OPEN GOVERNMENT -- President Kennedy wanted to get the official record of U.S. diplomacy into the public eye as soon as possible, and used a 1961 directive to state that most information should be available after 15 years, reports Secrecy News editor Steven Aftergood.
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
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
"The latest volume
of the Foreign Relations of the United States (FRUS) series, the
official record of U.S. foreign policy, reflects events that took place
from 1969 to 1972, or nearly forty years ago."