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December 9, 2016
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August 16, 2000
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August 12, 1971
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PDF icon CIA-RDP83-01022R000100040013-6.pdf1.32 MB
Approved For Release %Mi 2000/09/14: CIA-RDP83-01021000100040013-6 FOR IM IEDIATE RELEASE AUGUST 12, 1971 OFFICE OF THE WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY THE WHITE HOUSE PRESS CONFERENCE OF HON I. JOHN D. EHRLICHMAN ASSISTANT TO THE PRESIDENT FOR DOMESTIC AFFAIRS, AND JOHN DEAN, COUNSEL TO THE PRESIDENT THE BRIEFING ROOM 12:03 P.M. EDT MR. ZIEGLER: Jerry has covered the basic informa- tion we have for you today. As you know, a short time ago we sent a request to the Hill for dollars to assist in the process of declassifying World War II documents. Going back to January of this year, as we have told you before, the President directed that a study be made of the classification procedure within the Government. John Ehrlichman has been in charge of the overall White House efforts on this, together with John Dean, who has been working with Mr. Ehrlichman. John Ehrlichman and John Dean and others have had a number of meetings with the President on this subject. We were meeting this morning with the President and talking about this matter. The President asked that John thrlichman come out and give you gentlemen a progress report as to how we are proceeding on the matter of declassifying documents. With that, John, you may give your progress report. Q Before John gets into this, specifically, how much money did the President ask for? MR. ZIEGLER: W;We have asked for $630,000 as a first request. Q The overall cost is $6 million? MR. ZIEGLER: Rictht. Q 'documents? Was that just for the beginning of World War D. ZT GLER: Yes. qq~j T ~ryv ~ti r. T ' .Ai'1R? ~1 1~e.C*dZ.~J ...l..~M.AN: As 1: on. said, Aw3h6:at I am .~ go _ng to r _ve you now is just a progress report, and is by no means Description of the finished product. 'here have been some questions, apparently, about he proc Tess of this ..7y As know, he.s been in prr,-,rou ++~~/r++i~ + a /_y w..a F5 Yi.c a l.fan4,....?1vr Approved For Release 2000/09/14: CIA-RDP83-01022R000100040013-6 Approved For Release 2000/09/14: CIA-RDP83-0102200100040013-6 His committee's work continues, and they have not yet given final reco imendatio:: s to the President. Their recommendations , as I a zdcL rsta,nd i t from him, when they are rendered, will cover bo-Ch the subject of declassification ?:cocedures and the subject of systems of classification, winch should be either inaugurated. or changed, looking to the future. We ago working here in the pz'ortulgatior Of this new approach with the basic principle that we are going to ba classifying fewer docum.ei is in the ,future, but ciassi:%y'i.- g t i :n better. I that direction, we will be focusing or. the question o: distribution. As it is now in the Govc nmeat, as you k"ow, a di umber of peep '3 hav secs Ley c `:.arzanccs, and as i b a.~. ap' oppo:3 ticni, within a given wk_ cui:ity clearance there ...s i-% ,,.nnicai right. to see a document bearing a claassizic atio nor which the individual is cleared. So you gut into t:.h h'-,E; +".quos?.:ion o-," distribution, who can c ee a docuii:erit, it he a clearance, can he see all documents for which he is clea:"< d, or only those for which he has a reed to know? So they will be working with the principle that there should be limits on distribution within a given security clearance classification on a strict need-to-know basis. e vcrLdly, the direction in which the study is going indicates that there will be new limits on the right to duplicate documents and the right to disseiiinate or d = - tribute documents. The problem of de-briefing or sharing with others, zither in si:l? or outside the Government, the contents of documents obviously is receiving attention. And then. the question of what to do with the enor- mous number of pages of c1a: sified documents that now reside in various archives or storage places of the Federal Govern- ment is a subject which will be covered. The President has decided that he will expand his request for appropriations to speed the process of declassi- fication. He has asked for a study to be done of how signi- icar.t historical events might be treated in this declassi- fication process; that is to say, he has identified not only the World. "+ a . _:i; doca? ylAez t , but also the documents relating to the Koreaan War, the Lebanon action during the Eisenhower A iraistr ation , and 1--he (uhc n inc .df'nt in the Kennedy years, as events of such historical interest that, rather than wait for the :oral chro io .agical clearance process, he has asked the Archivists and those involved in this study to propose to him a method by which they can accelerate and give priority to the deciassiiicatio n of t:.ho-se historical events first. We do not have an estimate of the dollar amount involved, and it may be that this rea.rrangerrent of priority from' the purely chronological to those of hiorical interest, may evolve /c,.nc additional cost. That is one thing that w will have to take a look at. Approved For Release 2000/09/14: CIA-RDP83-01022R000100040013-6 Approved For Release 2000/09/14: CIA-RDP83-0102000100040013-6 I am told that we are talking about 160 million pages of World War II documents g and some 300 million pages of documents spanning the years 1946 to 1956. Now, of that number, sortie are not classified. They are simply stored. But the problem here is in reviewing all of those pages which are now, as I understand it, stored roughly in chronological order to determine which can immediately be moved out as non-classified and which are classified and must be reviewed to see which will be declassified and released. The criteria for declassification is basically :o be that the release of the documents will not jeopardize current intelligence sources; and secondly, that the release would not either imperil our current relations with other governments, or seriously and needlessly embarrass individuals who are foreign citizens. We have here, obviously, the situation where some- one might be subjected 'Co needless embarrassment by the veiease of a document which otherwise had no 'public purpose in its release. I cannot expand on that particular criteria ;very much moreo because, frankly, we have not seen it developed in specific language or specific criteria. I just want to indicate to you generally in going by that that is a consideration that may be embodied in the final recommendations to be submitted to the President. Now, I will take: your questions in just a minute. I would like to run through this in a series. The President believes that past practice has re- sulted in the classification of a number of documents which need not have been classified from any standpoint of national security or national interest. The system has been one in which too many people have had the legal capacity to impose classification on documents, and there has not been any workable system for a review of decisions by these individuals that a document should be classified. The burden-of proof has, up until now, always been on the one proposing declassi- fication. The recommendations of the committee will undoubtedly be in the direction of a system which will impose a presump- tion, after passage of a certain period of time, that a docu-- ment should be declassified, which presumption could be rebutted by a showing that it would be contrary to .the national interest to declassify it at that time. The presumption now runs in the other direction; that a document will remain classified unless someone can come forward and sustain the burden that it should be declassi- fied. This, the President feels, is contrary to his general approach, which is that the Government has not only an obli- gation or that the Government has .a duty to make disclosure of what is going on in the Government except in those cases where disclosure would be inimical to the national security or the conduct of foreign policy. That is a very broad generalization, and it is subject to some specific exceptions in the area of Execu:.ive privilege, and so on, but basically that is the philosophical or policy thrust to this whole effo.ct. P1OPE Approved For Release 2000/09/14: CIA-RDP83-01022R000100040013-6 Approved For ReleaseQ000/09/14: CIA-RDP83-01022F901 00040013-6 As the President many times, he seeks an era of negotiation rather C,a.ix Essential to successful negotiation is cona-id ra?:..zklity. Parties, , whether a..s between govt rnmen'Gs or i. ~ pxiva_tc life, simply cannot :.successfully conduct irapor" G:n't^ negotiations where concessions are sought on either side c_:cept under circumstances where -here is an attitude of mut,uu]. confidence in which each party can rely on the discretion of the other not to disclose the conduct of the nego":iat:t.onc. That being so, and conf iC ent.ial 4,y being a corner- tone of an ere: a of negotiation, the President strongly be- 1 ieves that the Government must adopt a system of caation of those kinds of documents important to the conc1uct of foreign policy which will insure their confidentiality to the maximum extent possible. Therefore, the study is going forward both by the Rehnquist cormrittee and others as to how w can better insure the confidentiality of classified docu- ments. The President draws on