UNDERNEWS

Undernews is the online report of the Progressive Review, edited by Sam Smith, who covered Washington during all or part of one quarter of America's presidencies and edited alternative journals since 1964. The Review has been on the web since 1995. See main page for full contents

July 21, 2009

RECOVERED HISTORY: JFK WANTED FOREIGN POLICY PAPERS RELEASED AFTER ONLY 15 YEARS

Secrecy News - The latest volume of the Foreign Relations of the United States series, the official record of U.S. foreign policy, reflects events that took place from 1969 to 1972, or nearly forty years ago. This represents a continuing violation of a 1991 statute which requires the Secretary of State to publish FRUS "not more than 30 years after the events recorded." But even that seemingly unachievable goal is insufficiently ambitious, according to a 1961 directive issued by President John F. Kennedy.

"It has long been a point of pride of our government that we have made the historical record of our diplomacy available more promptly than any other nation in the world," President Kennedy wrote.

"In recent years the publication of the 'Foreign Relations' series has fallen farther and farther behind currency," he wrote back then. "The lag has now reached approximately twenty years. I regard this as unfortunate and undesirable. It is the policy of this Administration to unfold the historical record as fast and as fully as is consistent with national security and with friendly relations with foreign nations."

"In my view, any official should have a clear and precise case involving the national interest before seeking to withhold from publication documents or papers fifteen or more years old," President Kennedy concluded.

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