State Department Releases Historically Significant Records on Human Rights Abuses in Argentina

Yesterday, President Trump presented Argentine President Mauricio Macri with a CD containing approximately 3,300 pages of records relating to human rights abuses committed in Argentina between 1975 and 1984.  The documents are part of a comprehensive interagency project by 14 Government departments and agencies to search their archives and identify and review for public access records documenting these abuses.  They have been long sought by the Government of Argentina and researchers.

The documents released today are grouped into two collections.  The first group contains newly available information from previously withheld documents.  They were originally reviewed by the State Department in 2002 but reviewers determined they could not be released to the public at that time.  They provide new details on U.S. policies, information on specific abuse cases, and U.S. efforts to end abuses.  These documents are integrated into a database titled, “Argentina Declassification Project” and can be viewed here.

The second group of documents consists of records identified by State Department historians as they compiled the Foreign Relations of the United States (FRUS) South America, 1977-1980 volume.  They document high-level policy discussions and deliberations as the Carter administration sought to deal with the Argentine dictatorship.  These documents were identified for inclusion in the Argentina and Latin American Region chapters and can be viewed here.

The Public Interest Declassification Board (PIDB) has long recommended the importance of prioritizing records for declassification.  In 2012, we wrote our report to the President on Transforming the Security Classification System and focused on this recommendation in our 2014 report to the President titled Setting Priorities: An Essential Step in Transforming Declassification.  The recommendations in these reports advocated that the best use of department and agency resources should be spent on reviewing relevant topics of historical interest. The PIDB commends the cooperative effort by all departments and agencies undertaking exemplary projects like this one which are of great historical value and should become a prototype for the declassification of significant government information.

Other Links of Interest

The Department of State publicized these documents with a press release as well as through a DipNote blog post

IC on the Record has publicized the release on their official blog.

The release was publicized in Argentina, including in the Buenos Aires Herald, an English language newspaper.

In the U.S. the National Security Archive blogged about it and posted an Electronic Briefing Book here.

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