U.S. Department of State
Advisory Committee on Historical
July 10-11, 2000
- Open Session, July 10
- --Approval of the Minutes of the April 2000 Meeting
- --Report by the Executive Secretary
- Closed Session, July 10
- --Report of the Subcommittees on the Prototype Foreign Relations Volumes
- Closed Session, July 11
- --The CIA and the Foreign Relations Series
- --Other Issues
Meeting MinutesOPEN SESSION, July 10
Approval of the Minutes of the April 2000 Meeting
Chairman Michael Hogan opened the meeting at 1:45 by introducing visitors Bruce Craig, Page Miller's successor at the National Committee for the Promotion of History, Julia Meltzer from Hampshire College, and David Thorne from Hunter College.
Hogan asked for a motion to approve the minutes of the April 2000 meeting. A motion was made and seconded. Prior to taking a vote, Robert Schulzinger had a question concerning CIA material in the minutes. It was explained that the CIA had become extremely sensitive on this issue. Further discussion and CIA concerns regarding coordination and publication of the minutes were left for later joint discussion. The motion was approved without further discussion.
Report of the Executive Secretary
William Slany reported that more Foreign Relations volumes were scheduled to be printed next year than this year. He referred the Committee members to the status report on the various volumes other than the two prototype volumes. Slany indicated that the series is behind the 30-year line and needs an intensive effort to bring it back on track. He suggested that one of the ways to do so might be electronic publication. He stated that the dissemination of the Foreign Relations series on the Internet was not a technical problem. It could and will be done. But publishing on the Internet would require a strong push within the Historian's Office to get to the next stage of development sooner.
David Patterson reported that he, Vicki Futscher, and Rita Baker had met with staff of the Memory Project and the National Digital Library at the Library of Congress to discuss electronic publication methods and possibilities. He stated that the Library of Congress was willing to conclude an inter-agency agreement to produce an electronic publication: scanning documents, creating links to a document list, and hosting the site. There remains the question of cost. Rita Baker noted that either the Library of Congress and Government Printing Office personnel stated that they could mount a Website and maintain it if an e-volume was published.
Warren Kimball noted that electronic publication would require notification to the reading public to alert them to the new procedures.
Philip Zelikow suggested three potential areas for electronic publications: 1) interim volumes, i.e., those volumes held up for the declassification of a few documents; 2) the kind of documents reserved for microfiche supplements; and 3) principal subject matter. He believed it would be worthwhile to put one of the older microfiche collections on the Web as a test of this new approach and recommended using the Cuba microfiche supplement which is very much in demand by scholars but not easily accessible. Finally, Zelikow suggested that HO draw up a proposal for discussion at the next advisory Committee as to which partially declassified volumes could be published electronically in the near future.
Hogan asked, "Didn't we once decide that all the volumes would be done electronically although not exclusively, some would also be done in print?" Kimball responded that this proposal had been later modified. It had been decided that HO should not put out collections that were so small they could be misleading. He said that he was personally uneasy about putting a collection on-line that represented, say, 20 percent of the total. Hogan indicated that he did not agree. Kimball responded that if a researcher wanted to see the individual documents that badly they could go to the Archives where they could see them in the files in their proper context. Foreign Relations was not supposed to be a "dump" of documents. Hogan responded that he would like to see the information out as soon as possible. Citing what he believed was an incredibly slow publication of Foreign Relations volumes, he argued that something had to be done.
Hogan then asked if the issue of putting a volume on the Internet should be an agenda item at the next meeting. Kimball said he could support that and asked if there were any new compilations available now that could be a test. Baker responded that there were no publications designed for the Internet fully cleared, and Slany added that it was questionable whether it would be worthwhile to put up a partially completed print volume on the Internet when it could be ready for publication in full in a few months. Hogan opined that HO should put up these "interim" volumes even if 15-20 documents are missing. Geyer noted that he had learned of two projects, at Wisconsin and at Yale, that were putting older Foreign Relations volumes on-line already and asked about a cooperative program with one of these institutions. Zelikow pointed out that since there were already some "interim" volumes that could be used as "grist for the mill," there was no need to consider using older volumes. Hoffman raised a point made by Kimball that morning, that HO should get something on the Internet soon as a way to publicize or "launch" the office's new approach to Foreign Relations.
