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Minutes of Historical Advisory Committee Meeting, December 1988

A scan of the original document is available for download (PDF, 450 KB, 25pp.)

Source: Department of State, Bureau of Public Affairs, Office of the Historian, Advisory Committee on Historical Diplomatic Documentation Files, 1957-1990 (Lot File 96 D 292), Box 5, 1988-Minutes of the Advisory Comm. Drafted on December 20 and revised on December 30, 1988. Cleared by Acting Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs George High and Director for Systematic Review (A/CDC) Richard Morefield.

Cited in Toward “Thorough, Accurate, and Reliable”: A History of the Foreign Relations of the United States Series, Chapter 10, Footnote 59

Minutes of the December 1988 Meeting of the Advisory Committee on Historical Diplomatic Documentation

American Historical Association

  • Dr. Robert Dallek, Department of History, University of California at Los Angeles
  • Dr. Blanche Wiesen Cook, Professor of History, John Jay College, CUNY, New York City

American Political Science Association

  • Dr. Michel Oksenberg, Center for Chinese Studies, University of Michigan

Organization of American Historians

  • Dr. Bradford Perkins, Department of History, University of Michigan

Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations

  • Dr. Warren I. Cohen, Department of History, Michigan State University
  • Dr. Michael H. Hunt, Department of History, University of North Carolina

Thursday Morning Session (Open)

Committee Members Present:

  • Professor Warren I. Cohen (Chairman)
  • Professor Blanche Wiesen Cook
  • Professor Robert Dallek
  • Professor Michael H. Hunt
  • Professor Bradford Perkins

Others Present:

  • George B. High, Acting Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs

The Office of the Historian (PA/HO):

  • William Z. Slany, The Historian
  • John P. Glennon, Chief, Foreign Relations Division
  • Rita M. Baker
  • M. Paul Claussen
  • Evan M. Duncan
  • Vicki E. Futscher
  • Nancy L. Golden
  • David H. Herschler
  • Nina D. Howland
  • Sherri Jennings
  • Edward C. Keefer
  • James E. Miller
  • David W. Mabon
  • Nina J. Noring
  • David S. Patterson
  • Charles S. Sampson
  • William F. Sanford
  • Louis J. Smith
  • Harriet D. Schwar
  • Sherrill B. Wells

Center for Classification/Declassification (A/CDC):

  • H. Eugene Bovis, Acting Director
  • Mr. Richard Morefield, Chief, Office of Systematic Review

Office of the Assistant Secretary of State for Management Policy (M/MP):

  • Susan T. Tait

Others:

  • George C. Chalou, External Affairs Staff, National Archives and Records Administration (NARA)
  • Milton O. Gustafson, Chief Civil Reference Branch, NARA
  • Mr. David A. Langbart, Records Appraisal Division, NARA
  • Page Putnam Miller, Executive Director, National Coordinating Committee for the Promotion of History
  • Jeanne Schauble, Records Declassification Division, NARA

The public session of the meeting was opened at 9:22 a.m. by William Z. Slany, The Historian of the Department. He turned over the direction of the meeting to the new chairman, Professor Cohen, who accepted the position and invited Acting Assistant Secretary of State George High to address the Committee.

Remarks by Acting Assistant Secretary High

Mr. High welcomed the Committee on behalf of Assistant Secretary Charles Redman, who was traveling with the Secretary of State in Brussels. Mr. High noted that the Committee met at a time of transition for the Department and the Bureau, but he assured Committee members that the work of the Historian’s Office would not be affected by the change in leadership. PA/HO’s program will, however, continue to be impacted by budget constraints and the large amounts of documentation to be examined for inclusion in the Foreign Relations series. He acknowledged past chairman Professor Perkins’ leadership, perseverance, and dedication, and he welcomed Professor Cohen as chairman of the Committee.

Turning to a review of developments of the last year, Mr. High noted that the series was short of the accelerated schedule because of delays in declassification at the National Security Council. The schedule was to bring publication of the series to a 30-year line by 1990. He anticipated that the series would not complete the Eisenhower administration until 1992. The good news, he noted; was that PA/HO had virtually completed the compilation of the documents for the Eisenhower era, A/CDC has completed declassification for all volumes for 1989 and several for 1990, and volumes were now being returned from the NSC at a rate of about one a month. Most importantly, the commitment of PA/HO and A/CDC to support accelerated publication of the series has not faltered. The news on the budget front was still generally bad, but there was a widespread feeling in the Department that the cuts in the foreign relations budget had bottomed out. The PA budget has supported the accelerated PA/HO publication program throughout the budgetary problems, and would continue to do so. Mr. High added that the microfiche publication program initiated by PA/HO should offset the slimmer print volumes in the Foreign Relations series.

Mr. High informed the Committee that its charter had been renewed by the Department for 2 years, without substantive change. The Department was examining the possibility of broadening the Committee to include representatives from the American Economics Association, the Society of American Archivists, and the International Studies Association.

