AHA Objects to Destruction of Guantanamo Records

In letters sent to federal authorities, the American Historical Association objected to recent disclosures that the Central Intelligence Agency destroyed records from interrogations of individuals suspected of terrorism, and requested action to prevent further loss.

The letters, signed by AHA Executive Director Arnita Jones with the unanimous support of the AHA Council, notes that these records were “historically significant and legally important, and their destruction impoverishes the historical record of U.S. involvement in the Middle East.”

Citing the Association’s long history of defending the preservation and treatment of federal records (extending back to the Association’s first proposal for a national archives building in 1906), the letter urges “the CIA to inform all its employees that records may not be alienated or destroyed except under the procedures of the Federal Records Act;” calls on “the National Archives and Records Administration [to] review the records schedules of the CIA to ensure that all records of investigations and interrogations are appropriately scheduled;” and “encourages the Department of Justice in its investigation and prosecution of this violation of the Federal Records Act.”

Letters were sent to Allen Weinstein, Archivist of the United States; Michael Mukasey, Attorney General; General Michael Hayden, CIA; Representative Henry A. Waxman, Chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform; and Senator Jay Rockefeller, Chair Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.

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  1. Kelly Woestman

    I’m sure that the National Archives is just as concerned about the destruction of these important records as the larger historical community. What most people outside the federal government do not realize is that no enforcement mechanism exists to force federal agencies to turn over their records to NARA. Reminding Congress of its oversight responsibility is the best way to have an impact on records retention and help reduce the inherent disconnect of NARA having no enforcement powers. I applaud the AHA for its broad reach in attempting to make the voice of its constituency heard in the right places in Washington.