Statement by the CIA Historical Review Panel
March 2, 2006

Dr. Lewis Bellardo
National Archives and Records Administration

Professor Robert Jervis (Chair)
Department of Political Science
Columbia University

Professor Melvyn Leffler
Department of History
University of Virginia

Professor Thomas Newcomb
School of Criminal Justice and Security Studies
Tiffin University

Professor Marc Trachtenberg
Department of Political Science

Professor Betty Unterberger
Department of History
Texas A&M University

Professor Ruth Wedgwood
Nitze School of Advanced International Studies
Johns Hopkins University

The Director of the Central Intelligence Agency's Historical Review Panel (HRP) was formed in 1995, replacing a panel that was less formally organized and that had met only episodically. Since then, the HRP has met twice a year, with the mandate to:

The HRP, like the other DCIA panels, is convened by the Director to provide him with confidential advice and assessments. Because the HRP's advice to the DCI must be completely frank and candid, we are not reporting Panel recommendations. But because this panel's primary concern is the program of declassification and the release of information to the public, the DCIA and the Panel concluded that it should inform the interested public of the subjects and problems that the Panel is discussing.

As has been true for several meetings in the past, we spent much of our time reviewing the Foreign Relations of the United States (FRUS) series. The day before our meeting, Chairman Jervis met with the State Department's Historical Advisory Committee (HAC), and the latter's chair, Wm. Roger Louis, met with the HRP. We reviewed progress on several volumes, especially the Iran retrospective, and discussed both the few remaining issues in this volume and ways to make the process move more quickly and with less friction. We explored ways in which the lessons from the preparation of this volume might help with those planned and underway.

The 25-year release program and the CIA's role in reviewing and releasing materials at Presidential Libraries were discussed, with attention given to the impact of the fact that the deadline for the review of 25 year-old material that is completely in the control of one agency is December 2006, while material that combines information from several parts of the government is granted an additional three years. These incentives seem to be working against the prompt release of many documents from Presidential Libraries.

We discussed ways in which CIA might be more responsive to FOIA requests and might make the CREST system at the National Archives easier to use by people who are not fully familiar with it.

We continued to explore the kinds of special collections that would be best targets to meet the basic principle of "top-down, oldest-first" release of documents that has been endorsed by scholars and accepted by CIA.

We will meet again in June, 2006, at which time we will discuss the withdrawal of previously declassified material.