U.S. Department of State
Advisory Committee on Historical
September 15-16, 2003
Robert Schulzinger, Chairman
Meena Bose (ad hoc consultant)
Diane Shaver Clemens
Wm. Roger Louis
Brenda Gayle Plummer
Office of the Historian
Marc Susser, Historian
James Van Hook
Laurie West Van Hook
Bureau of Administration
Brian Dowling, A/RPS/IPSLarry Emery
Margaret Grafeld, A/RPS/IPS
Lee Lohman, A/RPSDavid Mabon, A/RPS/IPS
Margaret Peppe, A/RPS/IPS
National Archives and Records Administration
Sally Kuisel, Textual Archives Services Division
David Kepley, Office of Records Services, Washington, DC
David Langbart, Life Cycle Management Division
Marty McGann, Textual Archives Services Division
Don McIlwain, Initial Processing and Declassification Division
Marvin Russell, Textual Archives Services Division
Jeanne Schauble, Director, Initial Processing and Declassification Division
Nancy Smith, Office of Presidential Libraries
Central Intelligence Agency
Bruce Craig, National Coalition for History
OPEN SESSION, September 15
Approval of the Record of the June 2003 Meeting
Chairman Robert Schulzinger opened the meeting by introducing Geoffrey Watson, the newest member of the committee.
Roger Louis stated that he would like the record of the current minutes to note that the Subcommittee on Retrospective Volumes will meet at 9:00 a.m. the first day of each Historical Advisory Committee (HAC) session, and that the subcommittee needs to have access to relevant material for review.
The committee then approved the record of the June minutes.
Report by the Executive Secretary
Executive Secretary and Historian, Marc Susser, began his report by noting that the HO staff continues to grow and that twelve employees have been added to the Office since January 2003. He also reported that Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs Boucher and Assistant Secretary for Near Eastern Affairs Burns sent a memorandum to the Secretary to inform him of the Office’s upcoming conference on the 1967 Arab-Israeli War.
Susser said that the joint documentary project with the History and Archives Department of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs on the era of détente was continuing and that the conference and release of the publication were expected to occur in Spring 2005. He said that a Foreign Relations volume had been released on Vietnam since the last meeting, and that the Office had hosted a reception for SHAFR that had been well attended. He concluded by reporting on his participation in a conference in Canberra for editors of diplomatic documents.
Status Report by the General Editor
General Editor Edward Keefer remarked that the Foreign Relations of the United States (FRUS) series was fully staffed with 23 compiling historians, 3 historians recently added to the Declassification and Publishing division, and 2 graduate students working on the Nixon tapes, with another to be added soon.
Schulzinger asked why there would be only three volumes published in 2003; it appeared as though the HO had slowed down. Keefer responded that this apparent slowdown was a brief hiatus before HO’s additional resources would begin to take effect. He stated that 2004 would be better and 2005 would be a banner year. Keefer added that the Arab-Israeli War volume could be dated 2003, even though it would not be formally released until early January 2004, during the conference.
Deputy Historian David Herschler informed the HAC that the Declassification and Publishing staff was up to full strength with the exception of one member who was on active military duty. He did indicate, however, that HO needs four more historians for the Policy Studies and Outreach division, and that until these positions were filled, Foreign Relations historians would be required to periodically interrupt their work in order to help out in this area.
Warren Kimball suggested that new HAC members, as well as new HO employees, read the Foreign Relations statement plan. Margaret Hedstrom and Keefer agreed that this would be a good idea.
Declassification and Opening of Department of State Electronic Records
Schulzinger asked Hedstrom to report on the meeting of the Subcommittee on Electronic Records and Declassification.
Hedstrom reported that the subcommittee members had received a briefing from Peggy Grafeld, the Director of Information Programs and Services, on the development of the State Messaging and Archival Retrieval Toolset (SMART) system, which will eventually become the central repository for State Department records. The system will cover documents in four categories: personal, formal, informal, and Department notices.
Hedstrom noted that the system is on the "fast track," with competition for contractors to develop prototypes by January 2004. After a pilot project in the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs, the Department hopes to have the system "up and running" within 1 year. Hedstrom added that there were some concerns at the working level in NARA, but that the subcommittee had not been briefed on the details. She said that administrators had developed SMART at a high level, and that the specifics of the system had not yet been settled. Records disposition schedules, for instance, had yet to be done, sparking some concern about meeting the deadline.
Schulzinger asked Hedstrom about the issue of electronic records. Hedstrom recalled that the committee was told at its June meeting that the 1973-74 electronic cables contained in the State Archiving System (SAS) would be transferred to the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) in August. She said that this had not yet happened, due primarily to review under the Kyl-Lott Amendment and also to the Air Force review.
