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Jul 23, 2004 11:09 pm


Query: Annotations and Access ...



Three months ago, I was critical of the nomination of Allen Weinstein to serve as Archivist of the United States. My primary objection has been and is his refusal to make copies of his notes and documents, which he made in preparation for a book, available to other researchers. His access to the Soviet archives was privileged and other researchers are not allowed access to the documents he used there.

My argument goes to the whole purpose of documentation in a historical text. We include footnotes or endnotes in order to show readers and other researchers where we've been and to enable them to follow the same trails to the same and, even, other evidence. I am arguing that Weinstein emasculates the whole practice of annotating a work by refusing to make his notes and copies available to other researchers, since they won't be available otherwise. This, it seems to me, violates a principle of openness at the heart of professional archival and historical practice.

Medical doctors, journalists, and lawyers have professional obligations to protect the confidentiality of sources, but it seems to me that the whole ethical obligation of archivists and historians runs exactly in the other direction. The example of Perry Miller in depositing his documentation as his books were published is well known. Weinstein promises to make his material available at some time in the future. I think that promise is not good enough. The Archivist of the United States should be an examplar of best practice, not shady deal. Can you think of instances in which any reputable historian has refused to grant other researchers access to notes and copies of documents, once his or her research using them was published?

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Maarja Krusten - 7/29/2004

Sounds good to me on the academic degrees, best of luck to you! I myself have a Masters in History, never went back for the PhD. Yet I have had a successful and interesting 31-year (and counting) career, first as a federal archivist, and, since 1990, as a federal historian.

If you want to read more about the challenges awaiting Dr. Weinstein, check out my post today at http://hnn.us/readcomment.php?id=39022#39022


Richard Henry Morgan - 7/27/2004

Thanks. And don't 'doctorize' me, please! I've completed about the equivalent of a half-dozen majors, have two bachelor's, entered two master's programs (on institutional money), exited one with a degree, and am back in school now -- all without ever sitting for comps, caring for and feeding a dissertation committee, or getting a doctorate. In a perverse way, I almost proud of that.

I'm glad to hear that he had just copies. And I wonder if originals went to the Commission, or copies from the same pool that Berger pilfered.


Maarja Krusten - 7/27/2004

Dr. Morgan, thanks much for catching my use of September and October 2004 where I intended 2003. That's what happens when you write and post quickly, sorry!! I don't have much time now, but would like to point out in response to your posting of one of the Berger hypotheses, that the documents involved were copies, not the originals. The originals remained at the National Archives so removing copies would not ultimately have affected the historical record. Rather, as reported in the press, the issues involve removal of classified info in the copies. I'll post more anon as I have time, thanks for the good catch on the dates!!


Richard Henry Morgan - 7/27/2004

Just for those easily confused -- she meant '2003' where she wrote '2004'.


Richard Henry Morgan - 7/27/2004

Thankyou for the prompt and couteous reply -- it would seem to preclude a connection. There is an interesting story about (linked to from instapundit) that Berger's communications were being monitored by an "unauthorized agency", though the story limits that to his latter visits. It would be uncommonly efficient of the Bush Administration, or any administration, to be onto Berger from the start, but if they were, it would predate the corrective actions of archive staff. Not likely, but ...

John Lehman has provided an intersting take on matters. According to him, Clarke blasted Bush and Clinton in interviews before the Commission staff, then his book manuscript was returned by his publisher and rewritten, and publication date moved up to coincide with his public testimony, where he blasted just Bush. Seems among the disappeared documents were draft copies of the positive after-action report regarding the Millenium Bombing Operation, which had critical comments by Clarke affixed. The implication is that Berger was removing material that contradicted Clarke's public testimony.


Maarja Krusten - 7/26/2004

Interesting theory regarding Archivist Carlin and the Berer inquiry, but, no connection. And, in fact, the timeline seems to preclude it. Prof. Weinstein testified that the White House first contacted him about replacing Carlin on September 23, 2004. At that time, there were no reports that Berger had documents at his home. News reports show that Berger visited the Archives in (late?) September but that Archives staff did not confront him with their suspicions of missing documents until after his second visit to the Archives on October 2, 2004. They first asked him on October 4 about missing documents. Some later were found in his possession. After that, the Archives properly opened an Inspector General investigation.

Mostly, it sounds as if the Archives' officials acted properly. I would question why Berger was left alone in the research room by the attendants, however, if that is what happened. News stories suggest he may have demanded they leave so he could make sensitive phone calls. My experiences as a former NARA employee suggest that former high officials can indeed act very imperious.

Stories about Berger are uncorroborated right now, we'll have to wait and see what the official reports say. Published reports say that only after the IG completed its investigation was there a referral to DOJ. That fits with standard practice. I haven't had time to check news stories but I believe that would have been around January.

