Accused of bureaucratic overreaching, the head of a State Department research team may soon be history himself

Historians in the News

An unusual revolt by State Department employees is expected to trigger the ouster of the bureaucrat heading the Office of the Historian, a unique squad of 35 academics charged by statute with impartially chronicling America's foreign relations.

State Department Historian Marc Susser and his aide Douglas Kraft will be removed and offered other civil service positions, based on a recommendation by State's inspector general's office that will be finalized and published in the next two weeks, according to current and former employees of the office.

Although senior officials have not yet endorsed the recommendation, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Robert Wood last week began briefing staff historians on the decision, out of concern that several of them might soon quit or be forced out by Susser and Kraft. Susser's office said on Wednesday that he was on leave "for the next couple of days."

The two are accused of practicing cronyism, stifling dissent, and forcing the resignation of employees whom Susser considered a threat to his control of the office. Among other charges that acting Inspector General Harold Geisel examined is an accusation that Susser or Kraft used spurious charges of security breaches as a pretext to fire historians he deemed disloyal.

Sixteen members of the 35-person staff have departed in the past four years, robbing the office of some of its most experienced historians, including the chief editor of Foreign Relations of the United States, a 150-year-old series of books treasured by historians worldwide. Edward Keefer, a 38-year veteran of the office and the general editor of FRUS, as it is known, is now a contract employee doing historical research at the Pentagon....
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