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Advisory Committee on Historical
Diplomatic Documentation to the
United States Department of State

March 2, 1999

The Honorable
Madeleine K. Albright
Secretary of State
Washington, DC 20520

Dear Secretary Albright:

This covering letter forwards the annual report of the State Department Advisory Committee on Historical Diplomatic Documentation (Historical Advisory Committee) for the twelve-month period October 1, 1997, through September 30, 1998, submitted in accordance with the requirements of the "Foreign Relations" statute, Public Law 102-138 of 28 October 1991 (22 USC 4351, et seq.).

The Historical Advisory Committee appreciates the State Department's response to the "crisis" in the Foreign Relations series discussed in last year's report. The High-Level Panel, established at your urging to determine and recommend to the National Security Adviser whether or not certain classified foreign policy initiatives, including covert actions, can be acknowledged, seems to be working. Nevertheless, because of delays in implementing this process, the Committee's optimism must remain restrained at this time until it becomes clear that declassification reviews, particularly in the Central Intelligence Agency and the Department of State, will produce documents that provide an accurate and comprehensive picture of those activities that can be acknowledged.

The Committee has also initiated, with the strong support of the Historian and the Bureau of Public Affairs, an extensive study and reappraisal of the entire Foreign Relations series. We remain concerned that the series continues to fall further behind the 30-year publication target, particularly with an ever-expanding universe of documentation on United States foreign policy and diplomacy. Because the preparation of the Foreign Relations series prompts extensive declassification review and archival processing efforts far beyond the documents included in the series, any delay in publishing the volumes creates a delay in getting the vast archival record opened to the American public. This "rethinking" of the series will allow the Historical Advisory Committee and the Historical Office, working together, to determine how the Department can best meet the broad requirements mandated by the Foreign Relations statute while taking advantage of modem technology and management methods. That study began in summer 1998 and will be continued and intensified during 1999. As we proceed, we will also seek the advice of the public, particularly the professional organizations cited in the Foreign Relations statute.

Near the end of the reporting period, Congress passed legislation (the so-called Kyl amendment) that could have paralyzed the entire federal government's declassification effort-- even the successful State Department program. A Presidential signing statement addressed the potential problems created by this well-intentioned but seriously exaggerated effort to protect nuclear secrets, and it appears that the good efforts of the Archivist of the United States and the leadership in the Department of Energy will ensure that a sensible balance between security and openness is maintained. The Historical Advisory Committee will monitor the situation closely, and report any serious problems to you immediately.

During 1998, the Historical Advisory Committee learned of a collection of sensitive and extremely important historical records in the Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR) that required preservation, processing, storage, and full inventory in accordance with National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) procedures. As of this date, the three offices involved (INR, NARA, and Information Resource Management-IPS), with the encouragement of the Historical Advisory Committee, have outlined a procedure to solve the problem. The Committee will monitor the situation to ensure that immediate steps are taken to preserve, protect, and organize the records, as well as to review their status under Executive Order 12958 (Information Security). We are pleased that a solution seems at hand, although disturbed that the problem should have arisen in the first place. This raises the concern that there are additional sensitive historical records held by the INR Bureau that have not been sighted or appraised, even in preliminary fashion, by appropriate State Department and NARA officials. The failure of the CIA to preserve and protect historical records relating to covert activities in Iran in the early 1950s heightens our sensitivity on these matters. The Committee will rely on your support as it fulfills its statutory responsibility and studies past and present records handling procedures, particularly in the INR Bureau.

As of January 1, 1999, Professor Michael Hogan has succeeded me as chair of the Historical Advisory Committee. I will remain on the committee but will devote the bulk of my time and energy to the "rethinking" of the Foreign Relations series. During my seven years as chair, you, your predecessors, and the key leadership in the State Department have been consistently honest with and supportive of the work of the HAC. During the same time, career officials in the State Department have come to realize that the HAC is an asset, witness the recent report of your Inspector General ("Declassifying State Department Secrets," SIO/A-98-50). The combination of a legislative mandate and State Department cooperation has allowed all of us to increase the amount of openness and accountability in this part of the government. We can all be proud of those accomplishments, even if it will remain an ongoing struggle.

