Report by the Historian
Discussion of the Japan Appeal
Report on the Johnson Audiotapes at the Johnson Library
NARA Report on the Nixon Historical Materials Project Consideration of the Plan for the Nixon Administration Volumes
Report of the Subcommittee on Declassification Problems
Closed Session, July 6
Report of the Subcommittee on Opening the Department of State's
30-Year Old Records
Report of the Subcommittee on Retrospective Volumes
Implementation of the Executive Order on National Security Information
Executive Discussion of Publication of Foreign Relations, 1961-1963. Volume XXII
Report of the Subcommittee on CIA Records
Closed Session, July 7
Comments by the CIA Historian
Discussion of the Executive Order on National Security Information
Prefatory Language for 1961-1963 Japan Compilation
After issuing the usual warning against discussion of classified material during the open session, Kimball turned to approval of the agenda. He hoped that members would be quick and concise with the afternoon's reports since a long session could be expected with CIA representatives the next day. Slany indicated that Executive Order 12958 might be discussed in the morning, depending on whether the schedule change could be cleared with Hancock. There were no further changes in the agenda.
The Committee then approved the minutes of the May 18 meeting. Leffler requested an addition to page 10 concerning the subcommittee's visit to the National Archives. He wanted the minutes to reflect his "disappointrnent with the results of the declassification process he observed." Sixteen out of 46 boxes of Policy Planning Staff files were still closed, and another researcher had found little in the boxes that had been processed. Kimball suggested a one-sentence addition to the final version of the minutes.
Report by the Historian
Slany began his report on the status of the Foreign Relations series. He indicated that 54 volumes had been published since January 1991. Six volumes and a microfiche supplement had been published thus far in 1995, with eight more expected. Although 18 of the 25 Kennedy administration volumes would be published by the end of the year, 7 would be delayed until next year, and would be 33 years behind. Microfiche supplements were also behind schedule. The first of 35 Johnson administration volumes was scheduled for publication this year, with 15 to follow in 1996 and others expected in 1997. Of the Nixon volumes, 24 or so were expected to appear in 1998-1999, making a 26-to-30 year line feasible. HO should therefore be close to achieving the new executive order's 25-year mandate.
It was unclear what impact the 25-year automatic declassification portion of the new executive order would have on the Foreign Relations series, or how it would affect access to documents from other agencies or foreign governments. Our British counterparts were concerned about how their declassification would impact Foreign Relations. The British were currently reviewing documents less than 30 years old on a case-by-case basis. They were aware that something would have to be done to shorten the time. A representative of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office would be invited to participate in the autumn Advisory Committee meeting.
With respect to the declassification process, Slany indicated that the CIA delays, which had halted declassification for some months earlier this year, were still a problem. Assistant Secretary of State Donilon had indicated that undertakings for the expeditious declassification of Foreign Relations documents were in process. On the positive side, Slany had heard that Department policy officers were beginning to reflect an awareness of the need to open records and HO was receiving more positive reviews of its materials.
Staff vacancies over the past year or so, the difficulties of doing research in some areas, and the really ambitious schedule caused a number of volumes to slip beyond goals set last year. Recruitment of new staff members continued; Susan Holly had joined the staff and would bring her historical and State Department experience to bear. Two more historians were expected to join in July, and a fourth later in the summer. The position of Deputy Historian/General Editor had been announced, and Donilon would try to make a selection in August.
Slany mentioned that the first Foreign Relations volume in CD-ROM format had appeared. Futscher indicated that 1958-1960, volume X, Part I was included in the Department's quarterly CD-ROM publication of foreign affairs documents. Slany noted that the Office intended to include other future volumes in the CD-ROM publication.
Slany reported that a pamphlet had been prepared for the Committee that included the texts of the Foreign Relations legislation and charter. Taylor distributed copies to Committee members. An updated version would be available next March. Advisory Committee stationery would also be available before the next meeting.
Kimball asked whether there was indeed a logjam in producing the series, and whether the Committee could help. Slany explained that the Office would not be able to put more than 6 or 7 volumes into the publication process during the current fiscal year. This fell short of the schedule to reach the 30-year line. With assurances from the CIA, 12 to 15 volumes might be ready next year. Everything depended on CIA. This year, no volumes were cleared for a 3 to 4 month period. Delays made it difficult to deal with the Department's comptroller when only $178,000 out of $300,000 had been spent. Kimball noted that there was also a publishing backlog. Slany said that he wouid look into this.
Leffler asked whether the Committee had mentioned delays experienced in six cases. Kimball said they had been discussed with Leo Hazlewood at the luncheon meeting and with CIA representatives at the last meeting. The CIA had assigned one person to each case. Still, he intended to check with Kay Oliver to see what had been done. Kimball asked whether the Committee should set a deadline. Herschler said that HO worked with the CIA on a daily basis. Earlier attempts to set deadlines had not worked. CIA was currently clearing up some of the oldest cases.
Turning to the issue of staff recruitment, Kimball asked if Slany was satisfied that the situation was improving. Did the Committee need to let out a "primal scream" to get things done?
Slany replied that the delays and problems inherent in the personnel process made everyone want to scream. Citing the assistance of Assistant Secretary Donilon, Slany pointed to one positive advance: the recent addition of a new historian, Susan Holly. Other personnel actions, however, had become so bogged down in the bureaucracy that it was often difficult to know when a new employee could start. Slany hoped that the difficulties he had already encountered in hiring employees under Schedule B authority would make it easier to hire similar recruits in the future. But personnel rules were so "bizarre," Slany concluded, that bringing in new personnel was almost as difficult as declassification.
