CIA Covert Operations : From Carter to Obama, 1977-2010
This National Security Archive document set represents the initial release of what will be an even broader collection focused on covert operations of the Central Intelligence Agency throughout its history. This set of records covers management and control of covert operations, as well as activities carried out during the Carter, Reagan, Bush (I), Clinton, Bush (II) and Obama presidencies. (Upcoming installments will encompass earlier periods of the agency’s operations – specifically taking advantage of pending Freedom of Information Act requests that will be fulfilled in the near future.)
Containing 2,337 documents, this publication brings together declassified documents and other materials, including key congressional records (necessary for understanding the scope and context of CIA activities) to offer unprecedented detail on a vital but poorly represented aspect of United States foreign activity. Materials in this collection include the most recently declassified documents from presidential libraries and the National Archives, numerous items released under the Freedom of Information Act, and official reports and hearings.
Among the subjects addressed are CIA covert operations in Africa, Afghanistan, Nicaragua, Bosnia, Guatemala, Peru, radio broadcasting, and the war on terror, and official views on these activities as well as the management of U.S. intelligence. Among the key documents that shed new light on these activities are memoranda of conversation of presidential national security meetings, NSC staff papers, memoranda to the president from the director of central intelligence, CIA intelligence reports and studies, investigative reports of the CIA inspector general, and much more. For example, the collection contains the records of the meeting with President Ronald Reagan at which officials first discussed a blockade of Nicaragua. This collection will provide researchers with the most highly curated document-based resource available for the study of CIA covert operations.
Research Value of the Collection
CIA Covert Operations: From Carter to Obama, 1977-2010 provides a detailed account of the operational and diplomatic history of U.S. covert operations, encompassing the time period beginning with the inauguration of President Jimmy Carter in 1977, and concluding with the George W. Bush administration, although a few Obama-era documents are also included. Containing 2,337 declassified documents from a wide range of sources, namely the Central Intelligence Agency, the Department of State, the White House, the National Security Council, as well as a variety of others, the set provides a wide-ranging look into the intricacies of CIA covert action. The primary source material contained within this collection is dynamic in its ability to illuminate not only the specific aspects of individual covert operations, but also the CIA’s role in U.S. policy more broadly.
Overall, the set concentrates on two distinct, but occasionally overlapping, thematic areas: the oversight and management of covert operations and the details of particular covert activities. Documents associated with the control and management of covert operations often showcase the tension between the CIA and the legislative branch. The collection, for instance, features the director of central intelligence nomination hearings for figures such as Stansfield Turner, James Woolsey, George Tenet, and Michael Hayden, among others, and notably includes the expansive Robert Gates hearings of 1991. It also highlights the Carter administration’s attempts to overhaul the intelligence community through documents such as the National Intelligence Reorganization and Reform Act of 1978, as well as containing an assortment of various Senate Select Committee on Intelligence hearings. The set includes extensive documentation on the effort between 1977 and 1981 to develop a legislative charter for the intelligence community, showing the Carter administration’s internal deliberations, as well as Reagan administration efforts to revisit some of these issues.
Documents dealing with the details of particular covert activities cover well-known operations, such as the United States’ support of the Mujahedeen during the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan from late 1979 and throughout much of the 1980s, to lesser known propaganda operations involving Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) broadcasting to Soviet Muslims. The set touches on the efforts of the U.S. to halt Cuban activities in Africa, in countries such as Angola, as well as programs to arm the Contras in Nicaragua, and the actions the Reagan administration took against Libya. It also contains more recent documents which provide a unique insight into the CIA’s rendition programs and use of enhanced interrogation techniques during the “War on Terror,” and into activities and programs such as the Airbridge Denial Program, which aided in the shoot down of a missionary plane over Peru in 2001.
New Year Assessment of Afghan Government Performance and Outlook for U.S. Position in Afghanistan
February 1, 1972, Secret, Cable, Annotated Copy. Ambassador Neumann reports on Afghan government’s improvement under administration of Prime Minister Abdul Zahir; and asserts that U.S. should provide aid to Afghanistan, in light of country’s foreign-policy progress.
