Secretary Rice Appoints Team to Review State Department Historian’s Office

On December 22, 2008, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice met with members of the Historical Advisory Committee (HAC) to discuss the Foreign Relations of the United States (FRUS) series and concerns expressed by some current and former members of the HAC about the series. Secretary Rice stated her strong support for the FRUS series and told the group that she had asked an outside Review Team to provide recommendations by mid-January about how to ensure the FRUS series remains the gold standard for diplomatic history scholarship.

Members of the Review Team, Professor Warren F. Kimball (Rutgers University), Professor Ron Spector (George Washington University), and Ruth Whiteside (Director of the Department of State Foreign Service Institute), will report their recommendations to Secretary Rice and Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs Sean McCormack.

At a December 10, 2008, HAC meeting Dr. William Roger Louis, the historian who has chaired the Advisory Committee for the last five years warned that the future of the Department’s “Foreign Relations of the United States (FRUS)” series, which is the official record of U.S. foreign policy, is in jeopardy due to mismanagement of the Office of the Historian by its head Dr. Marc Susser. Louis read a letter that he had submitted to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice expressing his concerns and then announced his resignation from the Committee. Louis represented the American Historical Association on the HAC.

After Dr. Louis spoke, Dr. Edward Rhodes (American Political Science Association) echoed similar concerns about the operation of the Historian’s Office and then announced he would be resigning from the HAC in February 2009.

After Rhodes spoke, HAC members Robert J. McMahon (Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations) and Thomas Zeiler (At-Large) read excerpts from a letter written by former-HAC member Thomas Schwartz to Secretary Rice in November 2008, which strongly criticized the management of the Office of the Historian by Dr. Marc Susser. In his letter to the Secretary, Schwartz alleged that Susser had him removed from the HAC because he had authored the 2007 HAC Annual Report critical of the Historian’s office. HAC member Kathleen Sibley (At-Large) then noted that she wanted to “associate herself” with the comments of her colleagues.

Following Louis’s resignation, McMahon was elected chair of the HAC.

One thought on “Secretary Rice Appoints Team to Review State Department Historian’s Office

  1. This is shocking. The FRUS is key to understanding the past decisions of the U.S. Without it, all anyone has is mountains and mountains of FOIA requests. Let’s hope this gets sorted soon.

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