Interagency Working Group (IWG)

Interagency Working Group (IWG): Summary Meeting Minutes

June 6, 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

Department 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
Elizabeth Barry-White

Department of State
David Herschler

United States Holocaust Memorial Musem
Absent

Other agency personnel, IWG staff and consultants were present.


Nazi War Crimes and Japanese Imperial Government Records Interagency Working Group (IWG) Chair Steven Garfinkel opened the meeting by pointing out that included in each meeting attendee's packet was a copy of the IWG Staff Budget from its inception through the current year. He referred the members to the disclaimer at the top of the budget, which pointed out that the figures reflected are for direct IWG support and do not reflect the costs of each agency in implementing the Acts. These costs will be collected by the IWG for its final report and will be reported to the President and Congress.

Mr. Garfinkel then addressed what turned out to be the premature announcement of the release of nearly 400 CIA name files, which the IWG staff and CIA believed had been reviewed and approved for release by the Office of Special Investigations (OSI). Such was not the case and these files were withdrawn from access by the public until they could be reviewed by OSI, whose director has promised an expeditious review. Mr. Garfinkel apologized for the error.

Mr. Garfinkel next took up the planned visits to the headquarters of most of the IWG member agencies to review the parameters of their input in the Final Report to the President and Congress, establish times for submissions, and discuss how the IWG staff may assist agencies. He first reminded everyone that while the IWG is authorized to remain in existence until March 2004, and its coordination of the review and declassification of pertinent records continues unabated, now it is also necessary to begin the process of preparing its final report. However, he emphasized that member agencies should not take this solicitation as an invitation to stop or even diminish their effort to locate, review, and declassify records relevant to the purposes of the IWG. He stressed that the agencies should not feel pressured in any way by these visits; they are merely an attempt to help them understand their role in providing input to the writing of the Final Report. The members were also given a guideline for preparing their input and Mr. Garfinkel said any questions concerning this could be covered at the individual agency meeting. Mr. Garfinkel noted that all IWG members would be notified of the dates of these meetings and could attend if they so desire, but noted that their planned attendance must be announced in order to gain access at the respective agencies. Mr. Larry Taylor, IWG Executive Director, will be coordinating these visits and anyone wishing to attend these meetings should let him know.

Dr. Greg Bradsher of NARA then presented a brief history of the captured Japanese documents, and the military agencies involved in much of the translation and exploitation of these records. Dr. Bradsher continues to work on an extensive listing of all captured Japanese documents at NARA and expects it will contain approximately 900 pages upon completion. This documentation makes clear that while an extensive amount of Japanese materials were returned to Japan in the 1950s and 1960s, there remains a very large collection of such records in the National Archives, almost all of which has been available to the public since the 1970s, and much of it minimally exploited by researchers. These include a number of files on Japanese war crimes.

A second featured speaker at the meeting was Mr. Naotaka Ikeda, a Japanese researcher who had been hired by the IWG to ascertain the location and accessibility of the Japanese documents brought to the United States and returned to Japan by the United States in the 1950s and 1960s. Speaking with the assistance of Mr. Matthew Stephan, an ISOO employee who had generously volunteered to facilitate interpreting, Mr. Ikeda briefed the IWG on his findings. He confirmed that there is no one central archive (equivalent to our National Archives) but rather that each government agency has its own. They are in Tokyo proper and he was able to ascertain that there are captured/returned Japanese documents in each. The archive buildings and documents are accessible to the public, including American researchers, scholars and journalists. Although there is no centralized listing, Mr. Ikeda said that one can direct research questions to their archivists (as can be done at NARA) and receive good help on documents at that particular archive. He added that Japanese war crimes documents are located in an archive outside of Tokyo. They are still unavailable due to privacy concerns. The Japanese Government has not decided how to proceed with opening these records. Following his briefing, Mr. Ikeda responded to questions. He was unable to respond to questions concerning the content of specific documents in the Japanese archives, as that had been outside the scope of his review. Such a document-specific review would necessitate a tremendous expenditure of time and resources.

As the meeting to this point had run longer than anticipated and a number of the attendees would be leaving at 3:00 p.m., Mr. Garfinkel requested that the rest of the reports be brief. David Herschler from the Historian's Office at the Department of State, representing Marc Susser at today's meeting, introduced Mr. Brian Dowling, who heads the State Department team managing the IWG process there. Mr. Dowling reported that in response to a recent IWG tasking, some 70 persons had spent 450 hours re-reviewing the Department of State database in an attempt to find more German war crimes documents. Quite a bit of information was turned up, but it remains unclear at this point how much of the material is duplicative of documents already uncovered or are copies of correspondence between the Department of State and the Office of Special Investigations concerning the latter's activities.

The IWG staff historians gave somewhat abbreviated reports on their current work, highlighted by Dr. Marlene Mayo's continuing effort to review and locate additional records on several prominent Japanese war criminals who went on to active political careers in Japan after the War. Dr. Mayo is especially interested in finding additional documentation concerning the American role in the decisions that allowed these individuals to escape additional punishment and to pursue high political office in Japan.

IWG staff auditor Mr. Ed Dietal gave a brief report on the auditors' current activities, highlighting their efforts to assist the Department of State in identifying additional relevant materials turned up in its most recent search effort.

On a closing note, Dr. Gerhard Weinberg, Chair of the IWG Historical Advisory Panel, reminded the members that it is critical that each agency or entity doing redaction on relevant documents ensure that an original or unredacted copy be retained and maintained by the agency for the time when these documents are fully declassified sometime in the future.

After thanking Mr. Ikeda again for briefing the IWG, Mr. Garfinkel indicated that the IWG staff would very shortly be contacting the member agencies to arrange the headquarters visits to discuss their initial input for the final report. The first such visit will be to the CIA on Thursday, June 20, at 1 p.m., and Mr. Baer has already said that he was planning to join Mr. Garfinkel, Mr. Taylor and Mr.VanTassel for that visit. Anyone else wishing to participate must send their DOB and SSN to Mr. Taylor by June 13 in order to arrange their entry at the CIA. Mr. Garfinkel said that once these headquarters visits are finalized, he will announce the date for the next IWG meeting, likely shortly after Labor Day. He adjourned the meeting at 3:15 p.m.

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