NARA's IG posts semi-annual reports on the National Archives' website, you can check out its activities and procedures there, including standard practices, general info on referrals to DOJ, etc.


Richard Henry Morgan - 7/26/2004

As I understand it (perhaps imperfectly or erroneously), the National Archivist serves at the pleasure of the President -- he is a presidential appointee subject to Congressional confirmation.

There have been "unexplained" removals from a post in the past, needless to say. The White House Physician, under Clinton, was removed. He was approached by a White House staffer, vial in hand, and directed to inject Clinton with it. He understandably refused without knowing the contents, provenance, and purposes of the material to be injected, and without consulting Clinton's medical records. When he contacted the physician who had prescribed the medication and requested Clinton's medical records, he was summarily dismissed.

http://users.aol.com/beachbt/clinmed.txt

Press reports have it that an investigation of Berger, for his removal of classified files and notes thereof from the Archives, was initiated over six months ago. That is rather vague. It puts it in the ballpark of the dismissal of the National Archivist. I wonder if a more precise chronology of those two events may perhaps relate them as cause and effect, or preclude the same. Has that been considered?




Maarja Krusten - 7/26/2004

To Julia Hofmann Kemp, many thanks for the kind words. I have little experience with blogs and message boards and have been startled by some of what I see on HNN. I first posted briefly in April, have mostly avoided the forums since then.

Regarding the U.S. Archivist as a subordinate employee, please see "Archivist's Resignation Questioned," a 07/26/04 Washington Post article at http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A13913-2004Jul25.html . Reporter George Lardner Jr. notes that "Archivist of the United States John W. Carlin was pushed by the White House in December to submit his resignation without being given any reason, Senate Democrats disclosed last week at a hearing to consider President Bush's nomination of his successor."

Moreover, "Disclosure of the circumstances surrounding Carlin's decision to step down overshadowed the testimony of Bush's nominee, Allen Weinstein, and could delay any plans to confirm him before the November elections."

In my posts in response to Roger Sandilands' article at http://www.hnn.us/articles/4604.html in April 2004, I said that Archivist John Carlin's seemingly forced removal should serve as a red flag and deserved as much attention as any examination of Professor Weinstein's scholarship and practices. Oddly enough, the people posting there chose not to engage, despite my trying to frame the issue in ways that might resonate in academe, as well.

Some of that was due to the nature of Sandilands' original article, which drew Hiss experts, not public access or public policy experts. Be that as it may, a lot of ink was spilt on issues that hardly were raised during the Weinstein confirmation hearing. I put that down to the fact that people prefer to post about what they know best and that I was the only one posting on the Sandilands thread who had an exclusively governmental career (31 years experience as a federal archivist and a federal historian). Since April, I have lowered my expectations regarding dialogue. So I appreciate your response all the more!

Maarja Krusten


Julie A Hofmann - 7/26/2004

Thanks to Maarja Krusten for actually addressing the issues. I cannot say how disappointed I am in some of my colleagues' insitence on turning so many of the discussions on this board into a sad re-hashing of the Bellesiles affair as a way of justifying childish ad hominem arguments. If we expect our students to answer the question as asked, shouldn't we try to set a good example?

Instead, it seems that, especially in response to Ralph Luker's posts, we get a bunch of self-important diatribes that only tangentially refer to the initial post.

In reference to that post, I'm not sure that Ralph is entirely on the mark in terms of what qualifications the National Archivist should have, but do lean towards the idea that there is something inherently untrustworthy in someone who will not provide at least some documentation to others. It's a competitive market, but really, we historians share our ideas and work all the time at conferences, and I think much of our production is improved by useful, informal collaboration.

When one adds Ralph's concern to other legitimate concerns over the timing and circumstances of Weinstein's appointment, I think it quite sensible to worry that he might be more inclined to act as a censor of information rather than someone who preserves the free flow of information. I also think that the national security question is something of a straw man. Classified documents are ipso facto not available; if there is a need to keep them classified longer than the legal time period before they become public information, the government will (or should, if it knows what it's doing) make the proper case to have access restricted for a longer time.


Richard Henry Morgan - 7/25/2004

Now we're making progress. I too think Weinstein could clarify matters by making the "materials" he controls available to others -- I just don't think he's under any professional obligation as a historian, under AHA guidelines, to do so (keeping the caveats of my previous post in mind).

And yes, I do believe the nature of the "materials" is relevant to his obligations. I don't understand where your comment, that I have an "easy acceptance of Russian archival practice", comes from. And I don't see how the closure of the files transfers an extra professional burden to Weinstein.