Legislative Charters for Intelligence Community
May 15, 1978, Secret, Memorandum of Conversation. Recounts proceedings of meeting of National Security Council’s Special Coordination Committee to consider proposed National Intelligence Reorganization and Reform Act.
Soviet Involvement in Afghanistan Secret
April 3, 1979, Secret, Information Memorandum. .Zbigniew Brzezinski apprises Vice President Mondale of U.S. responses to Soviet involvement in Afghanistan, including briefing of Iranian government on Soviet activity.
Consultations with China on the Afghan Situation
January 5, 1980, Secret, Cable. Discusses talk among Asst Secretary Vest, Asst Secretary Holbrooke, and Chinese ambassador Chai Zemin about results of consultations with allies on responses to Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.
Central American Arms Trafficking: The Comayagua Cache
February 20, 1981, Secret, Intelligence Summary. Reports on Honduran efforts to stop Communists’ plans to arm Salvadoran guerrillas.
[Allegations from Sandinistas]
August 28, 1984, Secret , Letter, Excised Copy. Charles Briggs denies that U.S. is attempting to assassinate members of Sandinista National Liberation Front.
[Helicopter Downing in Nicaragua….]
Sept. 11, 1984. Secret, Compendium, Annotated Copy. Forwards to Robert McFarlane account of helicopter downing and CIA’s statement that it has no ties to Civilian Military Assistance and that CIA provided four aircraft to Nicaraguan Democratic Force.
January 28, 1986. Secret, Talking Points, Annotated Copy; Excised Copy. Cites involvement of Libyan military in unpopular military campaigns as key way to undermine Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi and his support of international terrorism.
[Involvement of U.S. Personnel in Deaths of Guatemalans]
July 21, 1995. Secret, Letter, Annotated Copy; Excised Copy. Forwards interview questions and answers pertaining to CIA officials’ possible involvement in, or knowledge of, deaths of Michael DeVine and Efraín Bámaca Velásquez; requests that information be protected.
The CIA Interrogation of Abu Zubaydah, March 2001-Jan. 2003.
c. January 2003. Top Secret, Report, Excised Copy. Reports on interrogation of Abu Zubaydah, including background on his terrorist activities, information learned, and techniques used.
Covert Prison Rumored to Be in Udonthani on ‘Voice of America’ Premises; U.S. Just Mumbles about Secret Prison in Thailand
November 4, 2005. Unclassified, Memorandum for Record, Transcribes Thai news article noting that CIA denied Washington Post story of secret detention centers in foreign countries, including Thailand.
[Overseas Detention Facilities]
August 31, 2006. Top Secret, Letter, Annotated Copy; Excised Copy. Describes conditions at covert detention facilities used by CIA for housing high-value terrorists and asserts that conditions conform to Geneva Conventions.
The North Carolina Connection to Extraordinary Rendition and Torture
January 2012. Non-Classified, Report, Annotated Copy, Reports on North Carolina’s involvement in CIA rendition program through state and county government support for Aero Contractors, a private business hired by CIA to conduct rendition flights.
CIA Covert Operations II: The Year of Intelligence, 1975
The first full year of the Gerald R. Ford administration is known as "The Year of Intelligence," denoting a season of inquiry into America’s spy agencies set off by a wave of media revelations of official abuses and wrongdoing that predate the current era of media and congressional investigations by decades. Within the Central Intelligence Agency the director himself had felt it necessary for his own information to order the compilation of a document (now notorious as "The Family Jewels") that detailed many of the abuses. How explosive these were stood revealed when publication of similar information in the New York Times in late 1974 triggered a firestorm of public outrage. This led to successive investigations of the intelligence agencies by a blue-ribbon presidential panel (the Rockefeller Commission), a special committee of the United States Senate (Church Committee) and a select committee of the U.S. House of Representatives (Pike Committee). Each of these bodies in its way would serve as a model for similar investigative processes in subsequent years.
