tv Book Discussion on The Last Campaign CSPAN September 7, 2015 7:00am-8:01am EDT
[laughs] >> you're not here to hear me, you're here to hear anthony. i want to briefly introduce him and tell you what i take the work on your behalf, first of all, welcome home, anthony. ms agree of miu, professional studies and now known as the school of professional studies. i knew him in a different context. he's a former writer, committee, legislative director in the 111th congress he directed hearing of the national what wht archives. i was in that context that i met
anthony. a feeling of relief and pleasure i had when anthony brought this chairman of the subcommittee who ziet it had budget of the agency i worked for, that's a big deal, to come of a tour of the library and i got to give the tour. and anthony will correct me if i'm wrong, but congress used powerful language. the pleasure and disbelief wassia joy for me to -- was a joy for me to see. it meant a lot to me and i will always be grateful to anthony
for that. i'm equally grateful, that's why i'm here today, that he took time to write a book. he started working before he started working before the government. some people go to government and then write books. anthony is the only one that writes, if you have a scholar, you use the lower part of the
bifocals. if you were a young person in a high school or elementary near a library, if you're a student of a museum or director, what you see in the bottom are very different and many people in the country who try to make sense of the museum. anthony is one of them and he has very important thoughts on what to do, what he has seen and what he hopes this system, which by the way, over million americans benefit every year. i look forward from hearing him and i thank you for coming today and i also thank c-span for covering today's event. for c-span, if you could use the mic over here, that would be easy for everybody.
welcome back. thank you, anthony. [applause] >> thank you, tim. thanks to the library and the cold war for manager -- being here. there are what archives. that's the original intent. they have become monuments. now, most people who visit a presidential library don't know that. they see maybe a museum.
if you're looking at afghanistan, gulf war f you want to postpone your ph.d but you might have a chance. no one today will see records of obama, that goes for reagan, clinton, bush. that's not because of limitations, policymakers have decided to place more emphasis on version of history than provides access to have the the records. roosevelt began library because he wanted a place to preserve and make available records and materials. he had the world's stamp collection at the time and he had a world class naval prints.
he open it had library in the summer of 1941 so it was -- it's not coincidental that he wanted to build, they're monuments. they won't be open for decades. the ronald regan library opened in 1991 and fewer records were open. that's what they are. i wrote a book about them. some of what i read was brochure language or incompleement -- incomplete or just downright
inacademy -- inaccurate. while i was researching i came across difficulties. for example, the national archives stopped me from access 40 years of presidential libraries. they fought me. they told me that they weren't able and that they needed for everyday operation. that's why they weren't available. they encouraged me to file freedom request, which i did. i sent it in my request and denied because it was too big. i was encouraged to narrowed it. i was denied for being too narrowed. [laughs] >> i stumbled across something that change the course of the book and my life, i don't want
to read passages baa i want to get this part right, i don't want people to read the book and get the idea that the part-time that are working and preserve the records, they are not, they're the it treasurers of the system. it was the higher-level officials who didn't want to have the dirty laundry aired. you read about a president that violates the law. for some, many even, that fact might not be surprising. this president violated the law to try to build library on similar piece on federal property which was and is prohibited. what maybe even more surprises that the story had never been reported. i discovered the information in
the fall of 2006 thanks to activist in college park, maryland. at the end of each day i would ask, are you sure those are all the records for that library. they would pretend to be exacerbateing with me, the answer was, yes. [laughs] >> i asked them one last time, literally as i was walking out the door, i saw them exchange a look, shrug, i heard some of them say, except those marked nixon camp. they won't be building that up but they won't be help to you.