Kimball reported that IPS was working to prove to both the Air Force (AF) and the Department of Energy (DOE) that the State review was reliable. So the delay might, in fact, serve to speed things up as the transfer process continues. Edward Rhodes agreed that it was necessary to increase the comfort level of the Air Force and DOE and that taking it slow now might help later in making the eventual hand-off of electronic records as smooth as possible. Meena Bose added that there would be additional testing of the system within the Department before further consultation with the AF and the DOE.
Schulzinger noted that the records in question, the continuation of the Department of State Central Files, were essential for research. Gayle Plummer asked if the project required a diversion of IPS resources from the overall 25-year review. Kimball explained that while there were other collections that State needed to review, the State Archiving System records were of the highest priority. Schulzinger stated that the process had been delayed by the physical problem of transferring the information from one computer system to another.
Schulzinger asked Kimball to report for the Subcommittee on State Declassification and Implementation of the Revised E.O. 12958. The subcommittee had visited the review facility at Newington that morning. Kimball reported that the reception for the subcommittee in Newington had been good. The reviewers were not defensive, and they participated in a cordial discussion. The subcommittee had been informed that the IPS teams at the Ford and Carter libraries were moving along on systematic review.
Other agencies, however, remained a problem, especially on the issue of Foreign Government Information (FGI). The Japanese government, the subcommittee learned, has hired a private firm to determine what documents with its equity were available at the National Archives. Although there is a "gray area" of continuing foreign policy issues, and the reviewers at Newington rarely flag documents for FGI, Kimball expressed concern at the number of 30-35 year old documents that remained withdrawn. He doubted that FGI was a valid excuse after three decades. Although he did not see a real problem with DOD "misuse" of FGI, Kimball thought the committee members might want to have an idea of what concerns they would like to express to Brian Dowling in advance.
Kimball suggested that the committee consider the new procedures for automatic declassification without review. He thought that the new E.O. had addressed this issue, but based on his limited examination of documents at Newington, the reviewers were specifying an excessive time period: e.g., determining that certain documents were declassifiable, but only in another 20 years.
Kimball concluded his report by noting that the new guidelines—six volumes for systematic declassification—were quite different from the previous edition. He recommended that the committee, or perhaps the subcommittee, review the new guidelines at the HAC meeting in December.
Schulzinger asked if anyone from IPS was available to report on electronic records. Dowling volunteered. Noting that he now has 12 reviewers at SA-2 doing electronic reviews, Dowling hoped that the records for 1973-75 will be transferred to the National Archives by mid-October. He attributed the delays in reaching earlier goals to Kyl-Lott reviews.
Dowling said that IPS had also started reviewing the 1976 Central Policy Files, but noted that many bureaus within the Department had indicated some nervousness about the release and asked for one final look at the electronic material before it was transferred to the National Archives. IPS is conducting the Kyl-Lott review on these records as they are being processed, and is also looking for material on infrastructure such as building layouts. Most of these documents were Limited Official Use (LOU), which means that they are considered unclassified; however, since 9/11 the Department has reconsidered these documents as part of the government-wide issue of "records of concern" regarding homeland security matters. The 1976-81 records are scheduled to be released by December 2006.
Dowling noted that he had reduced the SRP staff at NARA from between 15-20 reviewers to 2 and relocated the work force to Newington in order to handle the added work. The 2 staff members at NARA are doing Kyl-Lott reviews. There are currently 7,500 boxes to review at Newington and, unlike in the past, almost every document now requires some form of administrative action. This total includes roughly 400 Arms Control and Disarmament Agency (ACDA) boxes from 1976-81, which is tedious work to process because of the staff’s unfamiliarity with the names, terms, abbreviations and acronyms, and roughly 800 United States Information Agency (USIA) boxes, which are very easy to review. SRP also has 4000-4500 boxes of State records for review and processing.
Dowling further noted that the State processing of microfilm attached to the electronic records is done at Newington. As part of the RAC project CIA, on behalf of the State Department, has finished scanning presidential documents at the Carter Library. SRP will begin the review of these documents electronically at a CIA facility in October. Dowling reported that IPS’s role in the IWG project is over, but that IPS is still working on the 9/11 project which impacts his resources. He noted that third agency referrals prove to be a big drain on resources as well.
Schulzinger asked for comments from David Kepley of the National Archives. Kepley said that he was reporting for Howard Lowell. Kepley said that NARA’s Access for Archival Databeses (AAD) system had been in operation for about 6 months and had attracted over 450,000 visitors. This is the system that researchers will one-day to research electronic State Department cables. AAD was generally well received by its researchers.
Rhodes asked if the electronic State Central Files in the process of being transferred to NARA would be subject to a second Kyl-Lott review. Dowling responded that they would not, and that the State Department records would undergo Kyl-Lott review simultaneously with the regular declassification review.
Schauble added that the State Department Central Files were subject to percentage Kyl-Lott reviews, and that depending upon the outcome of these samplings, all State Department Central Files were subject to a full review. Schauble expressed concern that Kyl-Lott reviews of a small group of records of concern could delay declassification of a much larger body of less troublesome State Department records.
