Interagency Working Group (IWG)

Meeting Minutes: 02/25/99b

February 25, 1999 1:30PM - 4:30PM Old Executive Office Building/Room 208

Member Participants:

National Archives and Records Administration
Michael Kurtz (Chair)

Public Members
Thomas Baer
Richard Ben-Veniste
Elizabeth Holtzman

Office of the Secretary of Defense
Stewart Aly

Central Intelligency Agency
David Holmes

National Security Council
William Leary

U. S. Holocaust Memorial Museum
David Marwell

Department of Justice/Office of Special Investigations
Eli Rosenbaum

Department of State
William Slany

Department of the Treasury
William McFadden

Agency Historians/Officials:

National Archives and Records Administration
Greg Bradsher

Central Intelligency Agency
Kevin Ruffner
James Oliver

Federal Bureau of Investigation
Nora Hardy
LuAnn Wilkins

Department of the Army
Bert Haggett

Department of State
David Herschler

The Chair convened the meeting and asked each of the agency historians or records management officials to provide brief introductory comments before the open discussion. A summary of the agency representatives comments follows:

National Archives and Records Administration:

Greg Bradsher began the NARA presentation with a description of the records-holding units at NARA. The four units are the Presidential libraries (for Presidents Hoover through Bush), the Center for Legislative Records, the regional branches, and the Office of Records Services - Washington, DC. The majority of NARA-held records responsive to the act are held by the Office of Records Services, which is headed by Michael Kurtz. There are two categories of classified records that must be surveyed for responsive records: withdrawn documents and unprocessed files. Withdrawn documents have been removed from files prior to public access on the basis of the need for continued security classification or other legal exemption. Unprocessed material is known to contain classified material that must be removed or reviewed and declassified before the file can be made available to the public. Not all of the material in the second category is classified. There are 4 million pages of withdrawn material and 138 million pages of unprocessed material that are likely to contain information responsive to the act.

Central Intelligence Agency:

Kevin Ruffner, a CIA historian, gave background on his own work based on research into Nazi War Criminals in CIA records. He distributed several articles he had authored, and promised to get the IWG copies of his classified articles (These will be circulated at the next meeting.) He briefly outlined some of the history, including the CIC confronting new Cold War circumstances, the Gehlen Organization, CIA involvement with "anti-communist" emigre organizations throughout Europe in during the Cold War, and the abiding public suspicion of CIA involvement with Nazi War Criminals. He also mentioned of some the tools given to CIA that foster that suspicion, such as the immigration laws that allowed the CIA to bring "100 persons into the USA without any questions asked". He noted that CIA has a large volume of personality files (201 files) and that there is public speculation about captured German records or a cache of Gehlen materials in CIA custody. Jim Oliver then went into some of the records management issues, including the 590 linear feet of "predecessor organization" records, the structure of records systems and the record keeping history of the four CIA directorates. He emphasized that the places to look were mainly records of the OSS, Office of General Counsel, Directorate of Operations, Office of Security, and the Directorate of Intelligence.

Federal Bureau of Investigation:

Nora Hardy began the FBI presentation with a brief outline of the records at FBI in terms of Headquarters files and Field Office files, both with automated and manual indices. She covered several types of files, such as the "Main" files of an investigation and related "Index" files containing cross indices to the subject of an investigation. LuAnn Wilkins mentioned some of the issues that confront the FBI in this type of search. She pointed out that the filing system is organized by violation and that there would be difficulty in relating individuals to violation files. A major problem at the FBI is that it has no historian on staff for reference and to provide historical context.

Department of the Army:

Bert Haggett maintained that the records at Fort Meade, i.e. IRR, CIC, and IC files would be the main focus at Army. He stated that Army was ready to start and would appreciate any lists or helpful finding aides that could be provided to aid his team with their task.

Department of State:

David Herschler was confident that the State Department could begin implementation of the act very soon for several reasons: they were able to clearly identify files pertaining to this subject because the Department had a good procedures in place. Further, State's work on the Eizenstat report was a good jumping off point. He pointed out that most of the relevant State Department records have been transferred to NARA. He indicated that much of the material at NARA had been reviewed and was awaiting other agency review of their equities. He also mentioned the joint INS/State database on consular affairs and visa lookout, along with the watch list that State had compiled, as possible ways to approach the subject among records held at the Department.

The meeting was then opened to general discussion. Some of the topics covered were:

  • Proactive movement by the agencies to formulate search strategies and begin to identify responsive records and while awaiting guidance and finding aids from the IWG Staff.
  • Arrangement of agency records
  • Ideas on budget and staffing.
  • Approach to records beyond name searches. How to get to agency classified material that deals with operations, programs, and policy.
  • Consulting FOIA correspondence files
  • Issue of inclusion of Japanese war crimes.
  • Records from the former Soviet Union and East German Stasi records

The IWG then attended to some of its internal business. The date of the next IWG meeting was decided, April 19 from 9 am to 3 pm in Room 208 at the Old Executive Office Building. The meeting was then adjourned.

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