CIA Claims Its Entire History Now Online

cia-leaks

The Central Intelligence Agency has a long track record of holding itself apart from, and largely above, the Freedom of Information Act, consistently ignoring deadlines, refusing to work with requesters, and capriciously rejecting even routine requests for what should be clearly public information.

Recently the Central Intelligence Agency claimed it has released a bulk archive of 13 million pages of declassified documents online. These documents were previously only physically accessible from four computers at the National Archives in College Park, Maryland using the CIA Records Search Tool or CREST.

The documents date all the way back to as far as the Cold War.

cia-leaksInformation about a number of controversial topics is included: from UFOs, to more information on the infamous CIA psychic experiments Project Stargate, to Henry Kissinger’s papers, other CIA research and development documents, scientific papers, photographic intelligence reports, news archives, and a whole lot more according to the official CIA press release.

The CIA emphasized the inclusion of UFO Documents and plans to further promote the contents of the archive online.

Fox Mulder would love this: CIA releases thousands of X-files on aliens, flying saucers

In June 2014, MuckRock, sued the CIA, on behest of pro-bono attorney Kel McClanahan, a lawyer with the National Security Counselors. The group claimed that the database was “technically public, but in practice largely inaccessible.”

Subsequently, journalist and researcher Michael Best or @NatSecGeek on Twitter, launched a Kickstarter project to put pressure on the CIA to publicly release the data more quickly and exposing how the agency was taking too much time to publish the material it was required to make publicly available under Bill Clinton’s 1995 Executive Order 13526 instituted in 2006. The Executive Order requires the declassification of non-exempt historically valuable records 25 years or older.

cia-leaksMichael Best began scanning and printing 700,000 documents manually and publishing them for the entire world to see, effectively costing the CIA resources as the agency doesn’t charge for printer paper or the ink used.

“That effort was halted in October when it became clear the CIA was going to (reluctantly) post the material itself, and Best put together a good background on CREST, what it contains, and some of the potential pitfalls of the way it looks like the data will be released.

Then on November 18, the CIA’s Litigation Information Review Office finally threw in the towel, bumping up the release significantly to just next year,” Muckrock, writes.

Amazingly the CIA was somehow able to suddenly miraculously find a way to publish 13 million documents in a matter of 3 months despite stalling for so long. In the past, it had argued that it had neither the time nor the resources to achieve such a feat.

“Forcing people to travel to College Park, MD during bankers’ hours and print out page after page of records just to do historical research was an obnoxious and antiquated way for the CIA to pay lip service to transparency without actually allowing meaningful public access to their records. I am happy to have been part of the effort to nudge them along into the 21st century,” McClanahan wrote in an email.

With respect to transparency, this is a historic move by the CIA that sets an important precedent. Going forward, the CIA now has no excuse to delay publishing documents that are 25 years or older as required under the Freedom Of Information Act.

The next information that the agency will be required to declassify is JFK’s assassination in October 2017.

It’s going to be a very busy next few years for national security reporters and, as with such broad archives of source material as the WikiLeaks cables, this information may take many years to sift through.

Related:

CREST: 25-Year Program Archive | CIA FOIA (foia.cia.gov)

 

nsa-foia1The automatic declassification provisions of Executive Order 13526 (formerly EO 12958, as amended) require the declassification of nonexempt historically valuable records 25 years or older. The EO was originally issued in April 1995 and via amendment established 31 December 2006 as the first major deadline for automatic declassification under the “25-year program.” By that date, agencies were to have completed the review of all hardcopy documents determined to contain exclusively their equities. For CIA, the 2006 deadline covered the span of relevant documents originally dating from the establishment of the CIA after WWII through 1981.

The requirement to automatically declassify records 25 years or older “rolls” forward one year at a time. For example, by 31 December 2012, permanent records through 31 December 1987 were automatically declassified, unless appropriately exempted under the guidelines of the EO. In this regard, CIA maintains a program operating out of the CIA Declassification Center to review records under the purview of EO 13526 before they reach their automatic declassification deadline.

CREST

Since 2000, CIA has installed and maintained an electronic full-text searchable system named CREST (the CIA Records Search Tool), at NARA II in College Park, Maryland. The CREST system is the publicly accessible repository of the subset of CIA records reviewed under the 25-year program in electronic format (manually reviewed and released records are accessioned directly into the National Archives in their original format). Over 11 million pages have been released in electronic format and reside on the CREST database, from which researchers have printed about 1.1 million pages.

Previously, in order to directly access CREST, a researcher was required to visit the National Archives at College Park, Maryland. CIA recognized that such visits were inconvenient and presented an obstacle to many researchers. Therefore, in January 2017, the CIA published the records of the CREST collection online.

Accessing the Records

CREST records are divided into collections on the left-hand side of this page. To view a collection, click on the “CREST: 25-Year Program Archive” link on the left. Once the link is clicked, the collections will appear below. To view the records of a specific collection, click the collection name on the left.

In addition, CIA has also made an advanced search capability available. To access the advanced search, click on the “Advanced Search” link just below the search bar on this page. The advanced search allows for search across collections, as well as searches within specific metadata. Additional information and guidance can be found in the “Search Help” link.

Resources:

See also: Pozen, David. The Mosaic Theory, National Security, and the Freedom of Information Act. SSRN eLibrary. 26 Mar 2009.

The CIA’s Electronic Reading room offers a full-text search capability of CREST records, and the collection can be viewed at www.cia.gov/library/readingroom/collection/crest-25-year-program-archive.

CREST: 25-Year Program Archive | CIA FOIA (foia.cia.gov)
CREST | CIA FOIA (foia.cia.gov)
Freedom of Information Act Electronic Reading Room | CIA FOIA (foia …
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2 thoughts on “CIA Claims Its Entire History Now Online

  1. Pingback: CIA Claims Its Entire History Now Online | Lolathecur's Blog Below are two very important entries from the "Jewish Encyclopedia". Read them VERY CLOSELY.

  2. Pingback: Obama Executive Order 13526 Makes Hillary Guilty | Back Country Voices

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