Mr. High reported that the Department had considered the Committee’s Annual Report. During the first 6 or 7 months of this year there had been an ongoing dialog between the Committee Chairman and Assistant Secretary Redman which focused on two issues of pressing importance to the Committee: access to classified materials which have been denied publication and access to the guidelines prepared by A/CDC for the National Archives declassification review of Department of State files. Mr. High told the Committee that the Department had considered the Committee’s views and concerns on these issues carefully and had reached decisions: The Department will continue the briefings of the Committee by A/CDC reviewers on specific Foreign Relations volumes. The Department will solicit advice from the Committee on which volumes to review, but cannot guarantee that the Committee’s requests will be honored in every instance. The Department has also decided that it cannot make available to the Committee the A/CDC guidelines. These guidelines are viewed in the Department as an internal management tool; they outline specific topics which must be reviewed by the Department prior to any declassification or release action. They are the responsibility of A/CDC and are outside the purview of the Advisory Committee and the process of publishing the Foreign Relations series. Access to classified information within the government is based on the principle of “need to know”, and the Committee, whose advisory role is focused on the content and direction of the Foreign Relations series and the work of the Historian’s Office, is not deemed to have a need to know that would authorize access to the guidelines prepared by A/CDC.

Mr. High observed that in June Assistant Secretary Redman had shown Professors Perkins and Cohen the general guidelines to the National Archives and a country-specific guideline so they could see what they looked like and report back to the Committee. This was a one-time effort to demonstrate what the guidelines were about and to show that they did not affect the selection of material for the series.

Mr. High went on to say that the Department had looked at this issue closely over a substantial period of time. The decisions set out in the Redman meeting in June represented a considered decision by Department leadership. The Department considers the Foreign Relations series a thoroughly professional work and that declassification decisions are made in a fully professional manner. The PA Bureau and the Historian’s Office stand behind the volumes and the declassification work. Mr. High noted that he was not aware of any concern within the Historian’s Office about what is being withheld from publication. The Advisory Committee, then, has several insights into the declassification process: one is the professionalism of the Department’s staffs, another is the annual briefing given to the Committee by A/CDC on declassification. We hope that individually and cumulatively these briefings will be a very substantial answer to the concerns the Committee has expressed.

Mr. High concluded with the basic message from the Department to the Committee: We have heard your concerns, we have attempted to address them, we have gone as far as we can. It is now time to move on to the rest of a pressing agenda relating to the Foreign Relations series. He added that the Department needed the Committee’s advice on a variety of issues. Among these issues were the question of the utility of microfiche publications, the future and structure of the Foreign Relations series, the efficacy of pre-publication professional review of Foreign Relations volumes, and the question of access to unprocessed materials at Presidential libraries.

Professor Hunt initiated the Committee’s response by asking for a copy of the Committee’s current charter, and he asked for some clarification, which was provided, of the June meeting with Mr. Redman. Professor Perkins observed that the professional organizations represented by the Committee would not accept that its advisory charter was limited to the Foreign Relations series. Professor Cook added that she understood from past Committee chairman Betty Unterberger that the existing charter had established an advisory role for the Committee that extended to State Department records retired to the National Archives as well as an oversight responsibility for the Foreign Relations series. Mr. High responded that the Department viewed Committee members as advisers to the Foreign Relations series and the Office of the Historian, not to the declassification staff and the declassification program.

Professor Cohen cited the two areas of non-agreement between the Committee and the Department: the restriction of the purview of the Committee to the Foreign Relations series and access to the guidelines for NARA declassification review. While not abandoning these issues, he noted that the Committee was prepared to set them aside to concentrate on the pressing issues confronting the Foreign Relations series as it moves into the 1960’s. He noted in passing that the Committee had asked that a volume dealing with relations with the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe be included in the declassification briefing, and the volume was not included in the briefing list. He concluded, however, that he and the Committee felt a new spirit of cooperation on all issues, and they were generally encouraged.

Professor Cook stated that the Committee was interested in problems relating to the preservation and disposition of State Department documentation at the Archives, not just declassification. Dr. Slany assured her that the Foreign Relations process was archival in its implications, and PA/HO had an equal interest in the integrity of the files. Professor Hunt pointed to Mr. High’s statement regarding the professional standards maintained by the series, and noted that it was the Committee’s purpose to support and attest to those standards. Professor Cohen noted that in the past the Committee had not received sufficient information to provide advice to the scholarly community on the integrity of the series. The A/CDC briefings will provide information about an area which in the past has concerned the Committee.

Dr. Slany stated that the issue of records policy is so important that PA/HO may need to focus resources on records issues and work still more closely with A/CDC, A/FAIM, NARA, and others to achieve more comprehensive planning, especially for the Foreign Relations series. Someone in the Office of the Historian might be assigned responsibility to coordinate such planning with regard to the documentation involved and the structure of the volumes. Professor Perkins asked about the kind of planning which underlies the volumes now. Dr. Slany stated that there is no formal structure; planning is guided by past experience and the availability of documents in the Department. Professor Cohen noted that an annual meeting did not allow the Committee to have the impact it wants especially in the planning process; a continuing dialog was needed.

Report by The Historian

Dr. Slany referred to his written report on the future of the Foreign Relations series circulated to the Committee in advance of the meeting. He foresaw the expanded scope and altered contents of the future volumes that will be used by all levels of readers. It would not be possible to include complete documentation on important diplomatic developments, but it would be possible to present information on how and where such developments could be researched. A volume could include some documents, some explanatory material, and some apparatus to point toward further research. In essence, the object was to provide a true documentary history. Biographical information and an explanation of the structure of the Department at the time could be included. Dr. Slany stated “we need a great deal of interaction with the scholarly community and the teaching fraternity” to help decide the future structure of the volumes. He added that the options remain open; we may have some combination of printed volumes supplemented with microfiche. Dr. Slany noted, parenthetically, that the sales of PA/HO’s microfiche publications have been unexpectedly good. Professor Hunt asked about attempting to survey microfiche users, and the Committee concluded that it would be difficult to do.

