Report by the Executive Secretary
Report by the General Editor
Closed Session, October 3
Access to Nixon Presidential Papers
Review of Declassification Issues
Discussion of Ongoing Issues
Closed Session, October 4
Retrospective Volume on Intelligence Activities
Dayton History Project
Report by the Executive Secretary
William Slany reported that the Office had been "reasonably effective" in implementation of the 1991 law on the Foreign Relations series. The last Eisenhower volume would be printed by late 1996. At the same time, downsizing was affecting the staffing. Three of four vacant positions could not be filled. The effect on the series of a shrinking staff would be apparent in coming years. Publication money was still unaffected, but this year, due to clearance problems, the Office had returned $100,000. There was a question as to whether HO would clear enough volumes to use available publication money in the future. There was also an issue of restrictive State personnel procedures that prevented rewarding people properly. Slany noted the probability of staff losses in future years but reminded the Committee that this was a government-wide phenomenon.
Slany then reported on his and David Patterson's recent trip to Rome to attend a conference of editors of diplomatic papers. Sixteen European foreign ministries were represented. After discussions with colleagues it became apparent that the Foreign Relations series was far ahead of other countries in scope, volume, and currency. European programs were still limited in the breadth of their documentary universe-- the foreign ministry records-- and found the Foreign Relations series impossible to imitate. Noting that Bill Burr of the National Security Archive reported on his project, Slany observed that U.S. diplomatic documents are being made available by a number of different projects other than Foreign Relations and that a large volume of material was in the public domain.
Slany concluded by stating that he has proposed that the State Department host the meeting of the group in 2000 and suggested that Committee might be represented at the 1998 meeting in Bonn as well as at the meeting in 2000.
In response to a question from Robert Schulzinger, Slany explained that while many nations had honorary bodies like the Historical Advisory Committee, only the United Kingdom and Russia had government-supported programs. Other programs rely on private professional historians working part time to prepare their series.
Kimball then asked if a 1970s pamphlet on international archival resources might be updated. He suggested that the 1998 conference of diplomatic papers editors might be the place to begin working on an update. David Patterson explained that HO had thought about doing such an update, but the 1991 law had caused the Office to put it aside to concentrate resources on Foreign Relations.
Report by the General Editor
Status of the Kennedy Subseries. Patterson reported that 21 of 25 Kennedy volumes had been published, including 6 in 1996. Four volumes, including 2 on Cuba, remain to be published, but the Cuba volumes were close to publication and revision of the Soviet volume (bilateral) was two-thirds completed. Only the UN/Administration of Foreign Policy volume was seriously behind and he had made completion of this volume a top priority. Patterson also reported that four microfiche supplements to the Kennedy volumes would be published as soon as the editors had time to deal with them.
Patterson indicated that he was monitoring press coverage of the publication of volumes, including Embassy feedback. He noted that feedback from the Foreign Press Center and our Press Office was not always consistent. Patterson reported that three articles on the South Asia volume for 1961-1963 had appeared in the Indian press. One suggested that the volume was a deliberate attempt on the part of the U.S. Government to embarrass India. This was particularly amusing because a theme of the Kennedy administration was to improve relations with India.
CD ROM Project. In discussing the CD ROM project, Patterson deferred to Slany, who reminded the Committee that two Foreign Relations volumes were included on CDs that include other materials published by the Bureau of Public Affairs (PA). HO is satisfied with the indexing techniques used by the editors and believes that they can be applied to other volumes. HO is planning to publish a single CD in 1998 containing all 25 Kennedy volumes.
HO is discussing with PA the question of whether Foreign Relations volumes should be on a single CD by themselves or combined with press releases and other current State Department material. The PA Bureau feels that Foreign Relations could reach a much wider audience if it were marketed along with other Department foreign affairs information. Slany said that he has explained that it would be helpful for libraries if CDs containing Foreign Relations volumes maintain their separate identity and are shelved with the volumes. Bennett Freeman shares that view, but the issue is still being argued within PA.
Schulzinger pointed out the advantage of having Foreign Relations volumes on a CD with other relevant material, making it easy to go back and forth. Nancy Tucker expressed a concern that combining Foreign Relations with other State Department materials would reinforce its image as a publication of State Department documents whereas the Committee sees it as a broader publication. Kimball said that clearly the legislation says that Foreign Relations is a government-wide series that is housed in the Department of State. He asked if the Kennedy volumes by themselves would fill up a disk? Baker and Futscher replied that they will take up about half a CD, thus leaving room for other State Department material.
Anne Van Camp asked what kinds of material would be included with Foreign Relations on a CD. Slany answered that it would be current PA material unrelated to Foreign Relations. There was general agreement that it was a bad idea to combine Foreign Relations on a single CD with current material. Following a discussion of how to convey the message to PA, during which Tucker said she felt that a resolution would be appropriate, Kimball asked Tucker to draft a resolution. Patterson asked how a combination CD could be titled so that a researcher could determine that it included a Foreign Relations volume. Van Camp responded that it was a straightforward catalog problem that librarians were accustomed to handling.
Nina Noring asked whether HO would await publication of all of the Kennedy volumes before releasing the CD. Slany replied that there would be two CDs, one to be released in 1997 containing the first ten volumes and the second in 1988 containing the entire set. Noring commented that we would get them out sooner if the volumes were released on CD as they came out in combination with other PA material. When completed, the entire set could be published on a single CD by itself. Kimball noted that the Committee feels strongly that the volumes should not be combined with other State Department materials.