Kimball asked Slany to let him know if the hiring process stalled so that the Committee could become involved.
Kimball took up the action items left over from the May meeting. He wondered what position the Committee should take on new documentation, that is when additional materials became available before the publication of a Foreign Relations volume. As an example, he cited the continual efforts of the National Security Archive to secure the release of new documents.
Slany acknowledged the potential for difficulty: documents were being declassified all the time-- the National Security Archive itself had filed requests for the declassification of massive amounts of information. Slany said that the Historian's Office would need help if it were to monitor all of these developments. He also pointed out that the situation, although troubling, had not become serious. Kimball asked to be notified if the issue actually became problematic.
Kimball raised the issue of access to records at the National Security Agency. He noted that the NSA had retained David Kahn as "visiting historian," but that Kahn had refused to submit to a security clearance. Kahn had agreed, however, to act as an intermediary between State and NSA and also offered to arrange a luncheon meeting between Kimball and the new NSA historian.
Kimball reminded the Committee that Leffler had proposed a joint State-NARA letter seeking guidelines for NSC documents.
Page Putnam Miller explained that FOI requests and declassification guidelines were separate issues. The issue of access to NSC records, on the other hand, was currently in litigation. Nancy Smith interjected that legal briefs had already been filed and the case should go to court in September. Miller recommended that the Committee proceed with a letter asking for declassification guidelines for records 25 years or older.
Kimball said that the Committee should ask the NSC for guidelines to meet its obligations under the 25-year line mandated by the new executive order.
Smith said the new executive order, and its implementing regulations, require each agency to prepare guidelines. NARA had adopted the position that guidelines would only be helpful if they allowed for the declassification of high-level documents. She said that the guidelines should address more than the 25-year requirement; they should also deal with more recent materials.
In other words, Kimball concluded from Smith's comments, the Committee did not need to do anything on the matter. Miller disagreed and encouraged the Committee to become involved now, since the implementation of the executive order would take approximately 5 years.
Leffler said that he understood that an inter-agency committee had been convened to consider the development of the guidelines to implement the executive order. Miller replied that the committee had met once already. Smith said there had been several meetings, but she had yet to see an NSC representative.
Leffler recommended that the Committee send a short letter asking what the NSC planned to do to implement the executive order.
Miller said the Committee should raise more than the executive order in its letter; it should also complain about the problem of overdue Foreign Relations volumes. Leffler explained that the NSC was not responsible for the delays in the clearance of the volumes. Herschler agreed, commenting that all agencies should be as responsive as the NSC had been. Van Camp thought it inappropriate for the Committee to write the proposed letter to NSC at this time.
Leffler said he and other members of the Committee had noted how other-agency docurnents-- especially NSC, DOD, and CIA records-- are often withdrawn from the files at NARA due to the absence of agency guidelines. He emphasized that the agencies should institute a program of on-sight collaboration. This justified the Committee's involvement.
Kimball moved to postpone the issue until the Committee received the report from the Van Camp subcommittee. Before proceeding, Kimball remarked that, although a letter might eventually prove worthwhile, it could be awkward for the Committee to become involved now, especially since Steve Garfinkel at ISOO was already pushing the agencies to issue guidelines by October.
Kimball asked if the practice of separating document packages at NARA was still a problem. Dalsimer said that it was not.
Kimball mentioned the quarterly reports that NARA published listing recently declassified materials. He wondered whether Mike Kurtz could be encouraged to make these reports available to researchers on the Internet.
Van Camp asked if there were a connection between the NARA quarterly reports and those issued by HDR. Dalsimer explained that the efforts were similar, but that HDR released its report through the Bureau of Public Affairs. Kimball also recalled that Kurtz had assured the Committee that NARA would seek to disseminate its report more widely, possibly including an uplink to the Internet.
Kimball took the opportunity to remind Slany to arrange for the distribution of certain reports from the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office.
Discussion of the Japan Appeal
Kimball moved to discuss the Japan appeal, although he pointed out that formal discussion of the issue had been postponed to the afternoon session. The time had come, he said, for the Committee to make a public announcement on Japan-- noting at the same time the absence of representatives of the press. Kimball emphasized how much the status of the compilations on Japan and British Guiana concerned not only the Committee, but also the Historian's Office and the Department at large. A final written response to these appeals remained outstanding, but an oral understanding had apparently been reached.
Kimball explained that a formal appeal process had been instituted for those instances when other agencies (i.e., agencies other than State) differed with the Committee's recommendations to publish certain information in the Foreign Relations series. A panel had been convened consisting of representatives from State (Donilon), CIA (Slatkin), and NSC (Beers). The members of the panel had agreed to consider, and were in a position to resolve, cases that do not, strictly speaking, fall within the formal mandate of the law. Kimball said the panel had already met to discuss the issues relating to Japan and British Guiana. Although the final vote had not been taken, the Committee expected the eventual response would be positive on British Guiana, negative on Japan. Kimball was quick to praise the State Department, especially the constructive and energetic role played by Donilon. He also reported that the new Director of Central Intelligence apparently intends to communicate to the Agency his desire to move toward greater openness. Kimball was reluctant to characterize the tentative agreements any further, except to say that the Committee considered these actions a step in the right direction.
Kimball said the final step in the process would be to decide how the Committee should respond, especially to the expected negative response on Japan. There were several alternatives that the Committee would consider during its closed session; Kimball assumed that an official position would be taken before the end of the meeting.
Hogan wondered whether the Committee could got confirmation of the DCI's intention to issue a directive on the Agency's new openness policy.