You claim that nobody demands that Weinstein make available "notes and copies of documents not cited". I beg to differ. You may not make such a demand, but I refer you to Sandilands' posting here at HNN:

"The KGB closed their archives to other researchers who therefore cannot check the accuracy, context or interpretation of the notes made by Vassiliev and written up mainly by Weinstein. Except, that is, if Weinstein were to grant access to his files."

"But what is so disturbing about Weinstein as Archivist of the United States is that he is so reluctant to open up his own archives."

First, you'll note, that not even Sandilands says that Weinstein has "copies of documents" (the expression you use in the post above), but "notes". Secondly, he wants to check the "context" of the notes. This is unavailable in the Russian archives, so wants to search Weinstein's files for that "context" of his notes. He also plans to check the "accuracy" of Weinstein's notes by, get this, checking Weinstein's files, in place of checking the KGB files. This is to be achieved by transforming Weinstein's files into (in Sandilands' own word) "archives". Apart from the intellectual confusion of checking the accuracy of Weinstein's notes by reference to his files, rather than KGB files, I think it a reasonable if not exactly dispositive interpretation that he is demanding access to all his files, even that of materials not referring to cited material.

I'm not aware of a professional obligation to transparency -- it seems a wooly concept which needs trimming into specific obligations. Does it include notes? The AHA doesn't say so. You say Weinstein's conduct has been "unprofessional". I think that a serious charge. I think the standards you rely on in making that judgment go beyond the AHA guidelines. That is your right. And I still think that the standards you embraced in the Perry Miller standard go beyond anything demanded by the AHA, and beyond standard practice of historians. And if that standard is the basis, even in part, for your conclusion of "unprofessional", then I think you're just plain wrong -- after all, not even you have met the Perry Miller standard. And I don't believe I ever used the word or concept "transparent" in connection with Bellesiles -- I never demanded that he produce his notes. We just continue to disagree on many issues, but I hope without being disagreeable.


Maarja Krusten - 7/25/2004

How relevant this debate over historians' notes is to Prof. Weinstein's potential performance as U.S. Archivist depends on how much free will you think he will have as a subordinate official. Certainly the debate has some relevance, but how much? In addition to looking at the professor's past actions, you may want to consider the recent positions taken by the White House and the Justice Department (DOJ) on public disclosure, a zone of executive privacy, timely public access to historical materials, etc. As U.S. Archivist, Prof. Weinstein will be a Presidential appointee and a subordinate officer of the executive branch. In matters of litigation, the government speaks with one voice, and it is DOJ whose lawyers will speak for the Archives. The Archives is unable to speak on its own in court. DOJ, of course, also is headed by a subordinate official of the executive branch, the Attorney General.

Some of the Senators at the Weinstein hearing honed in on the difficult challenges Prof. Weinstein may face. See "Senator Seeks Reasons for Archivist's Dismissal," Government Executive magazine, July 23, 2004, at http://snipurl.com/7yv9

BEGIN EXTRACT FROM GOVERNMENT EXECUTIVE:

"Weinstein told Lieberman no one in the White House had instructed him he would be expected to keep presidential documents secret if he took the position.

If that had been the case, he said, he would not have been interested in the position. 'No job is worth my integrity,' said Weinstein, founder of the Center for Democracy, a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping emerging democracies. 'The archivist's job is to advocate for access.'
But Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill., said he had trouble reconciling that philosophy with Weinstein's stated intention to defend the president's executive order against court challenge.
'I think I know where your heart is, but I want to know where your lawyers will be. If your lawyers are restricting access to the presidential documents, I think you're on the wrong side,' Durbin said.

[END EXTRACT]
For those of you who are liberal Democrats, picture being U.S. Archivist and having the Bush White House and the Justice Department craft the positions that will be taken in court -- in your name -- on access to government records. For those of you who are conservative Republicans, picture being in charge of the Archives and having a Clinton-type White House and a Reno-type DOJ tell you what stance to take in court.

Add in the heated rhetoric surrounding the "red state/blue state" split over "values" and culture wars and you can picture how difficult it will be for the U.S. Archivist to objectively balance competing interests and to chart a reasonable course.

For an historian's account of litigation with the National Archives over Presidential records, see Stanley I. Kutler, "Liberation of the Nixon tapes," _Legal Times_, May 6, 1996. Dr. Kutler noted in that article of contentious actions that took place during 1991-1992, "What is harder to understand is that the National Archives proved to be Nixon's willing and trusted ally -- even though it meant defying the law and misleading the public as to the nature of the material."

I do not envy Prof. Weinstein or any official who becomes U.S. Archivist, he/she will face enormously difficult challenges. And I know of what I speak, now a historian, I am a former archivist who once worked as an employee of the National Archives.

