tv John Mc Laughlins One on One PBS September 26, 2010 8:00am-8:30am PST
>> the treasure trove, d dly madison risked her life and liberty to save documents preserved here. the collection includes the foundation of our liberties. the declaration of independence, the articles of could be federation, the constitution, the bill of rights, there are also cabinet minutes, white house papers and the presidential library system. including secret audio tapes and confidential memos. what can average americans find in this priceless legacy? is it readily accessible? how many secrets reside in the repositories of our national archives? have any of the secrets been improperly penetrated and revealed? we'll ask the archivist of the united states, alan
weinstein. [theme song playing] >> doctor alan weinstein, it's a great pleasure having yo pleasure to be here. >> recently, you brought the minister of iraq. what did he -- what was his impression? what did he take away from your visit and what did you show him? >> john, we have over a million visitors every year. he was -- he had the place to himself for a while. he was interested in seeing the charters of freedoms, interested in seeing the declaration of independence, the constitution and -- >> u.n. declaration? >> and the bill the rights,
the u.s. charter. he was also interested in the revolutionary period. washington -- was fascinated to spend sometime with washington's documents. he knew a great deal about american history. he also knew a great deal about the american revolution, for example, that we like so many other democracies began with support from other countries. we began with french support. they have coalition support in iraq. he was well aware of the time that it took the us. to go from revolution to government, over a decade. he was interested in lincoln and the civil war. we talked a lot about lincoln and saw lincoln documents. then he had a very surprised q. he wanted to see documents of the precedence apparentltl really fascinates him, john quincy adams so we showed -- >> did he explain his interest? >> well, he didn't beyond the point that he was fascinated with the father son aspect of this adams senior -- bush
senior, bush junior. >> i see. did he comment on anything like transparency of his from the documents? >> well, we tried to explain that we're an access agency and that americans are entitled to see the their country. i think in fact that i've been invited to come to bag dand see if we can't bring a delegation to advice them on organizing the archives which we may do. >> you've had an awful lot of experience before the archives with the arrival of measure of freedom to russia. the yeltsin and earlier in fact when you headed up the center for democracies, is that correct? >> 18 years you. >> are kind of an expert on freedom. >> not an expert -- >> you know that the iraqis -- did he bring any of this signing a constitution this year? >> i think all that i would say, john is they seem very determined on the score. he talked to the press in the
archives when we were. there i wouldn't at this point bet against them, but i should point outut that we have a program of hosted distinguished citizens. we're getting started if they're here in the u.s. they ought to come to the archives to look at some of the records of american history. >> you've also familiar with the role of heads of state. president bush gave a speech this week to prepare the population a realistic speech that was almost tinged with a little bit of not pessimism but indicating that our commitment, financial and military is going to be more prolonged than some people think. do you think he was successful in galvanizing a mess user support for himself? >> john, the archivist of the u.s. runs a nonpolitical totally professional operation. nonpart san. once a year i have the privilege of making a few comments and that will go on the fourth of july.