Hedstrom asked Schauble if the current arrangement, in which the DOE conducted separate Kyl-Lott reviews, was temporary. Schauble replied that it was her understanding that such reviews were temporary, and that eventually the DOE would discontinue the practice once it had full confidence that other agencies’ reviewers were fully attuned to DOE equities.
Plummer asked Dowling about staffing and structural barriers affecting IPS. Dowling replied that the administrative time caps set by the Department of State’s Office of the Director General on the hours worked by retirees retarded SRP’s declassification review process. He added that he was always searching for new, qualified retirees to do declassification reviews.
Bose asked Kimball if he believed that, in the future, a subcommittee of the HAC should regularly visit Newington so as to keep abreast of the progress being made there in declassifying Department of State records. Kimball replied affirmatively, noting that pushing the declassification process was perhaps the committee’s most important task.
The committee adjourned for a break at approximately 3:00 p.m.
CLOSED SESSION, September 15
The committee reconvened at approximately 3:15 p.m.
Report on the SMART System
Schulzinger noted that it was time to discuss access issues—the ways and means of getting State records to the end user.
Lee Lohman, Deputy Assistant Secretary for A/RPS, explained that Records and Publishing Services (RPS) comprises a group of offices that handle a range of services for delivering information. Lohman stated that RPS defines its mission as delivery of information to clients, in conformity with the law. RPS deals with Freedom of Information Act requests, Department libraries, and records management issues. It is in charge of printing Department publications and runs large publishing operations in Manila and Vienna. RPS also disseminates "Hi Magazine," an Arabic language publication sold throughout the Middle East that advances understanding of U.S. culture.
Lohman then introduced his colleagues. Larry Emery is in charge of the SMART system (which will help propel the Department from the 1950s to the 21st century in communication capability); Peggy Grafeld is the Office Director of IPS; Brian Dowling is the supervisor of the systematic review program; and Margaret Peppe is in charge of programs and policies division. Emery is implementing the new IT initiative, which is the Secretary’s highest priority.
Emery stated that he is not a technologist, but a program manager for SMART who reports to the Under Secretary for Management. He distributed an informational packet on the SMART system, and pointed out that messaging at State consists of a mission-critical cable system (built on World War II technology), e-mail (which exceeds cable traffic by a ratio of 60 to 1), memoranda and other documents.
He explained that there are three problems with the legacy systems, and e-mail systems: 1) they produce vast amounts of inaccessible information stored in hundreds of e-mail servers; 2) they do not provide a searchable, complete repository of foreign affairs information; 3) they do not support interagency information sharing and collaboration. The vision of the SMART system is to create a simple, secure, user-driven system to support the conduct of diplomacy through modern messaging, dynamic archiving, and information sharing.
He commented that the Steering Committee, chaired by former Ambassador Joe Lake, who reports to the Under Secretary for Management, has the primary responsibility of designing a system to address the problems of users. The Steering Committee represents every business need of diplomacy, keeps the project focused on user requirements, and provides oversight. The business needs of users include the need for state of the art messaging, capturing messages in searchable repositories, and sharing information. Anyone who has clearance can access information unless the information is otherwise restricted (e.g. Privacy Act information).
Emery added that recent deployment of Open Net Plus--the Sensitive but Unclassified (SBU) network and ClassNet (the secret collateral high network) --made the delivery of SMART possible. SMART is improving the security of the information processing system. There is a DC metro processing system and also a remote location as yet to be determined. If one system goes down, the alternative site can take over the full load. Users will not know a disruption has occurred except those impacted directly.
SMART will also aim to minimize overseas classified holdings. Moreover, the system, with its full labeling of all messages, will enable identification of each message as to subject, class, disposition (permanent record or not), and privacy act issues. The system will also maximize the use of advanced technology to ensure proper dissemination and access to information for those who need it, and will capture multimedia information--including pictures and graphics--as part of the searchable foreign affairs record.
Emery observed that documents would be classified into one of four categories. First are personal documents, such as e-mails to friends. These are not records, and will not have broad accessibility. It will be up to the individual who created it to determine if a message is personal or not. Second, are formal records, which have organizational authority, and will be broadly accessible. Third are informal records, such as draft memoranda, which will not be broadly accessible, and have no organizational authority. At the point at which it becomes a memorandum for use, an informal record becomes a formal record, with broad accessibility and organizational authority. Fourth are department notices, a subset of formal records posted for broad access, which need not be addressed to individuals or organizations.
Emery expressed satisfaction that in all their briefings so far there had been a very positive reaction from users. He stressed that while there were questions, most agreed that the objectives of the system were correct. As for when the system would be in place, he said that SMART was on an aggressive schedule. In 2003, a prototype was shared with overseas posts among 500 users. The test proved that they are on the right path. It also assessed the characteristics of the network--a "dial tone" is needed. The conclusion was that current network improvements and management plans will in fact deliver a network that will fulfill the needs of the Department of State and fully support the centralized SMART solution.