Warren F. Kimball, Chairman
American Historical Association

Benton Vincent Davis, Jr.
American Political Science Association

Michael J. Hogan
Organization of American Historians

Frank H. Mackaman
Society of American Archivists

Michael E. Schaller
At-large member

Robert D. Schulzinger
At-large member

Nancy Bemkopf Tucker
Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations

Anne H. Van Camp
At-large member

Philip Zelikow
At-large member

Copy to (with report):
Committee on Foreign Relations, U. S. Senate
Committee on Foreign Affairs, U. S. House of Representatives
American Historical Association
American Political Science Association
American Society of International Law
Organization of American Historians
Society of American Archivists
Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations


October 1, 1997 - September 30, 1998

In accordance with the 1991 Foreign Relations statute, the Historical Advisory Committee (HAC) monitors and oversees the preparation and timely publication of the Foreign Relations of the United States series; monitors the State Department's efforts to preserve and open its 30-year old historical record to the public; and provides advice to the Secretary of State on matters related to the historical record of American foreign policy and diplomacy. The Department of State and particularly the Bureau of Public Affairs have been consistently supportive and involved in our efforts, and the HAC is most appreciative. Likewise, the HAC is grateful for the enthusiastic and effective help it has received from the Historian and the staff of the Historical Office.

In our last report, the HAC pointed to an impending crisis for the Foreign Relations series. The publication of the series had gradually slowed and might virtually stop by 1999. The most immediate issue was the refusal of various authorities to acknowledge a number of policy initiatives and covert actions, all 30 or more years in the past, that were integral to the "thorough, accurate," and "comprehensive documentation of the major foreign policy decisions and actions of the United States government" as required by statute. Following the August 1997 recommendation of the HAC, Secretary of State Albright, National Security Adviser Berger, and Director of Central Intelligence Tenet agreed on the urgent need to establish a High-Level Panel with representation from the Department, the Central Intelligence Agency, and the National Security Council. The purpose of this HLP process was to review highly-classified documentation on major covert actions or intelligence activities selected for inclusion in Foreign Relations volumes and recommend to the National Security Adviser whether or not they could be acknowledged and, if possible, the relevant documentation declassified. The HLP process has thus far recommended that all twelve of the cases brought before it be acknowledged and that the documents requested for the Foreign Relations series in nine cases be reviewed for declassification. For the three remaining cases, the panel approved a disclosure statement outlining the policy. The National Security Adviser has, in all cases, agreed.

But acknowledgment and document review alone are not enough. Because of delays at the State Department and between the State Department and other agencies in perfecting and implementing the HLP process, none of the Foreign Relations volumes affected has yet been published. The HAC is unable to evaluate fully the effectiveness of the procedure in getting documents declassified and thus opened to the public-- which is our "bottom line." It appears that in nine of the acknowledged cases sufficient documentation will be declassified. In the remaining three cases, declassification of sufficient documentation seems unlikely, although final decisions have not been made at this time. The HAC does not accept the curious reasoning that allows government agencies to deny declassification of information even after the National Security Adviser has agreed to interagency recommendations for the acknowledgment of covert action episodes and has in effect admitted that failure to declassify sufficient historical documentation in these cases would be a violation of the letter and the spirit of the Foreign Relations statute.

Equally important for the future, the delays make it impossible to determine at this time whether or not covert action acknowledgments and the subsequent declassification of an appropriate body of documentation will establish precedents that agencies will follow in the future. The Department should not have to incur the costs of retrospective FRUS volumes on covert activities, as in the case of Guatemala (1952-54), which is only now being reviewed for declassification. Publication of documents about U.S. attempts to influence the 1962 elections in then British Guiana (Foreign Relations, 1961-63, vol. XII) should have been followed by acknowledgment and documentation concerning similar policies in other countries. But that has not been the case, and only an appeal to the HLP has brought acknowledgment about such activities in twelve other instances during the Lyndon Johnson administration.

State Department progress toward implementation of the executive order on Information Security is excellent. The Department has performed admirably in reviewing its archival record, as the attached IPS report demonstrates. Even though a recounting of overwhelming numbers does not differentiate between what is important and what is routine, the sheer volume of this effort is impressive. Random checks by the HAC suggest that appropriate declassification standards are being applied (though we need to intensify the frequency of those random checks during 1999). We do encourage the Department to intensify its effort to review for declassification those State Department equities not in the department's custody. In addition, we look forward to receiving a schedule for the declassification review of State Department files exempted from the Information Security Executive Order because those files had been reviewed previously under older, more restrictive declassification standards. Part of the reason for the success of this declassification effort lies with what has been in the past the Department's effective utilization of experienced records managers trained in current NARA archival procedures.

Section 404 (c)(1)(C) of the "Foreign Relations" statute requires the Historical Advisory Committee to "review by random sampling, records representative of all Department of State records published, issued, or otherwise prepared by the Department of State that remain classified after 30 years." A few years ago, while carrying out that responsibility, the Historical Advisory Committee learned of the existence of a sizable and extremely important body of historical records in the Bureau of Intelligence and Research that was, for all intents and purposes, "invisible" to persons outside that bureau. In accordance with the Foreign Relations statute, the Committee and Historical Office historians gained access to those records. That resulted in those records being brought into the State Department records management system. We are concerned, however, that there are additional INR historical records that have not been brought into that system. This prompts the Committee to raise the issue of access and oversight of INR records management by appropriately cleared State Department records managers.