that helped me discovered the story how nixon gathered 4,000 acres to try to build the library in the most spectaculra. he had to resign for office. [laughs] >> that's part of what we find the selection process, the president picks where he picks presidential library. so you might imagine that, finding that information about a presidential library site selection encouraged me to look for other site selections and see what i could find. the national archives kept
denying more request. i have to get some, you know, official answers, and so i made an point to interview the official in charge of the presidential library system and she told me the request were being denied for records, the national archives played no role in that process, they played no role and they held no records. that was it. that was the on-tape answer. that was on a friday afternoon on june 2008, the following monday i received a fedex. 50 pages. inside that request response was this and i'll zoom in for you to show you a little bit closer.
it's a talking point memo in 1997 in advance of his first meeting with president clinton to talk about presidential libraries. we'll go on to the next page. briefing points for the clinton presidential library. if you look at the bottom bullet point, making the site decision, and then if i go to the next page, you'll actually see it has a long history to assist the president in the establishment of the presidential libraries. lets just be here. how do you know in 2008, erni was aware 11 years earlier. i would like to give her the benefit of the doubt.
she was the author of that memo. i said this would be my exhibit a in my lawsuit and this week i got 500 pages on how the president's decided to build libraries and where they decided to build them. the reason they didn't want me to see them, was the same they didn't want me to investigate them because there's tremendous amount of pollics and money in the system. they would like to think that these are great places like new york and it's where america celebrates real history.
no president is going to admit problems or mistakes. they are going to try to spend something. the reagan library took a different tact tact. many meant controversy with spent or regulations. by not having it at all in a museum for over 20 years, that was their way of dealing with it. this is great, he was a great president. but the other problem that the records aren't available. if the president writes the history, they can look at records. we can have a public debate. we can't have that because the records aren't available and the
presidents had to write their own history. now, the nixon library began in controversy. it was the only presidential library to be operated privately for 17 years. the process is that the president creates private foundation, raises the money and then hands it over to the government and donates to the government and the government runs on behalf of the american people. there are over a dozen legislative authorities that require to preserve records, make them available. there's one mention of museums
but so much focus, so much effort is placed in con -- in public programs that celebrate the president that the archive -- i know tim and i have discussed some things about this, you know, i make a case from a congressional side that, you know, if we didn't put the money into the exhibits, we might be able to put them in the archives, although, he has pointed out and corrected me correctly, by the way, that the congress wouldn't give more money to the archives, they would take it away. i started off by thinking that there might be a way to reform, maybe a way to balance out nonpartisan history with access to records. i've come to the conclusion that the national archives should get out of the business. we've had congressional debates
for decades on whether we should support in 1975, 1976, we haven't had a debate. 25% of the archive's budget goes to library. 500 million pages of records and just over a billion pages in the national archives and 25% of the budget goes there. i guess the question is, what does it matter if -- if presidential libraries don't tell the truth about their presidents, what's the math of a ph.d student, when we focus to seem that everything the
president did was successful and had planned to be so, we miss from the opportunities of errors they make. what if the kennedy library had address it had conventional wisdom of the 1960 election, has a president not entered office of conditions then? what if the clinton library had been more opened about personal character and impact on moral leadership. the president rhetorical is depending on what the definition of is, is.
[laughs] >> led to the presidential promise, if you like your healthcare plan. you can keep your healthcare plan. what if the reagan library had examined and difficulties of national principles, if the library had taught about succession of serious crimes duh discussion and debate in an open and sincere process, will our journey like guantanamo would have been so smooth. lbj squander for scoarr -- social change. he lost the argument about the liberal agenda and ultimately he lost his presidency over a war
he escalated from dallas. we would could have learned what he cost to the country and the world. yet, no presidential library officers and so iraq, afghanistan, and so on, until we and the presidents we elect to lead us learn. i think it matters, you know. it's actually just over 2 million people visit the presidential libraries each year and in some states they produce the educational components for those schools and teaching them act their presidents, and some of those presidential libraries that education component is funding by the presidential foundation. now, are you going to give $10 million to a presidential foundation that says the
president was wrong, did bad things or wrote the law, you're not going to support that in educational programs, you're not going to support that in exhibits. just one more thing here. does anyone of us ultimately matters? does the conduct past have to what they ought to have done and why make any difference in our lives. the way they present our history affect our judgment in creating our own future, and the answers to these questions is no. we are wasting a billion dollars a decade. we might as well stop worrying about what presidents do and how we elect them too. it matters who was president and what he or she did.
