campaign as a “tempest . . . to embarrass the Dept. and PA” on March 29. See George [Kennedy] note to V K[im] H[oggard], March 29, 1990, Department of State, PA Lot File 93D287, Box 1, FRUS-Advisory Committee 1990 Activities & Members.
  116. Slany to Kennedy, March 29, 1990 and Slany through Kennedy to Hoggard, April 12, 1990 in Department of State, PA Lot File 93D287, Box 1, FRUS-Advisory Committee 1990 Activities & Members and Slany to Kennedy, June 1, 1990, Department of State, PA Lot File 93D287, Box 1, PA-Foreign Relations Series 1990.
  117. Slany through Kennedy and Hoggard to Tutwiler, April 25, 1990, Department of State, PA Lot File 93D287, Box 1, FRUS-Advisory Committee 1990 Activities & Members. Tutwiler’s response to the OAH reflected Slany’s recommendation to offer to meet with a delegation, though no such meeting took place. See Tutwiler to Jones, April 27, 1990, Department of State, 1990 P-Reels, P900159–0979 through 0980 and Page Putnam Miller, “The Integrity of the U.S. Department of State’s Historical Series Is At Stake,” Government Publications Review, July-August 1991, pp. 317–323. See p. 321.
  118. Slany through Kennedy to Hoggard, April 12, 1990, Department of State, PA Lot File 93D287, Box 1, FRUS-Advisory Committee 1990 Activities & Members and Slany to Kennedy, April 23, 1990, Department of State, PA Lot File 93D287, Box 1, PA-FRUS: Media 1990.
  119. Slany to Kennedy, May 16, 1990, Department of State, PA Lot File 93D287, Box 1, PA—FRUS: Publications 1990. See also Department press briefing, May 18, 1990, Department of State, HAC Lot File 96D292, Box 6, Advisory Committee—1990—Warren Cohen Resignation. The expanded coverage of intelligence activities in the 1990 Suez crisis volume followed special efforts undertaken by CDC reviewer (and former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs) Sidney Sober in 1982 to coordinate the release of information about Robert Anderson’s mission to the Middle East. See [name not declassified—Administration Branch, Classification Review Division] memorandum, January 20, 1982, CREST, CIA–RDP85B00236R000400030017–0.
  120. Morefield talking points, April 16, 1990, Department of State, CDC Lot File 95D113, Box 2, Warren Cohen Resignation.
  121. Sheldon Krys letter to the editor, “State Dept.’s Excellent Information Record,” New York Times, June 9, 1990, p. 22. Earlier drafts of the letter elaborated upon the danger of releasing “what academics in the United States might have viewed as a simple statement of historical fact but which in Teheran [sic] might have been viewed as evidence of a long standing hostile plot.” For drafting, see Burke to Machak, May 17, 1990; and May 18 and May 25 draft Krys letters to the New York Times in Department of State, CDC Lot File 95D113, Box 2, Warren Cohen Resignation and May 23 draft (with covering note requesting PA clearance - granted May 29) in Department of State, PA Lot File 93D287, Box 1, PA - FRUS: Media 1990.
  122. Claiborne Pell and David Boren to Baker, April 27, 1990, Department of State, 1990 P-Reels, P900179–0659.
  123. Pell and Boren, “Why US foreign-policy records are ‘a fraud,’” Boston Globe, May 27, 1990, A22.
  124. Daniel Patrick Moynihan, “The Peace Dividend,” New York Review of Books, June 28, 1990, pp. 3–4.
  125. Mitch McConnell to Janet Mullins, June 5, 1990, Department of State, PA Lot File 93D287, Box 1, PA-Foreign Relations Series 1990 and William Armstrong to Mullins, June 26, 1990, Department of State, 1990 P-Reels, P900108–1501.
  126. David Price to Baker, July 26, 1990, Department of State, 1990 P-Reels, P900113–2073.
  127. Charles Stuart Kennedy interview with George High, August 26, 1993, Library of Congress, ADST Oral History, http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.mss/mfdip.2004hig02.