Friday, March 3, 2017

12 Million Pages of Declassified Documents From CIA

CIA took to Twitter Trump style, tweeting the announcement that “Approx. 930,000 documents, totaling more than 12 million pages” became available online last week. CIA used hashtags to describe several subject names of files released online: #ColdWar, #BerlinTunnel, #Vietnam and others.

Along with a new look for the CIA Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Electronic Reading Room, Executive Order 13526 (amended Executive Order 12958) requires the automatic declassification of nonexempt historically valuable records of 25 years or longer. Not to despair, there are still some “exempt” files that are not declassified.

What’s the big deal? Unless exempted by the Executive Order’s guidelines, these records must be reviewed before reaching their automatic declassification date at The CIA Declassification Center because the files will continue to “roll forward” year after year. Thus, documents will continue to be declassified and updated into the CREST online collection. All the while, CIA boasts of the agency’s CREST: 25-Year Program Archive. So, history buffs can rejoice, those enquiring minds who have wanted to know. Some files are dated as far back as the 1940’s to the 1990’s.

Researchers have been appearing in person since 2000 to view the files at The National Archives at College Park, Maryland using a full-text searchable system called CREST (CIA Records Search Tool). CIA deemed this procedure an obstacle and moved to have the records published online as part of their commitment towards increasing public accessibility of declassified records. CREST also has an advanced search tool, just in case anyone wants to be specific. Although it could be the fact that Muck Rack sued them in 2014 for better access to the same files, prompting CIA to make such a commitment. Muck Rack is a journalist platform for Marketers, PR Professionals, and Sources.

In a press release Joseph Lambert, CIA Director of Information Management, stated that “The American public can access these documents from the comfort of their homes”. Printer-friendly versions are available if necessary.

Below you will find the opening statement from Executive Order 13526 (EO). This EO, formerly known as EO 12958, was amended to include automatic declassification provisions:

“This order prescribes a uniform system for classifying, safeguarding, and declassifying national security information, including information relating to defense against transnational terrorism. Our democratic principles require that the American people be informed of the activities of their Government. Also, our Nation’s progress depends on the free flow of information both within the Government and to the American people. Nevertheless, throughout our history, the national defense has required that certain information be maintained in confidence in order to protect our citizens, our democratic institutions, our homeland security, and our interactions with foreign nations. Protecting information critical to our Nation’s security and demonstrating our commitment to open Government through accurate and accountable application of classification standards and routine, secure, and effective declassification are equally important priorities.”

Among the declassified files, one can view Presidential Daily Briefings from the Kennedy and Johnson administration as well as the Nixon and Ford administration, with the latter collection consisting of some 2500 documents and 28,000 pages.

Countless PDF formatted files of memos and telegrams from the Library of Congress, including messages and documents from Dr. Henry Kissinger.

RADIO/TV REPORTS, from Ted Koppel, on The Cuban Missile Crisis in October of 1982 at the ABC Network located in Washington, D.C. Information about secret writing and invisible ink, foreign translation and STARGATE is just the tip of the iceberg of documents made available, with UFO sightings being the most searched topic. An alien lover’s dream come true, the Chilean government released a declassified video of a secret UFO sighting as well as the declassified official report.

The site itself is now stable after crashing the very first day that the documents became available online, due to the number of visitors flooding the site.

This collection of information from the CREST: 25-Year Program Archive, is like a smorgasbord for conspiracy theorists. Confirm your theories, or dive deeper into the rabbit hole of doubt for the information that is still indubitably classified.

“How many licks does it take to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop?”