Kimball asked Slany to gather the necessary intelligence on the CIA directive. Kimball then remarked that the Committee had heard many positive statements from the DCI in the past, but had yet to see these statements put into practice. One could speculate about who had the ultimate authority to declassify; but if the openness policy were to succeed, it would have to be implemented throughout the Agency-- and the declassification process at the CIA invariably included the Directorate of Operations.
Report on the Johnson Audiotapes at the Johnson Library
Kimball then called on David Humphrey to provide an update on the processing of the tapes of the Johnson telephone conversations. Humphrey reported that he had listened to about 150 conversations relating to Vietnam 1966. HO now has tapes for about 300 conversations for the period 1966-1967 and has received the first installment of about 400 conversations from the first half of 1964 covering such issues as Panama, Brazil, Cyprus, and Cuba. HO has requested 500 additional phone conversations covering portions of 1964, 1965 (including the intervention in the Dominican Republic), and 1968. A total of 1,200 conversations have been requested out of 7,000.
Humphrey indicated that thus far the tapes HO has received are exactly what we want, and nothing seems to be missing. Occasionally the Johnson Library has added a conversation not requested if the archivist thinks it may be of interest. Some excisions have been made, although these are infrequent; they deal exclusively with personal or privacy issues. Accompanying information sheets identify the excisions, which appear on the tapes as a "beep."
Humphrey reported that the quality of most of the tapes is quite good, especially compared to the meeting tapes, because the telephone conversations are between only two people. There are some exceptions to this, most notably Arthur Goldberg, who sounds like his telephone is "in a closet." He noted that most of the conversations are arriving at HO after the compilations have been drafted and are then inserted in the draft, which is not the most desirable way to use the tapes. Future volumes, however, will use these conversations heavily during the compiling process, such as the volumes covering Vietnam for 1967 and 1968. He intends to use about 20 of the 150 conversations for Vietnam 1966, including 4 in their entirety. Most of these conversations are with McNamara and Rusk.
In terms of substance, Humphrey said, the tapes do not contain "bombshells," but they are important in that they keep Johnson in the picture. Because Johnson wrote no memoranda, the tapes are a unique source in describing how Johnson interacted with people and the advice he received. McNamara is especially useful in placing immediate issues in a larger policy context. There is a substantial amount of political discussion, and the tapes also reflect Johnson's preoccupation with the press.
Herring asked if the process was working well.
Humphrey replied that the Johnson Library was following the schedule fairly well, although they were a little behind on processing the 1964 tapes. He expressed concern that as more HO historians listen to the tapes and request transcripts, more time of the two State-paid archivists would be consumed, thus reducing the time available for processing tapes and handling other Foreign Relations research priorities.
Leffler inquired if other HO historians are listening to the tapes. Jim Miller said that he had listened to several tapes concerning Cyprus and was "stunned" by how good they are and how focused the discussion is. They fill significant gaps in the written record, particularly on high-level consideration of policy options. There are detailed briefings by McNamara and Rusk. The problem is how to adequately annotate these discussions, since it is impossible to print everything.
Kimball said that HO needs to take steps to ensure that the historians are using these tapes, and consider how the tapes will affect those volumes already compiled and typeset. It's a problem of integrating new information into the older volumes. Humphrey said that for some volunies there will not be significant new material; HO is trying to focus on the relatively small number of volumes where there is "meaty" material.
Kimball noted that the Cyprus volume already has been typeset. Slany said that that volume is being held up in page proof to allow time to evaluate the possible addition of telephone conversations. Miller indicated that the Cyprus volume is also held up by declassification issues. Leffler said that it seems useful to hold up some volumes to add important materials from the conversations.
Van Camp inquired whether it would be possible to include the actual recorded conversations in a Foreign Relations CD-ROM. Kimball said that this was a good idea, but perhaps that might be more a matter for the Johnson Library to produce. Nancy Smith commented that the Johnson Library was nowhere near ready to release the major portion of taped telephone conversations to the public. Van Camp said she was just talking about using relevant conversations or small audio bites in Foreign Relations on CD-ROM. Smith asserted that it is not NARA's policy to make transcripts of telephone conversations, that transcripts are being prepared at the request of the HO historians by the two archivists paid by the State subvention. It takes 100 hours to transcribe 1 hour of conversations. Given the possible impact on other Foreign Relations research support at the Library, she suggested that HO and the Committee prioritize the list of tapes to be transcribed for the volumes.
Kimball asked Smith to let HO and the Conunittee know if the transcription of conversations for HO has such an impact on other Foreign Relations research at the Johnson Library. He said the Committee expects some kind of answer about the inclusion of selected recorded conversations or parts of conversations on CD-ROM. Slany said that HO would explore that.
Hogan inquired if the tapes provide new information or just Presidential input to issues documented elsewhere. Humphrey responded that it is both. Much of the information supplements written documentation, but there is a substantial amount of unique information, particularly on LBJ and Congress.
Resuming the meeting after a break, Kimball announced that he had obtained copies of the announcement for the Deputy Historian position and distributed copies to other members of the Committee. He then moved on to the next agenda item, planning for the Nixon volumes.
NARA Report on the Nixon Historical Materials Project
Nancy Smith began her presentation on the Nixon project by informing the meeting that the Nixon project has obtained a set of NSC finding aids for use by Department of State historians. She pointed out that Slany had been in touch with the Nixon people, but had not gotten a response, and NARA will raise the access issue with the Nixon people to get the ball rolling. Slany would attend the meeting. A few members of Bill Cunliffe's staff had been to the Johnson Library to see how work on Foreign Relations was handled there. A meeting with Governor Carlin on the Nixon project is in the works. Smith noted that NARA wants an official letter from the Department of State outlining its needs for the Foreign Relations series. Carlin expects additional resources will be required.
