Report by the Executive Secretary
William Slany reported on the implementation of the Foreign Relations statute. He stated that HO has continuing difficulties clearing volumes, especially where intelligence information is concerned. Clearance has not been completed on any volumes since January 1. Unless the problem of clearing the intelligence record is solved, we will have a severe slowdown in publishing the volumes. Ten or more volumes will be published in 1997, but the current declassification problems will impact the publication schedule for 1998 when few volumes will be published.
Slany reported that although HO has been involved in two significant research projects, he has tried to minimize their impact on Foreign Relations. The Bosnia peace process study is almost complete, although David Goldman is still working on the archive. More recently, HO has been involved in the "Nazi Gold project" ---an interagency effort to establish a record of the monetary gold and other assets Germany looted during World War II and what the Allies did after the war to restore the assets and support the victims of the war. The study has been going on for 6 months. Slany and some retired FSOs have done most of the work on it, but some staff time has been involved. Herschler and the editors have been significantly involved in it, and some other historians made contributions. It has had some impact on Foreign Relations although limited.
Slany finally reported on the problems regarding position vacancies in HO. He said that despite Department support in filling the vacancies, there have been some difficulties and delays in lining up candidates and convincing them to accept appointments. A couple of people are now in the clearance process.
Report by the General Editor
David Patterson reported on the work on volumes for the Johnson and Nixon years. He noted that one microfiche supplement has been published since the last meeting, and more supplements will be published in the coming months. The volume on the Cuban missile crisis and the 1964-1968 volume on arms control will be published soon, and the Bay of Pigs volume is due in June. He noted that the arms control volume will be the first to include material from the Johnson telephone conversations, which became available while the volume was in clearance. He stated that manuscripts for 25 of 34 volumes for 1964-1968 are now complete and that about 6 more should be finished in the next 6 months. Five people are now working on Nixon volumes, three more are poised to start in the next few weeks, and four more in the next 2-3 months.
Patterson stated that HO is in the process of hiring two historians, who should be on board in late summer or fall. A retired FSO may be retained on contract to work on global and economic issues.
Patterson commented on arrangements for research on the Nixon volumes and noted that we are receiving excellent cooperation from the Nixon Project staff. Space at the Nixon Project is limited, with room for only 3 researchers at one time. There may also be a problem in processing everything we copy if too many people go there in one day. Patterson is monitoring this. HO historians will also have to work in the Department of State files at Archives II, so they can divide their time between the Nixon Project and the Department files. The Archives staff have copied 29 boxes of the President's Daily Diary for us. This is valuable material, with many attached memoranda. The Department is also in the process of transferring many lot files from Newington to Archives II, and this sometimes causes problems because often one does not know where the material is located. HO is working on developing a cooperative bibliography on the Nixon Administration. Each division should also be developing aseparate bibliography covering its specific subjects and countries.
Schaller asked whether anyone had made progress on HO access to the Kissinger papers in the Library of Congress. Patterson replied that Kissinger wants a letter from the National Security Adviser, in addition to one from the Secretary of State, to corroborate that HO historians are indeed government researchers. Herschler added that the amount of paperwork involved has slowed the process, but that he is working on it.
Schulzinger asked about scanning the desk diary with an electronic index. Patterson noted that there is some handwritten annotation. Bruce Duncombe noted that the diary was mostly typescript. There was some discussion of whether or not such an electronic index would be helpful for compiling the FRUS volumes, with Ted Keefer and Harriet Schwar arguing that its value would be minimal and David Humphrey arguing that it would be useful. Schaller commented that it might be only marginally useful for compiling FRUS but that it would have long run value for researchers. Patterson agreed and said HO would look into the possibility.
Noting that Patterson had said that the Nixon Project staff had been very helpful, Schaller asked whether the Nixon estate people had presented any problems. Patterson said that they had not yet been involved. Schaller asked whether the declassification process and the review by the Nixon estate would be simultaneous. Herschler said that while declassification was in progress, NARA could prepare material for the Nixon lawyers' 60-day review. Nancy Smith stated that there will be 2 reviews to be done. NARA will have to review for statutory restrictions pertaining to law enforcement and invasion of privacy (personal/private characterizations). NARA will not have to review for national security restrictions, as it usually does, since the documents will be cleared, but nonetheless, it can't promise to complete its review in 60 days. Leffler asked whether this would be a protracted process and Smith reiterated that NARA could not promise any time period. Herschler noted that it was for this reason that HO wants to have NARA's review take place concurrently with declassification review. HO would give the Nixon staff copies at the same time the documents were sent for declassification review. Smith commented that this would be confusing because they would. not have been reviewed for declassification.
Humphrey asked whether evaluations of officials, such as the Secretary of State, would be suppressed. Smith replied that it was hard to answer that in general terms but there would be items closed on personal privacy grounds. Schaller gave an example: what if Nixon was saying that Secretary of State Rogers was not up to a particular task. Smith stated that the issue was one of clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy and that it would be raised only if the person speaking was still alive. She reiterated that she couldn't give an across-the-board answer; each case would have to be considered. She noted that NARA was not closing things that were generally known or that involved policy differences. She thought the problem would not arise much. Herschler noted that HDR already reviews for privacy under the Privacy Act. Smith said the Privacy Act doesn't apply to these records, which are under the Nixon statute. She added that another issue concerned personal and returnable material. Schulzinger notcd that since things generally known are not suppressed, this pointed up the value of a bibliography; historians will need to be alert to what is already in the public domain. Patterson asked whether this applied to comments about foreign officials, which are sometimes denied by State. Smith said that State does this but usually NARA does not.