Status of the Johnson Subseries. Continuing his report, Patterson stated that HO had published 5 Johnson volumes this year and had completed compilation of 25 additional volumes. He hopes to have all of the Johnson volumes compiled by the end of 1997. Kimball noted that this schedule would make it difficult to meet the 30-year deadline for publication. Patterson agreed, especially as it concerned the Vietnam volumes for 1968.
Patterson went on to say that the average time for declassifying a volume was 20 months and that this was a conservative figure because CIA had indicated that their review would probably start taking longer. He explained that HO was compiling more CIA documents and appealing the initial declassification review of more of them. Volumes were also delayed because the compilers added documents after the declassification review was completed because of recently expanded access, such as to the Johnson telephone conversations. Thus the dates in the Perkins chart are not accurate and he had devised a new schedule.
Kimball asked about the declassification delay and whether most agencies met the 120-day deadline. Patterson said no, that some agencies (i.e., CIA and Treasury) did not. He noted that we have received responses from CIA in which they deny documents without fully reviewing them in order to meet our deadline. Kimball asked if they state that in writing. Patterson said yes. Kimball said that he couldn't imagine Congress accepting that practice as following the letter and spirit of the law and thought it was definitely an issue the Committee should take on. It was noted that State and NSC met its review deadlines. Noring commented that State's reviews were generally completed within 90 days. Kimball indicated that if agencies weren't cooperating, the Committee should know.
Kimball then asked how quickly HO formulated its appeals. Patterson admitted that in the past there had been occasions when HO had not moved soon enough and that he was seeking to remedy this. He noted that the declassification staff has on-line a running record of declassification actions that keeps the compilers informed. Kimball suggested giving compilers deadlines for reviewing agency responses. Slany said that he and Kerry Hite were working on this issue and'that they had drafted a memorandum giving deadlines; this procedure would go into effect next week.
Kimball inquired further about CIA's practice of denying documents in order to meet the 120 day deadline. Hite indicated that some time ago CIA had denied documents in several volumes citing the deadline as justification but then had stopped the practice. Recently, however, CIA did it again in denying documents for the 1964-1968 National Security Policy volume.
Access Issues. Patterson then spoke briefly about the issue of access, noting that HO was always looking for a wider universe of documents. He was encouraging compilers to make greater use of State Department lot files and post files for geographic volumes and reported that, for the Nixon volumes, HO had gained access for the first time to Treasury records.
Van Camp asked whether the JFK Assassination project had opened material of use to HO. Luke Smith noted that he had used some of that material in his Cuba volume.
HO Resources and the Nixon Volumes
The Committee then turned to a discussion of HO resources and planning for the Nixon volumes. Tucker, speaking for the subcommittee on planning the Nixon volumes, questioned whether the Nixon publication schedule was realistic, especially given the fact that HO had already fallen behind schedule in publishing the series. She noted three areas of concern: 1) adequacy of resources and personnel-- and whether the Committee should push on this issue; 2) declassification problems; 3) future problems with possible objections by Nixon people to publication of particular documents.
Leffler, commenting that Patterson's excellent memorandum to the subcommittee on planning for the Nixon volumes laid out the issues, expressed some concerns: Given the broadening scope of the series and HO's resource problems, could the series maintain comprehensiveness? Could HO complete the Nixon volumes by 2002? And could it do so while maintaining the quality of the series? Leffler then noted a statement in Patterson's memorandum that itself pinpointed the "iffiness" of meeting the 2002 deadline, stating that if HO truly needed additional resources as he felt Patterson's report indicated, then Patterson was defeating the case by stating that the goal could be met with current resources.
Patterson stated that HO needed the Committee's support in securing adequate resources. Leffler responded that Patterson's memorandum said that the Nixon volumes could be done by 2002, to which Patterson replied that HO needed the support of the Committee if the number of compilers fell below the current level of 18.
Kimball stated that the Committee can't pursue more resources effectively when Patterson's memorandum suggests goals can be met with current resources. Tucker suggested that the memorandum state more clearly that the Office is facing a potential crisis.
Asked by Van Camp to clarify the relationship between what he had said earlier in the session about the resource problem and what Patterson was saying, Slany commented briefly. Then Leffler asked how many HO people were currently engaged in compiling. Patterson responded 16-1/2 at this time (of the 18 noted above, one was temporarily assigned to the Dayton History Project and another was compiling part-time). Patterson indicated that HO hoped to hire one more historian. Leffler noted that HO was below the 18 level now.
Summarizing the management issues facing HO, Kimball stated that there were three: staffing; incentives; and efficiency of the process. Regarding the latter, he stated that some compromise was necessary on comprehensiveness of the volumes given their broader scope.
Leffler asked if 25 volumes were adequate for a comprehensive record of the first Nixon administration. He felt that Patterson's memorandum emphasized accuracy to the possible detriment of comprehensiveness. Michael Hogan commented that this relates back to the issue of resources. What special strategies were available? One-time funding? Can HO use recent retirees on contract? Tucker asked whether there was some way to get more agencies to allocate funds to the series in their budgets, given the more comprehensive nature of the series.
The Committee took a break at 10:20 a.m.
Report on the Digest of U.S. Practice in International Law and L Records
Kimball reconvened the meeting at 10:45 and introduced J. Ashley Roach, who would report on the responsibility of the Department to its constituency of international lawyers.