if that matters, so do the records and the history that we pay for and stamp of approval. so i encourage you to visit a presidential library and read about them. presidential temples, with president obama who has had more coverage, whether it belongs on a college campus, stanford rejected the reagan library. they fight each other to get a presidential library. is that the best use of a university's time and scholarship specially when -- it
began to shoe fdr's gifts that he received and items. they added bigger museums. 90,000 scare foot room to house an air force one. it's not the only one that's not in the museum. he was the only director that i interviewed who didn't want to get that president's air force one to their library. in fact, i'll be showing you this real quickly. the air force one pavilion houses the air force one and
houses president reagan's marine one helicopter but also has this, in the most curious area of any presidential library. it's an irish pub. they went on their way. you can go into the pub and see the glass that they dranked from. the reagan foundation bought the pub and dismantled it and put it inside the air force one pavilion where you can go buy gifts, you can see what i call the regan, it's untouched.
in the book i discuss how the presidential library museums. these are places he touched and the people he affected. it has -- for the younger people in the audience, maybe supper -- superhero movies. he saved the world from communism. the clinton library has almost nothing about bill clinton the person. it's being plant in the ladder part. i still can't believe they didn't focus on character issues. upstairs in the balcony there are three tables and two of them
have bill clinton's boy scout hat and report card. the rest of the museum is all facts. so, again, encourage you to get involved. you know, i have a list of things we can do to reform the library system and my favorite as a staff, impossible this would be, my favorite that the national archives opens the presidential museum. it takes a 100 years to open records. now, i think if that were the
law the presidential foundations, the national archives, people would get together to figure out a way to put money, resources and effort to put records as quickly as possible. there's an old joke that the reason that congress won't reform presidential libraries that the united states senate is made up of 100 individuals that think they'll have a library. [laughs] >> i thank you for your attention and open up the floor for questions. [applause] >> if you have a question, can you use the mic for the benefit of our c-span audience. >> i mean, what are the records that are presidential library? it seems that the records generated by a president in office belong to us, so are there some that are -- that are
elsewhere like in library of congress or somewhere? >> that's a good question. up till '78 they considered property and can do what they want. presidential hoover established libraries. hoover opened the fourth presidential library and put them in west branch island. they were scattered records, were sold for signatures and autographs. a lot of washington records were eaten up by rats. so 1978 records act it took effect after jimmy carter. presidents who sign legislation relating to presidential libraries, legislation takes effect. so now they are considered the
property of the government, but you know, i argue that by pressuring the national archives to focus on museum that they are keeping the records from being open. look at what happened -- they were able to find at least one person. but the nixon foundation vetoed that person. for many years presidential libraries had insisted on having consultation rights and event veto rights. i found legislative language in the report accompanying the bill, because we are instituting a new policy, presidential records are now president of the
government and the government is now add -- administering the records. in order to make the president feel comfortable with that they have to have -- where the president can excerpt privilege on some records. but the language is explicit, the problem is that that's what will happen. i would argue that the veto power has been used mostly so that the -- the foundation wasn't comfortable for that person, but it's because they are not comfortable with the way they might portray that president. what's interesting, is from my viewpoint on capitol hill the nation was upset was because
portraying the president in light. [laughs] >> anyone else has any other -- please, no. >> i worked for john kennedy when he was a senator during the last year and a half working on africa and related issues and in recent years i contributed my papers to the kennedy library, many of the papers of the kennedy library were contributed, they weren't presidential papers, they were people that worked in the administration or related field to the administration both before as in the senate and
during the presidential period. now, to my knowledge, those papers are opened except where people said i specifically said i do not want my papers opened, which when you contribute to a library, you may say i don't want these open for x number of years, but most of those papers are opened and many scholars have used them, and i've had the pleasure of being in touch with many of the scholars who use it had paper, who sometimes treat me like a ghost from the box, but nonetheless, now you pointed out that -- that it's only -- i won't say recent but in the last four or less presidents, that those papers have been closed. but i appreciate your comment