Herschler reiterated that the HO historians currently working on the Nixon administration had a very smooth working relationship at the Nixon Project. The Archives personnel supported by the State Department subvention were largely responsible for copying the daily diary for us. The present arrangements will be tested when 5 or 6 historians are working concurrently. He noted that the amount of documents being copied might be a problem, since one historian alone might copy 300 pages a day. He noted that some highly significant documents for the Nixon period, such as the minutes of NSC meetings and backup material, are available at NSC and are not in the Nixon Project. The NSC has been a great asset in rounding out materials and the NSC staff has been very helpful. He added that some Kissinger materials, such as telcons, are duplicated in the Nixon Project.
Herschler noted that arrangements for HO access to the Nixon paper materials were good and that HO is now waiting for agreements on access to the tapes and the tape log. Smith reported on the latest meeting with the Nixon estate, which had taken place since the last Advisory Committee meeting. She noted that there are two issues. First is HO access to the tape log; discussion is continuing on a draft agreement. Second is access to the tapes themselves. There have been preliminary discussions on this.
Leffler asked how the NSC materials would become available to general researchers. Smith said that these records are part of the Armstrong litigation. There is a distinction between those records that are institutional and those that are presidential. Institutional records are kept for 30 years and then accessioned, while presidential papers are transferred immediately. The issue at stake in the Armstrong litigation is whether these materials are federal records or presidential. NARA claims they are presidential records, which the initial court decision upheld. This decision was overturned by the appellate court, which was overturned by a higher court. The case has now gone to the Supreme Court. As of this moment, they are presidential records. She noted, however, that whatever their status is, they will be transferred.
Herschler asked whether they would be under the Presidential Recordings and Materials Preservation Act (PRMPA) and Smith replied that they might be. Schulzinger asked where the records were located. Smith replied that they are at the Old EOB. He asked whether they were catalogued. Herschler noted that there was a shelf list. Leffler asked about the quantity of material. Langbart replied that there are several hundred cubic feet. Schulzinger asked about pre-Nixon records at the NSC. Langbart said the pre-Nixon material is very important but minimal in quantity. Smith noted that with earlier administrations, copies of NSC records were also in presidential libraries, but not with Nixon. Langbart said there are briefing memoranda, agendas, minutes, etc. He noted that these are the ribbon copies but might not be the only copies. Smith reiterated that the records will go to the appropriate Presidential Libraries; the question is their legal status. If they are presidential records, they are subject to additional restrictions. In response to a question from Picker, she said the case had gone to the Supreme Court about a month ago.
Slany said that HO had been laboring with its plan for the Nixon volumes and asked if the Advisory Committee was interested in reviewing what the office had done so far. Duncombe is 80 percent finished with his volume on international financial and monetary policy and foreign assistance. Slany noted that this volume would be ready for declassification soon. Smith pointed out that if they did this review, the Nixon estate would have to be notified. Leffler asked what the purpose of the review would be. Slany said that it would be to see if the Committee approved HO's approach. Patterson noted that this was the first time HO had used Treasury Department records. Davis said the Committee would table this issue. He asked if there were any other questions. Leffler asked whether there had been a problem with release of Treasury documents for an earlier volume. Patterson said that there had been delay in clearing documents with Treasury equity which had held up publication for 8 months.
The Committee took a break and reconvened at 10:50.
Reorganization of Information Management in the Department of State
Margaret P. Grafeld, Acting Director, Office of Information Resource Management (IRM) Programs and Services (IPS) explained the Information Management (IM) reorganization that was developed by a working group, begun earlier in the fall, and was still in progress. She distributed the organization chart of the reorganized office and other materials designed to illuminate the user-friendly and responsive organization to meet the information needs of the 21st century.
Grafeld explained that the end goal of the reorganization, subject to applicable legislation, is institutionalization of programs, policies, and procedures concerning the management of the life cycle of information, with a focus on the timely release of information to the public by emphasizing product over process. To accomplish this objective, personnel will be organized into vertical teams rather than horizontally as before, when personnel were grouped according to similar skills that made them process oriented rather than product oriented.
One example of what is coming in regard to getting information to the public is the Electronic Reading Room where declassified materials will be indexed and on-line, and will be accessible via the Internet. The Office of Diplomatic Security continues to have concerns, however, about such widespread release of declassified information -- e.g., the mosaic conveyed by release of a declassified lot file as opposed to the information in a single document--but Grafeld thought these concerns were being resolved and the Electronic Reading Room would soon be operable.
Grafeld explained that she is currently the Acting Director of the Office of IRM Information Programs and Services (A/IRM/IPS). She may serve in that acting capacity for up to 240 days. The position has been posted and she is in competition with other applicants to fill the position permanently.
Six divisions organizationally fall under the Director. Two are of special interest to PA/HO and the Committee: the IRM Programs and Policies Division (A/IM/IPS/PP), headed by Ken Rossman, and the Statutory Compliance and Research Division (A/IM/IPS/CR), headed by Peter Sheils.
Grafeld noted that, particularly in Sheils' division, the emphasis would be on information response "teams" organized geographically and functionally, the way the Department is organized, consisting of the people who are involved in providing responses to information management and declassification requests. She indicated that the new organization would seek "business partnerships," citing PA/HO and the Committee as examples, and focus more heavily on the application of technology throughout the information management process.