Roach explained that, although he worked in the office of the Assistant Legal Adviser for Oceans, International Environmental and Scientific Affairs (L/OES), he had accepted responsibility to consider the status of the Digest of International Law. As a long-time user of the Digest, Roach was disappointed that it was not.current. The series had been discontinued, he said, when Marion Nash, who had compiled much of the series, retired shortly after finishing the volumes on the Reagan administration. Roach said that the task at hand was how to continue the series without funding. The situation had also been complicated by the recent departure of Conrad Harper, the Legal Adviser, who supported the Digest. Roach reported that he was working with the American Society of International Law (ASIL) to continue the Digest on a volunteer basis. Roach considered it a unique publication in the legal world.
Roach said the Digest had always been comprehensive and a partial manuscript for the first 2 years of the Bush administration had been drafted. Roach explained that the records of the Office of the Legal Adviser were becoming increasingly electronically oriented, which made the Digest more relevant to the work of the attorneys in the office. He also said there was a classified system of formal legal opinions. The difficult question now, he explained, was where to draw the line: what to include in the series when resources are scarce. Roach reported that some volunteers were working on the Digest, but that the project did not have a mandate.
Kimball explained that Jane Picker, the Committee's legal expert and representative of the ASIL, was not in attendance, and asked if Roach could prepare a short memorandum to brief Picker or her replacement. Roach said he could, and he would be more than willing to talk with the new ASIL representative. Kimball reiterated the concern to continue the Digest; Roach repeated that he was working directly with the ASIL. Kimball said the Committee might not need to become involved, and turned for a report from David Langbart on the records of the Office of the Legal Adviser.
Langbart explained that NARA is presently working with the Department on a schedule that covers all records of the Office of the Legal Adviser except for those relating to special claims programs, which are being treated separately. Betty Bates compiled the schedule after reviewing the files of each office within L. Langbart reported on some of the high points of the schedule: formal opinions of L and predecessors from 1865 to 1950; two advisory committees (Advisory Committee on International Law and Advisory Committee on Private International Law); and Treaty and Agreement Files, which are indexed and include classified agreements and background files. Other offices in L generally have fairly well organized general subject and country files along with files for their specialized duties.
Kimball asked if the classified agreements were part of the declassified records schedule. Langbart implied that they were not. Roach explained that many of the agreements had been classified on the basis of an understanding with another country. Kimball noted that these classified sections of treaties and agreements should be part of the declassification process. He asked if there were any other questions. There being none, Kimball quipped that Roach was "getting off easy."
Implementation of Executive Order 12958 and Status of the RAC Project
Kimball then moved to the next item on the agenda, a discussion of the implementation of Executive Order 12958. Kimball reported that Dalsimer had intended to give the report, but had been called away due to an illness in the family. In his place, the report would be given by Ambassador Morris Draper. Draper said that there had been a meeting between Archives and State Department representatives. He suggested that, under the circumstances, it might be better for the Archives to report first.
Report by Michael Kurtz. Kimball introduced Michael Kurtz, who, he announced, had been recently promoted. Kurtz explained that there had been a major reorganization in NARA. The Archivist, John Carlin, had established two assistant archivist positions for the archival and records management programs: an assistant in charge of headquarters, Kurtz himself; an assistant in charge of field operations, Richard Claypool; and a separate operation for the presidential libraries, under David Peterson.
Kurtz said that there had been a meeting at State on Tuesday, October 1, to discuss the transfer and accessioning of State Department records. One of the primary topics on the agenda had been Remote Archives Capture, the so-called RAC project, which had been initiated by the CIA. Kurtz said that Nancy Smith would have more to say on the subject. Kurtz then reported that NARA had completed processing the State Department Central Files for 1964-1966, and would complete its work on the 1967-1969 block by the end of November. The central files for 1970-1972 had been reviewed for declassification, but would not be available until February 1997. Kurtz said that there had been some confusion between NARA and State regarding the declassification process. He explained that NARA needed written guidance, from State: oral instructions were too confusing and the old guidelines could not be extended. What NARA needed, he said, was new, updated, and high-level guidelines to assist in the processing and declassification of State Department records.
Kurtz said that there was an advantage to the recent reorganization at NARA. Declassification and implementation of the executive order were part of the Archivist's plan, and, as the official responsible for the DC area, Kurtz would be reallocating resources to meet these goals. Kurtz described a pilot project he was implementing, which would allow the declassification and processing people to work together. He said the project would get more people involved, would lead to a better and more efficient declassification operation, and would promote staff development. Kurtz reported that NARA had declassified 111 million pages in the last fiscal year, thereby meeting the goal of 25 percent. He said that the problem of other agency equities had to be resolved, and that NARA needed cooperation from State in an expanded effort to meet the dictates of the executive order. Kurtz said he needed to hear more about the RAC project. Kimball asked Harry Cooper of the CIA to join the table.
Report.by Harry Cooper. Cooper introduced himself as the CIA official responsible for external referrals at the CIA, within the program responsible for the declassification provision of the Executive Order. Cooper explained that the CIA had taken responsibility for the RAC project. As background, he reported that the CIA had approximately 40 million pages to review in its own archive, 17 million pages at NARA, and unknown number of pages at other archives. Cooper described the process as highly automated, including a three-tiered review within his office. This would allow his staff to exercise full declassification authority, without having to refer material throughout the agency. The RAC project was designed to streamline the declassification of Presidential papers by providing a means.to review 7 million pages prior to the.E.O. deadline.