Now back to your regularly scheduled program (???!!!) LOL

Maarja Krusten


Ralph E. Luker - 7/25/2004

Richard:
a) Your first point is correct, though you've assumed Hiss's guilt proven in earlier arguments, and you simply refuse to acknowledge that Weinstein could make his own contribution to clarifying matters by making the materials he controls available to other researchers.
b) Much of your argument hinges on the nature of the material in Weinstein's possession. I think that is irrelevent.
c) The KGB file numbers obviously are of no use to other researchers so long as the KGB archives remain closed to them.
d) Your point is another irrelevence. I've never cited a source which is locked behind Russian archival practice. All my citations can be checked by any researcher having standard access to research libraries. Your case for Weinstein rests on easy acceptance of Russian archival practice. Most wingers would find that embarrassing. Apparently, you don't.
On your specific questions:
a) No. No one claims that he has in his possession original documents. Nor has anyone demanded that he make notes and copies of documents he hasn't yet cited available to other researchers.
b)Irrelevent. No, of course, copies of original documents are not themselves original documents. His obligation is to be transparent about his use of sources. He isn't.
c- ) Yes, the distinctions which you think are so important are essentially irrelevent. They are the function of a feverishly legalistic brain seeking whatever justification it can find for Weinstein's unprofessional conduct. What's wrong with being transparent about your use of sources, Richard? You rightly challenged Bellesiles on those grounds. Why is Weinstein exempt?


Richard Henry Morgan - 7/25/2004

Well, Ralph, Weinstein's indictment of Hiss stands, at present, on little more than his own assertions, since many of the sources (the Soviet archive files) can't be verified or questioned. I suggest that people keep that in mind when assessing his work.

I'm not sure I understand the conclusion you draw that Neither Weinstein nor Bellesiles meets minimal standards. Weinstein cited the file numbers of the KGB files. If he doesn't have primary source materials that he cited and that he hasn't made available to others, then I beg to differ -- he has met minimal AHA standards. If he does have such materials, and he has cited them, and hasn't made them available, then he hasn't met minimal standards.

You make reference to notes and copies of documents. I'm not aware, nor has anybody supplied evidence, that Weinstein has copies of documents, that he cited, that enjoy the status of primary sources -- which he would be obliged to make available to others. I've actually read Weinstein's book. He doesn't cite his notes, he cites the KGB file numbers. My understanding is his co-author made notes of documents that Weinstein hasn't even seen. If I'm wrong, then I'm wrong.

I don't understand your comment about my "half-life" an "controversy" "screed". Apparently, not even your exemplary intentions have yet met the "Perry Miller standard", inasmuch as one might conclude from your last post that you haven't put on deposit the documents and notes from your writing, upon publication. If someone as scrupulously devoted to full disclosure as you are hasn't met the Perry Miller standard, I suggest the examples of those historians who have met the standard are few upon the ground. The field for potential candidates for Archivist, if historians, will prove very thin indeed.

I'm not familar with the legal doctrine that his publisher having paid for access automatically makes the publisher the owner of Weinstein's notes, but I await enlightenment on that legal issue.

You've urged superogatory standards on candidates for the Archivist. That is certainly defensible. I believe the standards you've urged, however, are so stringent that not many historians will qualify -- even historians who have met AHA guidelines.

By "full disclosure" I meant, and I thought it obvious, that Sandilands et al want access to ALL Weinstein's notes, even those that don't contain material from or reference to KGB files Weinstein actually cited. You seem to feel that your own work was appropriated. I would think that you would be sensitive to the notion that Weinstein has no obligation to make available materials he hasn't cited in publication, whether primary source materials or just notes.

I'm a little confused as to your position. Do you feel that Weinstein is obligated to make available primary source materials available that he has yet to cite himself? Do you consider hand copies of documents primary source materials? Do you consider notes that aren't copies also primary source materials? Do you consider notes with paraphrases, or commentaries, or also with references to other facts not cited, also primary sources? Are the distinctions between primary sources and notes, used and unused, cited and uncited, irrelevant to your position?

I think I've stated these points and questions fairly and without aspersion or rancor. Can you answer them in the same spirit?


Maarja Krusten - 7/25/2004

Apologies for the formatting failure in the "cut and paste." above. I used " and ' marks in my original text, which I drafted in Word. For some reason, the quote mark coding did not convey when I did a cut and paste here. Wherever you see numbers above, pls substitute " or ' as appropriate. Thanks!