Professor Perkins commented on the Historian’s written report. He was encouraged by the beginning of work on an oral history program and the collection of historical data on U.S. consuls. He had two requests: (1) a chart showing where each volume is in the clearance/publication process such as the Committee was given previously, and (2) a statement of the percentage of material deleted in the various volumes. He wondered how confident we were that we could reach the 30-year line by 1992; he recognized that we had been held up by NSC delays in declassification. Dr. Slany said the NSC was currently returning one volume a month. He thought there was a reasonable prospect that we could hold to the schedule.

Professor Perkins asked if faster NSC declassification meant that less material was declassified. Dr. Glennon said the problem with the NSC had not been one of withholding material but of delay. Dr. Slany added that in some cases the NSC declassified more than other agencies.

Professor Cook asked whether PA/HO had a problem of access at the Eisenhower Library. Dr. Slany said no, except for a few things which were not available or not processed at the time when we did our research.

Professor Cohen asked where the resources were coming from for new projects such as oral history and the project on consuls, when resources for Foreign Relations were declining. Dr. Slany assured him that these projects would not be done at the expense of the series; they would attract money and interest on their own merits.

Professor Perkins asked who would do the interviews for oral history. Dr. Slany indicated that the interviewers would be Foreign Service officers who could establish rapport and gain the confidence of the interviewees. Professor Dallek pointed out the great range of quality in oral history interviews; it was crucial to combine the documentary record with the interview in order to provide a context. Dr. Slany stated that PA/HO would provide background material and training for the interviewers and noted how important it was that the interviewee have confidence in the interviewer. Professor Hunt asked what would be done with the record of the interview. Dr. Slany replied that the interview record would be a classified document under the control of the relevant bureau where the information could be used. Professor Hunt questioned whether under these circumstances an interview would be likely to elicit comments that were not already part of the official record. Professor Dallek asked what kind of restrictions would be placed on access to the interview records. Dr. Herschler replied that they would be official records, subject to the FOIA. Dr. Slany added that the records of interviews would become part of the Department’s historical records and eventually be included in Foreign Relations volumes.

Future of the Foreign Relations Series

Professor Cohen stated that the Committee would now turn to the question of the future of the Foreign Relations series. Professor Hunt noted that he had just read the 1961 Vietnam volume, which was excellent. He assumed it would be a model for the future of the series. The White House documents in the volume underlined the importance of that material and the fact that the White House had become the focus of policymaking. Professor Perkins asked if that was a universal truth; Dr. Slany replied that it depended on the issue.

Professor Dallek pointed out the danger of becoming focused entirely on White House documents. He suggested breaking away from the geographic organization of the series and organizing it around important issues or episodes in Presidential administrations and including in it State Department, White House, and other-agency documentation. Planning the volumes would be very important, and the Committee’s advice and that of area specialists would be valuable.

Professor Dallek also cautioned regarding the use of historical narratives, which were bound to be colored by the author’s viewpoint. PA/HO should be the presenter of the record rather than the interpreter of it. Inclusion of guidances or “signposts” to groups of records would be valuable, however. Professor Perkins agreed that the inclusion of narratives would be a very “dubious experiment.” Interpretation should be avoided, and a cursory narrative would not be useful. A statement of the major issues with respect to a particular country in a given time period with a guide to the files would be acceptable. Dr. Slany pointed out that we already did some of that in the editorial notes in already-published volumes and in summary accounts of the contents of volumes prepared at the time they are released.

Professor Hunt pointed out that the 1961 Vietnam volume included some synopses of this nature. Professor Cohen asked if that volume represented what Dr. Slany had in mind. Dr. Slany replied that the Vietnam volume had a broader range of documents than previous volumes. Professor Hunt acknowledged that Vietnam was a special case but thought the series should continue its fundamental geographic organization. He suggested, as an example, a Latin America volume focusing on the Alliance for Progress with bibliographic guidance on bilateral relations with countries of the area. Professor Dallek observed that documentation was often geared to crises, which have ramifications in other areas. The volumes would therefore need guides to other sources of material. Professor Hunt pointed out that the national security volume provided some overview. Professor Perkins observed that some of these questions could not be answered in principle but only in detail.

In response to a question by Professor Cohen, Drs. Slany and Glennon stated that including brief synopses with bibliographic guidance would not inherently increase clearance problems. Professor Dallek concluded that a consensus regarding the topics to be included in Foreign Relations volumes was necessary prior to compilation.

Professor Hunt raised the question of the audience of the Foreign Relations series. Professor Cohen pointed out that the volumes were an important research tool for students and that, for that purpose, documents were more important than bibliographical guidance to files in the Archives. Professor Perkins asked how PA/HO viewed its audience. Dr. Slany listed Department officials, scholars, students, and readers in countries outside the United States that have no foreign affairs documentary publications. Professor Cohen noted that the volumes were very important in countries such as China. Professor Cook pointed out that journalists constituted another audience.

Professor Dallek suggested publishing the bibliographical material in microfiche. Dr. Slany replied that such material would not constitute more than 10 percent of a volume; microfiche would be reserved for additional documentation. Dr. Smith interjected that an integrated print and microfiche publication opened up opportunities for compilers to include more documents. Professor Dallek supported this, suggesting placing documentation on minor countries in the fiche. Dr. Glennon said we were already doing this.