a number of years of e1per_ =Hence in :meeting with heads of government, chiefs of state, in a one--on---one meeting. He draws on a set of principles which he has personally followed in the conduct of his nego- iations, which he has imposed or set down for the National. Security staff here in the White House. Very simply, these are that the content of negotia- tions of that kind are shared with principals, and only on a need-to-know basis; that de-briefing to staff is on an extremely limited basis; and that documents, aide mernoire and other documents involved in such meetings, are circa-- lated on a highly restricted basis. I think that, demonstrably, those principles which have been applied in the President's ? s experience and in the conduct of the business of the National Security staff have esulted in very few incidents, if any, of any breach of confidence.. The President has, likewise, followed the prac- tice of ir:".i.rer te1tr ._ lir:-ii_ed sharing of information, even in a domestic contexct, where he has piety for instance, with the steel negotiators, or meetings of that kind where it is important. that the parties be. able to speak in confidence and in candor without the probability of reading their remarks or having then displayed the next day. So :r 4m trying to describe here for you a setting in which classification and secrecy is important, and the reason for its importance, as distinguished from situations where classification has rather arbitrarily and unnecessarily been imposed on documents. In the case of The Times and Washington Post dis- c losu:ces , the action of the Administro ation, through the Depart- ment of Justice, in seeking injunctions in that case has a relation to this pot icy that i have been describing to you. don't thin- the is any question in the minds of those in the rtx i nis"t.r i jon who are knowledgeable on the subject that some of the documents involved there, probably the large maj;o:c ty or th-. i , were n C~ mac.;~s1~1 classified at this time; that is " .o say, hyIc time of publication; that the class i fir do could have very w4:.i 1. been removed consistent with the principles that. I have r:,~~ra;.i. /;;ed. Approved For Release 2000/09/14: Cf i4bP83-01022ROO0100040013-6 r Approved For Release 2000/09/14: CIA-RDP83-0102000100040013-6 At the same time, a massive compromise of a classification system such as occurred in this instance demonstrably has raised questions in the minds of those with whom this Government will be negotiating or with whom we have negotiated in the past as to whether or not the classification system which we employ in this country is, in fact, effective to maintain their confidence. The national security study memorandum of last January which led to the formation of the Rehnquist committee and a review of our whole classification procedure was under- taken, as you know, a number of months before The New York 'irnes--14ashington Post incident, on a foresight basis, recog- nizing that the Government had an obligation in two directions: One, in I.Le direction of disseminating infor;m2ation; and, on .. et second hand, in the direction of maintaining a system tai c. ` ication' which would r, assure those with whom we, hope :_n uegot~iai c that their con idences not only would, but could he Kept, in an encou.rac;ement of -free and open negotiation. Now, t ;ere arc a number of contrasts in the role of the Government and the role of tine press. You people do, an should, dig for every bit of info mats on you can get, and there is no sense of cribcis ' involved in anything that I say here wit:.hi regard to that role of the press. At the same time, that is to be contrasted with the obligation of the Government and its people to establish a l:i?6:C't't1, and ma:.ntain1 it in such a way that it can successfully conduct foreign policy and maintain the national security of the country. Those are not adversary relationships in a real sense. The press have a real problem when they come up w _th a classified document. it doesn't happen very often, but when somebody in journalism conies up with a classified document, it is very difficult for him to know, in fact, the '-'o'val conte.t of what is really going on at the time, to know whether or not it is inimical to the national 'interest to publish that:. document. don't mean by saying that, or by recognizing that fact, to shift the burden to the press. `that I mean to say is that we have to recognize the dilemma and to. recognize the likelihood that, in good faith and with the best of intentions, the journalist may go forward with the ; ublication of that document suite innocently and it may very ,wc:l.l directly affect negotiations in progress or it may create a climate of coubt among