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Statement by the CIA Historical Review Panel
(September 2001)

Dr. Lewis Bellardo
National Archives and Records Administration

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

Professor Lawrence Kaplan (not present)
Department of History
Georgetown University

Professor Melvyn Leffler
Department of History
University of Virginia

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 Spring meeting of the HRP was held on June 17-19, 2001. We continued our discussion of FRUS, looking both at procedural bottlenecks and substantive issues. We explored ways in which the process could flow more smoothly and expeditiously both within the CIA and between it and the State Department. We reviewed issue statements, documents slated for release, and proposed redactions for several volumes, including Vietnam and the Dominican Republic. We also discussed questions about the new global issues volume. In this, we were joined by two HO historians, and think that greater mutual understanding resulted. Robert Jervis, HRP Chair, will discuss some of these issues further with Robert Schulzinger, Chair of the HAC, and Marc Susser, the State Department Historian.

We continued the dialogue with Agency officials at all levels about the historical value of certain documents, how the balance between the value of release and the potential harm could be analyzed and struck, and how potential and actual damage might be assessed. Our review of compilations of FRUS volumes led to discussions about both specific documents and the more general principles that govern declassification decisions.

HRP also examined the 25-year release program that is designed to review the bulk of CIA's records as mandated by Executive Order 12958. We continued our earlier discussions of how to meld the necessity of reviewing millions of pages a year with the objective of releasing as much high-quality material as possible. We also discussed ways of making the scholarly community and interested public more aware of those documents that are now at the National Archives.

We learned that the first tranche of materials from the Office of the DCI were in the process of being released and discussed further priorities in the declassification of documents of great historical interest being done under the Agency's voluntary declassification program. In accordance with the principle of "oldest first, top down," we discussed efforts to review the files of DCIs Hillenkoetter, Smith, and Dulles as well as the possibility of a project on Korean War documents. The project of reviewing finished intelligence on the Soviet Union continues, and we discussed the merits of focusing resources on NIEs on other countries.

We met with members of the Center for the Study of Intelligence and the History Staff and reviewed past studies and future plans for both classified and unclassified projects.

We discussed how the reorganization of CIA administration now underway might affect declassification and release programs. In order to be able to render timely advice on these and other matters, the panel will meet again on September 20-21.

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