both on the who gets to use what, where, and to the extent that although when one contributes those papers to a library they become property of the library and you sign off. again, you have the right to say, i get to use this and they're very open to your getting back to your stuff if you need to or at least the kennedy library has been. but i'd be interested, as i say, you have the bird's-eye view of many of them and i got the word's-eye view. >> thank you for your services and thank you for donating your papers. one of the things i talk about in the book, we spent a lot of time and focusing on presidential history and is that the only focus, is that the best use of hundreds of million
dollars just focused on what the president did, there were other people in the administration, and there wasn't a previous career, look at the careers of bush before he was president, john kennedy, jimmy carter was governor. thank you very much so much for that. [inaudible] >> yes, in fact, kennedy library staff was fantastic. but the kennedy foundation wasn't eager to cooperate and so they didn't open their records of the history of the library to me. but luckily the members of the foundation were the kennedy family and they donated their papers into the kennedy library and opened them and most of those papers were foundation papers, copies, meeting minutes so i was able to get copies
anyway. yes, thank you. >> i have a question about classification. if i understand in the nonpresidential papers, the billions of papers in the archives, it's the agency that generated the documents that gets to decide when it's declassified; is that right? >> if you don't mind me handing over to a greater expert in the field for the answer. >> the question i have then is about the presidential library, so in this case you have private individuals, these foundations which are often family, at least in the beginning, are connected to the families and in these cases they're the ones who are making decision on declassification; is that right? >> there are members of the
center which was formed a few years ago in the national archives. there was an indirect that the foundation can provide it for us, to withhold the approval of the next director until that person is acceptable politically. one of the things was accelerate the process of getting records out because it was a brand-new library. it was important to get the records out and he continued that process, you know, with a strong emphasis on that. that doesn't mean every person doesn't want to put that first in primary. >> the foundations don't have a direct connection to the -- incorrect connection? >> correct. yeah, then it would be declassification mandatory, request from a researcher and
president obama issued an executive order ordering review of classified records to look towards opening them. by the way, they were able to look at several hundred million pages of records in a four-year period, which i argue is a great example for what they can do for the unclassified records and get them to operate quickly, not a 100 years. thank you. >> i just had a couple of questions. you had mentioned a billion dollars over ten years. that's $100 million a year. what are we spending that on? >> we are spending operation and maintenance of the libraries. the presidential libraries employee archive technicians and
museum technicians and specialists all focused on getting that public -- the public programs and the public message out. and so in 1986, congress passed a law, it's costing us too much money. so we are going to have to require endoubtment. a requirement that the foundation has to give when they donate a presidential library. it goes onto over a page. the cost of acquiring and preparing the land, the cost of setting it up, you have to give us that money when you donate the library. the problem is as the national archives had read the legislation, it was, well, this part of the building isn't really going to be used so you don't have to count that as the 20%. that isn't counted. for example, it cost the george
a. bush $83 million. the endowment was $4 million. now, i'm very bad at mad but i know that 4 is not 25% of 3 million. two times during the george w. bush administration congress passed a law and president bush signed it beginning with the barack obama -- but the president after had. >> which was kind of my follow-up. i assuming they are not allocated, it's not split between the libraries or more focused on the ladder than --
latter than the older one. >> they have presidential materials from the white house. the records of the new deal and world war ii were in a building that was built in 1941 without central air-conditioning and the staff did a great job of trying to maintain it. they used store-bought humidifers. >> any of the budget for presidential libraries used for anything that predates hoover for any of the older presidents? >> any library from coolidge and before is either private or state-run but not national archives, although some of -- including the woodrow wilson library tried to become part of