Proposals for the SMART system were due from vendors on September 2. The Department’s Steering Committee is now evaluating the proposals. On October 8, the Steering Committee will select up to three vendors for the design/demonstration phase. Each vendor selected will be paid $3 million to develop a fully function solution in a laboratory environment.
The Department is also currently in the process of finalizing a State-NARA Memorandum of Understanding regarding the new system. The purpose of the MOU is to further two common objectives:
- Demonstration of the electronic transfer of DoS e-documents to NARA; and
- Exploration of relevant knowledge management technologies in the context of research activities conducted under the aegis of NARA’s Electronic Records Archives Program virtual archives laboratory.
In mid-February 2004, the Department will select one vendor to conduct the pilot system. The pilot system will be tested in EUR; this test will include the portfolio of one DAS, including fifteen overseas posts.
Emery reported that the new system would be in compliance with all Department security requirements.
Schulzinger asked if there were any comments from NARA.
David Langbart replied that this was the most detailed briefing that NARA staff at the operating level had received thus far, and that it had also served as their introduction to the SMART system.
David Kepley, speaking for the Assistant Archivists for Records Services, Washington, D.C., passed on the greetings of Dr. Michael Kurtz and Howard Lowell, both of whom were involved in the rededication of the National Archives Rotunda. Kepley noted that State had briefed Dr. Kurtz on the SMART system and that Dr. Kurtz was very encouraged with the direction that the Department was taking. Kepley went on to say that Dr. Kurtz was delighted that NARA was being included up front in the development stage, so that archival concerns can be properly included at the outset.
The committee stated that it was an ambitious project and would revolutionize the way research was done in the Department's records.
The committee asked how pictures and similar graphic media would be entered into the system, and how documents coming into the Department from the outside would be entered.
The committee also asked how Foreign Government Information (FGI) would be handled.
Emery replied that they had not yet decided on how outside information would be entered into the system. He stated that there is a Business Rules Working Group, chaired by Peggy Grafeld, which will be working on such issues. However, the system would capture all the work product of the Department, including photos, video, etc.
Grafeld stated that FGI would be handled in the same manner in which it is presently handled. The Department’s current systems contain foreign government information. The Department often communicates with foreign governments via e-mail, and the Department preserves this information.
Emery also explained that if the Department received paper records and decided not to scan these records into the system, the paper copies would be retained.
The committee asked if there would be public access to the unclassified records. Emery replied that the Business Rules committee would address that issue. The unclassified records would be accessible to the public via the FOIA as they are today.
Grafeld clarified that the fact that a record is unclassified does not mean that it is publicly available. But the information that is available today will be even more readily available in the future.
Emery explained that there will be two SMART databases: one accessible by OpenNet that will have SBU as its highest classification, and one accessible by ClassNet that will have Secret as its highest classification. Top Secret and codeword material will be maintained on a separate system to be determined in the future. The new system will allow the user to locate documents much more quickly.
Grafeld explained that the Department would not open its unclassified archive to allow public browsing. Lohman explained that mistakes are sometimes made in creating documents and therefore all documents must be reviewed prior to release (even documents marked unclassified).
Emery stated that with the SMART system the Department would have a better chance of having a complete record than we do today with the various legacy systems. This is especially true given today’s e-mail traffic.
Kimball asked about network security for the SMART system, both in terms of keeping classified information secure and keeping the network secure against hackers.
Emery, cautioning that he could not speak as a technical expert, said he believed that it would be secure. He said that the Department of State’s intranet system, which is tied to the Internet through OpenNet, had never had its firewalls breached. A virus had recently infected the Department’s system, but this had been the result of an employee’s error (an employee had imported data from a non-departmental computer).
Emery emphasized that the system is physically secure and will become even more so as innovations such as audit trails and the flagging of anomalies are introduced. Moreover, he explained that the SMART production team is already beginning the security certification process for the new system and is consulting with contractors about how to ensure its security from the very start.
Kimball then inquired about the security implications of maintaining two systems.
Emery noted that the SMART system would handle no information classified above the level of Secret; it will not handle Top Secret or codeword information. He confirmed that there would be two systems: one for classified information and one for unclassified information.
Kimball asked about the user-friendliness of the SMART system. He asked how the production team had determined the requirements in this area.
Emery replied that they had not yet determined all of these requirements. The first steps had included consultations with NARA. The SMART production team had asked NARA to determine whether the new system posed any potential problems from NARA’s perspective. NARA had concluded that it did not, and that the Department of State was covering all of its bases.
Emery stated that the Department of State wants NARA to be involved in testing the new system’s accessibility now, while the program is still in the pilot portion of its development. Kimball noted that the recent experience of the transfer of SAS electronic records to NARA provided lessons in user-friendliness. Emery agreed and observed that this is why the SMART production team was beginning its project by talking to NARA and why the Department of State was working on concluding an agreement with NARA.