Herschler asked about State Department records with CIA equity. Cooper replied that CIA had looked at State documents withheld at Archives II: about 50 percent contained a three-letter acronym which could be redacted; the remaining 50 percent related to sources and methods which may still be sensitive and would therefore require careful review. Cooper claimed that the aforementioned acronym used to be considered classified information by State. He then explained that a majority of the documents had not been marked to indicate a definitive determination of CIA equity. Technology being used in the RAC project, however, would save time when applied to CIA equities in State files: a disk would go to CIA where the three-tiered review would determine what could be declassified. Cooper said that the alternative, on-site review, was labor intensive: documents had to be copied and the excisions cut out by hand. The RAC technology, on the other hand, would provide access to the material on-line, where any excisions could be made electronically. Cooper also said that the CIA would like to have a Memorandum of Understanding with State involving reciprocity and review by State of its equities in CIA records.
Kimball said that the Committee had indicated that the current review of CIA equities in State records should be done at Newington. Cooper explained that for State files not yet accessioned by NARA, the imaging could be done at Newington, the disk would then be sent to the CIA facility for review, and returned to Newington upon completion.
Report by Nancy Smith. Nancy Smith reported that there has been good progress on the RAC program of declassifying presidential papers since her report at the last Committee meeting. She said that they had made real progress working toward the 25-year mandate; 34 agencies had enrolled in the pilot program, which was now in its second phase. They had the database running and were scanning much more quickly now, having done over 200,000 pages. Cooper said that it was 221,719 pages. Smith said that the potential of the new system was already clear, and that they had had a positive report from the Kennedy Library. She said that a big concern for NARA was whether the Department of State was going to participate in the new system, since State had equity in an estimated 60 percent of their documents. Smith said that she was going to attend a meeting on Tuesday about guidance, saying that "we need more guidance" from the State Department. According to Smith, Morefield had said that State review and guidance was the key. The problem was that the Presidential papers were not in the Washington area. Smith said the new format will be extremely user friendly and that the review should get done, but that it was very fiustrating not knowing what State will do and how it will address this problem. She noted that she learned from her talks with Patterson and Herschler that Presidential papers comprise some 40 percent of the Foreign Relations compilations now, but in the Nixon volumes this percentage could rise to 70 percent for some volumes.
General Discussion. Kimball asked Cooper if he shared the unease over the question of State Department participation. Cooper said that State had advised the CIA that they did not have the resources to participate in the RAC project. Smith repeated that State equity in the documents will not be less than 60 percent, and said that the Presidential Libraries wanted to commit to the new system as more than just a pilot program. There are 7 million pages of Presidential materials covered by the E.O.
Kimball asked about CIA assistance to the State Department. Cooper said that CIA was looking into reimbursing State for going into CIA files and reviewing State equities. Kimball. noted that the subcommittee had met the day before, and asked Schulzinger and Davis for their comments.
Schulzinger reported that he and Davis had examined some 1969-1973 Central Files documents. He had looked at raw boxes and Davis had looked at withdrawals. By far the bulk of the withdrawals were for CIA equities. They examined the documents for 20 minutes, before Kimball joined them to discuss other issues, especially the status of the RAC project. They all thought that it was a resource problem, that the CIA had been very energetic about the new program, but other agencies seemed not so keen.
Kimball said that there is a major resource problem that calls for a major new approach. He regretted that Tony Dalsimer of HDR could not attend the meeting. Kimball said that there was an impression that State was not cooperating, and that State had a different approach to the declassification project. He said that this needed to be pursued. People have been critical of State's approach. There will be a discussion in State next week to talk about the questions to be resolved.
Kurtz said that at the Tuesday, October 1, meeting at State, these problems had been discussed. Kimball added that they would discuss CIA subsidy of resources, adding that there are also other resources available. They would talk with Jean Schauble at the Archives about the issue of the Archives providing support and work hours for the project to review CIA equities in State records at NARA. Smith agreed that this was an issue for the Archives.
Kimball noted that Smith had raised the issue with him, that she was concerned that a very large part of her staff was involved. He had also talked with Jean Schauble about it. Kimball said that he had asked how far the Archives has to go with agencies that are not cooperating in implementing the E.O. Perhaps the Archives should focus its efforts on agencies like CIA and State which are eager to release materials-- although they don't agree on approach-- rather than agencies which are not as interested. That would mean using resources where the best results can be obtained before dealing with the recalcitrant agencies. Kurtz said that there was a good bit that the Archives can do internally with a reorganization of its staff. Kurtz said that Harry Cooper and the CIA are willing to support State. He questioned whether it was necessary to go through 400 million pages at NARA. Kurtz said that he would explore the question of the two agencies cooperating.
Kimball reported that Dalsimer said at the October 1 meeting that State did not want the CIA to be at Newington. [N.B.: Dalsimer denies that he made this statement.] Kimball said that the Committee has stated that it wants State to have CIA equity review there. He said: "I pass that on to HDR for your consideration." Kimball noted that there is a difference in declassification approach between State Department, which favors a pass/fail mechanism, and the CIA, which uses redaction. The technology would not preclude each agency using its own review methodology, however.
Tucker asked, concerning pass/fail on documents, about the multi-sectiondocuments where one section was not declassiflable, but the rest were. Kimball responded that the whole document-bundling problem had been solved because now the bundles are broken up.
