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Statement by the CIA Historical Review Panel
(July 2000)

Dr. Lewis Bellardo
National Archives and Records Administration

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

Professor Lawrence Kaplan
Department of History
Georgetown University

Professor John Norton Moore
Center for National Security Law
University of Virginia School of Law

Professor Robert Pastor
Department of Political Science
Emory University

Professor Betty Unterberger
Department of History
Texas A&M University

The Director of Central Intelligence'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 DCI 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, DCI George Tenet and the Panel concluded that it should inform the interested public of the subjects and problems that the Panel is discussing.

The main topic of the HRP meeting of June 7-9, 2000, was the CIA's role in the Foreign Relations of the United States (FRUS) series. We examined in some detail one of the volumes that is in the final stages of compiling and review. Because it contains material on covert action, the materials to be included are guided by decisions of the High Level Panel (HLP), composed of representatives of the State Department, CIA, and NSC. We discussed the correspondence between the redactions and the guidelines provided by the HPL and also the adequacy of the guidelines themselves. We paid special attention to how to draw a proper line between methods and sources which the CIA needs to protect, and major policies, which the CIA should not object to disclosing. We discussed recurring issues of concern including the release of aggregate budget figures for covert actions, acknowledgement of CIA presence, and the use of material from the President's Daily Brief.

We also discussed problems of State Department historians' access to CIA records and the proposed remedy of having a State Department historian stationed at CIA.

We examined the twenty-five year release program which is reviewing and declassifying large numbers of documents. We examined the guidelines being used and samples of the documents and their redactions. We also discussed the causes of the delay between the time when these documents reach the archives and when they are opened to the public.

A continuing topic of discussion is the competing priorities, including those stemming from legislative or executive mandates, that have slowed progress in the release of documents according to the "oldest-first, top-down" rule which would concentrate resources on the oldest documents that remain classified and on those that reached the highest levels of the agency and so reflected considered judgments on the most important issues.

We also examined the recent report on CIA's records by the National Archives and the CIA's proposed response.

We discussed the programs and publications of the Center for the Study of Intelligence and how they could sustain the highest quality levels and receive the public and scholarly attention they deserve.

All our discussions benefitted greatly from the candor and cooperation of the CIA officials who have worked with us.

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