Responding to David Patterson's question on how the reorganization would affect the declassification review of Foreign Relations volumes, Grafeld explained that in the past declassification review had been divided into two divisions -- Contemporary Document Review (CDR) and Historical Document Review (HDR) that processed the volumes. In Sheils' new Information Response Branches (A/IM/IPS/CR/IR), these two functions have been combined and a pool of about 200 reviewers is available for each task, increasing the likelihood that the reviewer's skills will match the assigned task. There would also be a full-time employee dedicated to the management of the Foreign Relations program. In addition, Nina Noring would continue her duties as before. Grafeld also said that declassified Foreign Relations documents could be made available through the Electronic Readirig Room.
In response to Nancy Smith, Grafeld confirmed that the new organization would be responsible for State's automatic 25-year declassification reviews. There was a need to change the culture within the organization to adjust to a team approach.
Schulzinger asked where the planned Electronic Reading Room would be located. Grafeld responded that when it is up and running it will be in the current public reading room in Room 1239. She proposed that the Committee attend a demonstration during its next meeting. In response to Kimball's request to tailor the demonstration to meet the Conunittee's particular interests (and perhaps exchange some notes in advance of the demonstration), Grafeld noted that her office was interested in what IM can do for the Committee and vice versa. A first step would be for Committee members to have a "hands on" demonstration to better understand what it does.
Leffler asked what technology does to facilitate declassification. Grafeld said that it is largely related to FOIA requests today, and with the electronic database of already declassified material a response can go out immediately.
Leffler referred to a luncheon meeting at the last Committee meeting and requested an update on coordination between State and others, such as Presidential Libraries and the Remote Archives Capture (RAC) Project. Grafeld said that State has always been willing to cooperate with NARA, but they are still looking at the technology. Meanwhile, information is being exchanged between State and the Presidential Libraries, and State declassification reviewers were working with the Libraries to move forward using "paper" review rather than the RAC scanning process. Kimball pointed out that the agencies needed to focus on outcome rather than cost. Grafeld stated that they are focusing on product rather than process.
Jane Picker pursued security concerns about public access to the electronic database of declassified documents on a stand-alone system (the Electronic Reading Room). Grafeld referred again to DS concerns about the aforementioned mosaic effect, and the requirement that declassified files (vice documents) be re-reviewed in that context. She said there was also some concern about the moving of formerly classified data from a classified to an unclassified electronic database environment. In response to Kimball's inquiry, Grafeld asserted that the Department would solve this problem. Kimball said if the solution does not come soon, she should let the Committee know. Grafeld said she thought there was a problem mainly because this was the first time something like this has been done in the Department.
Davis, as Acting Chairman, thanked Grafeld and called on Ken Rossman.
Declassification of State Department Records
Rossman, Acting Chief, IRM-Programs and Policies Division, reported on declassification and related activities. Rossman noted that his office has begun review of lot files formerly at the Federal Records Center in Suitland and, to date, has completed 2.4 million pages in preparation for transfer to the National Archives. This means they have completed all materials up to priority 4B, (post files), items 28 and 29. Rossman attributed the speed of this review to the fact that the lot files included lists of already declassified items up to 1975. Therefore, they expected to continue at this pace for the next 3 months. Once they move into the post files, however, they will run into a problem because of lack of space in Newington. He hoped that they will be able to make some more room available in the near future so that the when the post files begin arriving they will reach a "critical mass."
Rossman noted that while the size of State's declassification review team at Archives II has been reduced, it will be increased again to meet the demands of 6,000 cubic feet. They will also be handling other agency equity reviews at Archives II.
Rossman went on to describe recent trips by declassification review staff to the Truman and Kennedy Libraries to review their holdings. He believed that because of these visits the number of documents requiring CIA review would be reduced by at least one-half million pages. He also noted that State had distributed 39,000 pages to other agencies as part of the RAC project and they have 6,000 pages to review. This material is principally from CIA.
Rossman noted that HDR had destroyed one group of records by mistake-- Emergency Action Plans for 1967 to 1973. Based upon disposition schedules the records were erroneously considered temporary, but Rossman admitted that he should have been more diligent in clarifying what should and should not be destroyed. He said that NARA had been notified of the inadvertent disposal. Kimball asked if NARA will include some note in the files that the material was destroyed. Rossman said they would. He added that the loss of the action plans should not be a major problem since they are revised annually.
On a positive note, Rossman stated that INR asked for a records management review and that the 7th Floor had been very cooperative during the transition. In fact, he emptied Secretary Christopher's safes himself. Frank Machak had originally briefed Christopher in 1993 about records management issues. Rossman felt Christopher should be commended publicly for his cooperation. The Department now had full custody of the former Secretary's files. He felt this would serve as a positive example for future Secretaries. Kimball asked Rossman if he would provide a brief note about this for the Committee's next annual report, and Rossman agreed. Rossman concluded by citing some recent collections released: Law of the Seas, Vietnam Working Group, Under Secretary for Management, UNGA, McCloud papers, among others. He noted also that he believed State was "on schedule" to meet the Executive Order.
Kimball asked if there were any questions.
Leffler asked for a clarification: Did Rossman claim that State provided the Truman and Kennedy Libraries with declassification criteria that were so well-defined that the Library staffs could declassify much if not all of their own materials using State guidelines? Rossman indicated that they could, but he was reluctant to use the word "all." Smith added that she believed there were few remaining State equities at the Truman Library, but there were significant numbers at the Kennedy Library that would have to be referred to State for review.