Hogan attempted to summarize the situation. He wondered about of electronically publishing a volume that still needed a few documents cleared, perhaps a volume that was 90-95 percent complete. The remaining documents would be made available when cleared for publication. As he understood it, HO had 15 volumes that were almost done, but each was missing documents that were still being reviewed for declassification. Baker added that some should be out in letterpress within six months. Mackaman indicated that there was a reasonable counter argument to waiting the six months for these volumes to be published in full; the information would be available to the public more quickly. Kimball indicated that he could support putting a volume that had been intended for letterpress publication on the Internet if only a few non-critical documents were missing, but he reminded the Committee that these volumes would be different from volumes that are intended from the start to be electronic.
Patterson noted that the office had two volumes, one on global issues and one on the UN, that have been compiled as Internet volumes and should be available for electronic publication as soon as they are declassified. In addition, he said he could prepare a list of those letterpress volumes that could be posted on the Internet in advance of print publication, but we would have to include a disclaimer indicating that certain documents were still pending declassification decisions and that, therefore, the collection may not be complete. Zelikow recommended that HO prepare a memo with a queue of volumes that could be released electronically and that the committee discuss it at the next meeting.
Kimball noted that HO still had not worked out the details of how to format a collection that was compiled as an Internet publication only. Slany interrupted, stating that one should not exaggerate how much of a problem the format issue really was. Kimball disagreed, claiming that a purport list is not just a "list" of documents; it is the tool that will be used by the reader to search for certain documents and information and, therefore, had to be crafted in a thoughtful manner. Mackaman added that the whole point of doing the compilations electronically was so that the reader could print out what he or she wants and create their own published version.
Holly noted that she had put together a purport list for part of the global affairs volume and that it was not as a simple as making a document list. She claimed that it was quite time-consuming. Patterson added that this will especially be the case if we try to publish three to four times the number of documents.
As for the Framework compilation, Patterson said that even though roughly 68 percent of the documents were unclassified he personally would be uncomfortable about releasing it on the Web without the classified material. He felt the truncated version would be misleading. Mackaman disagreed, claiming that from his review it seemed that most of the material was already declassified. Schulzinger felt that from his review the classified material reinforced the points in the public statements and, therefore, needed to be included. Mackaman again disagreed, saying that he saw many unclassified documents in the Framework compilation for the year 1972, so it had reached the critical mass necessary for publication on the web. Schulzinger responded that Nixon had already put out 5 volumes of his public statements. Mackaman expressed his frustration with the delays, since the Committee has been discussing the issue of electronic publication for over a year. Hoffman wondered what all the "hullabaloo" was about, noting that there were 15 volumes near completion that can be put on the Internet. Mackaman added that in his opinion there should be no print volumes.
Zelikow noted that the Committee had already invited HO to prepare a queue of volumes for electronic publication for the next meeting and we should defer any decisions until then. Hogan agreed but reiterated his belief that the focus should remain on getting this material available to the public as soon as possible. Kimball reminded the Committee that 1-1/2 years ago it had decided that some of the volumes should be letterpress, but that there should be more material available electronically. There are two different kinds of electronic publications: letterpress volumes that are digitized and are posted as texts and collections that will be in electronic/image form only. For the latter, only partial plans are in place. The "interim" volumes under discussion will not help in developing a format for the purely electronic publication. He argued that it is important to see these as two separate projects.
Zelikow said that although the Committee was still on record as favoring the expeditious publication of letterpress volumes, there was still a need to study which volumes should be e-publications. This could be done at the next meeting. Slany asked which part of the Nixon series should be published electronically only. Zelikow said that the Framework and Cold War volumes might be published electronically first. Mackaman suggested that if this were done, customer demand would show whether there was still a market for letterpress volumes. Vince Davis asked whether the Committee was trying to improve service to the old audience or identify a new audience. Hogan said: put it on the Net and they will come. No decision would be reached at this meeting.
