Noteworthy

Resolution on Integrity of the FRUS Documentary History Volumes

AHA Staff, May 1990

Whereas, the Foreign Relations of the United States, has been published by the Department of State since 1861 and serves as a record of American foreign relations, as faithful as possible, given legitimate security concerns; and

Whereas, this highly respected and prestigious documentary series, now numbering over 300 volumes, has been a cornerstone of scholarly research and writing in American foreign relations; and

Whereas, until recently the scholarly community has expressed strong confidence in the editorial integrity of the series which provided both detailed coverage of major issues and guidance for locating unpublished State Department documents; and

Whereas, the integrity of the Foreign Relations of the United States series is now threatened by changes during the last decade in the editorial review process for handling sensitive material; and

Whereas, recent volumes of the Foreign Relations of the United States, published more than thirty years following the historical events described, contain an appalling increase in the amount of incomplete and deleted documents, which the State Department's Historical Documents Review Division and other government agencies have excised from the volumes; and

Whereas, recent Foreign Relations volumes with significant increases in deletions and omissions create an incompleteness that in itself is a distortion; and

Whereas, the Department of State itself in carrying out the foreign policy of the United States needs a full and accurate record of its past programs and decisions on which its own offices can rely; and

Whereas, our democratic government rests on informed public debate and deliberations by policy-makers based on access to the fullest possible records of the past and on an accurate presentation of our history; and

Whereas, various agencies of the United States government are urging foreign governments to open their archival records, it is essential that the United States follow a standard worthy of emulation, and

Whereas, the role of the State Department's Advisory Committee on Historical Diplomatic Documentation, made up of representatives of the American Historical Association, the Organization of American Historians, the American Political Science Association, the American Society of International Law, and the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations, is now threatened as they are no longer informed participants in the review process and are no longer in a position to attest to the integrity of the series;

Resolved, the National Coordinating Committee for the Promotion of History urges Secretary of State James Baker to take necessary steps to restore the integrity of the Foreign Relations of the United States by establishing a procedure by which the Advisory Committee members, who have "secret" clearances, may review the necessary material in order to make informed judgments on the integrity of the series; and

Resolved, the National Coordinating Committee for the Promotion of History send copies of this resolution to the President of the Senate, Speaker of the House of Representatives, and the Chairperson and ranking minority member of the appropriate Congressional committees.

Adopted by the Executive Board of the Organization of American Historians and the Council of the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations on March 22, 1990, by the Policy Board of the National Coordinating Committee for the Promotion of History on March 23, 1990, and by the Research Division of the American Historical Association on March 30, 1990.