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.
Secrecy, a new film by Harvard professors Peter Galison and Robb Moss about government classification debates, debuted at the Sundance Film Festival in January 2008. Historian Tom Blanton, executive director of the National Security Archive, played a featured role in the film and the discussion following it at Sundance. The film examines “the hidden world of national security policy by examining the many implications of secrecy, both for government and individuals.” (See Sundance description)
“We live in a world where the production of secret knowledge dwarfs the production of open knowledge,” the filmmakers say.
The American Historical Association joined the National Security Archive and several other historical associations today in a petition seeking the release of court records from the indictment of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg in 1951. In one of the most highly publicized and debated Cold War court cases, the Rosenbergs were convicted of spying for the Soviet Union and executed in 1953.
The petition was filed today at the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, seeking the release of grand jury records from 1951.
In this edition of “What We’re Reading,” we start off a look at two reports: the 2006 Survey of Earned Doctorates, and a study of social science PhDs five years later. You’ll also find an article on a recent copyright symposium, a legal fight over a copy of the Declaration of Independence, and a new blogger joining the Brainstorm.
The web site of the Office of the Clerk of the House of Representatives has an interesting new feature: The House History Timeline. A colorful animated history of important events in the governing body’s history, the timeline covers 1789 to the present. It features “some of the significant institutional and legislative milestones important to both House practice and procedure, as well as U.S. history itself.” Users click on a century in the upper left and then scroll through the years by using a slider on the bottom.