present or future negotiators as to whether or not the Government has the capacity to respect the confidence of the negotiation. So it is the duty of the Government to go forward in the adoption of a system than, will minimize the risk, either to present or potential negotia'iions. That is what this process is all about. Now, I have not been terribly specific about the system to be adopted. A,s I explained, the reason I have not is that the system is not yet in place, but l have tried to indicate to you tike d _; e ct ioi~ in which the study is going on some of the principles on rhic:~ we are working. At some not too distant date, a specific se3tr of recommendations will be prepared, presumably will be approved, and then will be put into place. Approved For Release 2000/09/14: CII,P83-01022R000100040013-6 Approved For Release 2000/09/14: CIA-RDP83-0102000100040013-6 We weu.i.d expw c' will tL: eomple tely :.n- formed as to 7 _ f: thou " f .i. e1. w~ ,al t will at the time that "C. occurs. fro': :lG:i2C3:? ie "chw journalists may n, " s y u' .t.~..l.s7,. something ',Cla,~. 'i .. '~nillE:n'G is , +.x }J,eo~.rAt c. the ;oVE:. G1S"' s,..tY1~7C.E.t1'C..{. t,urbeCd about : e nc, pub i sh ti. i am wondering if, in that context, you have determined yet w ae her innocence has been established the case of The Times and Post, and the other newspapers, in th Pentagon papers MR. HR ICHM, ;AN: : bviously, 1 would not com.ent on ,natters in litigation. I -think deep in the questioner's heart must lie the answer to that question. (Laughter) Q Si--, I would like know what is the basis of law for classifying,, is this in the Constitution? Per- haps Mr. Dean c?n help us. Is this in the Constitution, and if so, whereabouts and what are the laws that govern this? Does the Adrainistra- tion plasm to put this in the realm of law, or put it in an Executive Order? MR. E =C si1dTiT s 1 think you have an excellent suggestion. We will call on the lawyer. MR. DEAN: l is twofold. There are a number of statutes on the books right now. Let's begin with the Constitution. MR. DEAN : The Constitution permits the Congress to enact those laws which they feel are necessary and proper. They have set up some laws which say that certain documents must be held in confidence. Q Who has? MR. DEAN-. The Congress. That is part of the authority. There is also the President's inherent authority 'co issue an Executive Order to devise his own method to maintain a security system. Q Are you going to do it by the laws which you say exist, and I don?t know which ones they are, or are you going to do it by Executive order? MR. DEAN? I imagine they will be a little of both. As John said, the specifics of the system are still in . development Q John, which nations with whom we will negotiate or nave negotiated hav indica ed that they were upset by revelations? i'iR. AN . aal t , I think there have been some .at I have read in the newspape . s .' Beyond that, I would not be prepared to .;o. Q Jdhri, yo said "tri"ne criteria for declassifit at- i_on, one of t1lem, wa, that would not needlessly embarrass foreign citizens. Would ~yy s ri Feria be applied to citizens of '4 he United Stacey Approved For Release 2000/09/14: tDP83-01022R000100040013-6 Approved For Release 2000/09/14: CIA-RDP83-0102000100040013-6 g~ p''y9t 1 /~ (+~i R.. ^~:&11R 1CHM AN in, (I (c-~~'i ya'~:ot prepared to say wheUi-her i 'w+ Y ouid or not. I ~...A~ink policy thrust, -M and this is very vagcca and let r,t L~.rcerlineS that it is Very Vauu,:'. was Dust trying to give you a flavor of one of the co.- sid'erations that has to be raised aid di._ used o here either pro or con, is that the Archives o . the Government may very wall h'av'e a derogatory of some ndivi ua q as to which there is no valid public purpose in its publiCa~ - J on, and there is a judcgmcntai question that. is going to L _L b e raiA as to t cat document Do you put that out? :o you impugn an individual Ai4ediessly without any public purpose being involved, or do :u set up some kind of a review system that takes t1la`C "u _ stion in-Co account? 1 u :i not ;O spar ,( 'Co say r g'ht now ~a1at the syi'::tem will, in 5:acv, 'C.ak that into account, but is is one of the things that now is being looked c . Q t . ' ems i o me that this is cent, zi.' to 4-he sar.o.k..e controversy over cla.ssif .cation, because 4he chief objection that 1 think most journalists have to class if'J.0-d documents is that they are used quite frequently to save embar:rassmerit of public officials. That is the reason I a= asking. MR.:; i,ICETI''I1N: I understand that. it is certainly not a legitimate function of the classification simply to save someone from embarrassment because he made a mistake. But it is with foreign people? '!R. :-HRL?