Maarja Krusten - 7/25/2004

How relevant this debate over historians’ notes is to Prof. Weinstein’s potential performance as U.S. Archivist depends on how much free will you think he will have as a subordinate official. Certainly the debate has some relevance, but how much? In addition to looking at the professor’s past actions, you may want to consider the recent positions taken by the White House and the Justice Department (DOJ) on public disclosure, a zone of executive privacy, timely public access to historical materials, etc. As U.S. Archivist, Prof. Weinstein will be a Presidential appointee and a subordinate officer of the executive branch. In matters of litigation, the government speaks with one voice, and it is DOJ whose lawyers will speak for the Archives. The Archives is unable to speak on its own in court. DOJ, of course, also is headed by a subordinate official of the executive branch, the Attorney General.

Some of the Senators at the Weinstein hearing honed in on the difficult challenges Prof. Weinstein may face. See “Senator Seeks Reasons for Archivist’s Dismissal,” Government Executive magazine, July 23, 2004, at http://snipurl.com/7yv9

BEGIN EXTRACT FROM GOVERNMENT EXECUTIVE:

“Weinstein told Lieberman no one in the White House had instructed him he would be expected to keep presidential documents secret if he took the position.

If that had been the case, he said, he would not have been interested in the position. ‘No job is worth my integrity,’ said Weinstein, founder of the Center for Democracy, a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping emerging democracies. ‘The archivist's job is to advocate for access.’
But Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill., said he had trouble reconciling that philosophy with Weinstein's stated intention to defend the president's executive order against court challenge.
‘I think I know where your heart is, but I want to know where your lawyers will be. If your lawyers are restricting access to the presidential documents, I think you're on the wrong side,’ Durbin said.

[END EXTRACT]
For those of you who are liberal Democrats, picture being U.S. Archivist and having the Bush White House and the Justice Department craft the positions that will be taken in court -- in your name -- on access to government records. For those of you who are conservative Republicans, picture being in charge of the Archives and having a Clinton-type White House and a Reno-type DOJ tell you what stance to take in court.

Add in the heated rhetoric surrounding the “red state/blue state” split over “values” and culture wars and you can picture how difficult it will be for the U.S. Archivist to objectively balance competing interests and to chart a reasonable course.

For an historian’s account of litigation with the National Archives over Presidential records, see Stanley I. Kutler, “Liberation of the Nixon tapes,” Legal Times, May 6, 1996. Dr. Kutler noted in that article of contentious actions that took place during 1991-1992, “What is harder to understand is that the National Archives proved to be Nixon's willing and trusted ally -- even though it meant defying the law and misleading the public as to the nature of the material.” I do not envy Prof. Weinstein or any official who becomes U.S. Archivist, he/she will face enormously difficult challenges. And I know of what I speak, now a historian, I am a former archivist who once worked as an employee of the National Archives.

Now back to your regularly scheduled program (???!!!) LOL



Ralph E. Luker - 7/25/2004

Revealing somehow, Richard, that you and Weinstein want to use the cover of Russian archival-lockout to defend Weinstein's case for his confirmation and his indictment of Hiss. He has nullified the purpose of annotation by this refuge.
Weinstein makes much of the fact that his publisher, not he, paid for access to the Russian archives. That would, I think, make the notes and copies of documents the publisher's property, not Weinstein's. It seems unlikely that a publisher would want to foot the bill for warehousing the material in question. Your whole argument wreaks with contempt for the whole academic enterprise.
So, neither Bellesiles nor Weinstein meet minimal standards. My recollection is that Bellesiles hasn't been nominated to be Archivist of the United States. Perry Miller's practice was exemplary. So far as my own notes and copies of documents are concerned, any archive which wants them may have them as soon as I'm finished with them. That takes care of your "half life" and "controversy" screed. Why would Weinstein run from "full discovery"? What is he hiding?


Richard Henry Morgan - 7/25/2004

I'm going to assume that you note that I never had you claim the cases were exactly the same. Interesting straw man you've constructed. Cutting through the verbiage and the usual personal attacks, I don't see just where you specify just what the relevant similarity is between Bellesiles and Weinstein. Weinstein cites his sources, individual KGB file numbers.

No one has answered my question as to whether they believe Weinstein is in possession of primary source materials, photocopies of said, or microfilm of said -- if he were, he would be obliged to provide access to it, a fortiori since the SVR archives are closed. In fact, one could say that question has been assiduously ducked, in favor of conflating notes with primary source materials. It has been alleged that he has cited conversations from tape recordings that he hasn't made availble to others -- if true (and I posted this elsewhere) then he is in violation of AHA guidelines.

Elsewhere, Ralph has conceded that the demands that he placed on Weinstein were superogatory. Bellesiles didn't meet even minimal requirements.