Professor Perkins stressed the importance of printing substantial collections of documents on major subjects, even though this raised difficult choices in selecting the topics. He preferred printing “thick documentation” on subjects such as the Cuban missile crisis and consigning some subjects to the fiche rather than printing shallow documentation on everything.

There was further discussion of the question of the organization of the volumes and of the projected list of volumes for 1961-1963. Dr. Mabon pointed out that some volumes were structured around issues more than would appear from the brief list of volume titles. The Southeast Asia volume, for example, would focus largely on the Laos crisis, but the organizational details could only be worked out in the course of research on the volume.

Professor Hunt stated that the key questions were: what did the President decide, on the basis of what information did he make the decision, and what impact did those decisions have. He thought the volumes should not merely document the Presidential decisions but include the input preceding the decisions and the effects they had. He thought that rather than publishing bibliographical information in microfiche, it would be better to include more documents in microfiche.

Professor Dallek inquired about records of the FBI and the Department of Justice; would bibliographical material regarding these, for example, be included? George Chalou of NARA pointed out that NARA had a 2-volume guide to FBI records and that some of those records were being transferred to the Archives. The suggestion was made for a separate volume with bibliographical material, but Dr. Glennon thought such a volume could be held up in clearance because of a handful of sensitive files. Both Professors Hunt and Cohen preferred to integrate the bibliographic information into the documents in the volume.

The meeting adjourned at 11:45 a.m. for lunch.

Thursday Luncheon Meeting

Participants:

Committee members:

  • Professor Cohen, Chairman
  • Professor Cook
  • Professor Dallek
  • Professor Hunt
  • Professor Perkins

Office of the Historian:

  • Dr. Slany
  • Dr. Glennon
  • Dr. Herschler

National Archives and Records Administration:

  • Mr. Langbart

The Advisory Committee held a working luncheon meeting at the Garden Restaurant, 12:15 - 1:30 p.m.

At this meeting, Mr. Langbart, an officer of the Records Appraisal and Disposition Division of the National Archives and Records Administration, briefed the Committee on the status of efforts to identify, appraise, and preserve the decentralized records of the Department of State.

Mr. Langbart outlined his responsibilities as a records appraiser and the regulations governing the authorities and duties of the National Archives and the Department in the disposition of Department records. He also briefly described the organizational units within NARA concerned with Department records, including the Washington National Records Center and the archival custodial unit holding accessioned Department records. He then delineated the emergence of Department lot files (that is, special, decentralized retired office or bureau records) and their relationship to the Central Foreign Policy File in the period since World War II. He described the efforts made, often unsuccessful, to manage the lot file system in the Department and the pressure which the vast increase in paper documentation placed on recordkeepers in the Department. This pressure required some restraints on the growth of lot files and led to their screening (and sometimes destruction), at times at the unfortunate expense of unique and important sources.

Mr. Langbart pointed out that through the cooperative efforts of the Historian’s Office, NARA, and the Department records managers (A/FAIM), certain categories of lot files that may be archival and may constitute unique, substantive, self-contained collections of documents relating to significant offices, functions, people, and events will be exempt from the screening process and preserved intact until they can be properly reviewed by Department historians and appraised by NARA. Such categories of records include the non-housekeeping files of the Department’s principals controlled by the Executive Secretariat; records of the Policy Planning Staff; records of bureau and office chiefs; records of inter- and intra-departmental committees, working groups, and task forces; records of individuals and offices concerning specific, substantive, unique functions, events, or issues; crisis files; non-housekeeping records of the Bureau of Intelligence and Research; and other specialized collections.

The presentation emphasized the need for continued cooperation between the National Archives and the Department to ensure the proper identification, preservation, and accessioning of the Department’s diverse files if researchers in the future will have access to a comprehensive and accurate historical record.

Thursday Afternoon Session (Closed)

Committee Members Present:

  • Professor Cohen (Chairman)
  • Professor Cook
  • Professor Dallek
  • Professor Hunt
  • Professor Perkins

Others Present:

Bureau of Public Affairs (PA)

  • Mr. High, Acting Assistant Secretary

The Office of the Historian (PA/HO):

  • Dr. Slany, The Historian
  • Dr. Glennon, Chief, Foreign Relations Division Chief
  • Ms. Baker
  • Ms. Futscher
  • Ms. Golden
  • Dr. Herschler
  • Dr. Keefer
  • Dr. Mabon
  • Dr. Noring
  • Dr. Patterson
  • Dr. Sampson
  • Dr. Sanford
  • Dr. Schwar
  • Dr. Smith
  • Dr. Wells

Center for Classification/Declassification (A/CDC):

  • Dr. Bovis, Acting Director
  • Mr. Morefield, Chief, Office of Systematic Review
  • Mr. Charles Flowerree
  • Mr. Sidney Sober
  • Mr. Theodore Tremblay

Office of the Assistant Secretary of State for Management Policy (M/MP):

  • Ms. Tait

Professor Cohen convened the meeting at 2 p.m. and called on Mr. Morefield to conduct the A/CDC briefing of the Committee.

Mr. Morefield’s Comments

Mr. Morefield began by saying that A/CDC was in the process of reorganization. A/CDC’s role began after the Foreign Relations volumes were compiled by PA/HO historians. A/CDC served as the representative of Department bureaus to obtain clearance of State Department documents and also obtained clearances from other agencies.