Hogan then reported on the last meeting of the CIA's Historical Review Panel (HRP). It seemed that the CIA believed that HO focused too much on covert operations. It might be worthwhile to bring the HRP members to the next meeting to discuss their concerns about the compilation and declassification of the Foreign Relations series. Schulzinger said the choice was between accepting delays or publishing sooner but without the missing documents. Hogan said that the problem remained even with e-publications: if 90 percent of a volume or collection were published, would there be less pressure to release the remainder? Zelikow suggested including a marker describing the exclusions, and possibly an e-mail link to the Historical Office, which might increase pressures on the CIA to release the remaining documents.
Slany said that a deal with the CIA on getting a bit more declassified was always possible, but the appeal process always whetted the appetite within the Historian's Office to try for more. HO had become a captive of the High-Level Panel process insofar as something was always withheld by CIA and the need and desire to pursue it was virtually unending. Zelikow said that the Committee should continue to pursue the process.
Hogan said that he had had several talks with the head of the CIA's Historical Review Panel, who saw both parties (PA/HO and CIA) at loggerheads over unimportant issues. Kimball said that the problem was that HO wanted to use operational documentation and CIA wanted to steer HO researchers toward more intelligence analysis documentation. What one saw as important was less so to the other. Hogan saw more of a "political" feeling: the CIA was less "progressive" about releasing documents.
Hogan then asked about the reminder in Slany's briefing memo to the Committee about the confidentiality of briefing materials. [It was clear that the Committee was displeased by the reminder.] Slany said that this was the first time he had included such an statement. None of the briefing material was classified but was sensitive and/or deliberative. He added that the reminder would not be repeated.
Anne Van Camp asked that the transfer of electronic records from State to the National Archives be included on the agenda of the next meeting.
CLOSED SESSION, July 10Reports of the Subcommittees on the Prototype Foreign Relations Volumes
After a break, Hogan asked for the reports from the subcommittees on the two prototype volumes.
Schulzinger reported for the subcommittee on the prototype Framework volume. He said that the subcommittee thought the overview statement by David Patterson was a wonderful statement. It told what the Framework team was doing and why. The subcommittee read the statement and then looked at the documents selected. These were mostly from the 1969-1972 period, although there were a few earlier ones. The volume contained a mixture of public statements and documents and government documents, which reinforced each other. The reader could compare Nixon and Kissinger's public statements with what they said or wrote in private. Some might question whether the public statements were merely boilerplate, but this volume showed the interconnection.
Schulzinger noted that there were also a couple of documents showing the limits of the Nixon administration's intellectual framework: a Nixon memorandum listing the areas of the world he did not want to be bothered with and a similar one by an NSC staff member. This raised the question of how to treat these regions. How would someone researching Africa or Latin America use the Framework volume? The Framework volume showed what was in the Nixon intellectual framework. He noted that the germ of this volume was more than a year old. The Committee had asked HO for a prototype Framework volume and it got one. He and the subcommittee were very pleased.
Hogan asked for the second subcommittee report. Zelikow said that he could be even briefer and endorse HO's new approach. The subcommittee approved the broad thematic way the prototype Cold War/Core volume had been compiled and the cross-issue interconnections were handled very well. The prototype was justified. He added that the subcommittee had had a few specific suggestions for the compilers, which did not need to be repeated.
Lisa Hoffman commented that she was concerned with how to bring in documentation on the areas outside of Nixon's intellectual framework. Hogan noted that issues such as cultural relations or environmental issues would not be in the Framework volume, but he assumed these would be covered in other volumes. Patterson said that they would be, that these were areas people were interested in. He noted that Nixon even mentioned the environment occasionally.
Hogan asked what had HO had learned from compiling these volumes. Ted Keefer said that working in small teams did have definite benefits, although he was not sure about large ones. The Cold War team had talked and consulted with each other throughout the research and compiling process, which had been very valuable. Before this, historians had tended to go off alone and research by themselves. Hogan asked if this had been faster. Keefer responded probably not: four people worked half a year on a volume instead of one person working two years. Hogan asked if this process had been better because it was coordinated, to which Keefer responded yes, definitely. Kimball asked if this tandem approach would also be useful with the crisis volumes. Keefer said yes and noted that traditionally the Vietnam material would be in the Vietnam volumes, but now some of it is in this volume.