Hedstrom said that the fact that there would be only two replicas of the SMART system was a source of some concern for her. There is usually a minimum number of necessary backup systems, and she worried that two was not enough. As a result, she wanted to red flag this issue for the SMART production team. She then asked whether the SMART production team really envisioned that its system would still be in place in 25 to 30 years.
Emery noted in response that the legacy cable system had been in place since World War II. Hedstrom retorted that while this might be so, the Department of State probably wished that the old system had been replaced years ago. Emery said that there would be a technical refreshment program, and that the SMART production team anticipated that the system’s technology would be maintained and both software and hardware components will be refreshed on a planned schedule.
Lohman, in response to Hedstrom’s earlier concern about the sufficiency of the backup system, noted that all Department of State systems undergo elaborate reviews and meet the standards of necessary replication. Kimball asked whether the SMART system briefing materials given to HAC members were public. Emery confirmed that they were.
Schulzinger thanked the Department of State representatives for their briefing and opined that this would continue to be an issue of interest for years to come.
Status of Declassification under the Kyl–Lott Amendment and Other Related Issues
Schulzinger announced that the next topic on the agenda was the status of the Department of Energy (DOE) and Kyl-Lott reviews. Commenting on the written reports that had been circulated to the committee in advance of the meeting, Schulzinger observed that DOE had reported that its review process was far from complete.
Jeanne Schauble noted that while DOE reviewers had accomplished a lot, their assessment did not accurately reflect what remained to be done. They had not included in their assessment all of the things NARA has suggested they need to do: the queue was longer than what DOE was reporting.
Schulzinger noted that at the June HAC meeting, the DOE had said it already had a significant backlog before Kyl-Lott was enacted. Schauble added that the problem with the DOE review process is that DOE does not spread its resources around. Instead, DOE reviewers spend their time focused on IWG records, with the result that DOE has 132 cubic feet of Department of State records still to examine.
Schulzinger asked how long it would take them to get through these records. Schauble said that it would depend on whether the reviewers find material about which they are concerned; once they get to the records it would take them weeks to examine them all. Don McIlwain said that DOE reviewers do not spread their resources around and suggested that it could take them months to complete their review.
Sally Kaisel noted that the Department of State’s 1967-69 Central Files are being screened for possible DOE review; they have been pulled off the shelves at the National Archives and made unavailable to researchers. Schulzinger requested that this point be put on the record.
Hedstrom asked whether records in the process of being screened would be made available to a member of the public who requested them. Kaisel said that they would, but that researchers did not always know whether the material they wanted was being screened. Schulzinger emphasized the seriousness of this issue and suggested that it be put on the agenda for the Executive Committee discussion the following day.
Schulzinger turned to the issue of the Air Force (AF) report given to HAC members. Kimball gave a quick summary of the reasons behind the AF review, and the committee discussed the report.
Nancy Smith, of Presidential Libraries, noted that DOE and AF reviewers were going to presidential libraries to review information from the open stacks for quality control. Smith said that a problem has arisen occasionally when the Presidential Libraries have documents that were previously published in Foreign Relations and the same document may no longer be able to remain declassified. NARA cites FRUS as a declassification authority, if the DOE or AF reviewers have a concern. So far the Kennedy and Johnson libraries have not alerted Smith to any problems.
Kimball asked how many documents were affected, and whether the HAC should be concerned. Smith said that she would check into this. Schauble said that there were some 2,000 documents in Department of State records and that some had been published in Foreign Relations.
Smith said that under the new E.O., the AF would have to ask for the materials through ISOO in order to reclassify them. Thus far, only the CIA can request reclassification of documents in presidential libraries.
Kimball wondered whether this issue was out of the Committee’s hands. Schauble said that she was talking about the DOE without reference to the AF; that this was not a reclassification issue.
Schulzinger noted that there were two types of documents at issue: the first are documents published in Foreign Relations, which the AF would like to remove from the presidential library shelves on principle. The second are documents not published in Foreign Relations, which contain the same type of information found in Foreign Relations documents, but which are in fact different documents. Schulzinger said that he could see the sense in wanting to classify the latter.
Schulzinger then asked whether documents published in Foreign Relations had been taken off of presidential library open shelves. Smith confirmed that NARA had been instructed, by Ken Stein of the DOE, to reclassify some Foreign Relations published documents.
Schauble said that the AF offered conflicting information. Some documents from the Department of State Central Files that are a source of concern had already been published in Foreign Relations, and are also available through microfilm publications and in university libraries. NARA has told the AF that it would be self-defeating to withdraw documents from NARA that are so readily and widely available at non-NARA venues. The AF reviewers working at NARA say that the real goal of their review is damage assessment; i.e. trying to figure out how much information there was that should not have been released. However, the AF is taking a harder line. Schauble did not know what the AF would ultimately decide on this issue.
