Meeting Minutes: 09/27/00
September 27, 2000 9am - 12pm; National Archives Building I, Room 18W
National Archives and Records Administration
Michael Kurtz (Chair)
Office of the Secretary of Defense
Federal Bureau of Investigation
Central Intelligency Agency
U. S. Holocaust Memorial Museum
Department of Justice/Office of Special Investigations
Department of State
Dr. Kurtz convened the meeting and turned it over to Professor Gerhard Weinberg, Chair of the Historical Advisory Panel (HAP), for a report from the September 23, 2000 HAP meeting.
Professor Weinberg started his report offering the concern of the HAP members for serious problems with CIA and NSA. They felt there was a need for constant pressure on these agencies to get the work done. Especially important for CIA was location of records, relevancy review, and transfer of records to NARA. The concerns on the NSA side were in terms of searches thus far conducted. The NSA had yet to start its relevancy review of its pre-1965 paper records, which are very voluminous. The HAP recommended that the IWG be diligent in getting these agencies to comply with the law in the time period given under PL105-246. Next Professor Weinberg turned to the strategies for searches concerning Pacific theatre records.
The HAP thought that the initial "research guidance" was an excellent start, but several things must be made clear to the agencies. The IWG must make sure that they know this guidance is not exclusive, but suggestive for searching for relevant records. The discussion then turned to the HAP's opinion and recommendation for the IWG's final report. The HAP recommended that the IWG consider doing it in 2 volumes. The first to include statistics, declassification reports, a discussion of problems and precedents, and recommendation for future policy issues concerning declassification legislation. The second volume would be devoted to the historical consultants work in highlighting issues illuminated by newly opened records, being selective but specific. Mr. Ben-Veniste thought that the sampling and highlights of specific examples of records was a good suggestion for a volume 2 to the final report.
The meeting then went on to an update from CIA representative Ken Levit. Mr. Levit first took the opportunity to announce that he was leaving, but wanted to acknowledge and thank everyone involved in the important work of the IWG. Several members commended Mr. Levit for his hard and diligent work as the CIA representative to the IWG. Dr. Kurtz wanted to make sure that in this upcoming time of Presidential Administration transition that the CIA would be diligent to stay on track concerning its effort under PL105-246. Mr. Levit indicated that David Holmes, his predecessor on the IWG, would be returning as the CIA representative to the IWG, and progress would continue. Mr. Levit then went on with his update on CIA work. He said that OSS records in any facility are "in" and covered by PL105-246, and will be reviewed for declassification. He announced that the CIA team of reviewers had started on-site at NARA reviewing OSS, and thus far had completed close to 70,000 pages. He thanked the staff at NARA for their help with this project, and vowed that CIA would continue to work closely with NARA on these records. Mr. Baer asked about the Dulles Papers that might still be at CIA. Mr. Levit indicated that he had had discussions with NARA and the evidence suggests that it is there at CIA, and He promised that the search would continue, because it was a priority at CIA. He also mentioned that contact with FOIA staffs were important, especially with the new position at CIA concerning the whole Gehlen issue. There ensued a lengthy discussion by the IWG members concerning contact and working with FOIA staffs from all agencies. It was the consensus of the IWG that the Review Team should contact FOIA offices for any guidance sent out by IWG agency representatives, and also the Review Team should get reports on FOIA's citing PL105-246.
Dr. Kurtz followed this discussion with some updates and general announcements for the membership. He informed the Group that there was to be an IWG Liaisons meeting later in October to kick off the Japanese/Pacific Theatre phase of this project. He also indicated that 2 research assistants had been hired, and the search for 3, possibly, 4 other historians to assist the IWG was continuing. Dr. Kurtz then turned to Mr. John Pereira of the Review Team for the report on the State Department.
Mr. Pereira reported on his contact with State department officials working on review and declassification under PL105-246. The follow-up by the Review Team took place in 2 parts, first the records still at State Department, second the records accessioned to NARA. In this follow-up, the Review Team had questions on withholding that State proposed. They especially pointed to the too narrow definitions in the relevancy review and that the review was just inadequate. It was the recommendation of the Review Team that State records at State department be re-reviewed under correct and broader relevancy. On the records at NARA, the same issue of relevancy review being too narrow was also the case, and the Review Team recommended re-review. Ms Holtzman asked how this could happen, and wondered how the search had become so tainted. Dr. Weinberg added that the IWG needed to ascertain bad intent versus lack of ability on the part of reviewers at State. Mr. Baer agreed with Ms Holtzman and indicated that the search done by State reviewers was a disgrace and a waste of resources for that agency. The IWG then moved on to a classified presentation by the State Department of their review. It was the consensus of the IWG that the State Department, for both records still at the State Department and accessioned records at NARA, re-review the entire job, given the inadequacy of the initial review for relevant records.
The next IWG meeting was scheduled for October 25, 2000.