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Controversial FRUS volume release — with a caveat…

Bruce Craig reports on the release of a volume of the Foreign Relations of the United States (Foreign Relations, 1964-1968, Volume XXIX, Part 2, Japan, Editor: Karen L. Gatz, General Editor: Edward C. Keefer, United States Government Printing Office, Washington, 2006, DEPARTMENT OF STATE PUBLICATION 11321).

What makes this volume unique is that it has been nearly ready for publication for over seven years, but owing to a handful of controversial documents relating to covert operations in Japan that for years intelligence screeners would not permit the HO to include in the volume, PART 2 JAPAN is only now seeing the light of day…but minus the intelligence agency covert operations documentation.

One of the first things a reader of this volume will notice as different is the inclusion of not only the usual “Preface” but also a “Note on U.S. Covert Actions” and an “Editor’s Note” posted at the beginning of the volume. Collectively, the preface and these notices serve, in essence, as disclaimers for the HO.

Though readers of this particular FRUS volume are being denied access to the raw documentation by intelligence agencies and there is not the level of detail that one would characteristically expect to see in a volume in the FRUS series, the HO asserts it is not permitting history to be entirely rewritten because of deletions. Nevertheless, one source inside State views the volume as being “minimally acceptable” in terms of meeting FRUS legislative directives.

One does wonder, however, whether the JAPAN volume is merely an anomaly, or is this practice expected to be employed more frequently in future FRUS releases in order to sidestep CIA and other intelligence agency objections.

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