The HAC takes guarded satisfaction that its strong and repeated recommendations appear to have resulted in a joint Department-NARA undertaking to ensure transfer and opening to the public of the earliest Departmental electronic records-- those beginning in mid-1973. Much must be yet done to meet technological and security requirements if the Department and NARA are to meet the mandated year 2000 opening of these records for research. The HAC does not believe that this is as much a resource issue as it is a challenge to the resourcefulness of the Department in solving a matter that is bound to repeat itself often in the future. The HAC will, continue to monitor this matter closely and to urge the Department and NARA to set a standard for the future opening of electronic records by other agencies.

The HAC is weary of the failure of the declassification review of CIA equities in State Department records at both NARA and Newington to allow the opening to the public of significant portions of State Department historical records. Similarly, the CIA's Remote Archives Capture program has not, to our knowledge, resulted in any declassification and opening of materials held at the Presidential Libraries. Our inquiries for over a year have resulted only in circular arguments and unfulfilled promises, usually made in connection with the quarterly meetings of the Historical Advisory Committee. There appears to be little commitment to working together cooperatively on the part of the CIA, the State Department, and NARA to solve this problem expeditiously and provide the American public with the historical information they have a right to expect.

Moreover, the ineffectual CIA effort threatens State Department progress toward achieving the declassification review goals established in Executive Order 12958 (Information Security). Although these equities were identified by expert State Department declassifiers reviewing the Department's records, the CIA has refused to issue declassification guidelines that could be applied, with appropriate CIA-approved training, by those same State Department reviewers. While such guidelines could require referral of all substantive CIA equities back to that agency for review, our experience and sampling indicates that a sizable number of those equities consist only of a casual, non-substantive mention that "CAS (the CIA representative at an embassy) concurs," or something equally innocuous, information that could easily be redacted by State Department declassifiers if the CIA insisted on denying its presence. That finding is seconded in the September 1998 report of the State Department's Inspector General on "Declassifying State Department Secrets" (SIO/A-98-50). The HAC has raised this issue repeatedly with the CIA but, despite the best efforts of some at the CIA, that agency insists on doing all its own declassification. The result is significantly higher costs, unnecessary repetitive declassification reviews, grotesque delays (virtually no progress has been made to date), and growing public cynicism about the willingness of the agency to submit to appropriate accountability-even with regard to the 30-year old historical record.

While the HAC remains unconvinced that, in most cases, the mere disclosure of a CIA presence at meetings and/or outside the United States interferes with the agency's ability to do its job, as a starting point, we strongly endorse the recommendation of the State Department's Inspector General:

In addition:

We believe it would be productive for this "working group" to discuss ways to train State Department declassifiers on the redaction of innocuous references and to set up a pilot project that would build confidence within the CIA that its proper equities could be protected by State Department reviewers.

The Committee has repeatedly expressed its dismay at the continued delay in appointing the Information Security Policy Advisory Council (ISPAC) called for in Executive Order 12958. That delay in appointing public representatives now exceeds two years. That Executive Order represents a firm public commitment by the President, and we are deeply concerned that matters remain stalled. We ask that the State Department raise the matter with appropriate officials and apprise the HAC of the President's intentions. We also repeat our strong recommendation that ISPAC members hold security clearances so that they will be assured access to relevant classified information.

The HAC remains disappointed in the failure of the declassification review of CIA archival records to result in any significant transfer to the National Archives and subsequent opening of the historical record to the public. Even the "special releases" such as VENONA and the Cuban Missile Crisis have not opened 30-year old files beyond those specific documents selected by the CIA. Although such matters may not fall directly within the purview of the HAC, we believe we have a responsibility, as the only legislatively mandated public advisory committee concerned with declassification and public access to the record of the nation's foreign policy, to point this out. Moreover, archival openings should not be determined by the agencies holding records except within the clear security and privacy guidelines established by law. This is an obvious example of the kind of issue that an advisory committee with a broad mandate, such as that envisaged for the ISPAC, should examine.

Even if all the declassification problems were solved, the Foreign Relations series would remain at the point of crisis. The global nature of the nation's commitments, the expanding definition of "foreign relations," the exploding volume of electronic and other records, and the involvement in foreign policy/diplomacy of so many agencies are all examples of why the series envisaged in 1925 by Secretary of State Frank Kellogg and his advisers needs rethinking. The HAC remains wedded to the principles set forth in the Foreign Relations statute-- that the series be "thorough, accurate, and reliable," constituting a "comprehensive documentation of the major foreign policy decisions and actions of the United States Government."