Schulzinger suggested that the committee ask Ken Stein and Adam Hornbuckle to appear again in front of the HAC.
Kimball wondered whether Stein’s presence was really necessary. Schulzinger replied that in light of Kaisel’s report that DOE reviewers had caused 2 years' worth of Department of State records to be removed from the open shelves, Stein should come back.
On a separate matter, Schulzinger praised the recently released Foreign Relations volume on President Johnson and the war in Vietnam. He noted that the volume contained transcripts of Johnson tapes and wondered whether these transcripts could be cited as an argument for expediting the release of the tapes. Smith said that this would not be possible as the release of the tapes was governed by old access guidelines. A special deal had been reached with the Johnson Library and the Nixon Project to obtain for the Advisory Committee and Foreign Relations compilers advance access to the tapes. Both the Johnson Library and the Nixon Project are releasing the tapes in chronological order. The Department of State had been able to make a special arrangement with the Nixon Project that allowed for the early release of some tape transcripts for use in Foreign Relations. The Johnson Library has opened tapes up through March 1966 and is currently processing tapes through April 1966. The library estimates that it has some 3 to 5 years of work remaining on the tapes project. The Nixon Project has already released tapes from February 1971-June 1972 and is planning to release tapes from July 1972-October 1972 in November 2003. The project estimates that the final tranche of tapes, covering November 1972-July 1973, should be released in 2006 or 2007. All of this means that when it comes to the Johnson and Nixon tapes, Foreign Relations is very much on the cutting edge. Schulzinger lamented that it would be a great teaching tool to play the tape and have students listen to it as they read the transcript published in Foreign Relations. Smith said that making the tapes available to the public was a very tricky process.
Kimball asked about the declassification of Department of State records in compliance with the new 25-year deadline. He gathered from some remarks by Peppe and Dowling that they were more optimistic about the Department’s ability to meet this deadline now than they had been at the last HAC meeting. Dowling confirmed that this was so, and said that the Department of State was very much on track in its declassification effort.
Kimball then asked about documents that had been microfilmed for the SAS. According to the minutes of the last HAC meeting, Peppe had said that Department of State Central File materials "should not contain marginalia." Langbart noted that telegrams in the Central Files do not contain marginalia, but memoranda and other p-docs (paper documents subsequently microfilmed) certainly might. Kimball and Peppe agreed that the minutes should read "do not" instead of "should not."
The meeting then turned to consideration of "Special Committee Business."
The committee adjourned at 5:30 p.m.
CLOSED SESSION, September 16
The committee reconvened at 9:00 a.m.
The CIA and the Foreign Relations Series
The meeting began with Schulzinger introducing 3 guests from the Agency: Sue K., Don Steury, and Scott Koch. He also introduced a new member of the HAC, Geoffrey Watson from Catholic University School of Law. Schulzinger stated that the morning meeting with the CIA would allow the committee to address any issues relating to the Foreign Relations series.
Herschler briefly discussed the evolution of the relationship between HO and the CIA under the new MOU. He said that James Van Hook would discuss the access issues related to the increased numbers of historians doing research. The committee agreed that the new members should be sent a copy of the MOU.
Herschler stated that over the last year and a half, the office had been charting the pace of the backlog in declassification, and looking at the application of new procedures in the MOU and their impact on the declassification of volumes. He viewed the relationship between HO and the CIA as positive and said that it was helpful to learn about each other’s work. He believes that this interaction has helped HO to increase its understanding of the way CIA manages the declassification process.
Herschler also mentioned last year’s off-site session at Coolfont. He believed that the full day session with the CIA had been very productive. The office planned a similar session for October to allow new HO staff members to become familiar with the process, and to meet the CIA employees involved with FRUS.
Herschler went on to observe that there were 11 volumes overdue in the 180-day review process. There were eight volumes at the last meeting. There are two issues holding up declassification: use of a classified term and documents declassified by other agencies that have CIA equity. While the first issue had been resolved, the second issue was being addressed internally at the Agency. It affects three volumes.
Schulzinger asked about the status of the 11 overdue volumes. The CIA reported that, since the last meeting, steps had been taken to clear the pre-MOU volumes, and High Level Panel issue statements and guidelines on two other volumes are awaiting action by the NSC. Delays on some volumes were outside CIA control. The Global Issues volume, for instance, was being recompiled and an issue statement for another volume had not yet been received, which made it impossible to complete the review. The CIA had submitted preliminary review results on 3 volumes and attended the verification meetings on two others.
The CIA discussed the impact on 3 volumes of the problem of documents with CIA equity that were erroneously declassified without proper referral to the Agency for review. This is an issue that CIA is addressing internally and the Agency is seeking a solution that will have minimal impact on the volumes. Once a process is in place to resolve the problem of individual documents, this issue will no longer cause the delays that it has in the past. Kimball emphasized that the Committee needed more information on these documents because "they’re out there." The CIA will bring a recommended action to the committee as soon as an internal decision had been made.