Morris Draper of HDR replied that it depends if the binders can be removed from packages, but from an archival and historical point of view it might be better to keep packages together. Kimball said that archivists have a problem with this. Van Camp said that the procedure on this has been worked out. Draper said, "We'll work it out." He added that this occurs in a very small percentage of documents, most of which have been released. "Don't do any damage" is HDR's primary concern. Kimball said that Ken Rossman was concerned with archival record order and public access, and whether archivists will be able to tell what records were available to the public. Kimball thought that the answer was that we don't know. He told Kurtz that this was a question for him. Kurtz replied that was why he had urged control.
Davis said that he and Schulzinger had been heartened by the Cooper report. He worried that HDR reviewers had recommended in some cases no ftu-ther review of still classified material until 2020 or 2030 and asked whether this wasn't capricious. If it was going to be 25 years, why not 60? It was unclear to them why this review year was chosen. Kimball said that he could see no pattern to these re-review dates. Draper said that there is a working group trying to address this and other review attitudes. Government reviewers are not educated to specific times for re-evaluation. Kimball said that the Committee would like a report at the next meeting.
Van Camp asked why CIA's RAC technology should include review of 50 percent of State documents that are "no brainers." Why not just declassify them? Cooper said CIA wanted to review them. Van Camp asked why they were scanned. Cooper replied that they still needed to review the material and scanning is the best way. Kimball noted that the aforementioned three-letter acronym was unfortunately not automatically declassified and wondered if it was worth the expense to review. Cooper said that CIA's unwillingness to provide guidelines for identifying the innocuous usage of the acronym may be forced by the sheer volume of such references.
Kimball asked whether or not the RAC project can act as a precedent for other declassification actions, so that we could have one-step declassification actions.
Nancy Smith said that the Moynihan Commission was very interested in the ramifications of this on how the Executive Order is effected. Leffler said that the Committee should go on record stating that if State doesn't get more resources, they should use existing resources on the RAC project. Van Camp asked what kind of resources would be required. Smith said that 200,000 pages had been screened and were ready for review, and at least 100,000 of those pages were for State. Leffler said that 100,000 pages is a small part of HDR's capacity so HDR should put a high priority on this. Nancy Smith added that DOD had made it high priority, and that Navy and CIA were going for more money for the project. "It would be a pity if State, which has led the way on everything else, drags their feet on this."
Leffler reiterated that State should use existing resources. The Committee agreed this should be one of its resolutions. Kimball said the issue was whether this should be a separate resolution. Draper said the 100,000 pages was an apples and oranges issue, that 100,000 pages takes a long time to review. Kimball said that there should be a resolution that State put the project at highest priority, that the Presidential Libraries material is the most important. Kimball thought that HDR was too comfortable with the old methods. Draper responded that no, they were open to suggestion. Noring said that 100,000 pages sounded like a large task. Smith said the 100,000 pages were from the JFK and LBJ Libraries. Noring asked how many of them were State telegrams which had been already reviewed as part of the Department's Central Files, and thus would be duplicate work. She said files were often 60-80 percent State cables. Smith said this was a possibility.
After some discussion about the importance of getting all the agencies involved in the RAC project, Kimball noted that they needed to break for a working lunch with Under Secretary Kennedy.
Access to Nixon Presidential Papers
Kimball noted that the subcommittee on the Nixon materials, like the declassification subcommittee, had met the previous day at the Archives II. He indicated that the subcommittee had a productive meeting at the Nixon Project and, therefore, he was eager to have Nancy Smith get her points on the record. Kimball stated that Schaller and Tucker had also been at the meeting, and Herschler noted that Hogan also participated.
Nancy Smith began by announcing that the Department of State had recently agreed to a $90,000 subvention for two archival staff persons and that NARA has drafted a position description, which would be posted. Unfortunately, few people had indicated an interest in the opening, in contrast to the experience at the Johnson Library in Austin. Because of the litigation and scrutiny, the position with the Nixon Project is not going to be everyone's idea of the perfect job. And because of all these complications, NARA will need especially talented people.
Smith noted that a number of historians from HO, such as David Herschler and Bruce Duncombe, have been conducting research at the Nixon Project, and their work seems to be progressing well.
Smith moved on to the issue of access to the Nixon tapes. She reported that NARA will send a letter to the lawyers of the Nixon estate today responding to the issues they raised in their most recent discussion. NARA's letter will emphasize the need to secure access for HO historians and push for a meeting that should include HO representatives.
Kimball asked when HO believed these delays in getting access to the tapes will cause a problem in meeting the 30-year deadline. Herschler responded that HO would start having serious problems within 6 months.
Kimball then asked Nancy Smith if he could assume from her tone that she was optimistic about the possibility of HO getting access soon to the tapes. Smith responded that she was not trying to sound overly optimistic; she was merely describing the process she is trying to create that she hopes will lead to HO access. Smith emphasized that the tapes were very different from the paper records and for the Nixon estate the tapes were much more sensitive. She said she would keep HO informed of her progress with the Nixon lawyers.
Schaller noted that the subcommittee went through about 15 boxes of paper records from the National Security files and, in his opinion, the collection included a lot of good material. In general, the collection ran the gamut from transitory to substantive documents, including such things as back channel communications and personal instructions between Nixon and Kissinger. Although the latter was very personal, because it dealt with policy matters it also offered many insights into the development of the administration's foreign policy.
