Statement on Signing War Crimes Document Disclosure Legislation
I have signed into law H.R. 1281, the "War Crimes Disclosure Act." This Act, sponsored by Representative Maloney of New York, urges United States Government agencies to make public any records concerning individuals alleged to have committed Nazi war crimes.
My Administration is committed to ensuring the widest possible disclosure of government documents. On April 17, 1995, I signed Executive Order 12958, which will make available certain previously classified national security documents while safeguarding information critical to our Nation's security. Additionally, my Administration worked closely with the Congress on the recent passage of the Electronic Freedom of Information Act. I believe that our democratic principles require that the American people be informed of the activities of their government.
Over half a century has passed since the conclusion of World War II and the end of the Holocaust, one of the most horrifying periods of genocide in world history. I strongly believe in the central finding of this Act, that it is important to learn all we can about this terrible era so that we can prevent such a catastrophe from ever happening again. To that end, the Act calls for more comprehensive disclosure of documents specific to Nazi war crimes. It is clearly in our public interest to learn any remaining secrets about the Holocaust.
I'm pleased that the Act recognizes the need not to disclose material that is still important to U.S. national security and law enforcement interests. I am hopeful that the Congress and the executive branch will continue to work together to balance the public interests of disclosing government records with the national interests of keeping certain documents protected.
Ensuring a full accounting of United States records on Nazi war criminals is an important step in preserving the memory of those who died and honoring the sacrifices of those who survived. I was pleased to sign this bill into law.
WILLIAM J. CLINTON
The White House, October 22, 1996.
NOTE: H.R. 1281, approved October 19, was assigned Public Law No. 104-309.
William J. Clinton, Statement on Signing War Crimes Document Disclosure Legislation Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/222169