FAS Intro: President Clinton sent the following reply to a letter from 51 members of Congress seeking the expedited declassification of records pertaining to human rights violations in Honduras.
June 13, 1997
As I noted in my previous letter, backing for regional efforts to protect human rights and democracy is at the core of U.S. policy towards Central America. The First Lady and Secretary Albright emphasized this point during the San Jose summit when they visited the offices of the Inter-American Institute of Human Rights. We are also supporting regional efforts to balance justice and national reconciliation by conducting expedited declassification reviews of U.S. documents bearing on past human rights violations.
Your letter asks in particular about documents originating with the CIA and the Department of Defense. Regarding the five individuals named in the request of Honduran Human Rights Commissioner Leo Valladares, the CIA expects to complete its review and release of documents by mid-July. Regarding Dr. Valladares' broader request for information on CIA activities in Honduras, including support for the military and intelligence services, the Administration will consider for release documents on General Alvarez and Battalion 316 that pertain to human rights violations. This release will not include any material that could be expected to cause damage to national security. CIA expects to release any human rights-related material on General Alvarez by early September and on Battalion 316 by late November. The Department of Defense is conducting its own survey to identify any additional materials that are responsive to the Honduran government's request beyond the collection of 34 documents released earlier this year. This should be completed by the end of June.
As you may know, the CIA Inspector General has formed an investigative team to address several questions raised by the internal Working Group established to review CIA activities in Honduras. This investigative team is currently reviewing CIA documents and interviewing current and former U.S. Government employees with a view to completing its classified report of investigation this month. The Inspector General's report will be shared with the appropriate committees of Congress.
I believe these efforts are in keeping with the spirit of your letter and are consistent with my Administration's commitment to sharing with Honduran authorities all appropriate information about past human rights cases, bearing in mind the complexity and sensitivity of the documents in question.
[signed] Bill Clinton