those who would like to hear my comments are going to have to come to the archives. >> whales are you going to do -- whales are you going to do for the fourth. >> we have two veterans, we're coming to read the declaration of independence for us. >> anything snells. >> we have games, dress ups of the major leaders of the early republic. we have a number of activities. it's a two-day festival. a civic festival and it starts on sunday and goes object to the fourth. have you been there, john? >> the archives? >> have you seen the new public vaultsxhibit? >> no, i've not. i've seen the video -- >> please consider -- whenever you like to come. >> thank you very much. i appreciate that. we'll get there. if not the fourth, then later. >> right. >> to -- i know you don't want to comment particularly on the president's speech right now, but are you going to get early drafts of the speech as part of the
archive's collection? >> oh, yes. white house, every white house delivers over from time to time copies of virtually all of its documents and they're held in trust unless there is a press test library to store them. >> i was a speech writer for president nixon. one of the of safire, brewing an ann of gergen -- and of course there were a the lot of memo written in connection with any presidential speech. so must get memorandum in connection with it. will you get it at the archives, this is more of an extrick aches of -- >> time will tell. >> you like those things, do you not? >> i lie the fullest possible record of any presidency. >> do you know that there is a school of thought that there should not be a paper trail because the situation the way it is in america today politicians are trying to trap other politicians that rush, is that -- does
that become an enemy for you, those who maintain that they should not have a paper trail or those who use the shredder? >> the interesting thing it speaks to your generation and mine because we are ate same generation. paper trailers and shredders are things of the past. electronics records have become the major -- we have two major companies now developing pot times of the system that we call the electron i been rorz archive to absorb the thousands and thousands of software patterns used within the federal government and the presidency is one of those. has one of the systems so -- we're in the process of trying to sort of master the most complicated problems that archivists which is making sure we don't loose most of the electronic records. >> stht digital age tough face up to that. >> we do. >> we get into that in a moment, but i want to ask you this before it escapes me and that is because of your close
involvement with russian democracy, do you think that russian democracy is in any kind of peril on the putin -- under putin today until. >> i think russian democracy has seen better days, but keep in mind, there is a major problem that is faced by all of the new democratses. the initial leaders of the democracies were trained, were mostly opposition leaders, people who created protests and very eloquent, very good at organizing support for change. they were not necessarily administrators. the changeover from opposition leaders to government leaders has been a real trial and difficulty form of the folks. russia -- yeltsin was a great opposition leader and putin had no role particularly in the opposition for the changeover. >> do you think has helped or hindered by his background in intelligence, russian intelligence, k.g.b? >> i don't think it helps?
>> you do not. >> there is a lotf criminality in russia. >> from is a lot of criminality in every country. >> is ebay peddling historical pictures autographs and documents stolen from the u.s. national archives? if so is legal action being taken against ebay either civil or criminal. first here is his distinguished profile. born new york city, 67 years of age, wife, aiden, two sons, one steppe son, one granddaughter. jewish, democrat. city college of new york b.a., yale university, m. a. and phd. american studies and history. smith college professor of history 15 years. the washington quarterly published by the september are for strategic and international study, executive editor, two years, georgetown university. throwee, b. u. history professors, four years, united states institute of peace, director, 15 years.
the center for democracy washington d.c.founder and presidenen 18 years. national archives and records administration now archivist of the u.s. four months and currently. author and coauthor eight books including the story of america and the haunted wood. soviet espionage in america, the stalin era and penge, the hess chambers case. awards united nationsed peace media the u.n.'s highest medal of honor given to an individual working for the cause of international peace and the council of europe silver medal twice for "outstanding astains and guide answer." alan weinstein. doctor weinstein what is your mission at the u.s. national archives and h are you able to fulfill that mison with the budge case, you know that. >> year's
budget. john. we hope for more: the national archives and records administration serves american democracy. i'm going to read to you the very brief mission statement. preserves for the american people and their public servants the records of our federal government. we assure continuing access to the essential documents of the rights of american citizens and the actions of government. we promote historic understanding of your national experience -- >> so you store bills of pieces of paperer? >> over 1 billion in the building downtown alone but the building downtown, sometimes it's misunderstood, we have four head quarters in washington. four different buildings, we have 11 press denies laborraries -- presidential library, if nickson joins -- nixon joining that it will be 12. >> isn't that a done deal? >> i encouraged -- >> why was there a standoff? >> there were differences what the library should do before it come into the system. >> you get clearance on the
tapes. >> we control the tapes, national archives has all of the nixon under federal statutes and federal law we have -- >> they'll stay with the archives or -- >> there will be transferred from the archives in college park, maryland, -- >> they'll get the originals of the at the museum not the museum but the library? >> all of them. >> but these are really also museums? >> of course they are, they really r. in addition to that we have 14 regional archives and 17 regional record centers plus we also publish the federal registers. with the regulatory ackions the federalovernment all -- >> how do you determine what is essential to keep and what is trivial. >> we have criteria for that. it's in the process of evaluation. it's not -- we don't go into a fish bowl and pick a number. we have a way of evaluating but that is a lot of documents. we need more people evaluate, people are concerned about
declassification but it takes time. and it takes experienced people, analyzing this and national archives can use more of them. >> do it is thrill you when you see american citizens looking at these documents almost and treating them almost -- i guess in fact, as sacred? do it is thrill you? >> it thrills me every day go; being to work. i hardly want to leave. one other thing i can do which is the only frustration that i have, this best is job in the world that i could have but i wish the national archivist could swear in new citizens because it's a wonderful place to swear in new citizens to show people what america is, ha has been and has been and will continue to be. >> are you going to do more to make videotape of our operations and the presidential libraries available to the press and to the citizenry? >> short answer, yes -- >> see, d.v.d.'s. >> let me explain, we're doing will already. i'll send you over to the new
materials we have. we have a wonderful partner, a public private partnership called the foundation for the national archives. when you come you'll discover not only this beautiful rotunda you'll discover and exhibit on american history called the public vaults' exhibit which is the best exhibit of its kind in the world. we have at least we have evidence of people discovering it because the lines outside the archives are extraordinary. >> you get students, journalis, historians, some of them only want to engage in gene loaning cal research -- >> the geneiologiologists, this is the largest single contingent of folks use the archivists, they're wonderful people, they come from many different aspects, but, yes, they are. >> you have interactive exhibits? >> the entire public vaults exhibit is interaction itch -- interactive.
