Nazi War Crimes and Japanese Imperial Government Records Interagency Working Group: Summary Meeting Minutes
February 6, 2001 1pm - 4pm; National Archives Building, Room 18W
National Archives and Records Administration
Office of the Secretary of Defense
Federal Bureau of Investigation
Central Intelligence Agency
National Security Council
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
Department of Justice/Office of Special Investigations
Department of State
Richard Breitman, Historical Consultant
Steven Garfinkel convened the meeting by thanking all members for the co-operation and warm welcome since he had taken over from Michael Kurtz as Chair of the IWG. He commented that it was an honor to be associated with the IWG, which is to be commended for its work and progress to date.
Mr. Garfinkel then updated the IWG on his meetings with several agency heads. In a meeting with Director of Central Intelligence (DCI) George Tenet, Mr. Tenet gave his personal commitment to pursue the goals of the IWG at CIA, and he affirmed that CIA would complete the project on time. In a meeting with National Archivist John Carlin, Mr. Garfinkel was given the commitment of the Archivist and the National Archives to make resources available to the IWG, especially for historians, researchers, and an executive director. Mr. Garfinkel asked the members for any recommendations or suggestions for an executive director. He went on to point out that the executive director needed to be familiar with the community of interests involved in the work of the IWG, having familiarity with the agencies involved, leadership qualities, and a commitment to the accomplishment of the goals of the IWG.
John Pereira was called on to provide an update on the progress at the agencies. Mr. Pereira provided several charts with information on agencies review schedules and projected completion dates. Mr. Rosenbaum asked about the dates for INS completion of its task under PL105-246 because the date given was beyond the termination date of the IWG. He wondered if INS was having problems, and he suggested that INS be brought in to an IWG meeting to give an accounting for this matter. Mr. Garfinkel agreed that this INS issue needed clarification. Ms Holtzman then commented that the charts provided by the staff were somewhat confusing and clarification was needed. She suggested that one integrated chart was probably best, and it should show clearly what agencies have done and what the agencies have left to do. Mr. Garfinkel agreed and asked the staff to develop a simple integrated chart for the next meeting. Mr. Pereira then reported on FOIA requests to agencies on subjects relevant to the IWG as had been requested at an earlier meeting. The Audit team had polled agencies' FOIA offices and found that there were a relatively small number of FOIA requests in agency backlogs that either cite PL105-246 or related to relevant subjects. When the act is cited in a FOIA, coordination agency FOIA offices coordinate with agency teams working on Nazi war crimes review. Mr. Leary followed up about a comment by Mr. Pereira on privacy redactions and asked who is making privacy determinations. Mr. Garfinkel stated that according to 44 USC NARA has responsibility for accessioned records. Ms Holtzman asked whether it should be a determination by NARA or the IWG. Mr. Rosenbaum suggested that an update should be given by the IWG Staff on regarding the process for reviewing declassification and privacy determinations. Mr. Ben-Veniste agreed that it would be useful if the staff and historians provide an overview of how redactions are monitored for possible attention of the IWG. Mr. Holmes added that CIA staff coordinate with the IWG staff and historians when there is an issue at hand. Ms Holtzman thought that IWG standards should be made clear. Dr. Breitman commented that, concerning the material he has reviewed thus far, privacy has not been a problem, but practices were not standard. Mr. Garfinkel said he would consult with the IWG staff to provide the members a clear account of the IWG redaction monitoring process.
The IWG then turned to an update on the Japan effort. Mr. Garfinkel asked Mr. Leary if there had been any movement from the White House on the appointment of a fourth public member. Mr. Leary said he had informed the National Security Advisor, but had heard nothing yet. Mr. Garfinkel announced that a second National Security Advisor tasker had been sent out to the agencies, but not all agencies had responded to the January 26 deadline as of this meeting. He indicated that the IWG Staff would be in touch on a working level with the agencies. State Department added that they had their response ready at present to hand in to the IWG staff. Mr. Garfinkel asked Mr. Aly about the lack of response from DoD and the Navy in particular. Mr. Aly informed the IWG that there were some problems during the transition to the new administration, but that he would seek to resolve these and respond quickly.
Ms Holtzman asked Mr. Rosenbaum if OSI could provide a list of the Japanese names on the watch list to agencies, much like previous lists provided by OSI to the agencies. Mr. Rosenbaum agreed to provide such a list. Commenting on lists, Mr. Garfinkel described the fairly comprehensive 66-page list compiled by the IWG staff, and added that Ed Drea, the newest member of the Historical Advisory Panel and an expert on the war in the Far East, could provide supplementary information. Mr. Ben-Veniste asked about the letter from the Japanese embassy to the State Department. He wanted to know whether State and the IWG would respond with a request for cooperation from the Japanese and begin a dialogue. Mr. Rosenbaum agreed that the USG should renew its interest in obtaining information from records in Japanese custody, despite his past experience in trying to work with the Japanese government on access. Mr. Garfinkel asked State to keep the IWG apprised of the State Department's response to this inquiry.
The IWG next turned to reports by Mr. Pereira and the NSA liaison Mr. Corriveau on the progress of the National Security Agency. Mr. Pereira reported from its search of electronic records, NSA had located 67 documents, 18 of which were being withheld in full. The remaining documents had been summarized rather than released in redacted form, it having been agreed by all reviewers, including IWG staff and auditors, that summaries provided intelligible information in lieu of unintelligible heavily redacted documents. As far as textual records were concerned, the NSA was making good progress in screening and identifying relevant material from its textual records collection. Mr. Breitman commented that it was in this textual records collection that the most significant records would be found. Mr. Corriveau went over the statistics and examples of the summaries with the IWG. He added that NSA had decided to wait until they were finished with the European Theater records before moving on to the Pacific Theater phase. Mr. Corriveau then indicated that NSA had already sent a report to Congress on the 18 withheld summaries. Mr. Ben-Veniste asked why the IWG was not informed of this report to Congress beforehand. Ms Holtzman added that the agencies should report to the IWG before reporting to Congress about material to be withheld. The IWG should be notified and then it can deliberate and work with the agency on reporting to Congress. Mr. Ben-Veniste said that it would be advantageous to the agencies to be able to say in their reports that the IWG had agreed with agency determinations. Mr. Baer asked that the Chair look into the procedural issue of when agencies should report to Congress. He added that the IWG should have a chance to weigh in on any reports to Congress, and a procedure should be established to inform the agencies how and when to report to Congress on these matters. Mr. Garfinkel announced that agencies should not send letters to Congress without informing the IWG, and they should work with the IWG in this process.
The IWG then turned to a report on the progress of the CIA. Mr. Pereira indicated that new and better processes had been set up and were working well for CIA records. Mr. Breitman agreed and added that this progress had been adding significantly to the historical value of the records being released by CIA. Mr. Holmes presented statistics on CIA progress and then turned to CIA Historian Kevin Ruffner for a presentation explaining what a CIA 201 file is and how he, as an historian, uses it in his research. Ms Holtzman declared that she was pleased with the presentation and the progress made by CIA, and its effort to overcome internal difficulties. Mr. Holmes then asked the IWG for direction concerning records they might find on Japanese war criminals that had been "rehabilitated" after the war and that had taken positions of prominence in Japanese industry and government. Could the IWG provide some guidance? Mr. Breitman commented that the IWG might want to consult with Japanese experts, but that a case-by-case judgement was probably the best way to proceed. Mr. Garfinkel agreed.
The next IWG meeting was scheduled March 20, 2001, at which the IWG would hear progress reports by the State Department and FBI.