Zelikow commented that there was a strong editorial apparatus in the Cold War/Core volume, where it worked very well. The volume had a narrative focus and it had more coherence than if the documentation had been distributed throughout several volumes. He noted that this volume also comprised what the Nixon administration itself would have thought was most important as they understood it. He thought that the added coherence made the volume more valuable.
Hogan asked what distinguished this volume from the old National Security Policy volumes. Keefer responded that those volumes would not have covered subjects such as Vietnam and the Middle East. Zelikow said that National Security Policy was defined more narrowly. Hoffman commented that the Committee had given its response to the new Prototype volumes, but she thought it should try to get feedback from other scholars.
Zelikow said that one possible downside to this kind of volume was that it could hurt the regional or context volumes by skimming the cream. He thought, however, that it would make the Vietnam volumes even stronger. He said that this volume makes it clear how much other material there is and it invites a reader to pursue the subject.
Referring to Hoffman's suggestion that the Committee consult other scholars, Kimball pointed out that declassification was always a problem. HO could send out the Framework volume because so much was declassified, but this would not work with most volumes. Hoffman said that she meant after publication.
Hogan adjourned the meeting at 3:30 p.m. so the Committee could meet with Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs Lula Rodriguez.
CLOSED SESSION, July 11
The Central Intelligence Agency and the Foreign Relations Series
Comments by William Slany. Slany began by discussing the status of the High-Level Panel (HLP). Since the Panel's last meeting in March, State and CIA have been working on implementing a number of the decisions made at the meeting. CIA is currently re-reviewing a number of documents and once their review is completed the recommendations will be passed on to the NSC. Slany stated that the re-review should result in the release of additional information. One of the decisions the HLP made at its March meeting was to have more frequent meetings. Lula Rodriguez would like to meet personally with CIA's representative to the HLP, before the next HLP meeting, but because of their busy schedules, it has been difficult to arrange such a meeting. The PA leadership has not yet decided whether Richard Boucher or Lula Rodriguez will attend the HLP meeting.
Slany stated that HO and the CIA had met in June to discuss the HLP and other declassification issues. He explained that HO and CIA were working on a way to include aggregate budget figures for covert actions in the Foreign Relations series. He said that the CIA representatives would comment further on this during their discussion.
Report by CIA. The following subjects were discussed:
Access. The CIA History Staff has been working to ensure that the HO historians receive full and complete access to CIA records. The History Staff has discussed internally the mechanisms for providing HO access to operational files.
Executive summaries. Concerning the inclusion of "executive summaries," i.e., issue statements, in Foreign Relations, CIA explained the Agency position that the summaries should always be included in the volume, regardless of the outcome of the declassification review of the underlying documents.
President's Daily Brief (PDB). Director of Central Intelligence Tenet remains firm in his position that the PDB may not be released for publication in Foreign Relations. However, the HO historians may (and should) continue to see the PDB in order to determine what information it contains. The CIA historians will then work with the HO historians to find alternative sources for that information.
Joint position. The agreement for a jointly (CIA-State) funded historian (possibly to be detailed from HO to the CIA History Staff to assist with Foreign Relations research in CIA files) was sent to the CIA leadership in December. An alternative may be to hire a contractor (perhaps a CIA annuitant) who would be satisfactory to both agencies.
Aggregate budget figures. While the CIA is willing to release the aggregate budget figures for a particular covert action, the problem has been in defining the term "aggregate"--is it the amount of money approved for an operation? the amount appropriated? the amount actually expended? or some other figure? The Agency is working on guidelines for determining the aggregate budget figure for a covert action.
Committee and HO Comments:
Inclusion of intelligence information in Foreign Relations. Kimball suggested that it might be useful if the CIA History Staff could brief the HO historians on the type of intelligence materials they believe should be included in Foreign Relations. It was further suggested that HO consider drafting written guidance for the historians to follow for selecting intelligence information (covert actions, intelligence analyses, etc.), perhaps this could be a joint effort between CIA and HO. It was suggested that the Humphrey paper (which covered only covert actions) could be used as a starting point and expanded to include other types of intelligence.
