Declassification Diplomacy: Trump Administration Turns Over Massive Collection of Intelligence Records on Human Rights and Argentina
Today in a diplomatic ceremony hosted by U.S. Archivist David Ferriero at the National Archives, U.S. officials completed the turnover of some 7,500 CIA, FBI, DOD, NSC and State Department records—47,000 pages in total—to Argentina’s Minister of Justice and Human Rights, German Garavano. Ferriero said that reviewers worked for a total of 32,000 hours to complete the task, which began during the Obama administration and was completed under the Trump administration, and were able to release the documents 97% unredacted.
Garavano graciously thanked the Trump administration for fulfilling a formal request for the records by the Argentine government, made on the fortieth anniversary of the military coup during a state visit to Argentina by then-President Barack Obama. The National Security Archive’s Carlos Osorio delivered stirring remarks at the event, saying “The release of these documents stands as a uniquely valuable contribution to the cause of human rights, the cause of justice and the cause of our fundamental right-to-know.”
The National Security Archive posted a selection and analysis of 18 key documents from the release, as well as a timeline of Osorio’s 20-year effort to work towards the documents’ release. The records will provide a historical record that is highly likely to impact future efforts toward accountability in Argentina, provide long-awaited information for victims and their families, and advance the next generation of analysis and scholarship on the military era.
Classification Leaks Reach New Heights During Trump Administration
Justice Department data released in response to a FOIA request from Steve Aftergood shows that leaks of classified information that were reported as potential crimes have reached record highs in the Trump administration – 120 in 2017 and 88 in 2018. The Obama administration had an average of 39 leaks per year from 2009 to 2016, with the largest number, 55, coming in 2013. Aftergood notes that the released data poses several important questions, including how many leak referrals triggered an FBI investigation, and “whether the leaks are evenly distributed across the national security bureaucracy or concentrated in one or more ‘problem’ agencies (or congressional committees).”
Kissinger State Department Insisted that South Koreans Break Contract with French for Reprocessing Plant
South Korea’s bid to acquire nuclear weapons capability posed a complex challenge to the Ford administration during the mid-1970s, according to recently declassified documents published by the Archive. The South Korea case is of interest as one of several nonproliferation concerns at the time and for its illustration of the range of security, diplomatic, and political tests that have confronted different U.S. administrations in the nuclear sphere.
The new records, which were obtained from the U.S. National Archives through the Mandatory Declassification Review process, provide fresh details about Washington’s ultimately successful response, which was to press the Park Chung-hee dictatorship persistently to break a contract with France for a plant that could provide plutonium for a nuclear weapon. According to one of the documents, the Koreans tried to argue that the proposed plant would not produce “weapons grade” plutonium, but the State Department countered that “normal reactor grade plutonium could be used in sophisticated bomb designs or … even in less sophisticated weapons.”
Is Our National Security Past Too Sensitive to Make Public?
On February 21 the Nonproliferation Policy Education Center held a conference discussing “Our National Security Past: Too Sensitive to Make Public?” with four expert presenters. William Inboden, Executive Director of the Clements Center for National Security at the University of Texas at Austin, addressed “The Perverse Incentives for Classification,” Richard Immerman, Director Emeritus at the Center for the Study of Force and Diplomacy at Temple University, remarked on “How the System of Declassification is Crashing,” Columbia University’s Robert Jervis addressed “What Factors Contributed to Ending the CIA’s 25-Year Document Review Program,” and Harvard’s Belfer Center’s William Tobey talked about “The Importance of Historical Documents for Current Policy Analysis.” The entire video can be enjoyed here.
This week’s Cyber Brief highlights the Department of Defense Information Assurance Technology Analysis Center’s quarterly newsletter. Begun in 1997, its stated goal was to support U.S. information superiority efforts in accordance with the Joint Chiefs of Staff’s Joint Vision 2010 (JV2010) warfighting concept. The publication, which began in 1997, captures discussions and concerns about information security during and in the aftermath of events like Eligible Receiver 97, Moonlight Maze, and Solar Sunrise.
TBT Pick – Carlos Osorio Human Rights Work Honored by Argentine Embassy
This week’s #TBT pick is a 2015 posting that highlights Carlos Osorio’s ongoing human rights work in Argentina. The posting commemorates a special award the Argentine Embassy gave Osorio in March 2015 for his work in providing critical documentary evidence and testimony to numerous high-profile trials in Argentina aimed at uncovering and prosecuting human rights violations by the military junta from 1976-1983. Argentine Ambassador Cecilia Nahon presented the award, which praises Osorio’s “contribution in the fight for human rights during the Argentine civic-military dictatorship.”
Addressing representatives from the international diplomatic community, Osorio described his work over the past 15 years to collect tens of thousands of U.S. government records and to provide evidence in various Argentine legal forums. He recounted testifying for two days only two weeks earlier in Buenos Aires before the tribunal judging the Operation Condor Case, and analyzing for 10 hours the contents of a hundred documents from sources as varied as the CIA, Defense Intelligence Agency, State Department, the Paraguay Archive of Terror, and the Chilean former secret police, DINA.
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