Now it is well within Ralph's right to urge a superogatory standard for National Archivist. Unfortunately, the Perry Miller standard he urged had the half-life of an ice cube in hell. I would guess that not one in 500 historians have met the Perry Miller standard -- that is, not one in 500 have put on deposit "documentation" (presumably, primary source materials, but Ralph appears to includes notes in his use of that wooly term) upon publication of their work. It turns out the revamped Perry Miller standard contains the Luker Proviso that it has to relate to something that Ralph deems "controversial" -- I leave it to others to decide if that's really a standard at all, or just Ralph's preferences dressed up as a standard.

You might want to take some time to acquaint yourself with the facts concerning the Bellesiles matter. He concocted data from San Francisco ardchives, Contra Costa archives, and several Massachusetts county archives -- the last, archives that had transferred their files to the Massachusetts state archive before Bellesiles calims to have visited there. If you need further help with reading or math, just let me know.

I understand Weinstein's reluctance to, in a supererogatory manner make his own property, which he hasn't cited in his works, available to others who haven't demonstrated a responsible use of evidence. Consider Sandilands. He has offered the risible contention that the majority of scholars agree that ALES is not Hiss, and that a search of KGB files has disposed of the assertion that Hiss was ALES -- when the Venona decripts makes clear that ALES worked for one of the sister organizations, rather than the KGB (perhaps, the GRU). Navasky mis-states the title of the searcher, putting him at the head of the "military intelligence records", which coincidentally leaves the false impression that the GRU files were searched, when they weren't.

What Sandilands, in his posting here at HNN, makes clear is he wants access to all of Weinstein's materials that he deems relevant to "the context" -- not just any of Weinstein's notes that refer to, or contain information from the files he actually cited in his work. This is, not surprisingly, analogous to a defense lawyers demand for full discovery -- not surprising since that seems to be the role of Sandilands and Navasky: to concoct a defense of Hiss. I too would tell them to go pound sand.


Derek Charles Catsam - 7/25/2004

Richard --
I am going to assume that you note that i did not say that the cases are *exactly* the same. I'll also assume that you are a close enough reader to note that I was building on something Ralph said. Perhaps it is a dumb assumption -- so far I've no reason to believe that close reading is your strength. You are good at partisan tirades though -- let no one rob you of that skill. For all of the verbiage you just spewed, it does not change the fact, yes, the fact, that you are giving one a pass where the other did not get it from you and the pass just happens to adhere to your idology. It is all just happy coincidence, I am certain. By the way, I imagine math is not your forte either, but you cite two archives of 40 that Bellisiles from which he concocted evidence. Presumably you also would have liked to have seen the documentation from the other, let's see, what is it, . . . oh, 38? No one is, of course, defending Bellisiles here. But I find it funny that Belisiles provides a great way to examine your hypocrisy. Good work. Keep defending it. We'll let the readers judge.
dc


Richard Henry Morgan - 7/25/2004

Bellesiles did not "document" his sources for his inventories. He aggregated the numbers and for the most part simply listed close to 40 archives, without saying which numbers came from which. He provided no file numbers, no book numbers, nor tray numbers, no names associated with individual files. Weinstein cites individual KGB file numbers. It is understandable, of course, that Bellesiles failed to "document" his claims (fully cite sources) since the San Francisco archive didn't exist, and the Massachusetts archives he claimed as sources had, by the time he had claimed to have gotten his data there, already transferred their materials to the state archives. Oops. Lindgren asked Bellesiles for his data and sources, not his notes. But by all means, Derek, don't let any facts get in your way.


Derek Charles Catsam - 7/25/2004

Indeed, I'd take Ralph's point to its logical conclusion -- if Weinstein's job was contingent on his keeping copies of his notes secret, this is a scandal that ought to be front page stuff. This whole nonsense of favored historians getting priviledged access to documents really ought to stop anyway.
*If anyone wants the notes that made up the substance of this post, I'll gladly sell them on E-Bay.
dc


Derek Charles Catsam - 7/25/2004

Ralph --
Thank you for bringing up Bellesiles. The rampant hypocrisy here was beginning to border on the surreal. Oh, I forget. One of the folks in question agreed with Morgan's worldview. The other disagreed. Funny how that just happens to break down along the lines of the argument he is making here.
dc


Richard Henry Morgan - 7/25/2004

I should have said above: "... not willing to apply to all historians that ache for the post."


Richard Henry Morgan - 7/24/2004

Wrong again, Ralph. There is nothing in my first paragraph that assumes that the primary obligation of the Archivist is to prevent access.

Secondly, I wasn't intending to make you out an apologist for Hiss since, as far as I know, you haven't demanded access for yourself to ALL his notes 'relevant' to the wider context (reference Prof. Sandilands' posting, and my post above). I apologize for not making that more clear.