The "Year of Intelligence" set, the second in the Archive’s series on the CIA, documents these investigations richly. Step by step the set shows how the agency under Director William E. Colby reported on the revelations, how President Ford’s White House staff-led by Donald Rumsfeld and Richard Cheney-created and managed a strategy to limit and restrain the investigations, how the Rockefeller Commission and congressional committee members pursued their inquiries, and many of the secrets they uncovered. Topics include every aspect of intelligence work, among them covert operations, assassinations, spying on political dissenters, intrusive NSA eavesdropping, as well as such standard subjects as the organization and functions of U.S. intelligence, crisis response, intelligence analysis, and other types of agency activity. The documents show in explicit detail how the Ford White House managed this political crisis and ultimately responded with a reorganization of U.S. intelligence and an executive order specifying agency roles and missions for the first time.
Both the substance of the revelations and the policy, political and legal questions they raised almost four decades ago make the uniquely wide-ranging "Year of Intelligence" collection indispensable for students of the U.S. intelligence community, national security affairs, presidential decision-making in foreign policy, and the role of Congress and the media in government oversight.
CIA Covert Operations III: From Kennedy to Nixon, 1961-1974
CIA Covert Operations III: From Kennedy to Nixon, 1961-1974
The third in the National Security Archive’s unparalleled series of primary source compilations on the CIA’s clandestine side, curated by Pulitzer-nominated author John Prados, takes the story from the epic disaster of the Bay of Pigs through a series of little-known or under-explored covert activities in Cuba (including the Mongoose operation, which is documented in rich detail), British Guiana, Bolivia, Indonesia, the Dominican Republic, Iraq (the Kurds) and more. The material spans topics from first-hand reporting on Che Guevara as he uttered his dying words in Bolivia, to the CIA seeking approval for money to bribe African dictator Jean-Bedel Bokassa of the Central African Republic. This set will also provide unprecedented coverage of deliberations of the CIA’s high command, ranging from minutes of the "Special Group" that approved covert operations, to CIA directors’ daily staff meetings, to the notes of meetings with presidents Kennedy and Johnson made by CIA Director John McCone.
Research Value of This Collection
The CIA Covert Operations project originated with the realization that there exists no single source in which an interested reader or researcher could access the most relevant material with respect to the full spectrum of subjects important to the study of these activities. The reasons for this are varied. Many documents reside in secret government vaults or are scattered among distant repositories; they are of different types and thus held in groupings unrelated to each other; or they are typically treated in isolation by virtue of being seen as pertaining to different geographic areas and not to the functional subject of covert operations.
Collection Content Origin of Documents
Central Intelligence Agency 1128
Department of State 430
National Security Council Staff 327
White House 179
Other U.S. Intelligence Organizations 130
Department of Defense 89
Other U.S. Agencies 64
Non-governmental Organizations 30
Non-U.S. Origins 27
U.S. Congress 13
Electronic Surveillance and the National Security Agency: From Shamrock to Snowden
Research Value of the Collection
U.S. intelligence activities, which cost well over $50 billion a year, also have significant implications for national security and foreign relations — particularly in an era when the threat from terrorism has grown. Within those activities, U.S. electronic surveillance — domestic and foreign — costs a substantial portion of those billions.
Aside from the cost, those activities — as further revealed by the Snowden disclosures — have significant implications for civil liberties and privacy, the ability to detect and prevent terrorist attacks, and the monitoring of foreign governments. The documentation also provides valuable new information on one key, often obscured, aspect of foreign relations — the liaison relationships between U.S. intelligence organizations (in this case, the NSA) and their foreign counterparts. In addition, the foreign reaction to many of the disclosures has illustrated the consequences that can follow the exposure of intelligence operations — particularly those targeted on allied nations.
Incorporating records from all the major sources of documentation concerning U.S. electronic surveillance — the media publications that posted the Snowden documents, official releases from the executive branch (including press releases and declassified documents) and Congress (including legislation, member’s press releases, and testimony), websites, and the Freedom of Information Act — significantly eases the task of searching for documentation.
Thus, the documents will be of great relevance to scholars in a variety of fields, including those covering the study of:
U.S. electronic surveillance capabilities and activities
Legal issues concerning electronic surveillance
Computer network exploitation and cybersecurity
Foreign SIGINT Activities
U.S. foreign relations
U.S. policy making
The Ford, George W. Bush, and Obama presidencies
June 14, 2013. Files criminal complaint against Edward Snowden for theft of government property and unauthorized release of classified information.
