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    Hundreds of Thousands of Diplomatic Cables from 1977

    Bronnen door Eric Hennekam

    U.S. National Archives Web Site Uploads Hundreds of Thousands of Diplomatic Cables from 1977

    A Step Forward for On-Line Research in International History

    Newly Declassified Documents Include an Internal State Department Debate over Brezhnev’s Health and Its Possible Impact on U.S.-Soviet Relations

    Other Cables Include Warnings that Khmer Rouge Rule Would Cause the “Extinction of the Cambodian Race” and South Korean Dictator’s Justification for Not Showing Leniency toward Protestors



    In February 2014, the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) posted 300,000 State Department telegrams from 1977 — the first year of the Jimmy Carter administration — on its Access to Archival Databases system. NARA’s posting is another step in carrying out the commitment that NARA and the State Department have made to putting on-line major State Department document databases and indexes as they are declassified.

    The National Security Archive is posting samples of the 1977 telegrams, which cover the gamut of issues of the day: human rights on both sides of the Cold War line, U.S.-Soviet relations, China, NATO issues, nuclear proliferation, the Middle East Crisis, African affairs, a variety of diplomatic and security relationships around the world from Latin American to Southeast Asia, and issues of growing concern, such as women in development. The last release of on-line State Department material — telegrams and other records for 1976 — was in January 2010. Meeting the requirements of the Privacy Act, budgetary problems, and a complex declassification process prolonged the review and release of the 1977 material.

    NARA’s mass posting of State Department telegrams began in 2006(http://www2.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB188/index.htm) when it uploaded nearly 320,000 declassified telegrams from 1973 and 1974.  During the following years, NARA posted hundreds of thousands of telegrams from 1975 and 1976, bringing the total to nearly a million.  The Access to Archival Databases (AAD) search engine permits searches for documents on a year-to-year basis, but in 2012 Wikileaks (https://search.wikileaks.org/plusd/) usefully repackaged the telegram databases by aggregating them, making it possible to search through all of telegrams at once.

    The downside of the 1977 release is that nearly 60,000 telegrams have been exempted altogether, about 19.5 percent of the total for the year. This means that thousands of documents will remain classified for some time; even if persistent researchers deluge NARA with requests they will take years to process under present budgetary limitations. Yet, 19.5 percent is close to the same exemption rate for the previous two years: 23 percent for 1976 and 19 percent for 1975. The specific reasons for the withdrawal of a given document are not given; according to information on the Web site, they are withdrawn variously for national security reasons, statutory exemptions, or privacy. No doubt specific statutory exemptions such as the CIA Act and the Atomic Energy Act play a role, which makes one wonder how many exempted documents concern such things as obsolete nuclear stockpile locations that are among the U.S. government’s dubious secrets.

    Check out today’s posting at the National Security Archive’s website – http://www2.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB463/

    (bron: NSA)