He distributed a List of Executive Orders involved in classification and a Checklist of Exemption Citations.

Mr. Morefield mentioned three constant guidelines A/CDC uses:

  • 1) In an open society decisions on access were based on the right to know and the need to know;
  • 2) The decision to withhold information included periodic review of those decisions;
  • 3) Within the concept of “need to know”, A/CDC must find the person with the authority to declassify the information.

Professor Perkins asked how “need to know” was defined. Mr. Morefield responded that the person who classifies decided who has the “authority” to make the decision; these presumptions can be overcome when circumstances changed. The basic question was, is there now a need to protect? Mr. Morefield asked, based on the list of cleared volumes, which volumes the Committee would like reviewed next year.

[The classified briefing by A/CDC reviewers followed.]

Professor Cohen thanked the A/CDC members for their briefing. He remarked that it had been a good discussion which gave the Committee additional insights into A/CDC’s role in the preparation of Foreign Relations volumes.

Access to Documents in Presidential Libraries

Dr. Slany opened the discussion, stating that the present slow rate at which the John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson Libraries were processing documents for their respective administrations threatened to delay the accelerated compilation of the post-1960 period. He added that an $18,000 Department subvention in FY 1988 to facilitate processing at the Kennedy Library had not yielded results commensurate with the outlay. He said Dr. Stanley Katz, President of the American Council of Learned Societies, had suggested that the Department and the National Archives jointly establish a “Friends of Foreign Relations” committee to solicit funds from major foundations to enable Presidential libraries to accelerate the opening up of their records to research. Dr. Herschler stated that the job would cost approximately $600,000 over 4 or 5 years. Dr. Slany added that, without an improvement, Foreign Relations compiling could not achieve the 30-year line called for by President Reagan.

In response to a question from Professor Cook about the possibility of sending a State Department historian to research unprocessed materials, Dr. Slany advised her that official historians did not have access to unprocessed material and that the libraries would each need one or two people to work full time to solve the problem. He added that the Archivist of the United States, Don W. Wilson, was aware of the problem and was exploring various solutions. The key to the issue was for the Archivist to find a way to reapportion scarce NARA resources and meet the special needs of the Presidential libraries. Dr. Herschler pointed out that a new archivist at a Presidential library would require a year or more to be fully cleared and trained. Dr. Slany stated that he wished to enlist the Advisory Committee’s advice and support both in its capacity as a committee and through the associations that it represents.

Professor Dallek suggested that members of the Committee talk to people connected with the libraries who he believed would be sympathetic to accelerating records processing. He specifically mentioned Nancy Smith, David Humphrey, and LBJ Library Director Harry Middleton. He added that the pre-Presidential LBJ records were now almost completely available to the public. He asked about the possibility of foundation funds earmarked for the development of oral history being shifted to records processing and declassification. Dr. Slany responded that the Presidential libraries would have to be persuaded that document processing was a higher priority. Professor Hunt suggested that Professor Cohen should express his concern to the libraries on behalf of the Committee. Professor Cook added that the Eisenhower Library was initially slow in processing its records until outside pressure had been brought to bear.

Professor Hunt asked whether the National Archives would suffer if Foreign Relations were not published; whether, for example, the possibility of not receiving State Department records as a result of a slowdown would offer an incentive for the Archivist to speed the processing of Presidential library documents. Professor Perkins asked whether people could be moved from the older Presidential libraries where the processing had presumably been done to the more recent ones. Professor Cook expressed doubt that there were people to spare. She noted that the Eleanor Roosevelt papers had still not been processed at the FDR Library.

Professor Cohen then asked for the names of people to contact. Dr. Slany responded that Don Wilson and John Fawcett, Assistant Archivist for Presidential Libraries, were the most important since they determined the apportionment of resources to the Presidential library system. Professor Dallek suggested that prominent scholars of the Kennedy period such as Arthur Schlesinger and Theodore Sorenson, and Senator Ted Kennedy be asked to support the need for accelerated access to materials at the JFK Library.

Dr. Smith pointed out that part of the problem was the libraries’ difficulty in hiring cleared individuals to process classified materials. He recalled the difficulty experienced at the JFK Library to find someone who was cleared to work on materials requested by PA/HO researchers. Professor Cohen then asked, if this were the case, whether the Advisory Committee could do anything. Dr. Slany emphasized his hope that the Advisory Committee would explain and support the requirements of the Historian’s Office. Perhaps the Department might have to strike a deal whereby PA/HO historians would somehow assist in processing the material in return for access. Dr. Smith stated that access by Department historians to unprocessed materials could significantly assist Library personnel to process documents of special historical interest. He noted that in his last research trip to the JFK Library, he and the archivist had worked together to bring about the processing of a particularly important collection. Dr. Slany stated that it would nevertheless be more effective to provide the Library with the resources it needed to do the job. In response to a suggestion by Professor Cook that a Department historian be assigned to do the processing, Dr. Slany said that such an arrangement might arouse the concerns of other agencies who would discern favoritism and inequity.

Professor Perkins said that the key to progress on the processing issue was to get foundation funding for it. Dr. Slany said that PA/HO and the National Archives were formulating a joint proposal. The Department could not legally accept foundation or private funding, but the National Archives could through its Trust Fund. In any case, any private funding would not be for compiling but for processing files at the Presidential libraries. Professor Cohen concluded by saying that the Advisory Committee would send a letter to Dr. Wilson and asked The Historian to provide necessary information.

