Interagency Working Group (IWG)

Nazi War Crimes and Japanese Imperial Government Records Interagency Working Group: Summary Meeting Minutes

March 20, 2001 1pm - 3pm; State Department, Room 1105


Participants:

National Archives and Records Administration
Steven Garfinkel (Chair)

Public Members
Thomas Baer

Office of the Secretary of Defense
Stewart Aly

Federal Bureau of Investigation
Eleni Kalisch for John Collingwood

Central Intelligence Agency
David Holmes

National Security Council
William Leary

United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
Paul Shapiro

Department of Justice/Office of Special Investigations
Eli Rosenbaum

Department of State
Marc Susser

Richard Breitman, Historical Consultant


Mr. Garfinkel convened the meeting with updates on several matters. With respect to the State Department response to the letter from the Japanese embassy discussed at the last IWG meeting in February, it was his understanding that the Department would allow the IWG to comment on State's response. Mr. Susser said that he would keep the IWG informed. Mr. Garfinkel announced that April 10 was the date established for members to review redactions by agencies. Several agencies would be asked to provide representative examples of redacted documents for the members' review. The Chair will inform the members of the time and place. It was also announced that the search for an executive director was continuing. Mr. Garfinkel would welcome recommendations. Mr. Garfinkel also announced that negotiation with American University to keep Professor Breitman on as head of historical research IWG was successful. Also, Norman Goda, a professor of history at Ohio University, has been hired to join the Historical Research staff. Mr. Baer asked about the situation with Professor Naftali. Mr. Garfinkel responded that Dr. Naftali would be devoting more time to the IWG effort starting in the Fall.

Mr. Garfinkel then turned to IWG Staff Director David Van Tassel for an update on the follow-up research into the MacArthur-Truman dialogue re: Emperor Hirohito. Mr. Van Tassel reported that the Truman Library had no documentation of such dialogue between Truman and MacArthur concerning the fate or prosecution of Emperor Hirohito. William Cunliffe had produced a report for the IWG concerning the discussions that did take place within the Truman administration concerning this issue. Mr. Rosenbaum commented that Mr. Cunliffe's research was excellent. Mr. Van Tassel said that Ed Drea, a member of the Historical Advisory Panel, was asked to contact the MacArthur Library in Norfolk to research this further. His report would be circulated to the membership.

The IWG then turned to the newest chart prepared by the IWG Staff reporting on agencies' progress under PL105-246. Mr. Baer asked for clarification and an update on Navy. Mr. Aly said he had received a report from the Navy concerning 215,000 pages screened for review. He wanted to propose that NARA be given authority to act on these records, much like what had been done for the Army records. The estimates do not include the Japanese phase. Mr. Garfinkel wanted to re-emphasize that many records concerning the IWG were already declassified. The IWG was finishing the job by locating the few remaining materials. Mr. Rosenbaum then asked about the chart, specifically about the numbers for the NSC. How could the NSC have only 7 pages searched and relevant? Mr. Leary answered that all NSC files before the present Bush administration had been transferred to the Presidential Libraries and would show up in the individual presidential libraries as reported by NARA.

The IWG then turned to the State Department presentation. Mr. Susser asked Brian Dowling, the lead coordinator on this project for State, to give the IWG a report on the status of review at the State Department. Mr. Dowling updated the IWG on the six areas of records review at State. The first was searching the electronic records in the State Archiving System, which holds electronic records from 1973 to the present. The second was reviewing the accessioned records at NARA, which the IWG Staff had identified for the State reviewers. The third was the Records Service Center at Newington, Virginia, which held more recent material, from 1985 to the present. The fourth area of State records was at the Washington National Records Center at Suitland, Maryland, where the process of reviewing manifests and records continued. The fifth was the Washington Bureaus and Offices, which had been completed. The sixth area was the Overseas Posts, four of which had reported having records of possible relevancy. After consultation with the Audit team and the whole IWG Staff, 214,800 pages had been transferred to NARA as a start. Mr. Dowling estimated that State would be finished with the first phase by September 2001, at which time they would begin the second phase, Japan. Mr. Baer asked that the State Department have examples of their redactions at the April 10 meeting. Mr. Shapiro then asked if State had reviewed personnel files of Foreign Service Nationals (FSNs) working at the overseas posts. Mr. Dowling indicated that State had not looked into the FSN question.

The FBI was called upon to update the IWG on its efforts under PL105-246. Ms Kalisch gave an overview of the most current statistics in those categories on the chart given to the members by the IWG Staff. Documents withheld had risen to 2610 because of the presence of Foreign Government Information (FGI). Ms Kalisch informed the IWG that FBI had contacted its British and Canadian counterparts concerning this information. This effort was not successful; therefore FBI was pursuing contacts with embassies in Washington. Dr. Breitman interjected that the FBI might want him to evaluate the withheld material to see if it is even worthwhile spending their time trying to coordinate with the other nations. Mr. Rosenbaum asked about the FBI decision to include all German scientists under their Paperclip files. He wondered if it was fair because of the danger of suggesting that the entire group were war criminals, even though the IWG and NARA would attach the previously approved disclaimer. There ensued a lengthy discussion about usefulness of lists and the effort to include whole file series for archival reasons although most individuals in the files were not war criminals. Mr. Shapiro announced that in his own effort to help he had contacted some associates in Romania to get information and lists they might have. He said he would pass this information onto the IWG Staff for use by agencies. Mr. Garfinkel commented that it was his understanding that this issue of tarring the innocent had been tackled at some length at the beginning of this effort and, apart from having the disclaimer, might not be soluble. FBI then reported that they would approach the second phase, Japan, the same way as the first phase.

Mr. Baer asked about the responses to the National Security Advisor Tasker that was sent out in January 2001. Mr. Garfinkel indicated that not all agencies had responded as of yet. He understood that the Defense Department has a lot to coordinate with all the services and departments to report. Mr. Aly said he was working on it.

Finally, The IWG addressed their planned media event and the opening of the CIA 201 files at NARA. Mr. Garfinkel complimented the exemplary work of the CIA to get all issues resolved. With intense media interest in these files, especially given the current attention in the media to some of the subjects to be released, he wanted the IWG to be well prepared for this event. Dr. Breitman commented that he and the Historical Research Staff were working on analyses to accompany the release to give the media historical context for these files. Mr. Baer asked if a firm date had been established for the event. Mr. Garfinkel responded that no date had been worked out with all the members.

Mr. Baer asked NSC for an update on the status of the appointment of the fourth public member. Mr. Leary responded that he had no update except that he had informed the National Security Advisor of the situation.

Session adjourned.

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