>> getting the -- all of this material on the web so that we can move it out of washington into the world. tú what about your exhibit that shows the manipulation and the cup listity of spying, black propaganda are you familiar with that. >> we have several exhibits -- which i have nothing to do with by the way. they were there before -- >> you don't disapprove of them? >> of course not. >> can you describe what happens at any one of them? >> well, we have a wonderful interactive exhibit in which people can take control of the exhibit by their hand and move it along from dramatic episode to dramatic episode. the nuremberg trials, the rosenberg case, various other things and actually read the documents as they go i long. water -- >> what about tibet. do you remember tibnet. >> i've heard of it. yes. >> here is what i show. in the late 50s and 60s
ultrahad a cove earth program to support the tibet anns in their struggle against the consume fists. part of the program involved black propaganda to distribute reports chinese atrocities to the u.n. and other international bodies. many of these claims are phony. but they persisted as truth among the proponents of a free tibet down to the present day. so it shows our black propanda techniques used by the united states government. you get away with that? >> john, i'll look into that. supervise that is not an archives question. you want to be talking to the director the cis or the f.b.i. or somebody like that. >> point that person at this. history is a hoot. seeing isn't always believing. the use of trickery and deception that is presentation. >> wonderful entertainment it's part of our fourth of july . >> is it based on fiction or
fact. >> i'll let you know. come to the fourth. best way to come out is by experiencing it personally. >> you have 38, >> four and a half happy months >> e-mails, you are going to be storingy e-mails? >> it's estimate that had the e-mails to the bushed a administration will be three times the number of e-mails in a the clinton administration, we are talking about billions and billions of electronic records. >> do you think some people in the administration hearing this program will have a nervous brokedown when they realize their e-mails are going to be forever embalmed in your -- that is not -- you can skiis the word, -- excuse the word but in a repository at your facility? >> preserved is the word we would use. >> you think they'll have neneous breakdown. >> i doubt it very much. >> there are 11 presidential libraries. >> at present, yes. >> that means that the press -- >> have no presidential
library. >> there are 11 presidential libraries in the federal presidential library system paid for by -- funded bit federal -- byked deral government in cooperation with -- for preceding presidents this preceding program began under ly which opened a few weeks ago. >> that is privately manage and funded? >> funded by the state and by private money. and there are other libraries for 19th century presidents but they're funded privately by various commission and states. >> would you like to see the national archives gradually take over those other presidential libraries and where necessary create one so that all of the presidents can be so memorialized? >> is that wonderful phrase in the film show me the money, it take as lot of money to run the places and -- we struggle every find to year the found to deal with what -- >> can you imagine how much the appeal would be if there were washington, precedence
library? >> well,le. >> there are washington collections all over that -- you are asking whether i wanted to build a presidential library empire, the sanes no. >> you -- >> what we're doing, john, is bringing the various library directors and foundations together for a more cooperation because that -- they'll all benefit by, by working together. >> do you know michael beschloss. >> he is a good glend he is on the board. >> a member of the foundation -- >> when he visited the l.b.j.library y found a couple of jewels so to speak. literary jewel that is he use with johnson musing about how the war in vietnam was unwinnable. do you think you are going to find anything like that in the nixon papers? >> the nixon papers are being processed right new as we talk at the national archives in college park, maryland. the papers and tapes they have been for years and years. >> is that vein been mined