So far, Smith continued, State has had no response from the Nixon lawyers, and NARA thinks it is better for NARA to follow up. Stan Mortenson has been handling the question of special access. Smith noted that NARA is hopeful that negotiating on the Nixon matter will be more successful than continuing litigation. It may not be the optimum approach, but it appears the best way to handle the situation now.
Smith encouraged HO historians to come to Archives II and visit the Nixon project to see what is available. The project has the Nixon daily diary, which can be used now.
Slany expressed gratitude to Nancy Smith for her help. He pointed out to the Committee that the resource issue will have to be looked at closely. He pointed out that in 1996 and 1997 this project will likely require more subventions for positions at NARA to provide priority processing for documents for the Foreign Relations volumes and to provide accelerated archival assistance so that Department historians can maintain a research schedule. Without such subventions all other work by the Nixon Library staff would be blocked. Slany noted that HO will need the endorsement and support of the Committee in order to get needed resources. He reported that about $100,000 per year was allotted for work at the LBJ Library and more than that will be needed for the Nixon project.
In response, Kimball asked the other members whether they agreed that such resources would be necessary and inquired whether the support would be temporary.
To the latter question, Smith explained that NARA had guaranteed that the two positions currently funded by the State Department at the LBJ Library would be permanent jobs. Those employees were told that they could move to the Nixon project. Right now, however, Bill Cunliffe and the Nixon project staff are tied up with litigation and have the new executive order to deal with and to review.
Cunliffe noted that he now has two people handling the litigation, but he needs to shift people to other tasks. The problem he faces is the large quantity of material to process. The Library's National Security File is the second largest of the Presidential libraries. That in itself is a lot of work, and the tapes will cause a problem as well.
Kimball asked about the type of position that would be offered for someone working with the Nixon materials. Smith explained that the people brought on to work at the LBJ Library are guaranteed a permanent position. That means that they have a job within the NARA system, but not necessarily at one specific location.
Kimball then asked about the best way to make the request for funding and personnel. Should the request be made by letter or should it be contained in the annual report? Slany replied that the request should be in a separate document.
Kimball noted that there were no objections to the Committee supporting the request. He then went on to ask about the Kissinger papers. Smith answered that Kissinger material is divided: part of it is at NARA and part at the Library of Congress. Leffler then asked if the Library of Congress had control over that material, to which Slany replied that they think they do and that David Wigdor had promised his help to facilitate access to the Kissinger memoranda of telephone conversations.
Consideration of the Plan for the Nixon Administration Volumes
Kimball thanked Smith for her report and turned to consideration of the proposed plan for the Nixon volumes. Slany reminded the Committee members that the outline they received was a draft document, prepared by senior Foreign Service officers, not by the HO staff, and was a framework that will undergo further revisions.
Herring noted that the proposed Vietnam volume for 1969 should include documentation on Operation Duck Hook, Nixon's effort to end the war, which involved an NSC group established to study ways to end the war. There should be a section on Duck Hook or on the plans to end the war.
Kimball asked whether there were any more substantive comme nts about the plan. He suggested that a more advanced version of the plan be sent out to experts on the Nixon administration for review and to suggest topics to be included. Slany replied that he was eager to do this.
Leffler suggested consideration be given to integrating the volumes on arms control and national security. He explained that arms control discussions were framed in terms of national security and thought it would make sense to follow that pattern within the volume. He also questioned the number of volumes planned, noting that there were only 25 proposed Nixon volumes when there had been 35 Johnson volumes. He asked for the justification for 10 fewer Nixon volumes.
Slany explained that the 25 volumes covered 4 years; an additional 25 would be prepared for the second Nixon/Ford term.
Leffler asked for more information about the factors, aside from budget considerations, that justified the decrease in the number of volumes. Slany replied that the Office probably could not produce 35 volumes; the question is still being examined and the final number of volumes must still be determined. He noted that 25 was an arbitrary number at this point in time.
Leffler continued the discussion by noting that the Nixon era was an extraordinary period for foreign policy, and it did not make sense to deflate the series covering the Nixon period even though there are budgetary concerns. He argued that the series needs to be strong and the Advisory Committee must fulfill its requirement to encourage comprehensiveness. Leffler concluded that 25 volumes of fewer pages was not enough.
Slany indicated that discussion of the matter would be helpful, and Kimball noted that the discussion occurred against the backdrop of 4 years of diminishing numbers of pages. The number of published pages had been reduced due to budget considerations as well as in order to meet deadlines. He asked whether anyone had heard complaints about the series not being as strong or as comprehensive as it should be. Leffler mentioned that he had heard comments to that effect.
Slany repeated that he sought advice on the plan and comments on whether particular subjects were adequately covered by the skeletal Nixon plan. Leffler recalled that Emily Rosenberg had mentioned earlier that one volume on Latin America was inadequate. As it now stood, the plan allowed for just a few pages on important areas, such as Chile. After all, HO was planning to publish a supplemental volume with 200 additional documents on Guatemala. In his view, the proposed Latin America volume was an obvious weakness. Herring suggested that assuming the best possible results from CIA, the documentation on Chile would be stupendous.
Kimball interjected that the Committee would discuss documents on Guatemala in the 1950s during the afternoon session. Those documents could result in about 200 pages. He also noted that the record of the Nixon administration on Chile could comprise an entire book. He asked the members to assume the best possible results at the CIA and wondered if there would be room for all the documents.
