Interagency Working Group (IWG)

Meeting Minutes: 09/06/01

September 6, 2001, 1pm - 3pm; 700 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Washington, DC


National Archives and Records Administration
Stephen Garfinkel (Chair)

Public Members
Thomas Baer
Richard Ben-Veniste
Elizabeth Holtzman

Office of the Secretary of Defense
Christina Bromwell

Federal Bureau of Investigation
John Collingwood

Central Intelligency Agency
A CIA representative for David Holmes

National Security Council
William Leary

Department of Justice/Office of Special Investigations
Eli Rosenbaum

Department of State
Marc Susser

Agency and IWG Staff and Consultants also present.

Steven Garfinkel, IWG Chair, opened the September 6 monthly meeting by reading a letter from Robert S. Mueller III, the new Director of the FBI, pledging his agency's continuing support to the IWG mission. Mr. Garfinkel noted that although the IWG staff has continued efforts to follow up with the Russian Embassy, there has been no response. When the Archives staff reported that the OSS record reviews are almost complete, the Chair urged the IWG to create a special award for the OSS declassification team. Ms Holtzman agreed, but suggested that the award be postponed until every document is fully reviewed. The CIA representative reaffirmed the agency's commitment to releasing the OSS documents and added that there are microfiche yet to be reviewed. It was agreed that an IWG Award be made once the final reviews are completed. The Chair said that IWG questions and concerns should be directed to Larry Taylor, the new IWG Executive Director,, and/or Ms Pat Bogen, IWG Office Manager, or (202) 756-2277.

Mr. Garfinkel introduced University of North Carolina Professor Emeritus Gerhard Weinberg, who will be assisting the IWG during his tenure at the Holocaust Museum. Dr. Weinberg announced the next meeting of the Historical Advisory Panel would be on September 29, 2001 in Old Town, Alexandria. He said that the HAP is pleased with the addition of Dr. Mayo, but concerned with the delays in retrieving the Japanese documents. The HAP believes that the search strategy that was used to identify the Nazi documents should be expanded with the Japanese documents. He added that if names of Japanese industrialists were added to the search, perhaps the names of American POWs and their mistreatment would turn up. By the same token, chemical and biological warfare records may reside with agencies not normally thought about, such as the Agriculture Department and the Public Health Services Center for Disease Control. Finally, Professor Weinberg queried whether the Library of Congress has been included in the search as they may have classified manuscripts of relevance. Thomas Baer asked if the names of Japanese companies had been used in the searches. He felt that more needed to be asked. Ms Holtzman said that based on the Steven C. Clemons commentary in the New York Times on September 4, the Dutch may have information on Japanese war crimes. The NARA staff said that the files of other nations had been culled for any names and that a 50 page list of search terms for Japanese war crimes had been created and used by every agency. Richard Ben-Veniste asked the staff to follow up with the Library of Congress and Mr. Garfinkel said that they would be in contact right away.

Mark Susser related that the State Department has learned a great deal recently concerning the Japanese records. At least 70% of the records were destroyed by Japan in 1945. More than 2/3 of the remaining records dated from 1868 to 1930. Professor James Morley's review in the 1950's revealed no evidence of classified documents, no evidence of war crimes, and no war criminals mentioned in any of the records. At the urging of the Japanese government, and with the concurrence of the State Department, the CIA, and the Defense Department, the records were returned in the '50s and early '60s. State plans to hire a resident in Japan to review archive holdings there and will approach the Japanese government to verify and expand our knowledge of the records there. Several former senior State Department employees were interviewed regarding the return of these records but no one could verify that there was ever any formal agreement to allow the U.S. government future access to these returned records. Susser will provide the full text of his report to the IWG office for electronic distribution. Mr. Leary called the State Department presentation good, useful and full of detail.

There was a discussion about the necessary next steps in dealing with the issue of Japanese documents. Messrs. Ben-Veniste and Baer urged that the State Department provide all papers related in any way to the 1951 Peace Treaty with Japan. Based on the Clemons' commentary, Mr. Baer said that this is an extremely important development that State must follow up right away. Ms Holtzman asked if the Departments of Justice and State were aware of any "side agreements" when they intervened recently in the California law suit. She has also asked if this means that there were separate, unreported side letters regarding peace treaties with Germany and other European axis powers that have not yet been made public. Mr. Baer speculated that the Dutch government may have more information based on its successful prosecution of Japanese war criminals. Mr. Myers said that NARA had been in contact with Australia and included whatever they had in the 50 pages of search terms. He continued that he was also following up with Department of Defense record keepers to determine if there was anything more about the return of documents to Japan.

The Historians' reports included Professors Richard Breitman, Norman Goda, Timothy Naftali, and Marlene Mayo. Dr. Breitman outlined recent developments in the review of IRR Army records, which include Hoefle and Operation Reinhard, which involved the murder of 2 million Jews in Poland. He also discussed the Philips Corporation, which apparently performed a careful balancing act between its work with the Allies and with the Nazis.

Dr. Goda said he has been concentrating on FBI documents and found a very lengthy British report written in 1945 dealing with concentration camps. The report defined the "extermination" camps as different from the concentration camps. According to the report, going back to early 1940 the system was set up to exterminate, not detain, and there was no differentiation made between Poles and Jews.

Dr. Naftali has been studying the breakdown of communications between the Counter Intelligence Corps and the CIA during the occupation of Germany. He called the recent releases by the Agency extraordinary and contributing to real progress.

Dr. Mayo reported on the U.S. Government decision in 1947 not to prosecute General Ishii Shiro, head of Japan's biological warfare program, in exchange for information resulting from experiments, which included experiments on humans, including POWs. She also reviewed the case of Col. Tsuji Masanobu, who was wanted by both British and Americans for various war crimes, including the brutalities against Americans during the Bataan Death March. He eluded capture, changed identities and by the '50s was elected to Japan's House of Representatives.

Mr. Baer and Ms Holtzman asked whether the Auditors would sit down with the Historians to determine what should be the next steps. They are concerned that these important documents be fully exploited. Mr. VanTassel said that such meetings can be arranged in the near future. He will report back on developments.

Mr. Periera reported that the IWG Audit Team has met with the FBI again. In their continuing efforts, the Auditors have re-reviewed questioned redactions and concur with the FBI's rationale for redacting the information except for a few questions on a few redactions which the FBI had agreed to reconsider. They expect to meet with Canadian representatives next week to determine if even more FBI material can be released. The Auditors have also met with the State Department and reviewed 1400 additional pages. There were no redactions and everything is being released from the latest batch of DOS documents. They also noted that State has now completed its page-by-page review for relevancy of more that 12 million pages of materials identified last fall.

The next monthly IWG meeting will be held Wednesday 17th of October at 1 PM in Suite 700, at 1101 Pennsylvania Avenue.

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