Tucker reiterated the unique importance of the Nixon materials. She inquired if personal comments would be challenged by the Nixon estate and how NARA would handle this. Smith responded that NARA could also deny release. According to the PRMPA (Presidential Records and Materials Preservation Act), NARA must review all the records and determine which of them are personal. Smith reemphasized that these are "raw files," but she did not expect many problems with the review process. She explained that after HO historians select the documents they want, these will go through the standard declassification process, following which NARA will do its review. At this point, the Nixon people will be allowed to raise their objections to the release of particular documents.
Kimball asked what the criteria were for such an objection. Smith responded that they can object to anything personal and returnable or to any document that they believe would invade a person's privacy. Kimball asked if there was an appeal procedure for documentation in which an objection is raised. Smith explained how procedures are different under the PRMPA from other Presidential materials. She went on to note that if someone objects to the release of a document, the issue will be taken up by a Review Board.
Kimball asked if the Nixon people could litigate on the basis of invasion of privacy. Smith responded that they could, once NARA officially opens the records.
Kimball then asked what a researcher would need to do if he or she objected to a Review Board decision? Smith responded that the researcher must litigate.
Kimball asked in response if there were any cases on record of this type of litigation. Smith replied that there were not. Smith mentioned that there is the possibility of investing the board with appellate authority. In response to a question about the possible procedure if someone objected to release of a document, Smith responded that a researcher could make a counter claim, but she did not believe it would hold up in court. Smith indicated that she was not sure exactly how the review process will work and that she would like HO to start putting documents through the process as soon as possible to see if the process works smoothly.
Herschler asked if the Nixon people could object to a few lines within a document, such as a footnote citing handwritten comments in the margins. Smith responded that this has never happened before; the Nixon people always object to entire documents.
Kimball expressed concern that, as the process is currently set up, it will prove easy for the Nixon people to randomly pick documents for objections. Smith responded that, to date, only Nixon and 11 other parties have objected to document releases. Kissinger and his representatives did raise some preliminary objections to one group of materials, but because NARA never got to this release, the Kissinger objections became moot.
Davis observed that there should be "room for negotiations" when it came to release of material selected for publication in Foreign Relations, to which Smith nodded agreement, but pointed out that this was a very complex legal issue and a labor intensive issue for NARA. She noted that NARA was also trying to comply with Executive Order 12958 as well as the Foreign Relations legislation. She added that NARA was trying to help with the Foreign Relations series as best as it could. Kimball pointed out that State was supporting NARA with funds for this help, to which Smith replied that while the two additional employees supported by the funds will help, NARA will still be pressed.
Kimball reminded Smith to let the Committee know when it can be helpful. Smith responded that she would and that she was trying to arrange a meeting with the Nixon lawyers and HO. Kimball added that, as a confidence-building measure, he was sure that someone on the Advisory Committee would be happy to meet with the Nixon group. He then thanked Smith and the subcommittee members.
Review of Declassification Issues
The Committee turned to three declassification appeal issues for the Foreign Relations series. Slany opened the discussion by asking for the Committee's advice regarding HO's efforts to appeal declassification decisions that would make inaccurate the record proposed for publication in the following compilations:
[approximately 2 pages deleted]
[End Classified Discussion]
Kimball then turned to the question of HO liaison with the CIA regarding access to CIA files. Herschler said that there were several variables: asking the right questions, contacting the right person, the attitude of the DO people who held the records, and the decisionmaking process. Miller said that there was little CIA material in the Nixon papers, unlike those of President Johnson. Leffler recalled that the Department's press guidance said that Foreign Relations was intended to include materials about covert actions.
Discussion of Ongoing Issues
The Committee then turned to action items from the last meeting. Slany said that a Library of Congress official had discussed access to the Kissinger Papers with lawyer David Ginsberg who appeared to be very suppportive of HO access. Ginsberg had not yet talked to Kissinger about access, so no final decision had been reached. Kimball said that comprehensive coverage was an ongoing subject. He would like to discuss with Nancy Smith the accessibility of notes describing tapes and access. Herschler said that access to the Nixon tape logs was most important, so that key tapes could be pinpointed.
Kimball then asked about ISPAC. Herschler said that ISCAP, the intergovernmental body, was in existence now, but that there was not news on ISPAC. Kimball said, with regard to implementation of the Executive Order, that National Security Adviser Anthony Lake had thus far replied only with an "internally contradictory" letter. Kimball had written to Carlin, saying that he was "noticeably underwhelmed" by Steve Garfinkel's approach. Carlin had replied that he appreciated our candor and would stay in touch.
Leffler then asked whether planning 25 volumes to cover the first Nixon administration implied a contraction of the series. How appropriate was the decision, and was it forced on HO by circumstances? Patterson said that he had inherited the decision and the Committee had gone along. In response to further questions, Patterson said that more volumes would be more desirable and the number of volumes could be adjusted in the course of compiling the series. Leffler said that compiling fewer volumes seemed perplexing since foreign policy had reached the highest point of importance during the Nixon Presidency. Slany said that projections are always subject to change. Herschler noted that the Johnson volumes had grown from 31 to 35 before being finally set at 34.
Tucker asked whether there was a trend to focus the volumes on high-priority items. Kimball said that it was a resource-related decision. In response to further questions from Leffler, Slany noted that a couple of years ago the selection would have included more on a wider variety of places and issues. There was a trade-off. less on routine bilaterals and more on big themes such as the Middle East, arms control, and China. In addition, new issues such as human rights and terrorism required attention.
