Thursday, March 25, 2010

"Much Has Changed" Since 2009 at the Office of the Historian

And changed for the better, according to the brief treatment - only four and a half pages - given to the U.S. State Department's Office of the Historian (HO) in the Inspector General's February 2010 Inspection Report of the Bureau of Public Affairs.

The HO sounds like an incomparably happier place than it was last summer. So much angst back then!

On pages 36 and 37 of the OIG report there is a good description of the difficult editorial process that is involved in producing the Foreign Relations of the United States (FRUS) series. Timely production of new FRUS volumes will always be a struggle, in part due to the unavoidable delays and interagency hassles entailed in declassifying the relevant documentation. As I noted before:

It's no secret that the CIA is the main obstacle to the clearance of material in the FRUS series. You can read the arguments for and against CIA openness with the HO here. The policy conflicts between the CIA and the HO are regularly aired in public with each publication of the minutes of the Advisory Committee on Historical Diplomatic Documentation (like this one from last December). I'm sure the declassification process is much more frustrating for the wienies in the HO than it is for interested onlookers like Anonymous and me.

By the way, I still think "The History Weenies" would look good on office coffee mugs. I once made a similar recommendation to an intelligence unit within the Drug Enforcement Administration in Colombia ("Geeks with Guns") and they put it onto logo hats and T-shirts.

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