Leffler asked Smith if that meant that her people at the Libraries are opening up boxes of material and putting aside documents for State to review. Smith responded that they will meet soon with the Presidential Libraries on just these issues. However, she believed that State's guidelines will help reduce the numbers of documents with State equity by 3-4,000. This will leave several thousand to scan and give to State on a computer disc. Smith added that this is a pilot project, and it remains to be seen how cooperative other agencies will be. The Kennedy and Johnson Libraries have scanned about 100,000 pages, which are now being distributed to the various agencies with equities. Leffler asked Smith for her opinion on the prospects for the program working. She responded that she believed it could work if agencies, specifically the military, accord the project some priority. She said that there has been no response to date from State, but that she would discuss this issue later.
Grafeld and Smith then discussed earlier negotiations between the Presidential Libraries and State concerning a cooperative declassification program. Smith asked Grafeld whether State would be willing to work up a RAC agreement with the Libraries. Grafeld responded that State would have to get back to them in the near future.
Kimball asked if either Rossman or Grafeld could prepare a report on what would be involved in such an agreement for the next meeting in June and complimented IM on its restructuring efforts.
Committee member Schulzinger asked Rossman what types of documents were in the. McCloud papers. Langbart answered that there was some good policy-related material.
Leffler asked about opening up the materials used by Rice and Zelikow in their book on the reunification of Germany. Grafeld responded that the authors had special access due to their positions. She mentioned that a similar situation existed in the Dayton History Project, in which Bennett Freeman hired an intem, Derek Chollet, who with Richard Holbrooke's endorsement had special access to do the project. She held a "sensitive" meeting with Freeman and Chollet on how to handle publishing a declassified version and was, therefore, "surprised" that Dayton was on the agenda for the Advisory Committee meeting. Kimball asked rhetorically why she would be surprised.
Leffler asked if the Zelikow material will be released and Grafeld answered that it will have to be reviewed on a document by document basis.
Kimball thanked the participants and the Committee recessed for lunch.
After calling the closed session to order at 1:50 p.m., Kimball asked Slany to report on declassification issues of the Foreign Relations series. Slany said that the transition to the new Secretary of State had contributed to delays in the declassification of several volumes, including those on appeal. The absence of PA leadership at critical junctures has tipped the balance away from prompt or positive declassification appeal decisions. In spite of bureaucratic delay and other factors, HO was tying to move forward. Slany asked Humphrey to address the Italy appeal.
Humphrey reported that six documents were at issue: all had been denied by CIA; all had been cleared by State (INR and EUR) and NSC. The issue was about to go to the interagency panel, which the NSC had agreed to convene in early April. The panel would consist of several members, including a member of the NSC staff as well as two representatives from the Department, Deputy Assistant Secretaries Tony Wayne (EUR) and Bennett Freeman (PA). [Subsequently INR Deputy Assistant Secretary Tom Finger also joined the group.] Humphrey expressed some hope that the issue could be resolved, although he was not certain how this would be done.
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[End Classified Discussion]
The conversation focused on continuing problems with the CIA's cooperation when representatives from that agency entered the room. Kay Oliver introduced Robert Leggett, who would now be the "Foreign Relations coordinator" for the Center for the Study of Intelligence. Leggett noted that his job developed because of problems coordinating the declassification process at CIA and the need to more efficiently manage the overall Foreign Relations process at the Agency. His purview includes discussing the Foreign Relations process with the CIA Directorates, a task that should simplify over time given recent changes in personnel; officers with considerable experience have been hired. Leggett also explained that he had been addressing all delinquent requests. All requests have been responded to except for those on Iran and South Asia. He believes that CSI's work in this regard represents significant progress.
Oliver drew a distinction between the function of the History Staff and that of Leggett. Oliver and her staff would handle the initial research issues of Department historians; Leggett would deal with the problems that arose in the subsequent stages of such volumes. She also recommended getting together with HO on specific volumes,that were major issues, such as the one on the Congo. (She has been waiting until the completion of the Nazi Gold project to suggest these meetings.) After noting that some of the HO staff was attending a course on the history of the CIA offered by CSI, Oliver went on to note a difficulty encountered by her staff. The major complaint of CSI was that State historians were not consistent in the type of records that they wanted to see: some wanted only finished intelligence, while others only wanted covert actions. HO needed to assume a primary role in defining the nature of the records it needed in order to facilitate the assistance of the CSI's History Staff in research. The inherent tension in terms of what HO researchers requested and what CIA could provide was a problem that needed to be addressed.
Concerning declassification matters, Oliver chided HO for repeatedly submitting similar documents for review by CIA. She stated that the CIA does not want to review documents if they address a topic about which a decision had already been made. She pointed to the example of documents from the current Japan volume being similar to those rejected for previous volumes. She said that HO should assume the same decision will be reached on a new volume; therefore the documents should not be submitted. She also noted the importance of flagging any volume or subject within a volume that can cause problems, pointing to the example of the Congo volume. She concluded by saying that, with regard to covert actions, whatever happens there can be no guarantee that a lot more can ever be done to release the information requested, particularly because decisions are in many cases not unilaterally made by the CIA. She also mentioned a proposed meeting with. the NSC to discuss the matter. HO supports holding such a meeting.
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[End Classified Discussion]
Kimball returned to a comment frequently made by CIA to the effect that HO historians made uneven and inconsistent research requests. He recalled in that regard an exchange that HO historians seemed to be asking to undertake a fishing expedition when requesting CIA files. He noted that the problem seemed to be one of access as opposed to a mutual understanding of what was available. Oliver replied that the issue was not one of constitutional law but rather a practical issue. She explained that CIA historians have to work with HO historians to find records on a topic and not merely point HO researchers to a warehouse and let them wander through it looking for documents.
