Welcome

The North American Society for Intelligence History (NASIH) was formed in the summer of 2016 by Sarah-Jane Corke and Mark Stout. Our goal was to encourage and support the study of intelligence history in Canada and the United States and to highlight the accomplishment of those in our field. However, membership is open to anyone interested in the historical study of intelligence anywhere in the world. Membership is free. If you are interested in joining NASIH please hit the membership tab above.

 

NASIH held its first conference in October of 2019 at the International Spy Museum in Washington, DC. The conference featured 39 panels on a wide range of topics. Over 160 scholars, practitioners and members of the general public attended the conference. We viewed it as a great success.

 

Our next conference will be in hosted at Trinity College at the University of Toronto, from November 12th through 14th, 2020. Should you wish to submit a panel or paper proposal, please do so before March 1, 2020. Please send a 100 word abstract and CV to s-j.corke@unb.ca.

In addition to our scholarly conferences NASIH also has a Twitter account.

Please do not hesitate to follow us @SocIntelHist.

Open Letter 

Secretariat-General for National Defence and Security

Monsieur Le Président de la République Emmanuel Macron,
Madame le Ministre des Armées Florence Parly,
Monsieur Le Ministre de la Culture Franck Riester,
Madame Claire Landais, Secrétaire Générale de la Défense et de la Sécurité Nationale,
Monsieur Pierre Laugeay, Directeur du service historique de la Défense,

Messieurs, Mesdames,

 

On January 15th , the Service historique de la Défense at Vincennes announced that the Secrétariat général de la défense et de la sécurité nationale had imposed a startling new policy: all classified documents – even those more than 50 years old – must be formally declassified before they can be communicated to the public. We, scholars of France from across the globe, are deeply concerned.


The policy formally enforces principles that were already outlined in the 2011 Instruction Interministérielle 1300 sur la protection du secret de la Défense nationale, but it represents a radical break in practice. For decades, we have worked in French archives with classified documents that have been released after the 50-year limit outlined by Articles L.213-1 and L.213-2 of the Code du Patrimoine. Now, those same documents that have been publicly available are once again restricted. While in principle the change in policy means only delays for scholars, students, and citizens hoping to consult classified archives, in practice the new policy has halted access altogether. A clear policy for declassifying these archives has not been articulated, and no explanation for the change has been given. Faced with this incertitude, the Service historique de la Défense (SHD) has frozen access to critical documents related to the Second World War, Indochina, and the Algerian War. Our colleagues working at Vincennes have been denied their requests for documents with no means of appeal. Scientific research has ground to a halt. Whatever the reason for the change in policy, its effects are disastrous. First, the work implied by this change for French archival staff is enormous. Classified documents are not segregated from other documents; a single dossier or carton from any given collection may contain dozens of classified documents that will each require declassification before they can be released. Archives are already overburdened and understaffed. How will they handle the additional work of processing the flood of declassification requests that are sure to come?

 

Second, this policy change, announced abruptly and with little warning, is deeply disruptive for research. While its effects have already been felt at Vincennes, this policy change will also affect the communicability of documents held at the Archives Nationales in Pierrefitte, at the Archives Nationales d’Outre-Mer in Aix-en-Provence, and at dozens of other locations. Until clear policies and procedures have been outlined for the declassification of archives, scholars and citizens alike cannot be sure that they will be able to access to vast numbers of documents that are vital to their research. 

Third, and most importantly, this policy change signals a deeply regressive and undemocratic shift. The vast majority of documents affected by this policy change have already been made publicly accessible, sometimes for decades. Their secrecy has been rendered moot. The efforts of policymakers and historians to open the archives on Vichy and Algeria to the public have yielded critical insights and provoked important public debates that are essential to the health of the Republic. President Macron himself recognized the significance of this task in September 2018, when he acknowledged the torture of Maurice Audin by French forces in Algeria. And yet now, we find our access restricted. Documents we have utilized for decades have been re-sealed, and we do not know how or when they will be reopened. In effect, this policy amounts to a reversal of recent decisions to open the archives on Vichy and Algeria. Our research has been arrested at a moment when so much progress has been made, and yet so much remains to be done. We, scholars of France – professors, researchers, students, citizens – demand clarification on the new policies governing the declassification of documents. More critically, we demand straightforward access. The documents now subject to declassification are critical not only to scientific research, but to French patrimony and to the functioning of the Republic's institutions. Must we recall that since 1794, it is a fundamental principle that archives belong to the nation and can thus be accessed by citoyens. These documents have already been open to consultation, and there is no reason that should change.

 

Signed,


L’Association Charles Gide pour l'étude de la pensée économique
L'Association française d'histoire économique
Cahiers d’histoire. Revue d’histoire critique
Centre de recherches et d’études en civilisation britannique
Comité Franco-Allemand de recherches sur l’histoire de la France et de l’Allemagne aux
XIXème et XXème siècles
Comité de vigilance face aux usages publics de l'histoire
Council for European Studies
The French Colonial Historical Society
The George Rudé Society
H-France
Middle East Studies Association
North American Society for Intelligence History
Revue d'histoire des sciences humaines
Société des Anglicistes de l’Enseignement Supérieur
The Society for French Historical Studies
Society for the Study of French History
Western Society for French