David Humphrey said that the Johnson series included 7 volumes on Vietnam, so 4 for Nixon was a big cutback. Patterson said that he could be flexible about expansion if needed. A volume had been added on Laos during the Kennedy years. He would ask tough questions if a compiler suggested adding a volume. A volume of 1,400 pages could be as comprehensive as one of 1,800 if footnotes and editorial notes were substituted for marginal documents.
Harriet Schwar said that in recent years, there had been a trend away from documenting every country to focusing on major issues: only 1 volume for Africa during Nixon versus 2 for Johnson. Changes in technology made for longer telegrams and more detailed reporting, but Embassies summarized long telegrams. Hogan and Patterson agreed that compilers always wanted more space and editors had to set limits. Kimball said that this ongoing process would be discussed on a continuing basis. Patterson said that he could show the Committee the tables of contents and get their thoughts about what needed more coverage. Leffler said that one volume apiece seemed scanty for South America or Southeast Asia. Kimball said that these areas had become peripheral under Nixon. Universals had to take precedence over particulars, or else every series would be 100 volumes. Overall purpose was more important than whether a given area needed more space. Hogan said that it would be helpful to have criteria to defend increases.
The meeting adjourned at 4:47 p.m.
Retrospective Volume on Intelligence Activities
Slany said that after the last Committee meeting HO assembled a collection of some 150 documents relating to Guatemala and submitted them for declassification review at State and CIA. These documents were intended to be part of either a larger volume that would include Iran or, failing that, a separate volume dealing with the overthrow of the Arbenz government in Guatemala. Slany noted that any such Foreign Relations volumes would include materials from the Eisenhower Library and State Department files as well as from the CIA. He anticipated a compilation of approximately 200 documents dealing with Guatemala. The intent was to obtain the declassification of the larger body of documents dealing with CIA involvement in Guatemala to be released at the same time as the volume. All but one of the initial 150 documents have been declassified by the State Department. The declassification process is continuing. Slany added that HO has not yet undertaken compilations dealing with Iran and other covert operations during the Eisenhower administration. He anticipated that the History Staff of the CIA would cooperate on such compilations as they had done on the research on Guatemala.
Kay Oliver of the CIA History Staff indicated that she didn't have much to add to what Slany had reported. She said that after seeing how the Guatemala volume developed her office anticipated responding to an HO plan for further compilations, once such a plan was developed and submitted to CIA. She noted that her staff has been independently looking at documents dealing with Iran, and that Scott Koch of her staff is preparing a study dealing with CIA involvement in Iran, which she hopes ultimately to see declassified and released. She noted, however, that the initial response of the Directorate of Operations, which has declassification authority over the documents, has been largely negative concerning possible release of the information in Koch's study. She turned to Koch for an assessment of the nature and volume of the Iran documents he had found.
Koch reported that his research indicated that the initial universe of documents generated at the time of the Iran operation was about one file drawer. According to a person who was in the office maintaining the files, most of those files were destroyed in 1962 because of lack of space. Records were made at the time of what had been destroyed, but those records were subsequently destroyed. Of the initial 2 feet of documents, some 6 inches remain. Most of what remains is operational in nature. Very few policy documents survived. There was a microfilm backup of the cables generated during the operation, but the microfilm was destroyed some time around 1982 according to National Archives guidelines. Koch speculated as to why 200 boxes of documents dealing with the operation mounted in Guatemala survived as against only 6 inches for Iran: the Guatemala operation lasted a good deal longer, it was paramilitary, and the personalities involved were different. He noted that there is an internal CIA publication on the operation written in 1954 by a participant using the original documents. He also stated that a 1974 draft history of the operation provides confirmation that the original files had been destroyed in 1962.
Oliver, in response to questions from Hogan and Leffler, stated that the CIA intended to review for declassification all of the documents cited by, Koch as well as the two studies he mentioned. She noted that CIA generally preferred to review and release classified histories rather than their supporting documents but recognized in this case that the documents unearthed would have to be reviewed as well. She indicated that HO had not formally requested documents except on Guatemala.
Leffler asked Kimball whether HO should now formally request documents relating to Iran and Indonesia.
Oliver stated that if her office was informed that HO planned a volume on a given subject, CIA would cooperate. She did not feel, however, that HO had a license to browse in CIA files.
Leffler commented that this was a Catch-22 situation, in that HO had to assess the nature and amount of documentation involved in an operation in order to determine whether a publication was justified. Oliver said that CIA would be reasonable in cooperating as long as it was convinced that a Foreign Relations volume was intended.
Hogan asked whether the CIA was contemplating declassification and release of the remaining documents on Iran. Oliver replied that Koch's work in preparing a new study of the operation was a way of testing the water before an ultimate review of the documents for release. She again noted the declassification problems posed by the documents. She also observed that resource limitations limited the pace at which the CIA could proceed with the declassification review of the several issues the CIA had undertaken to review for release.
Schwar stated that she had made a preliminary review some time ago of the Iran documents Koch had discussed. Her judgment was that there was material for a compilation although not an entire volume.
Kimball emphasized that the Committee had long since established its strong interest in the release of these Iran documents. Oliver indicated that her office was well aware of the Committee's interest but had not received a formal request for access.
Kimball said that such a request would be forthcoming. He also made the point that Congressional legislation gave HO a license to fish in any government archive to determine whether there was documentation suitable for a Foreign Relations volume.