Patterson answered by pointing out that HO historians explain the proposed scope of their research at CIA in letters, which he reviews carefully, before going out to CIA. He noted that historians attempt to make those letters as specific as possible when requesting information. Oliver indicated that the letters presented no problem and went on to explain the procedure of assigning a CIA historian to work with each HO historian to figure out what the latter wants to see. In response to questions from Kimball and Patterson inquiring why requests had been characterized as uneven and inconsistent and why requests were problematic when the advance letters were very specific as to topic or geographical area being examined, Oliver said that the problem arose when attempting to translate a general area of research into something specific on which research could be done. She said, for example, that a historian cannot just ask for information about covert actions in Nicaragua but must identify names of persons or actions. The CIA historian can then use shelf lists and other aids to find information based on the specific identifications. She said that the difficulty arises in the ability to translate a general request into a topic specific enough to be searched.
Patterson commented that the problem Oliver raised is being addressed in HO for the Nixon period. He mentioned the current efforts underway to prepare a comprehensive bibliography on the period that can be used to identify issues, persons, operations, and similar detailed information about the Nixon presidency. Oliver applauded that effort. She went on to explain the process used by the CIA Historical Office, using the example of Nazi Gold. She said the CIA could not merely look for information on Nazi assets or similar broad categories. The procedure to be followed in searching for information would be to assign a CIA historian to the project who would begin by doing extensive research among public sources. That historian would develop an extensive list of names and other specific information to take to CIA researchers, who could do a complete search of CIA files using that information.
Pointing out potential future barriers to HO historians, Herschler noted that an index card file for the Johnson period, which proved very helpful in finding names of covert operations and similar, information, only went up to 1967. To get similar information for later years, historians can only look through 303 Committee or INR files. He also noted, that in the absence of specific names, a request can only be general because often it is difficult, if not impossible, to discover the needed operational names. Oliver responded by pointing out that everyone first must know what is in the public domain in order to open up leads for use at CIA. And since CIA only has a few historians, HO historians have to find out the detailed information in advance of their work at CIA.
Kimball then asked the rest of the Committee for any comments about not submitting documents for review on topics previously rejected.
Leffler pointed out that HO had an obligation to publish as complete a record as possible in the Foreign Relations voluanes and that HO has no choice but to submit the documents in any given volume to the CIA and other agencies for review. He questioned the basis of CIA's authority to request HO to forego that process. Oliver explained that the process of reviewing documents by an interagency committee often takes a long time and soon after a decision is reached a new set of documents on a similar topic arrives for review. To go through another review seems like a significant waste of time, since the issue was just settled and the chances of making a different decision is slight. Herschler pointed out that if that is the case, the CIA should release the Italy documents currently at issue, since CIA had released similar documents for an earlier period. Oliver responded, "Touché."
Kimball pointed out that documents may be similar, but they are not identical, and that circumstances within an administration, foreign or domestic, may change the outcome. He also raised another question that had been discussed previously relative to covert actions in support of foreign policy. He said that HO's position was and is that in most cases HO is not interested in the details of a covert action, but rather in the foreign policy decisions surrounding it and the policy implications of the operation. With that in mind, Kimball asked why the decision to release information on covert actions or intelligence matters should be made by the CIA when it seems it should be made by the White House or by the NSC as the policy-making body.
Oliver explained that the CIA had to address the documents and the issues they contained irrespective of the interest of other agencies. Going back to the documents selected by HO, she noted that they did contain specific information and pointed, for example, to the inclusion of amounts of money. In reply to a comment by Patterson that amounts of money could be excised, Oliver said that details such as amounts of money sometimes are taken out. At least one Committee member pointed out, however, that information such as amounts of funding can often be very important -- it is important to know whether $5,000 or $500,000 was allotted for an operation. Herschler added that HO historians often do make editorial deletions of portions of documents not directly addressing policy matters. The operational details are taken out so that the policy portion of the document can be published. Oliver reminded the Committee that the discussion was centered on operations documents. Leffler added that HO was willing to remove reasonable details.
At this point Leggett suggested that he or someone else from CIA sit down with Slany to determine what kinds of information can be left in and what can or must be taken out. He recommended preparing a list or guide for use by HO historians that could later also be used in discussions with DO when declassification issues are addressed. He indicated that such an approach may be worth pursuing. Kimball responded that neither he nor the Committee could support the approach until the proposed list was prepared and examined by the members and until everyone had determined that the list would not affect policy matters. Oliver indicated that the CIA sees too many details in the documents submitted showing that no effort had been made to redact information.
Returning to the decision-making procedure, Oliver said that acknowledgment of covert actions is not a CIA matter. Kimball asked whether CIA could adopt a policy of neither confirming nor denying a covert action but leaving the decision of whether to release that information to the NSC. The CIA could redact specific details only. Oliver pointed out that the NSC is always consulted, although Herschler stated that consultation is contingent on NSC having equity. Kimball then suggested that if CIA would agree to a one step process, then when doubts arise the document in question would be sent to the NSC. Oliver responded by raising the question of whether NSC approval would be sufficient. Leggett suggested that documents containing information about covert actions could be brought to him and he would see if he could do something about them.
Kimball then shifted the focus of the discussion to the problem on the Congo volume, from which covert operations information had been ornitted. He suggested that HO may not have asked the right questions about Lumumba and other Congo issues, but the trouble is that HO does not always know the right questions to ask to uncover CIA files and documents. That being so, Kimball queried, could HO still review documents missed the first time in order to complete the record? Those documents could be put in a later volurne or issued in some other way.