Luke Smith provided a compiler's perspective by noting that no time is gained by reducing two volumes into one. He explained that the research for two volumes could be done in about the same amount of time as that for one volume and noted the selection difficulties involved in trying to condense into one volume material that should be in two volumes. Kimball accepted Smith's point, but added that in fairness one also had to consider other factors, such as the time involved in technical editing of two volumes and additional publication costs.
With regard to the number of volumes, David Humphrey pointed that the proposed 25 volumes should not be an issue, since the proposal only covered 4 years. Even though there were 35 Johnson volumes, they covered a larger time period. He suggested that the proper ratio was about 25 Nixon volumes to about 28 to 30 Johnson volumes.
Kimball again rnentioned his concern about downsizing the series. He asked how the Committee is to assess when enough is enough and asked for substantive suggestions. In his view, the discussion seemed to be providing anecdotal information only. After Herring and Van Camp briefly commented on adding volumes at a later date, Kimball pointed out that Slany is not a free agent, meaning that resources and time schedules have an impact on forming the series.
Slany stated that HO is looking for suggestions on the Nixon series, but that the series cannot expand from 25 to 35 volumes. He asked for concrete suggestions, and considered the possibility of a volume on Chile or two volumes on Latin America as useful advice.
Kimball again presented the idea of sending the plan out for review and asking the reviewers to write up a commentary from which HO and the Committee could develop recommendations. Leffler indicated that may be a useful approach. He also said that one volume on arms control was not enough, the two volumes on economic issues omitted important issues-- they contained no assessment of OPEC during the period, for instance-- and he suggested that the Middle East should have more than two volumes.
Kimball noted that the discussion had been helpful, but it needed a more orderly approach. Slany stated that the suggestions made thus far would be incorporated into the plan. In response to Herring's question, Slany also said that a more complete outline would be available for the next meeting.
Kimball asked Slany if a member of the HO staff was working on preparing the proposal for the Nixon series. Slany replied in the negative, stating that he worked on it with assistance from the senior Foreign Service experts, but the General Editor would be involved once one was hired. David Patterson added that the HO staff was asked to comment on an earlier draft of the proposal. He also noted that planning the series was an ongoing process, one made more complicated because it had to be done before the documents had been reviewed.
After receiving no further comments on the issue, Kimball turned the meeting over to the subcommittee, represented by Leffler and Schaller, to report on declassification problems.
Report of the Subcommittee on Declassification Problems
Leffler reported that the subcommittee was asked to look at the CIA component of the 1964-1968 volumes on Laos, China, and Africa to see what documents they contained and to anticipate problems in declassification. The subcommittee was especially interested in new INR intelligence documents. In his view, the documents he reviewed were excellent. He was told that two volumes, Laos and China, were long overdue at the CIA. Leffler repeated his view that the selection of documents in the volumes was excellent, and he suggested sending a letter to CIA stating that a decision on the documents was overdue. It was a mistake for HO to wait indefinitely.
With regard to the Africa volume, Leffler reported that the Department of State had already objected to the declassification of nine documents. The HDR reviewers suggested that there was too heavy an emphasis on operational and routine issues. Leffler suggested that the documents be given a closer look, but believed the document selection was well done and the Committee will probably need to fight for release of the documents.
Schaller added that he thought the documents gave a dynamic sense of policy, but he realized how they could create problems in declassification. He thought the documentation was important to understanding the flavor of decisions. Leffler recommended activating the timetable for reviews and suggested action now while there is a sympathetic Presidential administration in office.
With regard to scheduling, Herschler reported that the issue is on the table, although the decisions are overdue. When Leffler asked about sending a formal letter, Herschler reported that some information was superseded by daily conversations with the appropriate persons at the CIA. He noted that HO had pushed hard for decisions.
Slany added that the issue involves the leadership of the Agency and changes that have been implemented in the way documents are declassified. In some cases, documents have been held so now procedures can be applied to them. Kimball added that Donilon had written to CIA about overdue documents.
Herring and Leffler inquired into the publication schedule for 1995, and Herschler confirmed that Laos and China were scheduled to be published in 1995 and early 1996.
Kimball explained the Committee's understanding that CIA will admit to conducting covert activities in certain countries, more than on the list of 11 or 12 named by Woolsey. He also noted the Committee's belief that CIA's policy is changing. The Agency will admit it exists and undertakes actions, but still withhold material dealing with current situations and national security issues.
Leffler returned to the China, Laos, and Africa volumes. He hoped the CIA will evaluate documents according to its new principles. He suggested, however, that the Committee press the issue with individual volumes to be sure that the principles are applied to specific documents. He repeated his suggestion that a letter be written when declassification decisions are overdue. Kimball added that, if the Committee gets something concrete regarding CIA policy, that information could be included in the letter.
Herring asked how many documents were involved. Herschler replied that a lot of documents are being reviewed, but not all of them are problems. He also noted that specific issues are raised by specific documents.
Kimball asked if the Committee wanted to put the Agency on notice. Leffler answered affirmatively, and Herring suggested the Committee do anything that it can. In light of these comments, Kimball asked Slany to write a letter and put the CIA on notice. He also noted that the subject would be discussed with Kay Oliver when she attended the meeting Friday morning.
The meeting adjourned for lunch at noon.