Report on the U.S. Consular Project

Dr. Slany explained the U.S. consular project, based on the unique historical consular card file housed in the Historian’s Office, and stated that his ultimate goal was to stimulate and facilitate some serious history of the U.S. consular service and American foreign policy. He said he hoped to find a method to collate the information contained in the card file about where the consular officers served with information about their publications and papers. He wished to explore with the Committee his idea for a conference on consular history. This conference of diplomatic historians and others interested in consular history would be convened to advise him on what should be done with the data on consular officials already obtained by PA/HO and on how best to make it available to researchers.

Professor Hunt asked what was the rationale for spending more money on the consular project and what the cost would be. Dr. Slany replied that the information about consular officials and their posts had been inaccessible in the past since it remained in PA/HO in the form of several thousand 8" x 12" cards. It should, therefore, be made available to researchers in order that more could be learned about those individuals who laid the foundation for U.S. foreign policy. He said it would cost $30-40,000 to put the data already obtained in a database management system. He said a small portion of the work was already done and that he could bring someone in on contract to complete the task.

Professor Hunt reported that one of his Ph.D. students had done his dissertation on U.S. chiefs of diplomatic missions and principal officers at major consular posts during the 1890s. This student had found there was little scholarly interest in consuls per se. Professor Hunt questioned whether a further expenditure of that amount was worth the effort.

Dr. Slany explained that he believed it very important to have insight into another dimension of foreign relations and that there was a need to make the information already collected available to researchers. He said the guide to manuscripts was valuable. When asked about the final product, he said the data about these officials would be available in a digital database.

Professor Cook said this project was “really important” as it provided “another world view.” While Professor Dallek remarked that some may see it as “quaint,” Professor Perkins said it would be used selectively by area specialists. Professor Cohen stated that it was the consensus of the Committee that this consular project was important and worth considering. Regarding a conference, he said it would be useful to have a broader range of opinion to consider whether the arrangement of the tranche of information presented by PA/HO is useful and suggested directors of graduate schools be invited to the Department for a briefing.

The session adjourned at 4:30 p.m.

Friday Morning Session (Closed)

Committee Members Present:

  • Professor Cohen (Chairman)
  • Professor Cook
  • Professor Dallek
  • Professor Hunt
  • Professor Michel Oksenberg
  • Professor Perkins

Others Present:

Professor J.C. Hurewitz, Columbia University

Bureau of Public Affairs (PA)

  • Mr. High, Acting Assistant Secretary

The Office of the Historian (PA/HO):

  • Dr. Slany, The Historian
  • Dr. Glennon, Chief, Foreign Relations Division
  • Ms. Baker
  • Ms. Futscher
  • Dr. Herschler
  • Dr. Howland
  • Dr. Keefer
  • Dr. Mabon
  • Dr. Noring
  • Dr. Patterson
  • Ms. Robinson
  • Dr. Sampson
  • Dr. Schwar

Center for Classification/Declassification (A/CDC):

  • Dr. Bovis, Acting Director
  • Mr. Morefield, Chief, Office of Systematic Review
  • Mr. Sober

Office of the Assistant Secretary of State for Management Policy (M/MP):

  • Ms. Tait

Professor Cohen convened the session at 9:05 a.m., and introduced J.C. Hurewitz, Emeritus Professor of History at Columbia University, to provide a pre-publication review of Foreign Relations, 1955-1957, volumes XIV and XV, Arab-Israeli Dispute through July 1956. (The volumes are scheduled for publication in the spring of 1989.)

Professor Hurewitz warmly complimented the editors of the two volumes he had reviewed. He emphasized the accuracy and completeness of the foreign affairs record presented in the volumes and assured the Committee that the American record of the Arab-Israeli dispute was fully and accurately documented. Although he considered himself highly knowledgeable about the events of 1956 and 1957, he had learned many new details in reviewing the volumes and he intended to include some of them in his own current research.

Professor Hurewitz reminded the Committee that the Foreign Relations volumes under discussion only presented the American role in the Arab-Israeli dispute and the actions of Britain and France against Egypt. This limitation could not be held against the Department or the editors of the series. The editors had done their job well and the results were volumes of solid scholarship. Professor Hurewitz emphasized, however, that serious students and researchers would not be content with the official American view of these events, and they would have to seek the wider historical context elsewhere. It was necessary for the serious scholar to be aware of the broader range of historical events as well as to consult foreign government documents, especially British, but also Israeli and Egyptian sources. U.S. policy was more reactive than it appeared in the two volumes. In reply to Professor Hunt’s question, Professor Hurewitz said that it was not necessary to include or refer to all these materials in the volumes. The job of the editors of Foreign Relations volumes was to show how the United States got involved in significant events, how U.S. officials saw their responsibilities, and how they carried them out. The volumes could not be faulted in this respect.

Professor Hurewitz described the three main themes of volume XIV, all of which were related to British initiatives: (1) Alpha, a major U.S.-U.K. peace initiative to resolve the Arab-Israeli dispute; (2) the Soviet-Egyptian arms deal; and (3) the decision to build the Aswan Dam.

After providing some historical background on these three themes, Professor Hurewitz noted most of this background could not be obtained from the two volumes. Professor Hurewitz emphasized that while the Foreign Relations volumes made an important contribution, they did not provide the full historical picture, and he cited some recent and forthcoming publications on the Suez question.

