August 8, 2016


During
his landmark visit to Argentina in March, President Barack Obama announced that
the U.S. government would declassify records relating to human rights abuses
under Argentina’s 1976-1983 dictatorship. At a ceremony commemorating the
victims of these human rights abuses, held on the 40th anniversary
of the 1976 coup d’état, the President committed to releasing relevant records
from across the executive branch, including for the first time records from
U.S. intelligence, law enforcement and defense agencies.


“I
believe we have a responsibility to confront the past with honesty and
transparency,” President Obama said at the commemoration, where he toured a
memorial listing the names of victims and cast white roses in their honor into
the Rio de la Plata.


Today,
the U.S. government posted 1,078 pages of these newly declassified records.
Secretary of State John Kerry presented the records to Argentine President
Mauricio Macri Aug. 4 in Buenos Aires at his request. The project greatly
expands upon the State Department’s 2002 effort to declassify its cables and
records related to individual human rights abuses in Argentina.


The
U.S. government will release additional declassified documents over the next 18
months as part of a comprehensive effort by over 14 government agencies and
departments to search their records and declassify them for public access,
consistent with the need to protect national security. The Office of the
Director of National Intelligence leads this effort, with support from the
White House. Agency records managers, archivists, historians and
declassification and information access professionals contribute to this
effort.


Most
of the 1,078 pages made available today originate from the Jimmy Carter
Presidential Library in Atlanta, Georgia, which the National Archives and
Records Administration operates. They include records retrieved from several
different national security file series and collections, including the
Argentina Country Files, individual White House staff member files, meeting
files, presidential correspondence files and Evening Notes files. Taken together,
these newly declassified documents shed light on the policies of the Carter
administration and the role human rights issues played in the U.S. bilateral
relationship with Argentina. In particular, they provide insights into the
Carter administration’s efforts to urge the Argentine dictatorship to abide by
the rule of law, release individuals illegally detained, and account for those
who had disappeared while in the custody of the state.


Subsequent
U.S. government releases will include declassified records from the Gerald R.
Ford, Ronald W. Reagan and George H.W. Bush Presidential Libraries and
additional records from the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library.


Additionally,
defense, national security, and law enforcement agencies and departments are conducting
comprehensive searches of their files and identifying relevant records for
declassification review. The Central Intelligence Agency, for example, is
searching its President’s Daily Brief files, among other files, for information
on human rights abuses in Argentina and will review those records for
declassification. State Department records originally withheld from public
access in 2002 are also being re-reviewed as part of this effort. Finally, U.S.
government agencies will expedite the declassification of the 1977-81 Foreign
Relations of the United States
South America volume so that it can be
published in 2017.



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