Intelligence Release Policies

United States

From 1998

Materials arranged chronologically.

Weiner, Tim. "Panel Says C.I.A.'s Secrecy Threatens to Make History a Lie." New York Times, 9 Apr. 1998, A19.

A report by the State Department's historians' committee will warn that continued publication of the official record of U.S. foreign policy "is imperiled" by the CIA's failure to release documents on its Cold War covert operations.

[Tenet, George J.] "DCI Statement on Declassification." CIA Public Affairs Staff, 15 Jul. 1998. []

"[T]he demands for declassification review far exceed the capabilities of the personnel who are available under current budgetary limitations to perform it. This forces us to make choices in terms of what information will be reviewed first.... I am announcing today the priorities that will guide the Agency's historical declassification efforts for the foreseeable future." See also, George Lardner, "CIA Won't Declassify Files; Blames Budget," Washington Post, 16 Jul. 1998, A15.

U.S. National Archives and Records Administration. "Federal Panel Orders Declassification of Selected Cold War Era Documents." The Record, Sep. 1998. []

Text of statement issued by the White House Office of the Press Secretary, 26 August 1998, on the work of the Interagency Security Classification Appeals Panel (ISCAP) "which resolves appeals from Executive Branch classification decisions."

Lardner, George. "Automatic Declassification Halted." Washington Post, 16 Oct. 1998, A25.

President Clinton has ordered a halt to automatic declassification processes until a detailed review of materials containing potential nuclear secrets can be conducted.

Thornton, Richard C. "The Unfulfilled Promise of Declassification." International Journal of Intelligence and Counterintelligence 11, no. 4 (Winter 1998-1999): 447-451.

The "cumbersome" declassification process established by E.O. 12958 has "become prohibitively expensive in funding, personnel, and time.... Budgets constraints will be the rule for the foreseeable future and efforts to downsize an already bloated bureaucracy work against the plans to allocate huge sums of money and personnel to the declassification process."

Loeb, Vernon. "IntelligenCIA: Inside Information." Washington Post, 31 Oct. 1999. [http://]

"Two lawmakers from opposite ends of the intelligence spectrum, Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan (D-N.Y.) and Rep. Porter J. Goss (R-Fla.), introduced legislation last week that would create a nine-member board to oversee the declassification of historical government documents 'of extraordinary public interest.'"

Loeb, Vernon. "A Longer Wait for Declassification." Washington Post, 19 Nov. 1999, A43. []

On 19 November 1999, President Clinton will "extend the deadline for declassification of historically significant documents by 18 months from April 2000 to October 2001 because executive branch agencies are behind schedule and still have hundreds of millions of pages to review."

Cohen, Edmund. "The CIA and the Declassification of History." International Journal of Intelligence and Counterintelligence 12, no. 3 (Fall 1999): 338-345.

Cohen reviews some of the successes in and the obstacles to the CIA's declassification effort.

Kimball, Warren F. "Openness and the CIA." Studies in Intelligence 10 (Winter-Spring 2001): 63-67.

The author argues that "[t]he important details of history, even intelligence history, can be declassified without jeopardizing national security or individuals." [emphasis in original]

Kinsman, N. Richard. "Openness and the Future of the Clandestine Service." Studies in Intelligence 10 (Winter-Spring 2001): 55-61.

The author argues that "inappropriate applications of the concept" of openness will threaten the viability of the mission of the Clandestine Service and the CIA.

Lardner, George, Jr. "Bush Urged to Rescind Order on Presidential Materials." Washington Post, 7 Nov. 2001, A27. []

On 6 November 2001, Rep. Stephen Horn (R-CA), chairman of a House subcommittee with jurisdiction over the Presidential Records Act, urged the Bush administration to rescind an executive order whereby "a former president or a sitting president -- or in some cases, the family of a deceased president -- could block the release of records requested by journalists, scholars or others and force them to go to court to challenge such decisions."

Shane, Scott. "U.S. Reclassifies Many Documents in Secret Review." New York Times, 21 Feb. 2006. []

"In a seven-year-old secret program at the National Archives, intelligence agencies have been removing from public access thousands of historical documents that were available for years, including some already published by the State Department and others photocopied years ago by private historians." See also, Matthew M. Aid, ed., Declassification in Reverse: The Pentagon and the U.S. Intelligence Community Secret Historical Document Reclassification Program (Washington, DC: National Security Archive, 21 Feb. 2006). []

Shane, Scott. "Archivist Urges U.S. to Reopen Classified Files." New York Times, 3 Mar. 2006. []

On 2 March 2006, Archivist of the United States Allen Weinstein "directed intelligence agencies ... to stop removing previously declassified historical documents from public access and urged them to return to the shelves as quickly as possible many of the records they had already pulled."

Shane, Scott. "U.S. to Declassify Secrets at Age 25." New York Times, 21 Dec. 2006. []

"At midnight on Dec. 31, [2006,] hundreds of millions of pages of secret documents [25 years old or older] will be instantly declassified, including many F.B.I. cold war files on investigations of people suspected of being Communist sympathizers.... [T]he end of 2006 means the government's first automatic declassification of records." The documents will be declassified "unless agencies have sought exemptions on the ground that the material remains secret.... [E]very year from now on, millions of additional documents will be automatically declassified as they reach the 25-year limit.... Practical considerations, including a growing backlog of records at the National Archives, mean that it could take months before the declassified papers are ready for researchers."

U.S. National Archives and Records Administration. "[Press Release:] National Archives Opens Historic CIA Cold War Era Records." 17 Mar. 2008. []

"The National Archives and Records Administration has opened 534 cubic feet or approximately 1.3 million pages of historic Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) records covering the Cold War period from 1946-1977.... These newly-released records are from the CIA's Foreign Documents Division, which provided translation, abstracting and research services on newspapers, periodicals and other foreign-language publications. The series consist of translations of newspapers, periodicals, and other foreign-language publications in verbatim, excerpt, and summary form.... Some of the newly released material is available on the NARA website through the Archival Research Catalog (ARC) at"

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