But "comprehensive" has never meant publication of every document, nor has it meant extensive treatment of every episode in the nation's foreign policy. Since the professionalization of the Foreign Relations series in 1925, editors and compilers have always had to make choices. The series has always been a guide to the records rather than a definitive body of evidence about United States policy. But in this era of complex and extended American involvement in the world, the HAC believes we, and the State Department, should consider how the series can build on.its strengths while ensuring its relevance to the public, scholars, Congress, the government, and the international community. We need to find innovative ways to meet the 30-year publication deadline, in part by making use of new technologies including the Internet. At the same time, we must guarantee that the series meets the legislative mandate and the changing needs of researchers, and that HO historians receive from other agencies the proactive research support mandated in the Foreign Relations statute.

We have begun, and ask that you support, a study of The Foreign Relations Series in the Twenty-First Century. The HAC will be integrally involved with this reexamination, although the Historian and the staff of the Historical Office will lead the way. Our goal is for the Foreign Relations series to maintain its position as the world's premier, standard-setting compilation of any nation's foreign policy, while adjusting to the new world of technology and change that faces us in the next century. It is impossible, at this stage, to assess what resources will be required to accomplish this task. But whatever those resources may be, they will be small next to the imagination and innovative thought that is needed to achieve our objective. We ask and recommend:

For the Committee:

Warren F. Kimball, Chair
Historical Advisory Committee

with attachment (IPS Declassification Review Report of October 1998)

IPS Declassification Review Report
October 8, 1998

Files in Department of State Custody

				Total		Done		Remain
					(in millions of pages)

				Central Foreign Policy File (Paper)

1964-1966			3,9		3.9		0.0	Archives
1967-1969			3.6		3.6		0.0 	Archives
1970-1973			4.2		4.2		0.0	Archives
Subtotal			11.7		11.7		0.0

				Central Foreign Policy File (Electronic)

1973-1975 Telegrams 
(Electronic Index &
Electronic Text)		1.2		0.0		1.2 	Will be done in 1999
1973-1975 Written 
Correspondence (Electronic 
Index & Microfilm)		0.8		0.0		0.8 	Methodology 
									being considered
Subtotal			2.0		0.0		2.0

					Lot (Retired Office) Files
1964-1975 @ RSC			2.1		2.1		0.0 	Archives
1964-1975 @ WNRC		9.2		9.2		0.0 	Archives
1964-1975 @ RSC 
	(Unscheduled)		4.2		4.0		0.2 	Transfer pending 
									NARA appraisal
Office of the Legal Adviser (L)	0.5		0.5		0.0 	Complete
Bureau of Intelligence 
	and Research (INR)	0.1		0.0		0.1 	Survey complete
Bureau of Diplomatic 
	Security (DS)		0.3		0.0		0.3 	Review coordination 
									being discussed
Subtotal			16.4		15.8		0.6

					Post Files
1964-1976			9.5		9.4		0. 1 	Nearing completion
Subtotal			9.5		9.4		0.1

Total - 
State Dept Custody		39.6		36.9		2.7

Files Not in Department of State Custody

Total Done Remain (in millions of pages) Archives Custody P95 Accessions & Post and Lot Files 13.2 9.0 4.21 Colllege Park reviewers increased Other Agency Referrals Previous Orders 0.5 0.0 0.5 1939-1950 Withdrawn Items 0.1 0.0 0.1 50 years and older from Exemption Subtotal 13.8 9.0 4.8 Presidential Libraries Truman 0.02 0.02 0.00 Training team visited 1996 Eisenhower 0.24 0.24 0.00 Training team visited 1997 Kennedy 0.40 0.40 0.00 Training team visited twice Johnson 0.76 0.76 0.00 Training team visited 1997 Nixon 1.48 1.48 0.00 Training team visited 1997 Ford 0.28 0.28 0.00 Training team visited 1998 Remote Archives Capture 0.05 0.05 0.00 Completed - No more anticipated Subtotal 3.231 3.23 0.00 Other Agencies, Library of Congress, Princeton, etc. Library of Congress - Harriman 0.02 0.02 0.00 Complete Princeton Dulles Microfilm 0.18 0.17 0.01 Review near completion USIA 0.51 0.51 0.00 Complete NSC 1.50 1.35 0. 15 90% complete Army Navy Air Force CIA 0.47 0.47 0.00 Plus 45 NIS, JANIS and OCI Handbooks Energy Subtotal 2.68 2.52 0.16 Review at 50 years (exempt) 1950-1963 1.15 0.02 1.13 Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR) 0.36 0.00 0.36 Subtotal 1.61 0.02 1.49 Total - Not in State Dept Custody 21.2 14.8 6.4 69.6% 30.4% Summary Total Done Remain (in millions of pages) Total - State Dept Custody 39.6 36.9 2.7 Total - Not in State Dept Custody 21.2 14.8 6.4 Grand Total 60.8 51.7 9.1 85.0% 15.0%

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