Professor Hurewitz then took up a few specific points. He said the volumes lacked three British memoranda of conversations between Francis Russell and Evelyn Shuckburgh, which were important for an accurate record. These memoranda were available in the Public Record Office and ought to be included, if possible, in the volume. Professor Perkins observed that he thought it was placing too much responsibility on the compilers to have them search foreign materials. Dr. Slany said that in some vital instances, compilers should and did concern themselves with foreign records.

There was some discussion about the need of the Department to restrain the size of Foreign Relations volumes, and the inability of Department historians to provide complete details on all interesting issues. Microform supplements were being looked to as a means of providing users with more details than could be included in present volumes. Professor Hurewitz made a personal plea that the Foreign Relations series continue to provide full coverage of the details relating to major crises in print volumes. He noted the difficulties in using microfiche.

Professor Hurewitz offered the Committee some personal views on how to enlist wider support for the publication of the Foreign Relations series. Because it was in the U.S. interest to publish this record, he felt that Congress should become involved. Official CIA documentation also should be pursued, in order to counterbalance fragmentary, inaccurate, and often self-serving memoirs.

Professor Hurewitz suggested that for accuracy the running head for one of the topics be extended beyond the pages it presently covers, and that the title for one of the sections be changed to describe more correctly what occurred. He also noted that the volumes did not contain the first conversation of the Anderson mission and that messages numbered 3-12 were omitted. Dr. Nina Noring pointed out that some of the missing and unaccounted for numbered cable messages dealt with administrative matters (scheduling of planes and meetings) and that the volume did present the complete set of the Anderson discussions. Dr. Slany assured the Committee that the volume would provide editorial explanations that would allay confusion about such omitted documents.

The Committee posed a number of questions relating to pre-publication review. At what stage would it be useful to have this kind of review? Dr. Slany said that it might be possible to insert it earlier in the process of preparing a volume, but that would require obtaining security clearances. He said that if egregious omissions or errors were found in a volume at pre-publication review, changes could be made. Dr. Hurewitz noted that with computerized printing adjusting a volume was not as difficult as it once was. Mr. Slany pointed out that PA/HO operated on a slim margin, budget-wise.

Professor Hurewitz also made to the Committee a recommendation that the original document classifications, which had once appeared beneath the heading and were now included in a footnote, be restored. Because the classification said so much about a document, it should be highlighted. Professor Cook felt that prominent identification of the original classification of documents was very important.

After additional discussion, Professor Cohen noted that there were several stages at which pre-publication review might take place: a general discussion by specialists in the area or topic of issues and subjects prior to undertaking compilation, or the pre-publication review of the completed volume. Neither review would involve classified records or require special security clearances.

Professor Oksenberg made some observations concerning any pre-publication review process for the series. The earlier an expert entered the process, the more the final product would be trusted among the academic community. There was a danger that the volume as eventually published could become identified with a particular academician and his or her particular conception of the subject matter. This could affect the perceived objectivity of the volume. Professor Dallek expressed some agreement with this formulation. Professor Cohen appeared to see no serious danger in a review process involving outside experts, but noted that another scholar would have given a much different interpretation of the period than had Professor Hurewitz.

Professor Oksenberg went on to say that Professor Hurewitz had identified an inherent limitation of the series by pointing to the existence of relevant foreign government documents that were not included in the Foreign Relations volumes. He asked if Professor Hurewitz thought there were any missing, easily declassifiable documents of which he had knowledge, and whether he thought the omission of denied material had resulted in distortion. Professor Hurewitz replied that the questions assumed he had full knowledge, which he didn’t. From what he knew of the subject, he “could live with these two volumes.” He expressed regret that U.S. documentation did not come out on a regular basis compared to the British practice of opening records at the Public Record Office after 30 years. He questioned the need for a triennium and noted that declassification of the first year was held up until declassification of the last year.

Professor Cohen commented that the key point was whether something was hidden. An outsider could not add credibility to the series, but could only determine whether publicly-known things were left out. Professor Cook noted that the Committee had already been told that covert matters were omitted. Professor Hunt asked Professor Hurewitz whether he thought, from his knowledge of public disclosures of U.S. covert activities of the period, that the volumes gave an adequate sense of the CIA role. Professor Hurewitz replied that they did not. He acknowledged and agreed with the CIA desire to protect names and methods, but thought the substance of such material should be included. He used as an example of what he would find interesting a statement by Allen Dulles to the National Security Council that indicated that the Soviet-Egyptian connection on armaments began in March 1955. Professor Hurewitz would like to see the reporting on which Dulles’ statement was based. He was not interested in the names of agents or the methods, but there was information in this area he would be happy to see.

Professor Cohen then raised the question of whether there should be a disclaimer in the volumes, so that students would not be misled that they were getting the whole story. Dr. Slany thought that prefaces to volumes could include a more precise statement on the series. Professor Cook suggested a printed bracketed note at the location of denied documents, indicating an omission. Dr. Slany said that her proposal had been suggested but had proved to be not feasible. Specific disclaimers would be unacceptable to the CIA and other agencies. He noted that bibliographic apparatus in the reshaped Foreign Relations volumes of the future would make users more aware of the omissions in the series.

