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History of 1953 CIA Covert Action in Iran to be Published

In 1989, the Department of State published a notorious volume that purported to document U.S. foreign policy towards Iran in the early Eisenhower Administration. The volume triggered an avalanche of criticism because it omitted any mention of the CIA’s role in a 1953 covert action that helped overthrow the government of Iran. Later this year, […]

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Countering CIA’s Conflict of Interest in Declassification

Last week the Senate Intelligence Committee voted to submit the 480-page executive summary, findings and conclusions of its five-year investigation into the post-9/11 CIA Detention and Interrogation Program for declassification review. But in an obvious conflict of interest, the review is expected to be performed by the CIA itself. “The report exposes brutality that stands […]

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“Too Mild a Nuclear Option”? National Security in the 1970s

U.S. nuclear weapons strategy evolved during the Nixon administration from a reflexive policy of massive retaliation against a Soviet attack to a diverse range of options for more limited nuclear strikes. The transition was not without some bumps. A declassified 1974 memo recorded that National Security Adviser Henry Kissinger at first needed some persuading about […]

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Newly Declassified Intelligence Satellite Imagery is Hard to Access

The declassification of historical intelligence satellite imagery has been a boon to scientists, environmentalists and other researchers since it began with President Clinton’s executive order 12951. So, for example, “The declassification of imagery from CORONA and subsequent intelligence satellite programs has inspired a revolution in landscape archaeology in the Near East,” wrote archaeologist Jason Ur. […]

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Putting Declassified Records to Good Use

The final, climactic step in the declassification of government records is not the formal removal of classification markings or even the transfer of the declassified documents to public archives. The culmination of the declassification process is when the records are finally examined by an interested reader and their contents are absorbed into the body of […]

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December 2013 Declassification Deadline Passes– And?

In a December 2009 memorandum, President Obama directed the newly established National Declassification Center (NDC) to process an estimated 400 million page backlog of historical records at the National Archives “in a manner that will permit public access to all declassified records from this backlog no later than December 31, 2013.” That December 31 deadline […]

The post December 2013 Declassification Deadline Passes– And? appears on Secrecy News from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy.

A History of History: The Story of the FRUS Series

The Foreign Relations of the United States (FRUS) series is the official documentary record of U.S. foreign policy published by the U.S. Department of State. The origins, development and continuing evolution of the FRUS series are explored in a massive new history prepared by the State Department Office of the Historian. See “Toward ‘Thorough, Accurate […]

The post A History of History: The Story of the FRUS Series appears on Secrecy News from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy.

Two-Decade Review Yields History of Covert Action in Congo

After a declassification review that lasted nearly twenty years, the history of CIA covert action in the Congo from 1960 to 1968 was finally published last week by the State Department, filling an awkward gap in the historical record. “In August 1960, the U.S. Government launched a covert political program in the Congo lasting almost […]

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Declassification as a Confidence-Building Measure

In order to restore public trust, the U.S. intelligence community ought to be “aggressive” about reducing classification, former intelligence officials said last week. Secrecy “is an enormous problem,” said Michael Leiter, who directed the National Counterterrorism Center from 2007 to 2011. “I hope the DNI is very aggressive about moving towards less classification and more […]

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White House Sets New Goals for Open Government

In a new Open Government National Action Plan that was released today, the White House affirmed its support for open government values, and set an agenda for the remainder of the current Administration. “The new plan includes a wide range of actions the Administration will take over the next two years, including commitments that build […]

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