NCC WASHINGTON UPDATE, Vol. 6, #43, December 7, 2000 by Bruce Craig <[log in to unmask]> of the National Coordinating Committee for the Promotion of History ***************** 1. Leak Provision Struck - Moynihan Declassification Bill Passes Senate 2. Report: Secrecy in Government Symposium 3. Advisory Committee on the Records of Congress Meets 4. Appropriations Update: Lame Duck Session Limps On 5. News Bits and Bytes: Rosa Parks Museum; Hoover Institution Library Consolidation 1. LEAK PROVISION STRUCK - MOYNIHAN DECLASSIFICATION BILL PASSES SENATE On November 4, President Clinton vetoed the Intelligence Authorization Act of 2001 (H.R. 4932) because of the inclusion of Section 304, "Prohibition on Unauthorized Disclosure of Classified Information" - the so-called "Leak Statute" (See NCC WASHINGTON UPDATE, Vol. 6, #39, November 9, 2000). In an effort to get another version of the appropriation bill passed, on November 13, the House of Representatives removed the controversial statute that the President stated that if enacted, would "chill legitimate activities that are at the heart of a democracy" and passed a revised bill (See NCC WASHINGTON UPDATE, Vol. 6, #40, November 17, 2000). Shortly thereafter, various members of the intelligence community approached Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL), Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, and suggested a substitute leak measure. Shelby threaten to strike the Moynihan declassification board provision when the Senate took up the bill if the retiring New York Senator and his colleagues did not agree to the new leak language. (See NCC WASHINGTON UPDATE, Vol. 6, #41, November 22, 2000). Last week, Congressional staff and representatives of various groups interested in advancing government declassification and openness met to discuss the possible future of the Intelligence authorization bill. Talks focused on the proposed leak statute and the Moynihan declassification board bill provisions. The general consensus was that language in the draft Senate bill that included the revised leak provision was still objectionable and that it would be better to see the Moynihan provision not enacted this session than to see an objectionable leak provision pass Congress. Fortunately, on December 6, by unanimous consent, the Senate passed a version of the Intelligence Authorization Act (H.R. 5630) that included the Moynihan declassification board provision but not the leak statute. The Senate did, however, amend the bill by striking a section relating to contracting authorities for the National Reconnaissance Office. Consequently, since bills passed by the two houses of Congress must be identical to be enacted, the Senate passed bill must now pass the House in order to become law. House consideration of the Senate bill now appears to be a scheduling issue, but Capitol Hill insiders report "its doable." Since the Moynihan provision is in both the House and Senate passed bills, enactment of the declassification board seems more likely now than it did several weeks ago. 2. REPORT: SECRECY IN GOVERNMENT SYMPOSIUM On December 5, over 250 people attended a one-day symposium entitled, "Government Secrecy in a New Administration and a New Century." Sponsored by the National Archive's Information Security Oversight Office and the James Madison Project, the conference focused on secrecy and security classification programs in the federal government. The scheduled opening plenary speaker, White House Chief of Staff, John D. Podesta, was unable to attend, but morning sessions did include presentations by Representative Bob Barr (R-GA); John R. Tunheim, U.S. District Judge and former Chairman of the U.S. Assassinations Records Review Board; Evan Thomas, biographer of Robert Kennedy and Assistant Managing Editor of Newsweek magazine; Nancy Bernkopf Tucker, Professor of History at Georgetown University; and R. James Woolsey, former Director of the CIA. Most of the presentations echoed a similar theme - the need for structural and legal reforms in the government's classification and declassification programs. Journalist Evan Thomas pointed out that secrecy "tends to give rise to conspiracy theories" and stated his belief that the public assumes secret records contain much more "dirt than they than the records ever reveal." R. James Woolsey stated his view that the passage of time alone should not be the guiding principle for declassification decisions as there are "not just direct but indirect risks" that regardless of the passage of time could detrimentally impact agency sources and methods. While the expectation of some attendees was that the symposium would be more forward looking and focus on suggestions for a new administration, except for one question posed to panel members at the end of the day, most of the speakers did not specifically address this issue. Judge Tunheim's presentation, however, was an exception: He gave concrete suggestions for legislative reform for records review and declassification boards. Dr. Nancy Bernkopf Tucker also summarized reasons that she felt needed to be advanced in order to bring reform in a new administration: the high cost of classification programs verses lower cost declassification programs, the inability of historians to write accurate history when only fragmentary evidence (if that) is released, and that the "culture of secrecy" tends to undermine governmental accountability. The afternoon session was devoted to a panel comprised of prominent experts who answered a number of pre-prepared questions posed by moderator Steven Garfinkle, Director of the Information Security Oversight Office. Each presenter expressed diverse and sometimes controversial views on governmental secrecy. The session prompted lively discussion on several topics including the controversial "Leak Statute" in the Intelligence Authorizations Act of 2000, declassification standards, the impact of partisanship on legislation, and the Lee espionage case. All the speakers - Steven Aftergood of the Federation of American Scientists, Professor Kenneth E. deGraffenreid of the Institute of World Politics, Washington Times reporter Bill Gertz, Professor Anna Nelson of the American University, Elizabeth Rindskopf Parker, former General Counsel for both the CIA and the National Security Agency, and Mark Zaid, Executive Director of the James Madison Project - all distinguished themselves in their candor, suggestions, and comments. 