HISTORICAL DOCUMENTS "HELD HOSTAGE" BY CIA
The Central Intelligence Agency recently moved to increase its control over the historical record of U.S. foreign policy by refusing to release four sets of documents to the State Department until State historians agreed to new CIA conditions governing publication of foreign policy documents.
The four document sets had been selected for publication in the official Foreign Relations of the United States (FRUS) series, a documentary history of U.S. foreign policy that is published by the State Department.
But CIA officials told State historians in October that they were "under instructions [from the Director of Central Intelligence] not to proceed with business as usual" because of Agency concerns about the release of historical documents concerning intelligence. The CIA intervened earlier this year to delay publication of a FRUS volume on Indonesia and another volume on Greece, both of which referenced CIA covert actions during the 1960s.
Before releasing the four document packages, CIA demanded adoption of a new Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the Agency and the State Department Office of the Historian that would significantly enhance CIA authority over the FRUS series.
According to the latest minutes of the State Department Historical Advisory Committee, historian Elizabeth Cobbs Hoffman "observed that those [document] packages were, in effect, being held hostage."
Rutgers historian and Committee member Warren F. Kimball said "The CIA was making it difficult to work with them under the threat of ‘blackmail’."
Robert Schulzinger, chairman of the Advisory Committee, said the CIA’s proposed Memorandum of Understanding "altered the way in which the Foreign Relations series is published and released to the public." Further, it "curbed the authority of historians compiling the volumes and the authority of the Advisory Committee to offer advice."
"The bottom line for the CIA," according to one informed historian, "is their desire to be able to review the full final version of every [FRUS] compilation and at the final moment have the right to insist on additional excisions."
Marc Susser, the Historian of the State Department, emphasized that FRUS "is the State Department’s publication, and we cannot let CIA take over the series."
The dispute was described in minutes of the October 15-16 meeting of the State Department Historical Advisory Committee that were approved for release at a Committee meeting this week and obtained by Secrecy News. See:
Since then, "The compilations that the CIA had held hostage have been returned to HO [the State Historian’s Office] and we are proceeding," an informed official said today.
But it appears that the CIA tactic achieved its intended goal of compelling a change in State Department procedures, including the adoption of an interim Memorandum of Understanding and a commitment to conclude a new arrangement next year.
"We have 6 months within which to settle on a new MOU," the official said.
In a separate offensive, CIA is pushing for a categorical exemption from publication for the President’s Daily Brief so that no editions of this document could be published in future FRUS volumes.