When the meeting reconvened at 1:55 p.m., Van Camp began her report of the subcommittee on opening of the Department's 30-year old records. The previous afternoon she and Hogan had visited Tony Dalsimer who gave them a briefing on outstanding issues left over from the last Committee meeting. First, Dalsimer told them that the Department of Defense (DOD) had given authority to Department of State reviewers to declassify DOD "equities" in State documents, and the Department of State reciprocated by giving DOD authority to review and declassify State equities in DOD documents. The same problem applies to documents of each other's agency. Dalsirner gave Van Camp a memorandum confirming this arrangement.
Second, Dalsirner reported to the subcommittee on his reviewers' re-review of heavily withheld Policy Planning Staff materials, which the subcommittee had found during its previous visit to NARA. The reviewers used the DOD authority and consulted directly as necessary with Department of Energy (DOE) reviewers at NARA. In consequence, the number of withheld boxes had been reduced from 14 boxes to 64 pages.
Third, Dalsimer told the subcommittee that the members of COCOM had agreed to place the COCOM archives under the custody of the French Foreign Ministry. He gave Van Camp a document describing procedures for access to these COCOM materials. The archives were closed until 1996, and then would be available for public release after 30 years. There was an index to the documents, and the Department of the State Library had a copy. There were also procedures to allow members of COCOM to gain access before 1996. Moreover, he reported that the Department of Commerce has agreed that Excon documents can be released after 30 years.
Fourth, Dalsimer reported Machak and he he had met with Central Intelligence Agency officials but had made no progress on persuading CIA to give State reviewers authority to declassify CIA equity in State documents. He indicated that because of the new executive order, the CIA is creating 100 positions to review CIA documents, and the Department of Energy is establishing 60 positions to review DOE documents. Nancy Smith confirmed that these reviewers will have declassification authority.
Van Camp expressed concern about other-agency equity in State documents. When State reviewers had completed their review, they had no desire to see the documents again. In their view, it was NARA's problem. She believed that State should have an interest in getting State documents reviewed and released. Nina Noring remarked that State documents with CIA equity would be reviewed by CIA if requested under FOIA.
Kimball asked whether the new executive order would force this review, or would it allow this problem to fall between the cracks. Van Camp said the Committee should try not to allow this problem to fall between the cracks during the implementation of the new executive order.
David Langbart asked whether most of the CIA equity simply involved an acronym. Van Camp and Hogan both replied affirmatively. Hogan added that he and Van Camp spent 40 minutes the previous afternoon looking at other-agency equity in State documents, and most of it was this kind of material.
Van Camp continued that Dalsimer told them that Cheryl Hess is the new person in the Bureau of Diplomatic Security responsible for evaluating the implementation of the executive order. She would appear before the Committee in the afternoon. Dalsimer told Van Camp and Hogan that the implementation is behind schedule. A draft implementation plan had been sent to the agencies for cornment. Cheryl Hess has this draft, and the Committee can provide input. Comments are due at ISOO by July 21, and week later a new draft should be sent to the agencies. By October 16, a new directive was supposed to be issued, but Van Camp had little confidence that this schedule would be met. She repeated that the Committee should provide input.
Kimball remarked that copies of the draft should go to all Committee members, who could read it that evening. A copy would be sent to Emily Rosenberg and Vince Davis who would be put in charge of coordinating a response (just kidding). Van Camp made clear that this draft was not for public release but only for the Committee's review and comment. Van Camp then summarized Dalsimer's report on the review of the 1964-1966 Central Files over the past 18 months. 1,800,000 pages had been reviewed, 3.4 percent of which had to be withheld. The 4.9 percent withheld from the political files was a little higher and might go up some more. An estimated 87 percent of the withholdings pertain to CIA equities. State only withheld 1 percent. The rate of review is very fast, averaging about 1-1/2 cubic feet a day. David Geyer asked how much of the withheld documentation was foreign government information. Van Camp was not sure but thought it was very small. The State reviewers took a more liberal view now of what constituted foreign government information. Kimball asked how the draft directive applied to non-existing governments, such as the Soviet Union, but Van Camp said that the subcommittee did not discuss this aspect. Herschler remarked that foreign govenunent information was not a significant problem.
Van Camp then reported Dalsimer's concerns about upcoming problems. One involved the decision of the National Security Council not to handle mandatory review requests, which were being returned to the Presidential Libraries, and then were being referred back to the Department of State. Nancy Smith said these documents, 30 years old or older, were referred to State because they had other-agency equity. A letter from the NSC last November explained that the NSC only wanted to review White House institutional files, such as NSAMs. Van Camp said that HDR was hit with more than 100 cases from the Eisenhower Library in a few weeks, and Dalsimer could not deal with all of them.
Kimball said that if the NSC was saying that it had cleared these documents with NSC equities, then they could be released. Smith said the problem was that these documents almost always involved U.S. foreign relations. David Humphrey interjected that the Kennedy and Johnson Libraries already submitted such documents to the Department of State, and thus the problem had to apply only to the Truman and Eisenhower Libraries. Kimball added that if HDR did not review the documents, then they would be released under the new executive order. Smith said that agencies can review about 15 percent of its older documents per year, but nothing in the new executive order, which would require agencies to release these documents after 5 years, said they had to open them earlier. Many of these documents also involved equities from three or four agencies. The problem was the requesters who will have to wait for a decision on these documents until the problem is resolved. State guidelines up to 1963 existed, but they did not cover documents at this high level. In other words, Kimball interjected, the important stuff.
Kimball then asked how the Committee should address this problem. Van Camp responded in jest that subventions should be given to the Department of State. Smith said the Committee should write the Archivist, State, and the NSC, expressing the Committee's concern and asking them to get together and honor mandatory review requests submitted by researchers.
