Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Mafa'ga'ga hit ta'lo!

Date: Thu, 21 Apr 2005
Subject: Just released: The Secret Guam Study

A new book on Guam's political status adventures entitled: The Secret Guam Study; How President Ford's 1975 Approval of Commonwealth was Blocked by Federal Officials by Howard P. Willens with Dirk A. Ballendorf has just been released by the Richard Flores Taitano Micronesian Area Research Center at the University of Guam.

The book tells the story of how Guam was prevented from claiming much improved political status rights that President Gerald R. Ford had decided to grant to Guam. The key document is a 196-page study of Guam's political status conducted by the federal government in 1973-74. In early 1975, President Ford approved the study's recommendation that Guam should be offered an improved political status comparable to that which had been negotiated with the Northern Mariana Islands.

Howard P. Willens, principal author of the book, has said that "no one on Guam has ever seen these documents, [and] there appears to be no evidence that this Presidential directive was ever communicated to Guam's political leaders."

Professor Ballendorf has been pursuing these records tenaciously for more than three years, first as requests under the Freedom of Information Act in November 2000 with the Departments of State, Defense, and Interior, and then with letters and phone calls to follow up. The government denied they had the documents, so Ballendorf sued.

With complaints filed on 7 May 2003, Ballendorf accused the three government departments of illegally withholding the documents he wanted. Ballendorf asked the court to order the agencies to turn over the documents. Ballendorf's lawsuits got the government's attention, and all three agencies quickly coughed up their papers.

Deanne Siemers, one of Ballendorf's lawyers on the case, said that "the Interior Department had kept its set of the 1970s classified documents in a safe in the Office of Insular Affairs, and had long since forgotten about the safe and its contents. When the safe was opened, 93 classified documents about the Guam study were found." Then, the government began the long process of getting the documents declassified so they could be delivered to Professor Ballendorf.

Other formerly classified documents have been obtained from the Department of State and the Department of Defense and added to the ones yielded as a result of the suit. Willens and Ballendorf prepared The Secret Guam Study from these documents which are now available for the public to read at the RFT/Micronesian Area Research Center.

The book, The Secret Guam Study, is available for $10 at MARC, the Faith Bookstore, and Bestseller and is a must read for those interested in Guam's political status.

For more information call: LaVonne Meno Guerrero at MARC, 735-2150 or lavonneg@uog9.uog.edu

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