Harriet Schwar explained the history of the two volumes on the Congo, since she had worked on both of them. She informed the Committee that the first volume covered the period from 1958 to 1960 and was done before HO had access to CIA materials. The intelligence information it contained was acquired from the Church Committee report. The volume was too far along in the publication process to stop it while access to CIA files was sought. The second volume, covering 1961 to 1963, contained some CIA documentation. A portion of that material was acquired from the CIA and a portion came from the documents given to the Church Committee by the CIA. Some of that documentation referred to CIA's involvement in Lumumba's death.
Addressing the issue of revisiting the matter, Oliver stated, "We do better if we don't go back." But Leffler and Schulzinger agreed that the record needs to be complete. Leffler suggested that "embarrassing" volumes destroyed the credibility of the Foreign Relations series. Schulzinger added that HO editors should include as much about a covert operation that is known as an aid to historians. In addition, Kimball pointed out that the Committee is on record as being supportive of issuing retrospectives, to fill in gaps in the record. He also stated that the Committee will revisit declassification rejections after 2 years because the grounds for the initial rejection may have changed-- friends become enemies, and vice versa. Picker also pointed out that the law requires publication of an accurate record of the foreign relations of this government. That record did not have to be contained in one volume, but could be issued over time. Release of a complete and accurate record was not a choice, but was established in law.
Kimball observed the presence of the initials "CAS" still hindered access to many Department of State documents in NARA, and wondered whether this obstacle could ever be overcome. He urged Oliver to take a message back to CIA that the Committee had received promises for four years, and felt that some sort of compromise should now be possible. Hazelwood had also agreed to look into this question. Kimball suggested that guidelines for NARA could be revised to expand the list of acknowledged stations. Oliver said that the issue was more complicated than Kimball had indicated. Kimball stressed that he was only asking CIA to make a serious effort to promote compromise on this issue.
Patterson asked Leggett whether documents under review by CIA could be returned more quickly. Could CIA find higher-level officials who might better be able to promote the release of documents? Although the Department was receiving timely responses from CIA, there was no increase in the number of documents released. There seemed to be a continuing CIA unwillingness to acknowledge Agency participation in covert actions. Leggett said that CIA was committed to improving the situation, but it would take time, particularly because it involved working with the Directorate of Operations. Leggett said that the 120-day period for review might be workable. A meeting of Deputy Directors was scheduled to discuss procedures. Patterson said this was perhaps the most hopeful news of the afternoon. Kimball again stressed the importance of compromise, but felt that the culture at CIA would never totally change.
Leffler then asked the CIA representatives whether any progress had been made toward turning over to NARA entire groups of CIA records, to begin the usual process that applied to other agencies. Oliver said that CIA was "blazing a trail" and noted that the process received impetus when Gates was Director of Central Intelligence. Collections already released to NARA included OSS records, some National Intelligence Estimates, some research on the Soviet Union over 10 years old, and materials relating to the JFK assassination. The process was slowed by the need to review every document and took under every heading to make sure that nothing was missed. Kimball suggested that CIA was violating normal archival practice concerning the integrity of files by selecting material and creating new files. Oliver said the public would not understand that the Agency's records system was not geared toward rapid release. She pointed out that review of early DCI office records (1947-1961) was currently in progress, as was a review of finished DI intelligence on the USSR from before 1947 through the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. In response to Kimball's objection to targeted review of CIA files, Oliver said that Foreign Relations was an example of targeted records review. Kimball said this was not so; Foreign Relations represented the initial step, not the final step.
There was a brief discussion concerning whether more documents like the Venona series were available. The translations had been sent to NARA. Kimball said that this subject should be saved for a private conversation. So far, no exemptions had been granted under the Executive Order, but, Oliver noted, none had been denied.
Oliver asked the Committee whether it would consider a letter from a State official to a CIA official to be private or public. She noted that the Burns-Slatkin correspondence was on the Internet. Slany pointed out that the correspondence was unclassified and had been included in the advance package of briefing materials sent to Committee members. Kimball replied that no policy had been set on such matters.
The Committee then recessed at 3:40 p.m. to go the Office of the Historian to examine documents in the Guatemala compilation.
While waiting for the representative from NSA (David Hatch) to arrive, Warren Kimball opened the meeting by asking the staff, specifically Harriet Schwar, about their experiences conducting research at NSA. Schwar replied that she and Karen Gatz had conducted research at NSA (Schwar on the Six-Day War and the Liberty and Gatz on the Pueblo) and that she had found the people there to be very helpful. She felt comfortable with what she had seen but couldn't be sure she had seen everything. Schwar explained that NSA retires material that is stored at the NSA Archives (and during this storage period is inaccessible) and is then later accessioned and available for research. Schwar stated that NSA also had a very helpful computer index-- key words can be entered into the computer system which then searches for responsive documents. Schwar added that she had researched the records of the Naval Security Group located at Fort Meade. She found that these records contained generally the same materials she had seen at NSA.
Patterson stated that PA/HO had recently begun sending documents to NSA for declassification. He was interested in knowing what types of information NSA will release. Karen Gatz commented that while she was conducting her research on the Pueblo, the people she spoke with said they were very interested in getting the documents declassified. Patterson noted that he had spoken with NSA historian Tom Johnson, who had told him that NSA wants to help in getting documents declassified for Foreign Relations and he very much wants to coordinate declassification decisions in his agency in order to avoid having documents denied for the volumes and then later released.