Kimball continued by asking whether Dalsimer had opened the box of documents received from the Eisenhower Library. Van Camp said he sampled the documents but concluded that the problem should be handled by NARA. When Herring asked what the cases involved, Hogan said there were 1,300 cases. Smith added that she had no delegation of authority in writing to review these cases. Kimball thought that language could be added to the guidelines that would resolve the problem. Smith said that Dalsimer. felt that NARA had authority to declassify the documents, and she repeated that all she needed was authority in writing to declassify. Kimball asked whether Dalsimer could provide this.
Smith also wanted specific guidance such as authority to release contracting documents. She planned to meet with Dalsimer on the issue. When Kimball asked Noring if she would be seeing Dalsimer, she said she would and he was supposed to meet with the Committee this afternoon. Smith said she would like a memorandum for the record of what Dalsimer has said on this question. Kimball believed that Dalsimer or HDR has the authority to review these documents, and Dalsimer could provide the guidelines. Smith commented that she wished Dalsimer was at this meeting. Her supervisor was prepared to go back to the NSC on this question.
Van Camp concluded by reporting Dalsimer's concern about the growing number of tapes to be reviewed and declassified from the Johnson and Nixon Presidencies. The same problem of resources existed, and she wondered how the review of and access to these audio records should proceed.
Hogan remarked he had nothing to add to Van Camp's report.
Report of the Subcommittee on Retrospective Volumes
Kimball then turned to the issue of retrospective volumes, which he and Herring had considered the previous afternoon. Herring said the basic question was: Do we do them? More specifically, do we cover the covert actions relating to Iran, Guatemala, and Indonesia in the 1950s? Yesterday the PA/HO student interns had given them a briefing on Guatemala. The subcommittee was persuaded that the new documents uncovered at the CIA significantly changed the story and thus argued strongly for some such volume. We don't know yet what the story will be for Iran and Indonesia.
Kimball noted also that the interns believed that the new documents on Guatemala do change the story, and Slany agreed. Kimball again asked how this should be handled. He felt catch-up volumes should be restricted to volumes compiled before the 1991 law, i.e., before the Office of the Historian had access to CIA collections. He did not want to leave a loophole for delay (as in the case of Japan). There were truly smoking guns in these documents.
Schaller asked how much resistance there was to retrospective volumes. Kimball did not know. He thought there were political reasons, not declassification problems, working against them, although these were sensitive documents that would not be easy to clear. Herring noted that the CIA was engaged in a similar project on Guatemala, and HO's effort in this area might push the CIA along. Slany mentioned that there would be a conference on the question. The rules have changed, and not just policy documents but operational issues are included.
Kimball confirmed this assessment. Guatemala involved seat-of-the-pants policy and execution. Leffler said that this was really the thesis of the book, Shattered Hope. It is already public knowledge so it is not a smoking gun. The only difference was that now it was confirmed by CIA documentation.
Kimball continued that the Committee still has to consider the broad question of retrospective volumes. Van Camp asked how many volumes might be involved. Kimball repeated that there should be time limits, say, from the Eisenhower through the Kennedy administrations. Langbart said you had go back at least to NSC 10. Kimball replied, all right, back to 1948, so the volume or volumes could cover 1948-1963. The Johnson administration involved a different set of issues. It would be an impossible task to cover all African episodes, for example.
Hogan indicated that he favored retrospective volumes with the following understandings. First, declassification differences would always be pursued and aggressively so. The agencies must know this (i.e., they do not in fact stand to gain as much as some fear by stalling). Second, denials should be linked to specific reasons of a temporal nature so that when that nature changes (as with a change in foreign government leadership), the document in question becomes open automatically. The Committee should constantly revisit these issues (the clock was ticking all the time) to see if documents can be released and published.
Kimball said there were two competing issues. Referring to his letter to the Committee on the retrospective volumes, he reminded the Committee of the law setting target dates for publication within 30 years. If we constantly went back, we would divert HO resources from meeting the 30-year goal.
Hogan asked what the intelligence issues were, and Kimball said they were Iran, Guatemala, and Indonesia. Leffler said the Kahan (?) introduction mentions Burma, Cambodia, Laos, and Eastern Europe. Keefer noted it did not involve Africa, which did not yet have independent states in the 1950s.
Leffler offered a dissenting view. He said that we did not go back to the 1920s to look at foreign economic policy (Treasury records, for example), which were not used in the Foreign Relations volumes, so perhaps we should just send a signal on Guatemala. A proper sense of balance and practicality should lead HO to concentrate on declassifying documents and publishing citations rather than printing the documents in full. Herring pointed out, however, that the advantage with Guatemala was that we already had the documents in hand.
Kimball then read his letter to the Committee in extenso. He added that we had in hand 200 manuscript pages on Guatemala, which was great, but we should not compile it. Perhaps we should do about 35 pages on each of six or ten operations in a Foreign Relations supplementary volume. Hogan said he was not sure this was practical because a lot of work would be involved. Keefer added that there would be a premium on annotation to show how these small numbers of documents fit into the larger story, and Harriet Schwar commented that it would be a labor-intensive operation, involving a lot of research time and expertise.
Kimball said he was proposing less than what Hogan was proposing but somewhat more than what Leffler wanted. Hogan noted that the expectations today were not the same as those of the 1920s. He conceded to the practicality of Kimball's suggested approach, however, noting that a cost-benefit analysis points toward the sensibility of a full volume rather than a shorter one. The utility would be far greater despite the negligible difference in expense.
Kimball said we already had a lot of documents on the issues, so it would not be as labor-intensive as one might suggest. He also felt a special responsibility for releasing documents on Guatemala and Iran because these issues were what led to the creation of the Committee. Hogan agreed.