The CIA introduced the History Staff officer who would coordinate with James Van Hook on access to CIA records by State historians. Van Hook said that the system was working well and that access had not been a problem.
Schulzinger asked about the next joint meeting with the Historical Review Panel. The CIA noted that the HRP meets only twice per year and recommended that the next joint meeting be scheduled in December 2004. Rhodes made a plea that the HAC and HRP find a way to meet regularly, as these meetings were extremely useful. Schulzinger said that the first joint meeting had been between just a few HAC and HRP members, and suggested this ad hoc arrangement as a possible solution.
Van Hook reported that there had been a lot of research activity in CIA files by State historians since the last session. HO historians Siekmeier, Kraft, Qaimmaqami, Belmonte, and Bennett had done research in CIA files. Carland and Rasmussen would be doing research at the CIA soon.
Van Hook also noted that in response to a suggestion made by a member of the CIA History staff at Coolfont last year, new HO historians now meet the appropriate Information Review Officer (IRO) of the Agency’s directorates in order to identify the most relevant files and become aware of sensitivities.
Van Hook then discussed the agenda for Coolfont. He described a joint panel of 3 CIA and 3 HO historians. He recalled last year’s topic, which was how government historians relate to the broader field of history, and said that this year the panel would discuss specific contributions government historians can make to the field. Van Hook said that important contributions could stem from the fact that government historians know the archives so well.
Bose and Watson individually raised questions about the three specific delayed volumes, which led to CIA’s comment that HO had submitted 23 volumes to the CIA during the February-March 2002 period. Given this large number the CIA felt that it was making progress. Herschler pointed out that the number "23" was misleading because almost half of the volumes were already at the CIA, and some had been partially reviewed before the new MOU was signed. Moreover, he was concerned that down the road HO would be sending more volumes, and that both agencies needed to make sure the backlog did not increase further.
Schulzinger expressed concern that the CIA was not able to meet the 180-day review schedule it had proposed and that was mutually agreed to in the new MOU. That is, the CIA wanted more time, and the HAC and HO had extended the de facto deadline to 180 days. Schulzinger pointed out that now the new deadline was not going to be met. He asked whether this would be a continuing problem—would the review period continue to grow and the backlog increase? The CIA acknowledged the problem, and outlined the administrative solutions in place to address it; for instance, sharing reviewing resources among the directorates.
Plummer asked Herschler what was meant when the chart indicated that some volumes had been recompiled. Herschler responded that recompilations had nothing to do with declassification. HO wanted to add a number of documents to some already completed volumes. He added that HO had changed some of the procedures for reviewing the volumes that should streamline the process. He said that HO had added more people to the review process, and that HO had further developed the process for preparing Internet publications.
In response to questions about the Congo volume, CIA stated that some of the IROs had begun to review it.
Kimball stated that he was disappointed with the CIA since it could not meet the 180-day de facto deadline for reviewing volumes. He emphasized that the CIA had proposed this deadline during negotiations for the new MOU. Kimball also said that he was disappointed with the State Department because the HLP process took too long. However, he thought the problems at the Department had been fixed. Kimball said that he was uncomfortable with the increasing amount of time the Agency was using to review manuscripts, and that it seemed to him like there was no light at the end of the tunnel.
Kimball went on to say that the Congo volume was very important. He added that for the next HAC meeting he would like to see an unclassified report on the status of the CIA’s review of the Congo volume.
Schulzinger interjected that Kimball was correct—that the HAC’s relationship with the CIA was important because the committee needs to evaluate the Agency’s performance each year before the annual report to Congress. He said that nearly all the reports had discussed the problem of meeting the 30-year rule, and the issue of how to speed up the declassification process. Schulzinger stated that prior to the MOU it looked as if the process of declassification had broken down. The new MOU had promised to fix the problem. He stressed that the CIA had wanted longer deadlines and the MOU provided them; that the HAC concurred in the new deadlines in good faith. Schulzinger said that these deadlines had not been met and that the HAC was disappointed.
Kimball raised another point: he wanted to know what compromises or agreements HO was making to clear documents. In this regard, he suggested the committee look at specific documents for the next meeting.
McMahon noted that with the extension of the deadline, and the failure of the Agency to meet this new deadline, the credibility of the HAC had been compromised.
The CIA stated that the problem is one of resources. Southeast Asia 1969-72 should be ready in about a month. In response to a question by Hedstrom about the delay or length of time needed to review FRUS manuscripts, and the apparently low priority accorded the process, CIA explained the many tasks of the IROs—litigation, FOIA, mandatory review—but stressed the high priority the agency places on FRUS. Additional resources are being assigned to FRUS and more are being recruited.
Kimball concluded by noting that Schulzinger, as chair of the HAC, has to write an annual report. He asked the CIA officials the rhetorical question: what should he say? He added that in the past the HAC tried to be optimistic, but that the only leverage they have is public criticism.
