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April 20, 2004

The Country's New National Archivist

A man known for his secrecy --
Allen Weinstein.

The Society of American Archivists says this announcement was the first time since the National Archives and Records Administration was established as an independent agency that the process of nominating an Archivist of the United States has not been open for public discussion and input. We believe that Professor Weinstein must—through appropriate and public discussions and hearings—demonstrate his ability to meet the criteria that will qualify him to serve as Archivist of the United States. Link here.

Also the NYT article linked above includes these paragraphs:
Once a professor at Boston University, Georgetown and Smith College, Weinstein has written several books, most notably "Perjury: The Hiss-Chambers Case" and "The Haunted Wood." His book exposing Alger Hiss as a liar and Soviet agent, widely regarded as definitive, also won the resentment of Hiss partisans. The "Haunted Wood," co-authored with a former KGB agent, was criticized for payments for exclusive access to Soviet archives. Weinstein is currently at the International Foundation for Elections Systems.

"I owe the U.S. Senate the first account of my qualifications," Weinstein said. "I am honored and humbled by all of this. I didn't expect this. I didn't campaign for it."

Bush's April 8 announcement has produced widespread protests from historians and archivists who see election-year politics behind the appointment of a new head of the National Archives and Records Administration. Critics see the nomination of Weinstein as a defensive maneuver by the Bush White House to help prevent the disclosure of sensitive papers in case Bush loses the election this fall. Some of his father's records could be ripe for release next January.

Carlin, a former governor of Kansas, had frequently said he wanted to remain in office for 10 years, until July 2005, so he could complete some long-planned initiatives and, as listeners understood it, could bow out in a non-presidential-election year.

"This is pretty sneaky," said American University historian Anna K. Nelson. "There is only one motive here, and that is they [the White House] had to be worried that Bush was going to be defeated."

Nine historical and archival organizations, including the Organization of American Historians and the Society of American Archivists, said they were stunned by the administration's "sudden announcement" of Weinstein's nomination.

The White House, however, can point to a Dec. 19, 2003, letter from Carlin that indicates Bush is only doing what Carlin asked him to do. Addressed to the president, the letter said Carlin expected to stay only "eight to 10 years," observed that he would be completing his ninth year as archivist in June 2004, and suggested that the process of finding a successor start in spring of 2004.

Carlin has not said he has been "removed." In his Dec. 19 letter, Carlin said he believed in "a smooth transition of leadership" and so would submit his resignation only upon "the confirmation and swearing in" of his successor.

Asked yesterday if his Dec. 19 letter was generated by the White House, Carlin declined, through a spokeswoman, to comment.
Says it all about what I do loathe about the Rove administration.

Why? Was the eight archivist John W. Carlin doing a terrible job?