Statement by the CIA Historical Review Panel
March 25, 2003

Dr. Lewis Bellardo
National Archives and Records Administration

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

Professor Melvyn Leffler
Department of History
University of Virginia

Professor Robert Pastor
Department of Political Science
Emory University

Professor Betty Unterberger
Department of History
Texas A&M University

Professor Ruth Wedgwood
School of Law
Yale 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.

Most of the meeting of January 29-31, 2003 was devoted to discussing CIA's role in the Foreign Relations of the United States (FRUS) series, the review and declassification of the Office of the Director of Central Intelligence (ODCI) files, the role of the Center for the Study of Intelligence (CSI) and its history staff, and the administrative reorganization of parts of the CIA that affect the declassification of documents.

We reviewed the progress and problems that have followed the negotiation of a new Memorandum of Understanding with the State Department governing the CIA's role in the production of FRUS. We discussed the progress that had been made in releasing volumes and the development of procedures at all levels that could smooth relations between the CIA and the State Department and speed the release of as many documents as possible. We also discussed the increase in size of the State Department Historian's Office and the increased flow of documents to the CIA that will require greater CIA efforts at a time when other demands on CIA personnel are also greatly increasing.

In accord with the Panel's long standing endorsement of the idea that documents should be reviewed and released according to the "top down, oldest first" principle, we discussed the procedures for reviewing ODCI files. The trade-offs between speedy review and the release of as much material as possible were discussed. We examined redacted material and discussed ways in which more of it could be released. We reviewed the procedures by which the material would first be analyzed under the procedures and standards of the 25-year release program, with a subsequent analysis of material that would otherwise be withheld by using more fine-grained standards that could permit greater release.

We had discussed the role of CSI and how the historians could capture as much of the Agency's history as possible given the limited resources at their disposal.

We discussed how alternative reorganization proposals could effect the declassification of documents.

We also reviewed proposed revisions to Executive Order 12958, the progress in reducing the FOIA backlog, the question of when and whether Presidential Daily Briefs could be released, and the Agency's position that budget figures from the early years of the CIA must remain classified.

We have presented the Director with our views and recommendations on these issues.

The Panel will meet again on June 3-5. Part of this will be devoted to a joint meeting with the Historical Advisory Committee of the State Department.