[How Disclosed National Security Agency Programs Protect Americans, and Why Disclosure Aids Our Adversaries: Opening Statement by Chairman Mike Rogers]
c. June 18, 2013. Transcribes Representative Mike Rogers’ opening statement for congressional hearing on legality and effectiveness of National Security Agency’s business records collection program.
Voluntary Return of Edward J. Snowden to the United States for Trial in United States of America v. Edward J. Snowden
June 27, 2013. Asks Justice Department to agree to stated conditions for voluntary return of Edward Snowden to U.S. to face trial.
[Response to Concerns about Secret Interpretation of Section 215 of USA PATRIOT Act Allowing Bulk Collection of Private Records; …]
c. June 27, 2013. James Clapper refutes Ron Wyden’s assertion that intelligence community "secretly reinterpreted" legal authority for telephone metadata collection program.
2013 Annual Report of the Interception of Communications Commissioner
April 8, 2014. Reports on British government’s communications-interception practices and notes public concern following publication of Edward Snowden’s leaked documents.
c. October 1975. Confidential. Confirms that Operation Shamrock collected foreign communications from telegraph service companies.
[Telegraph Companies Supplying Communications to U.S. Government]
c. October 1975. Provides background information on U.S. collection of telegraphs addressed to foreign governments from Western Union and other companies.
Claim of Executive Privilege with respect to Materials Subpoenaed by the Committee on Government Operations, House of Representatives
February 17, 1976. Top Secret.Recommends that President Ford invoke executive privilege in response to congressional subpoenas for information relating to intelligence agencies’ interception of cable communications, which would "severely hamper [U.S.] foreign intelligence and counterintelligence efforts."
Meeting with Lawyers for Cable Companies
March 18, 1976. Reports on meeting with telegraph companies’ lawyers about Abzug Subcommittee requests for documents and testimony, and on lawsuit by Morton Halperin.
Report on Inquiry into CIA-Related Electronic Surveillance Activities
June 30, 1976. Top Secret. Reports findings of Justice Department task force on intelligence agencies’ electronic surveillance activities, authority to conduct surveillance, and possible violations of law, with legal defenses for such violations.
Electronic Surveillance Legislation
May 27, 1975. Secret. Reviews, and expresses concern about, legislation that would require warrants for all wiretaps, including of foreign intelligence sources.
Warrantless Electronic Surveillance [Includes Tabs A, C, and D; Alternate Version of Tab D Appended]
January 12, 1976. Top Secret. Recommends sending memorandum to Attorney General Levi on authorization of warrantless wiretaps.
[Electronic Surveillance Statistics]
July 23, 1976. Identifies numbers of wiretaps placed by Federal Bureau of Investigation from 1965 to 1975.
The Five Electronic Surveillance Questions
c. 1990. Top Secret. Poses questions to consider before conducting electronic surveillance, including target’s location.
Summary of the Main Provisions of USSID 18
c. September 3, 1991. SecretCOMINT. Summarizes United States Signals Intelligence Directive 18’s rules for collection and retention of communications of Americans without prior approva
[Follow-Up Questions on Oversight of USA PATRIOT Act; Includes Attachment]
October 20, 2005. Forwards Attorney General Gonzales’s answers to questions from Senator Specter about requirements for "roving" wiretaps and safeguards for privacy of Americans.
Amendments to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) Extended Until June 1, 2015
June 16, 2011. Identifies three clauses of Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act set to expire in 2015: allowance of "roving" wiretaps, requests for "any tangible thing," and targeting of "lone wolves."
[Metadata Collection Program; Includes Attachment; Heavily Excised]
Undated. Top SecretCOMINT. Responds to questions from Judge Bates about use of pen registers to collect foreign intelligence.
Report of the United States
Undated. Top SecretCOMINT. Reports on National Security Agency’s compliance with court-mandated rules for handling e-mail metadata collected through pen registers.
Review of the Legality of the Stellar Wind Program
May 6, 2004. Top SecretCOMINT. Provides background information and assesses legal authority of program to intercept content of communications of suspected terrorists, codenamed STELLARWIND, and concludes that program is "constitutionally permissible."
Sharing Communications Metadata across the Intelligence Community
c. 2006. Secret. Recommends establishment of National Security Agency as "executive agent" for intelligence-community-wide mechanism for sharing communications data.
