Interagency Working Group (IWG)

Interagency Working Group (IWG): Summary Meeting Minutes

May 1, 2002, 1:00 p.m.; 1101 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20004

Participants:

National Archives and Records Administration
Stephen Garfinkel (Chair)

Public Members
Thomas Baer
Elizabeth Holtzman

Office of the Secretary of Defense
Christina Bromwell

Federal Bureau of Investigation
William Hooton

 

Central Intelligency Agency
Representative for David Holmes

National Security Council
Absent

Department of Justice/Office of Special Investigations
Eli Rosenbaum

Department of State
Marc Susser

Other agency, IWG staff and consultants were present.


IWG Chair Steven Garfinkel opened the meeting by saying that while we are beginning work on the Final Report to Congress, and would be discussing that process at this meeting, such a discussion concerned him. He wanted to emphasize to the IWG agencies that their work in implementing the legislation should be ongoing. The search process continues and there are number of important matters that will need to be resolved. He said the IWG has accomplished much to be proud of and will be equally proud of the Final Report.

Mr. Garfinkel then welcomed the new representative to the IWG from the FBI, William Hooten, Assistant Director for Records Management. He commented that Mr. Hooten was coming at a special time, the FBI having just turned over to the National Archives the final documents from the European Theater. The FBI had done an extraordinary job in locating and declassifying these documents.

At this point, Thomas Baer interjected that he wanted to recommend that the letter which the IWG had received from the previous FBI representative, Mr. John Collingwood, become part of the official record and that an award of achievement be considered for Mr. Collingwood and the FBI. Mr. Garfinkel concurred and said he would send the Members a message on such recognition.

The Chair then continued by saying that the major part of this meeting would focus on the outline prepared by the IWG Historians covering their intended efforts on Volume II of the Final Report. He said the main part of the report, Volume I, will focus on the IWG work, agency participation, what was learned, what went right and what went wrong. Each agency as well as the Public Members would be free to provide information for the public record. In fact, Mr. Garfinkel added, the individual agencies would be required to work with the IWG staff on their own agency's comments and evaluation. Volume II will not be presented as an IWG product but rather as individual analysis by the Historians engaged by the IWG. They will report on information newly revealed in the declassified records and how it affects previous historical understanding. There were no objections.

Mr. Baer said that history is part of this report and Mr. Garfinkel agreed. Mr. Baer continued that the Historians had been employed to advise, based on their judgment, and to write this up. The volume should reflect this advice to the IWG in the accomplishment of its mission. Mr. Garfinkel said much of this would be in Volume I.

Mr. Garfinkel asked the Historians to explain their outline for the Final Report. Richard Breitman started off by saying that they have subjects and themes which are rich and new, with a wealth of substantial supporting evidence. The Historians, in each study, plan to indicate what was previously known, what now is known, and what the new information might add to historical understanding.for both scholars and the public. He reported they have finished drafts of Chapters 1, 2, 5, 6, 8 and some of Chapter 9.

Historian Norman Goda explained that their writings are not based on having read every single page but on a heavy sampling. The evidence they are discovering will not rewrite history but rather will fill in some of the gaps with information that was previously unknown. He also said the outline is not etched in stone and could change, even now, some chapters have changed. Mr. Breitman added that another chapter has already been added on Nazi efforts to escape after World War II.

Mr. Baer asked if this report will be unique or if they were using any current U.S. reports as a model. He also asked the IWG as a whole what would be the distribution for Volume II.

In response, Dr. Breitman said he was not sure there were any reports like theirs although the Final Report of the Assassination Records Review Board on the collection of records related to the assassination of John F. Kennedy was similar.

Eli Rosenbaum said that while there had been previous reports, no other report was similar given the documents and their impact on history. He also said that, unlike previous groups of this nature, the IWG had been given no specific questions to resolve.

Again, Mr. Baer asked how the report would be distributed, commenting it is a government report which should get wide distribution, perhaps even translation.

Mr. Garfinkel responded that it will be in the public domain and, as such, anyone could change a few words and copyright it. Protection is beyond the mandate of Congress and the Executive Branch. Elizabeth Holtzman commented that this report and any distribution are not mandated in the statutes.

Mr. Baer said if the government cannot publish and distribute this report widely, anyone on the outside can. They would provide valuable information and if published in a commercial fashion, the funds derived from such a venture could be used to fund education. Mr. Garfinkel responded that in his experience, in order for this to be done by the government, Congress would have to establish a revolving fund or it could not be done. Mr. Baer explained that, in his lengthy experience as a lawyer, it could be done by the government and should be done. Agencies wish to have their work widely distributed.

Eli Rosenbaum suggested that an appendix on CD ROM containing all the background material for the Final Report could be made available.

Mr. Garfinkel moved on by asking Dr. Breitman and Dr. Goda to provide brief summaries of what their chapters will contain, which they did. This was followed by a presentation by Dr. Mayo on the challenges that she has encountered in locating new, declassified information on Japanese war crimes.

The IWG auditors reported that the agencies are definitely finishing up with the Nazi documents and all have begun the hunt for Japanese documents.

The meeting adjourned at 2:45. The next IWG meeting will be on June 6, 2002 at 1101 Pennsylvania Avenue when the IWG members will be briefed by Naotaka Ikeda on his review of archives in Tokyo.

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