Leffler asked Patterson if HO has thought through what type of documents it wants to include in Foreign Relations so that HO is not dependent on NSA. Patterson replied that he must rely on the compilers and that, in any case, there were not that many policy documents at NSA. He added that the compilers will begin looking at the records of the President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board as soon as they get the necessary codeword clearances. Kimball asked why the compilers were only just getting the clearances. Patterson replied that he had started the paperwork about a year ago. The lack of clearances had not impacted past volumes and the compilers will have access to all necessary documents for fifture volumes.
At that point David Hatch, NSA historian and Director of the Center for Cryptologic; History, arrived. He began his talk by explaining that the History Center and the NSA archives, while co-located, are two separate organizations. The History Center is composed of four subsections: a small research and writing effort, a small publication effort (publishing what they write), a museum, and a vigorous declassification effort. Hatch explained that the archives has upgraded its equipment and is fairly well-organizedand operated. He then went on to explain the new declassification effort. There are now 10 people doing declassification, and NSA has declassified more documents than any other intelligence agency: 1.3 million pages were declassified last spring. The World War II documents have been declassified and are now located at the National Archives. NSA is now in the process of deciding which records to declassify next-whether to proceed chronologically or topically.
Hatch explained that the records at NSA are basically divided into two groups: 1) those covering the period up to 1967/68 (the 30 year plus material) which have been electronically catalogued, and 2) those dated 1969 to the present which are less well organized and which NSA is working on cataloguing. He stated that NSA can support HO requests for materials 30 years or older well. NSA can also support requests for more recen t material, but this requires more effort. Hatch noted that NSA will be adding personnel and machines to the declassification effort in order to meet the requirements of the new E.O. and is currently in the process of programming a state-of-the-art system for tracking records from beginning to end.
Hatch then asked if anyone had any questions about the NSA effort. Leffler asked what the declassification effort has focused on. Has it proceeded chronologically or by subject? Hatch replied that they have mainly declassified material chronologically up to WWII, but in the post-WWII period they have been more selective. For example, documents regarding the Venona project have been declassified as well as documents responding to FOIA requests. NSA is now deciding whether to proceed to declassify documents chronologically or by topic.
Asked by Leffler if he was familiar with the Foreign Relations series. Hatch replied that he was. Leffler then asked Hatch what types of records might NSA have that would be helpful to Foreign Relations. Hatch noted that NSA has some administrative records that might be helpful, with deletions of sources and methods. Leffler stated that if NSA had records that were helpful to NSC, DOD, or other agencies, they would be helpful to Foreign Relations. Hatch replied that they had such records but that the materials that NSA produces get distributed to consuming agencies, and NSA does not know which information is used and which is not.
In response to Leffler's question as to whether HO historians would benefit from talking with NSA declassifiers, Hatch stated that it would be better to get a dialogue going with NSA's historians and archivists since they knew the records better than the declassifiers.
Keefer then brought up the question of access to the original Gulf of Tonkin intercepts. Kimball tried to make the issue more precise by asking if the Vietnamese language originals can be seen and if they can be declassified. Hatch responded that, while he was not sure in this specific case, originals were frequently hard to find. For reasons of space they were often disposed of Cleared HO historians could, of course, see the documentation at NSA. On the question of declassification, he believed that the Gulf of Tonkin documents would at least be partially declassified within the next few years. Hatch noted that the E.O.'s year 2000 deadline included most of the Vietnam war period. Collection methods and other cryptologic techniques would still be protected.
Schulzinger then asked about Foreign Relations declassification requests that did not fit into NSA's chronological declassification schedule. Hatch responded that special access would be provided and noted that in the three HO cases so far, NSA had complied with HO's requests for access and declassification review, putting HO at the head of the queue.
After Patterson brought up the issue of special review of certain files, Kimball reiterated Committee opposition to targeted openings, citing CIA's targeted openings which tended to fiustrate the larger objective of systematic review of its files. Hatch then outlined the declassification program at NSA, explaining that the actual work was done in his office but that policy guidelines were set in NSA's Office of Policy. His office does both systematic ("chronological") and special ("incident') declassification. The systematic review was a daunting process due to the mass of material and the lack of manpower.
In response to a question from Kimball about other agency equities, Hatch stated that although NSA had some problems coordinating with U.S. Government agencies, its biggest difficulties came in arranging foreign government approval, noting that the United Kingdom, in particular, had different sets of rules. Asked by Kimball about file exemptions under the new Executive Order, Hatch stated he believed NSA had applied for some and would provide specifics to Slany and Patterson.
Patterson and Hatch then agreed that cooperation between HO and NSA had been excellent so far.
Kimball asked if declassification issues involving decisions about whom to target were resolved on the interagency level. Hatch replied they would be. Of course, NSA would send along its recommendations if its interests were involved. On the question of the impact of technological change on declassification, Hatch stated this eased declassification (an example was Venona, where the technology was obsolete) but other issues were still very relevant.
At 10: 15 a.m. the Committee adjourned for a break.
After the break, Kimball made two statements regarding materials at NSA:
1) the accessioning, process is proceeding, and
2) a reminder for historians in the future: beginning in the 1970s, NSA produced finished intelligence that did not go through CIA.
Department of Energy (DOE) Records
The Committee then turned its attention to the issue of including Department of Energy records in Foreign Relations. Present were DOE historians Francis "Skip" Gosling, Chief Historian of the agency, and Terry Feliner, a historian in the History Office. Prior to their comments, David Goldman of HO summarized his impressions of working in DOE records for Foreign Relations and, earlier, for contract work. He thought DOE records were relevant to Foreign Relations volumes on arms control, science, and national security policy, with some regional significance. He discussed useful sources, including the Seaborg diaries, and described the process of retrieving information from the diaries.