FISA Court Order: Telephony Business Records
July 10, 2006. Top SecretCOMINT. Asserts that National Security Agency’s data management controls for processing, dissemination, security, and oversight of telephone metadata about U.S. persons meet requirements of court order; and recommends additional controls for data collection and querying.
National Security Agency
[Validator and OlympusFire Systems]
Undated. Top SecretCOMINT. Describes Validator backdoor access system and OlympusFire network exploitation system.
[Invitation to Appear before Congress]
October 24, 1975. Requests that Lew Allen appear before Subcommittee on Government Information and Individual Rights to justify petition for closed hearing on intelligence agencies’ interception of cable and telex traffic.
Bella Abzug Hearings concerning FBI and NSA Activities: Current Position concerning Assertion of Executive Privilege
c. March 3, 1976. Justifies use of executive privilege to ignore congressional subpoena for information on U.S. interception of cable communications.
USSID 18: Reporting Guidance on References to the First Lady
July 8, 1993. ConfidentialCOMINT. Alerts that first lady may be identified by title in intelligence reports when referring to her official duties.
Guatemala–Prohibition on Search of Raw Traffic
March 31, 1995. SecretCOMINT. Relays National Security Agency Office of General Counsel’s advice on searching for signals intelligence about Michael DeVine and Efraín Bámaca Velásquez in Guatemala dating back to 1987.
European Security Center to Begin Operations
March 29, 2004. Secret. Introduces points of contact and describes role of new National Security Agency European Security Center, including to provide crisis support to military and signals intelligence operations and to serve as training center for technical and language skills.
[Legal Authority for National Security Agency Surveillance Activities]
December 22, 2005. Describes president’s constitutional authority to authorize National Security Agency surveillance to prevent terrorist attacks.
The National Security Agency: Organization and Operations, 1945-2009
Research Value of the Collection
Incorporating the latest materials declassified and released by the U.S. government, this document set reveals for the first time the vast breadth and scope of the intelligence gathering activities of NSA and its predecessor organizations, and details the critically important role that NSA has played in virtually every conflict and international crisis that the United States has faced since the end of World War II.
Until the mid-1990s, it was virtually impossible to obtain any meaningful documentary materials concerning NSA because of the nearly impenetrable shroud of secrecy that historically has covered the agency’s operations. Public Law 86-36 allowed the agency to effectively prevent the release of virtually any information to the public about its organization and operations. At the height of the Cold War, agency officials delighted in telling outsiders that NSA’s initials stood for "No Such Agency" or "Never Say Anything."
But with the public release in 1995 of the first documents relating to NSA’s Venona code-breaking efforts against Soviet codes, the veil of secrecy began slowly but surely to dissipate. Thanks in large part to the efforts of a small number of senior NSA officials with a deep and abiding interest in history, the release of historically significant documents about NSA gathered steam during the late 1990s. At the same time, the agency’s rules about releasing documents to FOIA requestors concerning its operations were dramatically relaxed. And finally, in the late 1990s the CIA began declassifying and releasing large numbers of intelligence reports and studies that included intelligence formation derived from SIGINT reporting coming from NSA. It is this material, located in the CREST computer database at the National Archives in College Park, Maryland, that forms the core of the NSA document collection.
The majority of the documents comprising this collection cover NSA’s activities during the Cold War Years (1945-1989), such as the role played by SIGINT during the Korean and Vietnam wars, as well as during a host of international crises. Included in this set are a series of formerly highly classified NSA intelligence reports covering key events during the Korean and Vietnam wars, as well as the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962, the 1964 Gulf of Tonkin incidents, and the Soviet and Cuban military intervention in Angola in 1974-1975. Also contained in the collection are a series of previously classified internal NSA documents, including but not limited to organization manuals and staff studies concerning the effectiveness of NSA’s SIGINT collection efforts, and once-classified internal newsletters.
