Interagency Working Group (IWG)

Interagency Working Group (IWG): Summary Meeting Minutes

March 20, 2003, 11:00 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.; 1101 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20004

Participants:

National Archives and Records Administration
Stephen Garfinkel (Chair)

Public Members
Thomas Baer
Elizabeth Holtzman

Department of Defense
Edward Drea

Federal Bureau of Investigation
William Hooton

Central Intelligence Agency
Mary Walsh

 

National Security Council
William Leary

Department of Justice/Office of Special Investigations
Eli Rosenbaum

Department of State/Office of the Historian
Marc Susser

United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
Paul Shapiro

Other agency personnel, IWG staff and consultants were present.


The IWG Chair opened the meeting with an overview of the IWG's progress over the months since the last general IWG meeting. He began by noting that the IWG, as provided in the Disclosure Acts, would go out of existence in almost precisely another year. He predicted that there would be very few general IWG meetings in the future as the need for collective work diminishes as we approach the end. Instead, there will be select meetings to deal with specific issues, and to work on specific parts of the final report to the Congress, the President and the public. He reminded the group that Volume I of the report will deal with a summation and analysis of the IWG's and agencies' activities as well as the procedures and processes of the IWG relative to the Acts. Each agency and/or member will be able to contribute to Volume I.

The Chair continued, saying that Volume II will be very different. It will reflect the research and writings of the five IWG historians on selected documents being released under the Disclosure Acts. Historians Breitman and Goda have been making great progress in their work on the European front and immediate aftermath of World War II.

Since Dr. Breitman had to leave the meeting early, the Chair asked him to summarize his progress up to the present. He reported that his six chapters have been completed and 5 have been fully edited. He is expecting to complete final edits in the coming month on the sixth chapter.

Dr. Goda followed with his summary. Since he had access to some classified material, some of his chapters must receive pre-publication approval from the CIA. He mentioned that he has recently received new information that he will incorporate into his chapters.

Mr. Garfinkel reported that Dr. Naftali is concentrating on the activities of former Nazis after WWII and their involvement with US and foreign government agencies. Since he is not cleared to review materials prior to their declassification, he has had to proceed more slowly. However, he has promised that his chapters will be ready for review by late summer.

The Chair then reported on his contacts with representatives of the Global Alliance on Preserving the History of WWII in Asia. He noted that he anticipates tremendous disappointment over the relatively few classified documents on the Asian front that have been located. Many activists within the Global Alliance and the Asian-American community had assumed that through IWG efforts, a large number of documents would be found but such has not been the case. Many of these interested citizens lack a sense of closure and are concerned about a cover-up and lack of high level interest in the Asian theater. They had been unaware that a large number of documents had been declassified many years ago and have been available for research at NARA. At his attendance at a meeting of the Global Alliance in November, the Chair had strongly encouraged much greater research into these largely unexploited resources.

Ms. Holtzman, in response to the Chair's revelations, recommended that the IWG advise Congress now of this situation. She suggested that they would be willing to provide assistance in providing real finding aids in dealing with these Japan-related records that have been released but are not easily accessible. The Chair said that he would contact Senator Feinstein's office to preview this possible approach.

Mr. Baer then requested that agenda item 7, requiring at least two public members be present at all IWG meetings, be discussed. He added that this will require closer coordination now that Mr. Ben-Veniste has been appointed to the 9/11 Commission. Mr. Leary of the NSC opined that this had never been a problem before and he trusted the Chair would continue to ensure this will always be the case.

Mr. Garfinkel said that, despite the frustrations felt by some, the Final Report will show the remarkable achievements in declassification and disclosure under the Acts. The Chair briefed the IWG on the two issues currently receiving the most attention from the IWG staff -- the relevancy of remaining CIA name files and the scope of the Office of Special Investigations' records exclusion under the Disclosure Acts. Although there is disagreement remaining on both issues in terms of the interpretation of the law, a great deal of progress has been made in finding a process to resolve each impasse. The Chair noted the tireless efforts of the CIA's Ms. Walsh in working with the IWG to resolve their differences and in re-reviewing many documents over and over again to maximize disclosure. He also noted the efforts of the OSI Director and Department of Justice member of the IWG, Mr. Rosenbaum, in volunteering to review documents for waivers from the OSI exclusions. He has waived the OSI exclusion for almost all of the documents referred to him by the IWG's historians and archivists.

The next topic of discussion was a request by the Chair of the IWG's Historical Advisory Panel, Professor Weinberg, for the Department of State to provide the HAP with its complete tasking requirements for search tactics under the Acts. This would allow the HAP to fulfill its obligation to advise the IWG on the quality and completeness of individual agency search efforts. While material was previously provided, the HAP still wants a complete response. Mr. Susser agreed that his staff would provide the documents to the IWG, which would then send them for review to the HAP. Mr. Garfinkel reminded the members that most relevant State Department documents prior to 1977 had previously been transferred to NARA control at College Park. The work surrounding their declassification and disclosure was largely the responsibility of NARA rather than State. Much of the declassification of these records had already been accomplished but the work was continuing. Mr. Garfinkel commended the HAP on the extraordinary assistance they have provided to the IWG.

Ms. Holtzman and Mr. Baer requested that a timetable for completion of specific areas of the Final Report be established and Mr. Taylor agreed it would be done.

The meeting adjourned at 12:35 p.m.

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