Access to CIA files. Patterson reported that HO has been assured it has "carte blanche" when it comes to access to the Directorate of Intelligence (DI) files. This "unrestricted" access will be tested when HO sends over the research team for the Soviet Union core volume.
The CIA added that the Agency has been working hard on declassifying intelligence documents on the Soviet Union for the years 1947-1991 for a conference to be held at Princeton University in March 2001. Over 60,000 pages of new estimates and DI analyses will be declassified. The Committee asked if HO would be invited to participate in the conference. CIA responded that an invitation would be issued as soon as the agenda for the conference was approved.
Joint position. The Committee expressed concern over the problems being encountered at the CIA regarding approval of the joint position, especially since the idea for this position came from the CIA. The CIA responded by saying that while the DCI has expressed his support for the position, the details still needed to be worked out at the lower levels.
President's Daily Brief (PDB). The Committee asked if CIA's refusal to declassify the PDB has been a problem for the HO historians. The historians responded in the negative. During the Nixon administration, Kissinger's memo to the President (which combined information from several intelligence sources) is the more important document. However, in the Ford and Carter administrations, the PDB will become increasingly important, as it often contains significant marginal notes made by the President. The Committee agreed that perhaps now was not the time to pursue declassification of the PDB, but the historians should continue to insist on seeing the PDB.
Guatemala retrospective volume. Slany noted that HO should compile a Guatemala volume that documents State Department as well as CIA policy and actions. Nobody would be happy with a Foreign Relations volume that presented a distorted record by just covering the CIA.
CIA's Historical Review Panel (HRP). Hogan asked when the panel next planned to meet. CIA said that it had just met in June and would not meet again until January 2001. The June meeting's main area of discussion concerned the CIA and the Foreign Relations series. Van Camp suggested that the Committee seek a meeting with its CIA counterpart to give them "another point of view."
PFIAB records. The Committee expressed its concern about the President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board blocking access to and declassification of its documents, CIA said that the PFIAB claims that it "owns" the documents of its predecessor agencies and opposes the documents' release. The Committee expressed concern about the bad precedent being set if PFIAB is able to maintain this position.
Zelikow stated the Committee's unanimous and firm opposition to PFIAB's position and recommended that the issue be raised with higher authorities. He noted that previously PFIAB had claimed a temporary exemption, but that now that they were trying to claim a permanent one, it was very important to challenge them firmly. David Patterson noted that PFIAB refuses to even review the documents that HO has sent them.
Committee minutes. Van Camp raised concerns about removing from the public record everything in the Committee minutes concerning sessions with CIA representatives. CIA agreed that minutes should be kept, but that those parts dealing with the Agency should be carefully reviewed before releasing to the public.
Kimball observed that he was uneasy with the idea of conversations that are not classified being off the public record. Hogan agreed that the record should be as complete as possible. Schulzinger added that without complete minutes it was very hard to remember 3 months later what had been said at previous meetings, and that it was especially important that complete minutes be in their briefing material. Hoffman supported Schulzinger's call for devising another way to see this portion of the notes. She also stated that the issue could be one of public access to the meeting record and not just a simple issue that only impacted upon the Committee. Kimball noted that this problem had come up because of newspaper reports relating to the release of the minutes. He believed the CIA needed to be more careful in reviewing the minutes.
Mackaman pointed out that there were many ways to record the minutes that would be sensitive to the concerns of the CIA. The remarks could be put into the public record but without attribution. In addition, a summary checklist of the topics discussed along with Committee actions might suffice. Kimball added that the CIA portion could be printed in full but with the names of CIA representatives taken out. He also suggested that the use of the passive voice would serve to further ameliorate this issue. CIA supported and endorsed these suggestions.
The meeting resumed after a break to continue discussion on other matters. Kimball raised a series of items he wanted to note for the record and issues for decision that he wanted to put before the other Committee members. He noted the concerns expressed during the subcommittee meetings the previous day regarding the full declassification review of the Nixon tapes and resultant transcripts. Zelikow noted that he would be visiting NARA later in the day to settle this very issue, so that further discussion would be unnecessary. Kimball responded that it was important to at least have the issue mentioned in the official record.