thoroughly? >> apparently the news media has -- there was -- >> i'm not take thinking about bad stuff. i'm thinking about good stuff. he did introduce china into a relationship with us and that could read down to his credit. >> i'm not thinking bad stuff. i think once you have the nixon library in the presidential system the focus can become more balanced and people can look at the entire press. michael has done that with johnson as well. >> a couple of month ago you gave testimony saying e-commerce has inflated the risks documents or images will be stolen for monetary gain. are you blaming ebay for peddling the documents? >> no, they've been very cooperative to us window when we pound out certain documents for sale are documents that are part of our sole. they've been very cooperative with us, most of the community of documents, will go document sell weeks ago one of the
individuals who did steal from us who was identify by in fact the private citizen who just happened to notice the fact that d duments he had used in the archives were being -- this man ways rested. convict and sentenced to two years in jail. >> over how long a period had he been stealing? >> for several years. >> seven? >> several. by are not certain -- >> at least five. >> there are dates out there. >> there are dates out. there for at least five. >> he was not an insider? >> well, he was a continuous researcher. >> you mean a daily hire? >> no, he was an outside researchers working at -- he would come into the archives to do research. we've strengthened our procedures since the case and since a few others like that a few others, we've strengthened our procedures and we continue to do that every day. we're serious -- the penalty itself the fact we invited in at-who identified the theft, we had a ceremony in his honor and we're urging
citizens if you think something is stolen, pase inform us and we'll collect it out. >> how much money did he make? le. >> unclear but at least probably $30, there a 40,000. >> $47, press estimate. >> what is ebaba doing to help with you this problem? >> i think you should ask ebay people. they're probably reviewing people who offer documents for sale a little more carefully than they may have once done. i don't have the every detail on that. >> you hav a general council? >> we have a terrific staff. one of the things i should mention to you we have the best bureaucracy in government. there are people at the archives who work, 30, 35, 40 years with the same passion for their work. >> that doesn't surprise me because you take librarians, librarians love their work. they love t. and i think
there is, there is some analogous, there are casei librarians there and can see how people would love that work because if you like it you really love it. >>e had our 20th anniversary as an independent agency. the iron se when i was on the "washington post" editorial -- >> i said lets honor those who worked here 20 years and my senior archives say we have a honor a quarter of the agency because people have worked there as much as 40 years and more with the same dedication. >> are you are saying that you are getting full cooperation from ebay? >> i'm hoping for full cooperation. >> are you prepared to bring a legal case against them either civil or criminal -- >> we've known each other a long time. you know i'm not going to talk about things like that. >> [laughter] but you are, your counsel stands ready. >> we're serious. >> we're deadly serious -- >> about security. >> okay. >> let's talk about a couple
of high profile cases. you have of course the sandy berger clinton national security advisor who removed five copies of documents from the archives: in each case the archives retained the official presidential record coach each document. first of all why the big deal over his taking out a copy of a document like aer review to prevent theft? >> well, we have better pat patrolling of the research room. we have a great number of guards, a series of procedures which i'm not going to talk about because otherwise everybody would knowowhat the procedures are. we're in much better shape in order to monitor the problem, it's not just at the downtown building but it's to montour it at other locations. 17 record centers, we have, we could have this problem in a number of places. we're trying to avoid it in
every place. >> how long have you been at the archives? >> four and a half happy months. >> >> four and a half happy months. did you sense there was laxity with regard to security? >> no, you did not. >> there was deep concern about this and i, i -- the reason just i'll go on point i'll make about the you go berger case is that it was the archives employees who identify the fact something was happening. people from the archives who first said, step forward said we think there is a problem here. i'm not going to go into details. the archives employees do not -- these are national teaches. we do not intend to have any of them mishandled, lost, stolen if possible or otherwise dealt with badly in other ways. >> you also preside over presidential library, how many are there? >> 11 now and 12 when the nixon library joins the system. >> pleasure having you with
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