Professor Oksenberg asked whether PA/HO had ever confronted a situation where the denial of material had created a serious distortion. Dr. Slany replied that this had happened in the case of Foreign Relations, 1952-1954, volume IV, which included documentation on the overthrow of the Arbenz regime in 1954 in Guatemala. The Historian’s Office decided, after careful and even painful evaluation of options, to publish the volume because it was more important to publish -- with the incomplete Guatemala story -- rather than keep the entire volume out of the public’s hands. Mr. Sober pointed out publication of the 1952-1954 volume on Iran had been held up due to the current tensions in U.S.-Iranian relations rather than because covert activities were documented.

Professor Cohen explained that the Committee’s meeting with Mr. High had been moved forward and would take place at 11:00 a.m. Further discussion on the future of the Foreign Relations series, which had been scheduled for the late morning, would take place at lunch.

The session adjourned at 10:47 a.m.

Friday Luncheon Meeting

Participants:

Committee members:

  • Professor Cohen, Chairman
  • Professor Cook
  • Professor Dallek
  • Professor Hunt
  • Professor Oksenberg
  • Professor Perkins

Office of the Historian:

  • Dr. Slany
  • Dr. Glennon
  • Dr. Herschler

The Advisory Committee convened its working luncheon meeting at noon in the Department’s Buchanan Dining Room. Discussion at the luncheon centered on the redefinition of the content, scope, and format of the Foreign Relations series for the 1961-1963 triennium.

Professor Dallek restated his earlier comment that the volume of records, especially the preponderance of key documents at the Presidential libraries and in other collections outside the Department, made necessary the organization of the series around key issues, with the most important documents published in the print volume, other selected documentation published in microfiche, and gaps in the historical record filled by narratives providing a comprehensive guide to the full record.

Professor Perkins argued that the series would be less useful to readers if the texts of documents in the print volume were replaced by narrative, although he recognized that some narrative or at least bibliographic description would be necessary to compensate for the gaps in documentation. Dr. Slany explained that the narrative summaries and guide to the full record was not meant to replace the texts of documents, but were essential because the series could no longer publish as large a part of the full record as in the past. Professor Cohen expressed agreement with this principle, and this seemed to be the general sense of the Committee. Professor Cohen asked Dr. Slany to prepare a mock-up of what a new-style volume might look like so the Committee might better understand the proposed changes in focus and content.

Professor Hunt again expressed his satisfaction with the Vietnam 1961 volume and thought it might be used in some ways as a prototype for the rest of the triennium, particularly because of the breadth of sources and the expanded bibliographical apparatus. There was some discussion of the role of microfiche for these volumes. While some Committee members seemed willing to accept the use of microfiche to publish larger numbers of documents, there was no clear consensus on how the fiche and print volumes should be organized. Professor Hunt stated that Committee members might be able to provide some direction for the 1961-1963 triennium after they had an opportunity to examine a combined print and microfiche volume. Dr. Glennon reported that the 1958-l960 Latin America volume, which was likely to be the first to be cleared, might provide the Committee useful insight.

Professor Hunt asserted that the current plan for the 1961-1963 triennium reflected a focus on issues, rather than the traditional geographic organization, citing the Berlin Crisis and National Security volumes -- in addition to the Vietnam publication -- as examples. Professor Dallek thought all the volumes ought to focus on issues rather than concentrate on particular issues highlighted within a “geographic” volume. He argued that, in light of the heavy concentration of foreign policy documentation in the White House, the series should reflect not only key international events but also the domestic political factors influencing U.S. foreign policy. Professor Oksenberg cautioned that a radical departure in format of the volumes might have a negative impact on the series’ readership, which for decades had seen the consistent publication of volumes according to geographic orientation, with the exception of “special” volumes, such as the World War II conferences. He wondered if the future compilations in the series could somehow focus on major issues without abandoning the traditional organization of the volumes.

Professor Cohen thought the Committee should provide advice on the issues to be presented in the print volumes. He inquired whether the list of volumes for 1961-1963 could be expanded to include a detailed table of contents for each volume which would indicate the topics being documented. On the basis of such information, the Committee could propose areas and topics of emphasis or suggest additional issues. Dr. Glennon said that his staff had prepared a draft which could be made available to the Committee, although it would have to be revised in light of the refocus of the triennium on issues. Dr. Slany said that the Office would prepare this and send it out to the Committee as soon as possible.

The luncheon meeting adjourned at 1:15, and the participants returned to Room 5531 for a brief review of the action items PA/HO and the Committee had agreed to undertake.

Professor Cohen requested that PA/HO provide him with a list of names and titles of individuals to be contacted by the Committee and their representative organizations to expedite the processing of materials at the Presidential libraries. He also restated his request for the detailed table of contents for the 1961-1963 triennium that had been discussed during the luncheon.

After brief discussion, the Committee indicated a desire to be briefed by A/CDC at the next Committee meeting on the 1951-1954 Iran and 1955-1957 National Security volumes, as well as the 1955-1957 volume containing the USSR compilation. Professor Cohen thought that he and other Committee members might come to Washington in the spring to continue and expand the dialog with the Historian’s Office and other Department officials, and asked Dr. Slany to provide travel orders and other pertinent information.

As to the preparation of the Committee report, Professor Cohen said that he expected to have the report written during January and delivered to the Department in February. He requested Committee comments by the end of December. Dr. Slany said that the Minutes of the meeting would be sent to Professor Cohen as soon as possible.

The meeting of the Advisory Committee was adjourned at 1:45 p.m.