Kimball made two other comments intended for the record. He noted that Slany was pushing for the publication of the Kissinger telephone conversations in toto as a stand-alone Foreign Relations project. [Slany proposed, after consulting with NARA Counsel Gary Stern, that HO would undertake first to complete the review of the telcons for Foreign Relations and then go back and review the remainder with the goal of publication, probably on the Internet, of the complete collection. The Committee acknowledged this as a worthwhile goal.] Kimball also posited that the Committee had agreed upon the idea of obtaining a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Kissinger and his representative Peter Rodman regarding the excisions and deletions from the Kissinger transcripts. Van Camp countered that there was in fact no unanimity among the Committee members regarding this MOU since several felt that obtaining such an agreement was impossible. Instead, there was general agreement that the Committee should approach the reviewer of the telephone conversations in order to "sensitize the reviewer on this point."
Kimball then put forth four "action items" and requested preliminary Committee action upon them. The first involved the transmission of an official letter from the Committee to PFIAB regarding the prohibition against including any of that body's documentation in the Foreign Relations series. Hogan noted that both Slany and Patterson had offered to draft a letter on the Committee's behalf to Secretary Albright.
Kimball's second "action item" was a request for the Committee to devise a statement on the "indispensable nature" of the PDBs for the historical record. The Committee concurred in full with this request and with the opinion that HO historians must have full continuing access to these records. Hogan proposed the following language for this statement: "The Committee is unanimous in its conviction that access to the PDBs is essential to the creation of the historical record." Keefer suggested that the Committee might also want to add in its desire to have the PDBs declassified. Kimball demurred that as a result of the earlier discussion with the CIA representatives, the Committee should first focus solely upon any possible access problems. Hogan promised that the Committee would revisit this issue in the future.
Next, Kimball raised the issue of Committee support for the joint appointment of an historian by HO and the CIA. Hogan noted that this issue was one in which the problem existed more with the Department of State than with the CIA. Hogan stated the firm hope that the Department would fund this position, which the Committee unanimously supported, but no formal motion was made.
Last, Kimball made a personal proposal for Committee support to develop fully-articulated guidelines for the incorporation of intelligence materials into the Foreign Relations series. Hogan compared the idea to the whole High-Level Panel issue in which what was seen early on as a mechanism for a breakthrough wound up not being so later on. He was not convinced that the guidelines would be workable, but he pointed out that such guidelines would serve to overcome practical problems. They would be useful for both the compilers on the HO staff and for bringing to the issue CIA involvement and concurrence. Slany countered that previously such guidelines had been the responsibility of HO but that it had not been "energetic enough" in its "drafting and defending" of them. He added that "an agreed set of guidelines can be interpreted too narrowly by another agency," which in his opinion would (and in fact had) caused a host of unforeseen difficulties. Kimball argued that the historians at HO desperately needed such guidelines to engage effectively in research and to help highlight declassification problems with the CIA. Slany noted that past guidelines had turned into issues of "disharmony and debate." He noted that HO had to continue to press the CIA to commit to a larger definition of openness; HO would always be a "disagreeable advocate" in this regard and would keep trying to find the "gray area" between hardened positions on both sides of the issue. Kimball responded that he was not confident that HO historians were operating from the same standards of selections and thus the guidelines would be useful. In addition, the quality of declassification requests would likely improve. Hogan assured the Committee that this issue would be raised when it met with the CIA's Historical Review Panel.
It was suggested that Slany and Kimball were talking about two different kinds of guidelines: declassification guidelines for CIA reviewers to follow as opposed to compiling guidelines for HO historians to follow. Patterson commented that, if the Committee desired, he could draft some proposed guidelines for the inclusion of intelligence documentation in the Foreign Relations series.