Oliver observed that CIA would respond to its legal requirements, but could hardly be expected to produce all documents in CIA files bearing on foreign policy. As a practical matter, the CIA History Staff had to narrow its focus to the volumes HO is working on.
Kimball pointed out that the HO schedule referred to preparing a retrospective volume on Guatemala, Iran, and Indonesia. Oliver responded that they had never established what such a volume would comprise. What Kimball was describing would be a volume on covert actions in the third world.
Kimball stated that it should include not only covert actions but also intelligence advice and policy. Slany noted that HO does not just want CIA's documents, it needs CIA's help. Oliver stated that she and Slany needed to work together to work out what such a volume would cover.
Schulzinger asked about the status of the volume, observing that it seemed more remote than it had seemed last March. Slany said that work was progressing on Guatemala. A body of documents had been collected and was under declassification. If Iran were added, it would take longer. Kimball asked where CIA was with review of Guatemala. Oliver replied that they were within the 120 days.
Hogan asked what the History Staff planned to do with Scott Koch's history on Iran. Oliver replied that this had not been determined. They would probably publish it as a classified history and perhaps later as an unclassified history. She noted that CIA was undertaking two publications right now, on Guaternala and the Bay of Pigs. Once HO decided what would be in the retrospective volume, CIA could proceed.
Hogan commented that it seemed that it would be easy to do Iran; 80 percent of the work had been done. Oliver said that that depended on how many fronts they had to fight.
Tucker asked if the Committee should consider the question of retention of CIA records. Kimball invited Langbart to address this issue. Langbart said that he did not handle CIA records depending on how the records are scheduled. He noted that many agencies dispose of either operational or secretariat records. Kimball asked who at NARA would be the appropriate person to whom the Committee could indicate its concern. Langbart replied that after January 6, it would be Michael Kurtz, but he would bring this matter to the attention of those who need to know now.
Noring asked whether there was a record of Eisenhower's approval of the Iran operation, as there was of his approval of the Bay of Pigs. Koch said he had been looking for 4 years and had not been able to find such a record.
Kimball said that in December the Committee wanted a specific proposal regarding Guatemala in order to bring this issue to closure. He asked Oliver if she had anything else. She said that she had a letter from Slany regarding "problem volumes" and did not know what it meant. Kimball commented that the two of them needed to discuss this separately.
Dayton History Project
Deputy Assistant Secretary Bennett Freeman informed the Committee about the Department's project to prepare a negotiating history of the Dayton Peace Accords, a project which began in May and was supposed to be completed by the end of the year. Assistant Secretary Tom Donilon had wanted a classified history of the Dayton negotiations, which would take advantage of fresh memories with oral interviews. This would be useful for future policyrnakers faced with similar problems. The recollections, which were being captured as quickly as possible, could also be used for future Foreign Relations volumes. They had more than three dozen interviews totaling hundreds of hours. An 8-person team, including interns, had worked on the project during the summer; now there was a 4-person team.
David Goldman of HO, who would report to the Committee, has been working on this project ftill time. The other person to report would be Derek Chollet, a graduate student in international relations, who is preparing a draft.
Goldman said that he had played a number of roles. He had functioned as an historian/archivist and also as liaison with HO. He had worked on organization of the files, made sure that the provenance of each document was recorded on the document, worked on a chronology of key events, and served as peer reviewer and editor in the writing phase. As that phase winds down, he will put his archivist hat back on, getting the archive in shape and writing a short history of the project itself.
Chollet said that this study, unlike a number of published works on negotiations, like Quandt's on Camp David, would be documented. Footnotes will also be used to point out additional material in the archive. He also had worn two hats: one as historian and one as political scientist. He said that two political scientists and one historian are serving as an advisory committee for the project and will act as peer reviewers.
Freeman added that the real value of the project has been to focus on negotiating techniques-- the nuts and bolts. This was very valuable, but he did not want to divert resources from HO. Only one full-time person from HO-- Goldman-- was working on the project. Donilon was so encouraged by the progress of the study that he thinks we should be doing such projects on an ongoing basis. This does raise questions of resources. Freeman has asked Slany to explore the possibility of finding outside ftmds to create a new unit, perhaps a two-person unit.
Kimball commented that Goldman's comments on organization of the records resonated with a recent statement by Archivist Carlin about the need to organize records as soon as possible for future users. He thought perhaps Ken Rossman should be brought into the process.
Schulzinger commented that there were three things going on, two of which were terrific for HO: 1) organization of the files; 2) the oral histories; and 3) writing the study. He wondered why this particular study should be written as opposed to others, for example on the Middle East. He did not understand the principle underlying the choice of this project and thought this should be related to HO's resources.
Van Camp said she was worried about the records being organized around a topic, noting the problem with provenance. Her concern was alleviated when it was explained that the archive consisted of copies of documents and that the actual documents remain in their original locations. Herschler noted that the one exception was the collection of oral histories which originated in the Dayton Project files.
Paul Claussen said that one startling aspect of the project had been the importance of E-mail, which had been an important part of the record. This showed the importance of preserving E-mail, which necessitated the cooperation of the Executive Secretariat. He had talked to Ken Rossman about this. Freeman noted that Claussen had played a very helpftil role in the Dayton project, especially at the beginning.
Langbart echoed Van Camp's comments and noted that NARA would not support creation of a separate collection of original materials pulled from their original filing locations; a collection of copies would be acceptable and even welcome.
The Committee then heard staff comments and went into executive session.