Omaha, Nebraska

Chuck Hagel’s archive is housed here at the University of Nebraska-Omaha. But despite his nomination for secretary of defense, reporters, as well as the public writ large, are being denied access to the thousands of papers, speeches, audio and video files, and artifacts in the archive.

THE WEEKLY STANDARD is told that Hagel supports the university’s decision to keep the archives sealed.

“Chuck Hagel's record in the Senate is well documented in the public domain,” says Hagel spokesman Marie Harf in an emailed statement.

“Given his extraordinary disclosures to date, which surpass the threshold applied to nominees, there is no need to make this archived material public.”

The archives are not open to the public, university officials say, because not everything there has been processed.

Once the archive is processed and indexed, according to the standards and best practices of the Society of American Archivists (SAA), they will be open to the public,” says Charley Reed in an email today. “Until that time, they are not open to the public. We are working toward the day when the archive is processed and available to researchers.” The university was given the archives four years ago, in 2008.

Reed adds, “The archive must be fully processed in line with archival best practices to assure that the archive is presented responsibly and to professional standards.”

But university officials yesterday indicated that if Hagel himself were to grant this reporter access to the archives, his request would be granted.

With this statement from his spokesman, Hagel has decided that access to the archives is unnecessary at this time.

Hagel’s nomination has been controversial because of prior statements made by the former senator. Access to the archives—the most complete archives of this nature—would have helped clear up lingering questions about Hagel’s record.

The Senate is expected to vote on Hagel’s nomination as secretary of defense next week.

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