Although the Committee had suggested that the General Editor respond, Patterson was uncertain what could be done to expand HO guidelines on documenting intelligence matters in the Foreign Relations series, beyond the paper drafted several years ago by David Humphrey on covert operations. In the end, the Directorate of Operations would make its own determinations on declassification regardless of efforts to provide more balanced documentation on intelligence. Patterson thought that guidelines might serve to prolong the process rather than to cut through the bureaucracy.
Hogan suggested that the Committee invite the CIA advisory panel to an upcoming meeting for a discussion of these issues. He recalled that guidelines were considered a trap to be avoided; Slany agreed. Kimball explained, however, that HO needed the proposed guidelines on intelligence for internal not external purposes. Hogan said that this was another issue to consider.
Changing the subject, Zelikow said that the prototype of a Soviet/Cold War volume, which he had reviewed yesterday, was the first time to his knowledge that HO historians had deliberately addressed the use of tape recordings at the beginning of research. The Kennedy volumes, he recalled, had bypassed the relevant tapes, using instead a few transcripts on the Cuban Missile Crisis which, with the benefit of more advanced technology, were less than authoritative. The Johnson volumes reflected a "little more effort" to use tape recordings but not on a comprehensive scale. According to Zelikow, the Nixon volumes would be the first of the series, however, in which HO historians are creating documents themselves with a subjective interpretation of what the record contains.
Kimball interrupted Zelikow to state that, although he understood the point, the problems of transcription were a different problem. Zelikow replied that NARA had adopted the position that transcripts were a "subjective interpretation" of the evidence. There were, he explained, two issues. First, HO historians would be under considerable pressure to produce authoritative transcripts since the Foreign Relations series is an official documentary record. Based on his experience in transcribing presidential tapes at the Miller Center, Zelikow was certain that this would be difficult. Mackaman interjected that such difficulty was inherent in the editorial process. Hoffman wondered what, under the circumstances, Zelikow could recommend. Zelikow, however, continued his presentation. Second, the work on tape recordings for the Foreign Relations series would inevitably intersect with similar efforts at the Miller Center. If there were two different versions of a conversation, he asked rhetorically, which was authoritative? Kimball suggested that anyone who raised this question should simply go to the Archives and listen to the tapes.
In response to a general request for his recommendations, Zelikow said that the Miller Center was willing to find constructive ways to cooperate with HO on transcribing the Nixon tape recordings. Luke Smith reminded Zelikow that, since most of the tape recording were closed to the public, the Miller Center would not have access. Hogan thought that, until the Miller Center offered a specific proposal, it was too early for the Committee to intervene. Zelikow countered that HO should give more consideration to the transcription of tape recordings and suggested that the issue be placed on the agenda for the next Committee meeting. The Committee heatedly and briefly debated the relative merits of this proposal. Meanwhile, Smith thought that, since many of the Nixon tapes were difficult to hear, the Miller Center might be able to contribute the advantage of advanced technology. Patterson also agreed that some cooperation with the Miller Center might be fruitful. He had recently reviewed the use of transcripts, produced by an HO historian, for volumes on Vietnam 1968. Although only minor revisions were necessary in this case, Patterson explained that a similar review process was now impossible since HO does not have access to the Nixon tapes outside the Archives. Hogan reiterated that, if the issue were added to the agenda at the next meeting, the Committee would need to know what it was talking about. Zelikow said that he was not prepared to offer a specific proposal at this time. Since the issue was important, Hoffman thought that the Committee should have some guidelines. Hogan, however, suggested that the Committee move on to other matters.
The meeting then went off the record for staff comments.
Michael Hogan, Chairman
B. Vincent Davis
Elizabeth Cobbs Hoffman
Warren F. Kimball
Frank H. Mackaman
Robert D. Schulzinger
Anne Van Camp
William Slany, Executive Secretary
Office of the Historian
William Slany, Director
Bureau of Administration
Nina Noring, A/RPS/IPS
National Archives and Records Administration
David Langbart, Life Cycle Management Division
Central Intelligence Agency
Gerald Haines, Chief, History Staff
Michael Warner, History Staff
Bruce Craig, National Committee for the Promotion of History
Julia Meltzer, Hampshire College
David Thorne, Hunter College
[end of document]
FAS | Secrecy | State HAC || Index | Search | Join FAS