3. ADVISORY COMMITTEE ON THE RECORDS OF CONGRESS MEETS On December 4, the Advisory Committee on the Records of Congress met for about an hour and a half to attend to various agenda items pending before that body. After opening remarks by Secretary of the Senate, Gary Sisco (Chair), and Clerk of the U.S. House of Representatives, Jeff Trandahl (Vice-Chair), Archivist of the United States, John Carlin, addressed the group. Carlin stated that progress was being made with the electronic records project and he reported on the status of the Archives I renovation. He stated that while the bulk of the $88 million appropriated for the renovation is in the Treasury Department Appropriation bill for FY 2001 which has yet to be enacted (Congress' failure to pass NARA's appropriation bill has put the awarding of various renovation contracts on hold), Carlin stated that some $12-13 million that was appropriated last year for "planning and retrofitting offices" was being spent. The Committee then heard an update report on the progress being made on the 350,000 square-foot Capitol Visitor Center. NARA's Mike Gillette described the forthcoming "blockbuster" 20,000 square-foot exhibit that will tell the story of Congress through its documentary record. The principal order of business for the Committee was to approve the final revised draft of the "Third Report of the Advisory Committee on the Records of Congress." After some discussion and the addition of a few minor revisions and technical corrections, the report was unanimously adopted by the Committee. The expectation is that the report will be posted on the NARA web-page in the near future and should be available in hard copy form in six to eight weeks. During the discussion of the Third Report, however, concern was expressed by several members over the language relating to the "Century of Lawmaking for a New Nation" project of the Library of Congress. This program brings together online the records and acts of Congress from the "Journals of the Continental Congress" through "The Congressional Globe" which ceased publication in 1873 when the Government Printing Office assumed publication of the proceedings of Congress and the "Congressional Record" officially began. Originally, the on-line collection was to integrate additional documents and items from other collections and develop a searchable text component, but some of these aspects of the originally envisioned on-line collections project may not come to fruition. Concern by the advisory body focused on the apparent decision within the Library to scale-back the searchable text component. The Committee agreed to write a letter to the Librarian of Congress, James Billington, expressing the group's strong support for the "Century of Lawmaking" project and urging the Librarian to find the funds to continue the project as originally designed. 4. APPROPRIATIONS UPDATE: LAME-DUCK SESSION LIMPS ON Shortly before lawmakers returned from their three-week time-out before continuing their lame-duck session, President Clinton stated that passage of the $40 billion education budget should be Congress's first priority. On December 4, President Clinton and congressional leaders met for 90 minutes but made no decisions on how best to address the remaining Labor, Health and Human Services and Education bill and three other budget measures and several outstanding policy matters that face the lame-duck Congress. Insiders described the meeting as "cordial" but "no decisions were made." However, all sides agreed to see the legislative session wrapped up by the end of this week. On December 6, a second meeting took place, and again little progress was made. Reportedly, in the first meeting, House Majority Whip Tom DeLay (R-TX) stated he will "fight strongly" for a Continuing Resolution that would last through October 1, 2001. If DeLay's plan for "level funding" is adopted by Congress one-quarter of the federal budget would experience cuts. Most Hill analysts consider that such an action would be "devastating" for certain federal agencies. Representative Jim Kolbe (R-Arizona) who chairs the Treasury Department appropriations committee (which oversees the National Archive's budget) stated bluntly, "it's not going to happen." During the December 6 meeting, in order to get things moving again, President Clinton indicated that he was willing to scale back his requests in the already agreed to Department of Education appropriation by as much as $2 billion - no specifics of where the cuts would come from were detailed. Discussions are expected to continue through the week. 5. BITS AND BYTES: Item #1 - Rosa Parks Museum: Troy State University, Montgomery has dedicated a $10 million library and interactive museum named for Civil Rights pioneer Rosa Parks. Forty-five years ago Ms. Parks refused to give her seat up to a white passenger when directed to by a Montgomery bus driver and was arrested. Her action prompted a 381-day boycott of Montgomery buses and eventually lead to a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that forced integration of the city's transportation system. The new museum, erected near to the spot where Ms. Parks defied authorities, provides a glimpse of life under segregation. Displays include a bus that was in service in Montgomery at the time of Park's arrest. Item #2 - Hoover Library: The Chronicle of Higher Education reports ("Stanford U. Weighs a Plan to Fold Hoover Library Into Campus System"; Dec 6, 2000) that Stanford University has announced plans to merge its Hoover Institution Library holdings into the campus wide system in September 2001, thus raising concern among researchers as to the future of the 1.6 million-volume collection and its old-fashioned card catalogue which researchers consider an invaluable tool. Collecting of archival and special materials would continue by the Hoover Institution. Persons interested in making their views known may write: Dr. John Etchemendy, Office of the Provost, Stanford University, Stanford, California 94305; Email address: [log in to unmask] * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * NCC invites you to redistribute the NCC Washington Updates. A complete backfile of these reports is maintained by H-Net at <http://www.h-net.msu.edu/~ncc> To subscribe to the "NCC Washington Update," send an e-mail message to [log in to unmask] according to the following model: SUBSCRIBE H-NCC firstname lastname, institution.