Kimball next called on Gosling, who explained that the History Office provides support to the head of the Department of Energy and offered to supply copies of the briefing package that the Office had compiled for the incoming Secretary. Fehner handed out a listing of the Record Groups at the Department of Energy relevant to research in the Nixon era, and explained that the Department maintains two archives: one in the Program offices of the agency that maintains material of current use (and therefore not very useful to HO) and one in the History Division that includes historical documentation including AEC, Federal Energy Office, and some Program Office records. That archive also has material that was scheduled for destruction by the agency and NARA that the historians decided was significant and worthy of permanent preservation.
Fehner listed the most significant groups of DOE files for HO historians doing research for the Nixon volumes:
2) AEC Commissioners' Files, especially those of Glenn Seaborg, which comprise 250 cubic feet of records. The Seaborg Records have not been reviewed under systematic review.
3) AEC General Managers' Files from 1947 to 1975, which comprise 185 cubic feet of records. The General Manager is the Executive Director of the agency, and, these records may contain high-level documents that are not in the other collections.
4) Division of International Affairs records, which contain mostly mid-level material on international arms control efforts.
5) Federal Energy Office/Federal Energy Agency records, which cover the domestic side of the 1973-1974 energy crisis. These records are primarily unclassified.
Kimball asked how the Department of Energy was implementing the executive order. Gosling explained the process: The Office of Declassification reviews records at the request and schedule of the History Division. The records are first reviewed for national security infbrmation and then for Restricted Data. Kimball asked for an explanation of what national security information comes under Department of Energy, and Gosling and Feliner promised to submit a written report.
Kimball next asked for a definition of Restricted Data and the guidelines used in declassifying. Gosling reiterated that the History Division is not responsible for declassification, and offered to schedule a briefing for the Committee with representatives of the Office of Declassification. Kimball asked that both RD and FRD guidelines be addressed at that briefing.
Kimball next asked about records preservation and about any problems DOE might have with the NARA records preservation policies. Gosling noted that the DOE History Division believed the NARA guidelines for permanent preservation to be "flawed," and mentioned that he was meeting with NARA representatives next week to review the issue. The DOE historians often disagree about what is determined to. be "NARA permanent," and in fact have saved important records scheduled for destruction.
Regarding implementation of the executive order, Gosling said that DOE has some problems satisfying the requests of the traditional "stakeholders" for systematic declassification with the priorities of the executive order and Foreign Relations review, but the process is being worked out. Concerning access for Department of State historians to DOE records, Gosling said that any historian who has the necessary clearances can review all records and he is, of course, willing to accede to any "access agreement" that HO might want. Fehner noted that historians have to have a Q clearance.
Kimball next asked what records the DOE History Division archive has on the issue of stationing nuclear weapons in Greenland. Fehner noted that material on the accident in 1967 was reviewed and sent to CIC within the last 5 years. The archive, however, did not have much material on stationing the weapons in Greenland, and he had concluded that the AEC did not play a big role.
Gosling again offered to set up a briefing with the Office of Declassification, either in Washington or Germantown, to discuss the declassification process and guidelines. Kimball noted that the members of any subcommittee established to review these records at the Department of Energy would have to have a Q clearance.
Patterson asked if DOE had any internal histories or chronologies of the Nixon years that the HO historians could have access to. Gosling and Fehner mentioned the Annual Reports of the AEC, which were available in most research libraries, and the three volumes of DOE history, which ended with the Eisenhower administration. Plans to continue the history through the Kennedy and Johnson administrations have been dropped, although research was completed. All the notes and material gathered from the Presidential libraries are in the History Division archive.
Tucker asked Kimball if the Committee has a role in encouraging records preservation. Kimball noted that the Committee has previously expressed concern about this issue, but it was not within its mandate. He thanked the DOE historians and indicated that he would take them up on their offer of a tour through their archives and a briefing with the DOE Office of Declassification.
Committee Role in Reviewing Foreign Relations Manuscripts
Kimball said that he would like to review the issue of the Committee's role in reviewing the manuscripts of specific Foreign Relations manuscripts. He reviewed the stand the Committee had taken 4 years ago and the reasons for that stand, noting that the Committee had decided that it could not review all the volumes and should not review occasional volumes. Its focus should be on the process.
An extended discussion of the issue followed. Several points were made against the Committee's reviewing volumes: lack of time, potential conflict of interest, lack of expertise to review some volumes, the possibility of becoming committed to volumes as evaluators when they were supposed to be neutral referees. The Committee did not object to HO's hiring outside reviewers who were not Committee members. Two motions were made:
1) Continue the policy that the Committee as a Committee does not review volumes. This motion passed.
2) Committee members may review volumes as individual consultants, independent of their Committee membership. This motion failed to pass.
Remarks by Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Bennett Freeman
Bennett Freeman said that he had only two things to report to the Committee: Despite his urging, Acting Under Secretary Kennedy had made no decision on the Thailand documents, but Freeman was "cautiously optimistic" that Kennedy would take a decision by the end of April; and his vision of a new unit within the Historical Office to conduct research and oral histories and draft special historical studies had been set aside by Acting Assistant Secretary Nick Bums and Assistant Secretary-Designate Jamie Rubin, who believed more study was needed for such an ambitious project with serious resource implications. Freeman regretted this decision because he was firmly convinced of the utility of such a division. He thanked the Committee for their interest in and contribution to the Foreign Relations program and noted that he had enjoyed the contact that he had had with all the members.
After Freeman left at 11:45 a.m., the Committee went into executive session.