CIA and the Freedom of Information Act

By Kristopher A. Nelson in

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The CIA has established this site to provide the public with an overview of access to CIA information, including electronic access to previously released documents. Because of CIA’s need to comply with the national security laws of the United States, some documents or parts of documents cannot be released to the public. In particular, the CIA, like other U.S. intelligence agencies, has the responsibility to protect intelligence sources and methods from disclosure. However, a substantial amount of CIA information has been and/or can be released following review. See “Your Rights” for further details on the various methods of obtaining this information.

Several news stories have picked up on this, including Declassified CIA Archives Detail Illegal Activities and Comparing Today’s Tactics With Those Used in the Past, both from the New York Times, CIA Airs Its Dirty Laundry from U.S. News & World Report, and CIA displays ‘Family Jewels’ from the Chicago Tribune.

While the cynic in me wonders if this isn’t just a PR attempt to distract us from current CIA activities, the historian in me is simply glad to have greater access to government documents and records.