Schulzinger congratulated HO on its progress in compiling volumes. He noted, however, that the problem of the declassification backlog continues and that it is serious. The annual report will discuss this issue.
Schulzinger added that he would talk to Robert Jervis in December about the possibility of a future joint HAC-HRP meeting. He concluded by noting that the HAC and HO need to think about ways of getting the Agency to meet the de facto 180-day deadline.
The committee adjourned for a break at 10:20 a.m.
Efforts to meet the 30-year Publication Line and Efforts to Prepare Retrospective Volumes in the Foreign Relations Series
The committee reconvened at 10:40 a.m.
Schulzinger asked the Chair of the Subcommittee on Retrospective Volumes and Foreign Relations matters, Roger Louis, to give his report. Louis reported on four issues.
The Iran retrospective volume: Louis said that this was a rich documentary compilation, not just because it contained CIA material, but because of Department of State documents as well. The reader gets a good sense of the internal politics in Iran through a very high level of State Department political reporting.
Japan volume: Louis noted the difficulty in getting this volume out.
Declassification and the CIA: Focus on last LBJ volumes (Latin American ones); will be discussed later.
The Great Strategic Plan: The Foreign Relations plan (essentials established by Kimball) is working. It contains two main parts—an access guide for each volume and the thematic volumes that break the old model of bilateral volumes.
Louis next asked James Van Hook to report in more detail on the Iran volume.
Van Hook stated that he had divided the compilation into four sections, three of which have been reviewed by his HO division chief. Van Hook said that he expects to complete the compilation by the end of October and then initiate the declassification review. His objective has been to provide documentation that places the overthrow of Mosadeq within the broader context of the U.S. approach to a relatively unfamiliar Iran between 1951 and 1954. The compilation will therefore consist not only of operational material, but also documents that highlight American intellectual and cultural assumptions about Iran.
Van Hook said that he had gone beyond the DO records to those of the DCI and those of sections of the CIA charged with interpreting Iran’s internal policy. The compilation includes State material also. Much of the material is unclassified. The State documents analyze politics in Iran, describe it as a nation undergoing modernization, and discuss whether Mosadeq represented progress and modernity or was simply a demagogue. Van Hook explained that he also used Technical Assistance Records and National Intelligence Council estimates.
Keefer said he was pleased with Van Hook’s progress on the Iran volume. He noted that despite the CIA’s acknowledgment of covert operations, HO still has to tread carefully and make sure it uses proper guidelines.
The committee discussed the Japan volume, and the problems in getting it cleared.
Keefer then turned to the volume on South and Central America, 1964-68. HO was particularly pleased by the level of cooperation from WHA.
Schulzinger said that like the Iran and Guatemala retrospectives, it was incumbent on Foreign Relations to rectify volumes that had previously been criticized in the scholarly community. If the Congo volume was not thorough, a constituency would be waiting to criticize it.
Keefer stated, with respect to the series as a whole, that HO had used the committee’s guidelines and followed most of its recommendations. Among these, Foreign Relations had used US-USSR relations to explain Cold War relations in general, and it now had access guides with a general discussion of the Nixon administration, establishing a baseline for all volumes covering the period. Likewise, Foreign Relations had gone on the Internet, improving public access to the volume and allowing HO the flexibility to add additional documentation as it became available.
With respect to the Iran volume, Schulzinger indicated that he understood that some documents were only available at the CIA. He asked Louis and Van Hook if this was true, and if so, whether they believed that the HAC’s subcommittee should meet at CIA. Louis felt that a visit to CIA might be in order whether or not the Iran volume was still there at the time of the next meeting.
Schulzinger asked Louis and Van Hook if the committee could meet at CIA to view some of the documents in the upcoming Iran volume. Herschler noted that future retrospective volumes would present other chances for the committee to review documentation.
Hedstrom asked if HO had received any negative feedback for putting Foreign Relations documents on line. There was general agreement that documents should be cleared or not, regardless of whether the documents were in print or in an e-pub.
Schulzinger raised the issue of the annual report to Congress. Keefer noted again that HO would not publish as many volumes in 2003 as in 2002 but that the next 4 to 5 years should show a tremendous increase in the number of Foreign Relations publications. Keefer cautioned, however, that such an increase also meant more clearance issues, and more CIA involvement. He is particularly concerned that CIA is behind in its review process primarily because the agency has been unable to provide adequate resources.
Herschler added that HO’s ultimate goal is to have 12 volumes a year in the declassification process, 12 in editing, and to publish 12 volumes. He said that the CIA’s slow review process could significantly impact HO’s ability to meet mid- and long-term publication goals.
Watson added that the CIA is required by statute to comply with the review process and that their failure to do so should be in HO’s annual report.
At 11:01 a.m. the committee adjourned for staff comments and executive session.