I'm also not aware that anybody other than Emory, in the course of a investigation, asked Bellesiles for his notes. I'm aware that he was asked for his data -- which he was obliged to provide under AHA guidelines. I could turn the question around -- do I not remember you asking that charges not be trumpeted about the internet about Bellesiles, absent a due process proceeding?

I repeat, I think it a respectable position that the Archivist more than meet bare professional responsibilities in his previous professional commitments. As RB Bernstein urged others to proffer charges against Bellesiles, as a matter of fairness -- a request that, unfortunately for Bellesiles, was met -- I encourage those who think Weinstein hasn't met even his minimal professional obligations to themselves file charges with the AHA.

I notice in your last posting, the term 'documents' disappears. Is it now your position that Weinstein doesn't have original evidence documents, or even copies of original evidence documents? I was under the impression that he had in his possession handwritten notes by his co-author, and that he hadn't himself even seen the originals upon which the notes were based. I could be wrong on that, but I'd like to be shown to be wrong before I confess.

Perry Miller put his documentation on deposit upon publication -- I assume sources, or are you importing notes into 'documentation'? I think that important because notes aren't documentation. Well, I accept the documentation deposit standard as the best practice an Archivist should demonstrate, and yet when I say I intend to hold any and all historians to that standard, you go ballistic, and seem to backtrack to just those that are deemed "controversial" in some sense -- something of a sub rosa admission that the standards you urged aren't fair or realistic?

And I don't believe that reviewing scholarship is theft, since I don't believe that notes are scholarship. Weinstein has found himself in the unenviable position that people may misintepret notes whose meaning is clear to him and his co-author (as a sort of shorthand, perhaps, since they wrote it, and not for publication or for anybody else's understanding), and yet which can't be used by others to determine the fact of the matter -- as they don't have access to the archives (the notes can be misused to cast doubt on his writings, but they can't substitute as evidence for his claims). This is made worse by the fact that those who have done the demanding (Sandilands et al) are precisely those who have most demonstrated a determination to defend Hiss come what may. After watching the way Weinstein has been treated by them and their ilk, I too would tell them to go take a flying hike since, after all, notes aren't evidence, he doesn't cite them, and he's under no prfesional requirement to give them access.

The asymmetry of the evidential import of the notes is a conundrum, but unlike you, I don't believe that the conundrum can be solved by selectively applying higher standards to Weinstein than you are willing to apply to all historians that ache for the post.

As for Weinstein, I wouldn't know him, or his full record, if I tripped over either, so I don't know whether I could support him or not. I will support him against the claims of Sandilands et al for access to his notes, or worse yet, access to all his notes they deem relevant. I haven't endorsed Weinstein for the post. I simply suggest that the Perry standards are standards unlikely to be met by many historians. I do wonder, though, whether Weinstein can be worse than the current occupant of that job, inasmuch as the current holder doesn't seem to have mastered the barest minimum of the archivist's job -- to keep material within the archives.

I'm afraid that, au fond, we simply disagree on the evidential status of notes, whetehr thay are documentation, and on reasonable standards for the Archivist.

I have had occasion, in the past, to be less than civil to you, Ralph. I'm now afraid that I've presented a bad example.


Ralph E. Luker - 7/24/2004

You manage to be wrong across the board, while trying to give the appearance of being straight-forward and even-handed.
Your first paragraph assumes that the primary obligation of the Archivist is to prevent access to original sources. Unnecessarily anally retentive of you, Richard.
Weinstein's notes are all that is available to western scholars. Why would he not make them available? The scholarship as private property argument has very limited usefulness, as if, in fact, you actually gave a shit about scholarship.
If scholarship is private property, as you seem to believe, of course reviewing the scholarship is theft. I don't recall your loud denunciation of those who asked Michael Bellesiles to produce his notes.
Those who reviewed Bellesiles's work sought access to his notes. As I pointed out to you, if you had bothered to read it, Perry Miller routinely deposited his notes for other researchers' use. What is Weinstein trying to hide? You like a red herring except the one on your plate. You'll have trouble making me out to be an apologist for Alger Hiss. I'm a life-long Republican and gave a very positive review to Haynes's and Klehr's _In Denial_.
As you well know and as he well knew, Weinstein's findings were controversial from the moment he made them known. This is not the situation of a routine article on the importation of guana from Chile, 1845-1890. Non-controversial findings are unlikely to yield demand for access.
You _know_ that in good conscience you couldn't support Weinstein's nomination as Archivist -- unless, of course, you simply want a pliable national archivist in office to bend to Bush's over-reaching. You are clearly a man of partisan principle, Richard.