Implementation of the Executive Order on National Security Information
Kimball next welcomed Cheryl Hess of the Bureau of Diplomatic Security and asked her to make any comments she could on the implementation guidelines to the new executive order. She replied that she was new to the DS/ISP/APB Chief's position and did not have the benefit of any history working with the Committee. She explained that based upon her understanding of the Committee's concerns that Frank Machak of IM was in the best position to address any issues concerning declassification. Kimball noted the need for the Committee to have further talks with Frank M.achak on his views and suggested he would try to set up an appearance for Friday. When Hess, responding to Kimball's question, said she had not seen the Committee's initial response to the executive order, Kimball gave her a copy of his letter to Assistant Secretary Quainton.
After some further general discussion of Hess' role, Leffler expressed his feeling that implementation of the executive order was of great interest to the Committee and to HO. Kimball agreed and reiterated his desire to get Machak's views. Hess agreed this was an excellent idea. The Committee then discussed the question of categories of information under the executive order that agencies could exempt from automatic declassification. Nancy Smith and Herschler indicated that whole categories could be excluded from automatic declassification and even from systematic declassification review if the files have not been designated as "historical" (i.e., "archival").
Leffler responded that this was a very serious issue. Committee members wanted to make intelligent comments, but they did not understand the executive order, and nobody was present to explain how Machak viewed it. Committee members agreed that some representation needed to be made to State Department representatives on the issue of exemption from the automatic declassification provisions of the executive order. Slany also mentioned the constituency of the advisory panel as an issue. He urged the Committee to make its positions known quickly as work on State recommendations had to be completed by late July.
Kimball commented that the Committee should hear Machak's views but also should make its comments independent of his views. He then explained to Hess that the Committee was opposed to any action by the Department of State that would set up automatic categories of file exemptions ("a monstrous loophole") for its own records and requested that she keep the Committee informed of the progress of discussions both within the agency and in the interagency drafting committee.
Slany asked for clarification of NARA's position, noting that he had the impression from a NARA meeting he and Herschler attended that NARA had recommended that three categories of State records be created, one of which would be exempted from automatic declassification. Smith, however, said this was mixing up things. She said that NARA's objective was simply to get agency recommendations on how they wanted to deal with declassification of their records (page-by-page, automatic, or a limited page-by-page review) but had not made any recommendations. This was different from the issue of file exemptions. Herschler said the effect was the same, and Smith disagreed again. They were different, she argued, because anything not reviewed in the next 5 years would be automatically declassified. It was different if the CIA and DOE, for example, exempted whole files from review. She added that she had been informed that some agencies had prepared lists of file exemptions.
When Leffler expressed his concern at the language of the executive order, Kimball replied that the Committee had already fought and lost the issue of exemptions in the executive order and could not recover that territory, but could continue the fight against exemptions at the implementation level through the Department.
The meeting then adjourned for the day.
Executive Discussion of Publication of Foreign Relations, 1961-1963, Volume XXII During the executive session that followed, the Committee took two votes that it wished recorded in the minutes of the meeting:
1) A proposal to publish the 1961-1963 Northeast Asia volume without the Japan compilation and with an explanatory statement failed by a vote of 3 to 2.
2) A proposal to publish the volume with the Japan compilation, with citations for the three denied documents and a statement of the Advisory committee's comments on the comprehensiveness of the volume, passed by a vote of 4 to 1.
The chairman did not vote.
Kimball opened the Friday morning session at 9:15 am. and noted that since matters relating to CIA were on the agenda, the session should be regarded as classified. He invited Kay Oliver to begin the proceedings.
[approximately 4 pages deleted]
[End Classified Discussion]
Discussion of the Executive Order on National Security Information
Kirnball then turned to the concerns he had about Executive Order 12958 on classified national security information. He found no criteria for the selection of the members of the public policy board. He was concerned about the possibility of a broad application of the file exemptions provided for under the order. He stated that he would like to see a mandate for interagency cooperation on implementation of the order.
Dalsimer indicated that the Department of State had supported such a mandate in interagency negotiations but had been overruled. He encouraged the Committee to go on record in favor of such a mandate.
Kimball took up the issue of systematic review requirements under the order. He was concerned by the lack of milestones. Dalsimer assured him that milestones were unnecessary; everything would be automatic. Leffler expressed concern about a comment made earlier by Nancy Smith that entire files could be withheld from review. Dalsimer stated that his reading of the order was that every document must be reviewed or released within 5 years, but he noted that it was possible that NARA's lawyers had a different reading.
Kimball expressed concern about the lack of definitions of such terms as "coherent segment" and "foreign government information." He said that Committee members should give any further comments to Slany by telephone and Slany would draft a letter based on their comments.
Leffler wondered whether the Committee would get an opportunity to review the comments on the order that were being pulled together by Jean Pryor and forwarded to Cheryl Hess.
Prefatory Language for 1961-1963 Japan Compilation
Kimball turned to consideration of the prefatory statement to be included with the Japan compilation in Foreign Relations, 1961-1963, volume XXII, Northeast Asia. He emphasized that the statement should be placed at the beginning of the compilation rather than in the preface. Kimball read his draft of the statement. Hogan thought something should be included about the rationale for withholding the documents. Kimball thought they should stick to a basic statement of fact. Keefer pointed out that there were two categories of documents withheld for different reasons. Slany said there would also be a statement in the preface.
The Committee thought the statement at the beginning of the Japan compilation should refer to the statement in the preface and vice versa. After further discussion the Committee agreed to the text of a statement that reads as follows: