NCC WASHINGTON UPDATE, Vol. 6, #45, December 21, 2000 by Bruce Craig <[log in to unmask]> of the National Coordinating Committee for the Promotion of History. ***************** EDITOR'S NOTE: This will be the last NCC WASHINGTON UPDATE of the year. Expect the next newsletter to grace your e-mail in-boxes around January 3, 2001. Happy Holidays! bc 1. 106th Congress: It's Finally Over! 2. Moynihan Declassification Board Approved 3. Appropriation Update: $50 Million for History Education 4. State Department Withholds Advisory Committee Minutes 5. News Bits and Bytes: New SAA Website; New FRUS Volume: Jefferson Day Lecture Set 1. 106th CONGRESS: IT'S FINALLY OVER! In its last order of business, Congress passed the massive omnibus appropriations bill (H.R. 4577) then adjourned "sine die" on December 15, thus wrapping up the 106th Congress. The huge funding package totals $634 billion and includes the FY 2001 budget for the National Archives, Library of Congress, and the Department of Education. The measure is on the President's desk awaiting his signature. He is expected to sign the bill into law before the end of the year. Included in the ten-inch-thick funding package are two measures of particular interest to the historical/archival community: the Moynihan Declassification Board in the Intelligence Authorization Act (H.R. 5630) and the $50 million history education earmark in the Labor, Health and Human Services and Education bill (H.R. 4577). 2. MOYNIHAN DECLASSIFICATION BOARD APPROVED In one of its last official acts, the 106th Congress passed legislation (H.R. 5630) that includes a provision creating a new advisory board on declassification matters. Originally introduced as the Public Interest Declassification Act (S. 1801), the bill was the last vestige of Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan's once ambitious effort to reform the national security classification and declassification system. The legislation which was wrapped into the Intelligence Authorization Act of 2000 (H.R. 5630) creates a Public Interest Declassification Board whose charge is to promote openness, to support Congress in its oversight of declassification, and to make recommendations to the President on classification and declassification policy, practices, and procedures. Enactment of the Moynihan bill looked dubious in early December because the Intelligence Authorization Act also contained a highly controversial provision that many in the Senate objected to. The objectionable provision would have made it a crime for government employees to disclose classified information to the public. Without benefit of any congressional hearings, the so-called Leak Statute Section 304, "Prohibition of Unauthorized Disclosure of Classified Information" was vetoed on November 4 by the President. According to numerous historians and journalists who studied this legislation, the proposed law would have been equivalent to an "Official Secrets Act." It would have severely restricted free speech, undercut the already tenuous rights of federal government whistle-blowers who put their jobs on the line when they disclose wrongdoing, and would have shielded "corruption and government abuse of power behind a wall of secrecy." 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 vetoed and passed a revised bill. 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. The consensus of many historians and many openness in government advocates was that the leak-language in the redrafted Senate bill 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 that included the Moynihan declassification board provision but not the leak statute. On December 11, the House agreed to the Senate version of the authorization bill. On December 15, the measure was presented to President Clinton for his action. He is expected to sign the bill. 3. APPROPRIATION UPDATE: $50 MILLION FOR HISTORY EDUCATION When President Clinton signs into law the omnibus appropriations bill that provides $108.9 billion for the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services and Education, he will be authorizing a $50 million earmark for history education (see Congressional Record-House; December 15, 2000; p. H-12111) The history of how this amendment came about is worth noting. On June 27, Senators Joseph Lieberman (D-CONN), Slade Gorton (R-WA) together with Representatives Thomas E. Petri (R-WIS) and George Miller (D-CA) unveiled a Congressional Concurrent Resolution (S. Con. Res. 129; H. Con. Res. 366) designed to draw attention to what Congressman Petri characterized as "the troubling historical illiteracy of our next generation of leaders." Their resolution was based on the findings contained in "Losing America's Memory: Historical Illiteracy in the 21st Century," a report released by the American Council of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA). According to the ACTA report, at 78 percent of the institutions surveyed, students are not required to take any history at all and that it is was possible for students to graduate from 100 percent of the top colleges without taking a single course in American history. The resolution offered by the Congressmen, therefore, expressed "the sense of Congress regarding the importance and value of United States history." It called upon boards of trustees, college administrators and state officials to strengthen American history requirements in the nation's schools, colleges and universities. As a follow-up to the resolution, on June 30, Senator Robert Byrd (D-WV) then offered an amendment (no. 3731) to the Senate version of the FY 2001 Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education appropriation bill (H.R. 4577). His one-line amendment (actually hand-written by Byrd while sitting at his desk on the Senate floor) sought to provide $50 million to the Secretary of Education to award grants to states "to develop, implement, and strengthen programs that teach American history (not social studies) as a separate subject within school curricula." The grant money was earmarked for states to support the development of history programs in secondary schools. According to Senate sources, however, the amendment is written broadly enough to give the Secretary of Education discretion to use funds for the support of post-secondary history education programs as well. The amendment was approved by a 98-0 margin in the Senate and was supported by the Clinton administration. However, because there was no similar language in the House passed version of the Labor/H&HS/Education bill, funding was not assured. The amendment was addressed by conferees when they met to resolve differences between the House and Senate versions of the appropriations bill. On July 20, conferees were appointed; a letter under the signature of the executive directors of the Organization of American Historians, the American Historical Association and the National Coordinating Committee for the Promotion of History was sent to all the conferees expressing support for the amendment by the historical community. Ultimately, the conferees adopted the Byrd amendment but for months the conference report was held victim to legislative maneuvering - the timing of its release was (according to one staffer) to be "a political decision." Only when the final budget agreement was reached last week, was the historical community assured that the funding would be forthcoming. Representatives of the historical community have already met with Department of Education officials about the expenditure of the funds; discussions will continue in the coming weeks. 4. STATE DEPARTMENT WITHHOLDS ADVISORY COMMITTEE MINUTES According to the Federation of American Scientists, Project on Government Secrecy newsletter, during the December meeting of the State Department Historical Advisory Committee, that body capitulated to pressure from the Central Intelligence Agency and continued to decline to release minutes from its July, 2000 meeting. The Committee did release the minutes from its September, 2000, meeting, albeit in a truncated form. Instead of the usual detailed minutes, a three-page "Summary of Proceedings" was released. Withheld were details of policy discussions focusing on the CIA's efforts to declassify and release 30-year-old historical records. The summary of the September, 2000, meeting may be found at: http://www.fas.org/sgp/advisory/state/hac0900.html 5. NEWS BITS AND BYTES Item #1 - New Website: The Society of American Archivists (SAA) has a new section website of interest to archivists of government records. At present it is not linked to the SAA site. To view it visit: http://www.governmentrecordssection.org/ Item #2 - New FRUS Volume: The office of the Historian, U.S. Department of State, has released a new volume: "Foreign Relations, 1964-1968, Vol. XXV, South Asia" (ISBN 0-16-049945-3). The volume documents U.S. policy with respect to various South Asian regional problems and efforts to forestall Soviet and Chinese Communist inroads into this section of the world during the Johnson administration. A summary of the volume will soon be available. For more information contact FRUS General Editor, David S. Patterson, at (202) 663-1127 or tap into the history office's web page at www.state.gov/www/about_state/history/index.html Item #3 - Jefferson Day 2001: The Jefferson Day Lecture is scheduled for March 26, 2001, at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. The name of the lecturer will be announced by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) in January. The lecture is one of the central events of a two-day advocacy effort sponsored by the humanities community to garner support for the NEH. For one full day NEH advocates lobby members of the House of Representatives and U.S. Senate on Capitol Hill and express their support for NEH programs and initiatives. * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * 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.