the system, try today get legislation passed to make part of the system. i think mostly every local and presidential -- look at the nixon library. it was not able to continue, and so that's why they sought out the national archives persons. >> thank you. >> thank you for your questions. >> you made a wonderful presentation, thank you, and my question is a sign of time, everything is digitize maybe that archives are going to be digital or in the clouds? >> that's a good question. one of the things i did was i wrote the script. if you watch hearings, there's a script. even the jokes were scripted, and so i would write the hearing
in scripts and invite the witnesses and pick the topics. it was a very scare situation when i realized that that would be my responsibility. congress had passed a bill a few years ago requiring using a report for presidential models, i put that report. these are the five different ways we can go forward so we wanted to ask them the question. we set up a series of hearings. at the time i was also responsible for hearings about the the census bureau. but when it came time to hold a hearing about the presidential libraries, the national archives asked us to cancel them because the foundation asked to cancel
them. now, i can't say, by the way, the folks, i'm going to do a disclaimer, the folks in iowa are wonderful. if you ever get a chance in west branch, a minny state. the republican party is not basing on what the hoover library does. if you want to become the next nominee you have to make a speech and make the cut to be in the primary debates, and so we wanted to ask them those questions, why can't we digitize. we wanted to ask questions of the kennedy foundation who is spon -- sponsoring the digitization.
we were never able to answer those questions, if there's anybody in the audience that knows about politics, that's a separation of powers, congress has a right to find out what the agency is using our taxpayers for. you know, we were going to be in los angeles for a field any way, we sent out -- first signal, we sent out information that this was not a gavel-banging hearing, we need to fix the system, we need to get input from the library. i tried to schedule the next hearing at smu and that the go canceled as well. i would love to be able to answer that question. right now ancestry.com a per
page digitization rate of under five cents. i think it's decreasing pretty quickly. you have to do a million, that's a lot less per page. >> i remember a few years ago fdr played a recording about lbj talking to his tailor and sounded unconfidental on that call. is that what the presidents are worried about or is it a more legal concern when they told back the documents and keep them classified? >> i'll mention another one, harold middleton. president johnson hand picked director.
you would think he would be more incline to protect the legacy. middleton convinced ladybird johnson. and so, you know, i want to give him significant credit for that, but, again, it goes back to who is in that position and p for -- for whom are they working. the knicks -- nixon foundation that he wasn't acceptable and that raises concerns for me. >> you mentioned in your book that you feel that president obama should not build a presidential library, why is
that? >> you know, there's an old phrase, for those of you, nixon had the anticommunist credentials that maybe a democratic president couldn't to reach out. i argue that the president that receives most presidential votes in history, the first african american president should be enough to say enough, and in the book i remind the president of a very important person who made a very important statement in 2009, early in the presidency and he said that president obama shouldn't build a physical library and focus on digitization and getting them out. and that person was president obama. that was the question he was asked about his presidential library, and obviously that's changed. the plans are to raise at least $500 million to build a presidential library. now, there were four finalists
and not all made public their suggestions, offers, the libraries that were more modest and more focused on university-integration community partnerships working towards policy votes -- general ford said, i'm not going to build a presidential library. people would have said, okay. the next president would not have had a problem building a presidential library. maybe even jimmy carter who had no federal service before his one term. if he had said, i'm going to focus on the carter center, the carter library was the longest museum in years to not renovated. it was 26 years before
renovated. i'm not going to build the presidential library, that wouldn't have stopped. imagine if president obama says, i'm not going to do this. that transparency has not been born out in proactive releases of records, it hasn't been borned out with requestses, it hasn't been out in following the president's memorandum encouraging and ordering even if it would be embarrassing. that hasn't been borned out. we might have to hold scare-dance lessons or wine tastings which is what they do