Richard Henry Morgan - 7/24/2004

Well, Ralph, I think you made a good point initially -- that the usual professional predisposition of historians is towards disclosure and open access. Historians, and archivists generally, aren't perhaps that well-suited to the job of National Archivist.

As for Weinstein, I think we continue to disagree. Weinstein has no documentary evidence that I know of that he has cited, that he hasn't made available -- and it is his professional duty to make any documentary evidence he cites available to other researchers. We disagree, apparently, on the ontological status of his notes. His notes prove nothing about the content of the Soviet archives, and he doesn't cite his notes, but archival file numbers.

It is a pity, no doubt, that the arch defenders of Alger Hiss have not been given acccess (as they have demanded) to ALL of Weinstein's notes relevant to the "full context" of the questions surrounding Hiss -- in other words, they've been denied a fishing expedition through Weinstein's work product. The attractions of theft over honest toil have succeeded in the Soviet Union, and elsewhere, in burying millions of citizens. My suggestion is that if they want to appropriate another man's property, they should avail themselves' of the opportunity of moving to one of the communist paradises they support -- if they can find one. But even access to notes more directly relevant is beyond the duty of Weinstein to provide.

You pose the question whether I know of any reputable historian who has denied access to his notes and copies of documents after research. I don't know that Weinstein has copies of documents, and in fact, I'm not aware that it is common practice to deposit notes after research. Moreover, I'm not aware of anyone being denied access to notes, inasmuch as I've never heard of anyone demanding access to notes (apart from the Hiss defenders).

That said, I think it a perfectly respectable position that you should demand that the National Archivist be someone who has gone beyond the bare professional requirments of his previous jobs. I trust that you will insist on that standard for any National Archivist. I would be most disappointed to discover that any future National Archivist turns out to be an historian who hadn't put his notes on deposit, or doesn't grant free access to them. I assure you that any historian who is nominated to that post, I will put to the test and demand that he provides complete notes to each and every publication he has brought into being -- secure in the knowledge that you will demand that he be denied the post if he fails to comply in any way -- after all, best practice is a minimum requirement, n'est-ce pas?.


Ralph E. Luker - 7/24/2004

Mark, There is simply no reason to believe that Weinstein's making his notes and copies of documents available to other researchers would in any way compromise the position of those who sold him access to the archives. Qualifications include commitment to values of openness and transparency. It's elemental.


mark safranski - 7/24/2004

Ralph,

What I meant was that the individual(s) in Russia who facilitated Weinstein's access might now that the political wind has shifted in Russia, be in some jeopardy of serious retaliation if identified. If that is the case, Weinstein's providing detailed footnoting would, due to the compartmentalized nature of the Soviet archives, probably narrow the suspects to a relatively small number of people.

I'm not sure, ethically speaking, if that would be the proper course of action for Weinstein to take simply to allay all doubts in order to win confirmation to what is one of the more obscure federal posts. Particularly if this is a matter of simply waiting a few years for someone to retire, die or emigrate.

I'm making an assumption of course but a not unreasonable one given the state of academic freedom in Russia. Perhaps during the confirmation hearings Allen Weinstein will be asked to clarify his reasons for witholding his notes. Until I see some evidence, not a supposition, that Weinstein is unfit for the position I will continue to support his nomination.


Ralph E. Luker - 7/24/2004

Mark, It does the writing of history in the west no good to blame the Russians. We don't have leverage with them on a matter like this. Weinstein needs to be more forthcoming.


mark safranski - 7/24/2004

Perhaps the problem is not on Weinstein's end but has to do with the personnel who gave him access to the archival material. ( " Priviliged" is a good way of putting it - getting in to the former Soviet archives back then was chancy, now it's exceptionally dificult)

Technically, if I recall correctly, such material remains " state secrets " under the Russian criminal code. There is also, from my reading of the ex-KGB general who occasionally posts on H-Diplo, Julius Kobyakov, extreme resentment in the SVR regarding the access given to Weinstein and other westerners.


Ralph E. Luker - 7/24/2004

Richard,
As you know, the current archivist is neither a historian nor an archivist by training. I imagine that, had you been on the job, none of this would have happened. I think we all understand the need for security. That is _not_ what is at stake here and you know it. Your rhetoric aside, however, I asked a question which you haven't addressed.


Richard Henry Morgan - 7/24/2004

I can understand that, as an historian, you might think that the ethical obligations of an archivist runs counter to maintaining confidentiality. In the case of the National Archivist, he has another obligation -- to maintain the integrity and confidentiality of classified documents. This seems, in the Berger case, an obligation beyond the powers of the current archivist. Seeing as the duties of the National Archvist include things at odds with the general tendencies of most archivists, it may well be that historians are not particularly well-suited to the task.

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