now to boost visitors. that's the reason i suggested. they should build an archive and focus on getting those records out. think about what even a tenth, think about what $50 million would do no processing them records, making them available not just in a way in a box, but that they are out and in the cloud and they're secure but they are making a difference in part-time's lives. make no mistake, every history book, article, documentary you've ever loved that you've been moved by or thrilled by, comes from records. it doesn't come from somebody saying, you know, i think this is what happened. they went into research, every play. the records matter even in a way that you don't necessarily see. our great gran kids might have a
shot at seeing the records, and think about it this way, don't think of it as the president whom you like, maybe a president that you disagreed with and that you want to see what actually happened, what really led to the decisions to go to iraq. what really lead to the affordable care act's website, well, we are not going to know that. can you imagine the next president saying, most popular, most votes, first african american president, he didn't build one, the next president is going to build one. questions? yes. [inaudible] >> if you can bring the microphone. >> a substantial amount of the budget goes to the presidential
libraries, i might get everything i want by 2020, now, to what extent is that a result of putting that much effort and money and resources into the presidential libraries? >> well, i think that -- in -- >> in federal budgets, the number of people you can hire. it limits the amount of people. when the george w. bush library -- for five years no records can't be opened, after five years is up, you can start sending requests in. when that date was coming up for the george w. bush library there was a will the of talk, there
were 40-plus wait to go receive requests. that's a pretty healthy number, it would be unprecedented and i didn't quite like the sound on that, i spoke with the person and we went back and forth, i basically got them to give me the name list, 70 million pages of records and 80terabytes of electronic data, something like 2 million emails, one archivist doing what's called a systematic processing. it's looking through a series of records, you get familiar with the records and you can understand who has the clear clearances and relatively you can move systematic system quickly. request is stop what you are doing and go find this. maybe the request is diligent or
they are not. well, that's going to take a lot of time and money. those people are going to be delving into records that haven't been reviewed for pii, and so it takes an awful long time. the argument that i made for years and the reagan library argued this, your cue will grow a little bit but then it will decrease. people are familiar with what's there. good luck with that. i encourage you to contact the government and information services. do you know about that? have you contacted your member of congress? all right. contact your member of congress and contact the chairman and ranking member of the house oversight committee. they just had two days of hearings just like week. so the staff there is ready to
send letters and maybe do some action for you. [inaudible] >> it depends, they got an official response that the record is in the cue and the estimate that it will be processed and produced in approximately 12 years. yeah. well, i thank you for your attention. [applause] >> thank you very much. >> thank you all, anthony's book is on sale right there and you can show his appreciation for his talk and i appreciate you all coming today. thank you. good-bye.
[applause] >> here is a look at some of the of the best selling nonfiction books according to new york times. topping the list plunder and deceit calls on young people centralized government. history and current state of black america in between the world and me. up next david on the birth of flight and the wright brothers followed by end of life care in being mortal. a look at "the new york times" continues, sinking of the luxury
ocean in 1915. former president jimmy jimmy carter reflects on his life at a full life and in the road to character, looks at the life of ten historical figures as examples of how to achieve success. that's a look of some of the current nonfiction best sellers. many authors have or will be appearing on book tv. you can watch them on our website booktv.org. >> book tv recently visited capitol hill to ask members of congress what they are reading this summer. >> well, a number of books, the first one is called the right of boom. so to read a book like this and we hear all of the time what we are facing in this world of ours, it should be an
interesting read. in addition to that, the second one is i am fascinated how things are made in engineering, so the best american science in nature in writing talks about how things are made and how we came about, the technology has evolved and set up for short stories made for attention span of a congressmen. next a book by my brother and it talks about fundamentally people are able to make changes and the best way to go about doing that. i'm looking forward to that, this way i can tell my mom i read the book. >> tweet us your answer book tv or post it on our facebook page, facebook.com/booktv. >> c-span created by
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