Of particular interest to researchers are the sizeable number of intelligence estimates, studies, reports and memoranda derived from SIGINT that were produced by the CIA and other components of the U.S. intelligence community, most written at the Top Secret Codeword level, on a wide range of topics affecting the U.S. government and military. Many of these reports cover military subjects, such as the order of battle of the Soviet, Chinese, Cuban, North Vietnamese and North Korean militaries, warnings of imminent enemy offensives in Korea and Vietnam, indicators appearing in SIGINT of enemy troop movements, details of new Soviet weapons systems, and the like. Other materials concern diplomatic or economic subjects, such as details of what foreign government leaders were saying to one another, as well as data concerning foreign trade, domestic consumer goods policies, gold production, merchant shipping movements and civilian airliner flights, weapons production, shipbuilding, petroleum and other strategic commodities shipments, and civil defense activities, all of which were derived from SIGINT reporting from NSA.
Examined in their entirety, these intelligence estimates, studies, reports and memoranda clearly indicate that the U.S. intelligence community was heavily dependent on NSA for much of the intelligence information it had at its disposal during the Cold War, particularly against the U.S. intelligence community’s highest priority targets – the USSR, the Peoples Republic of China, Cuba, North Vietnam and North Korea. It would also seem that SIGINT’s importance has not diminished in the post-Cold War world. NSA’s intelligence reporting has accounted for much of what is known about the activities of al-Qaeda and other international terrorist organizations. And SIGINT has played an understated, albeit very important role in the still ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The documents contained in this collection permit researchers to examine the role played by intelligence, especially SIGINT, in the formulation and execution of U.S. foreign policy and defense strategies; the importance of SIGINT to American policymakers and senior military commanders during world crises and contingency operations; the critically important role played by SIGINT on the battlefield, especially during the Korean and Vietnam wars, when virtually all major operations were driven to one degree or another by SIGINT; and the all-important question of the relative value of the intelligence information provided by NSA given its high cost. This document set will prove valuable to a wide range of researchers, including those who focus on topics such as:
General intelligence policy and management issues, such as the importance of the near-continuous internecine warfare between NSA and the CIA, as well as other key components of the U.S. intelligence community during the Cold War. The inability or unwillingness of NSA to work harmoniously with the rest of the U.S. intelligence community was to have long-lasting ramifications. The 9/11 Commission identified the failure of the different agencies comprising the intelligence community to cooperate as one of the key factors in the failure of U.S. intelligence to prevent the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
The overall performance of the U.S. intelligence community during the Cold War on a number of critically important intelligence issues in which SIGINT played a vital role, such as the so-called "Bomber Gap" of the mid-1950s and the "Missile Gap" of the early 1960s. In the post-Cold War era, there are still unresolved issues concerning NSA’s intelligence collection activities leading up to the 9/11 attacks, and its deficient performance against the Iraqi weapons of mass destruction (WMD) programs prior to the U.S. invasion of Iraq in March 2003.
The impact of SIGINT on the planning and execution of U.S. foreign policy since the end of World War II.
The overall importance of SIGINT reporting emanating from NSA on the conduct of U.S. military operations since World War II.
The still evolving role of SIGINT in the ongoing counterinsurgency campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan, and its diminishing utility in the U.S. government’s global counterterrorist efforts against al-Qaeda and other international terrorist groups.
Cryptanalysis of "Caviar"
c. 1945. Top Secret Ultra. Describes progress in discovering key to decoding messages from Soviet "Fish" or Baudot scrambler, or, "Caviar."
Disclosure of Free French Results to British
May 14, 1945. Top Secret, Memorandum. Informs Preston Corderman that Navy will refuse to give information classified as "NB" or "No British" to Army unless it agrees not to share it with Britain.
The Blue Caesar
c. September 15, 1945. Top Secret, Report. Provides background information on Soviet signal communications and describes structure of communications networks, cryptographic systems, variations on Morse Code, call-sign systems, and procedures for decrypting Soviet intercepts.
List of Cryptanalytic Short Titles
February 01, 1946. Top Secret. Lists U.S. and British short titles of codes by country and provides descriptions of status, type, class, and rating for each.
[Coded Messages from Korea]
February 12, 1946. Top Secret, Cable. Offers access to covertly coded diplomatic messages filed at Korean Communications Center in Seoul.
May 15, 1950. Top Secret, Memorandum. Provides updates on Federal Bureau of Investigation cases regarding Soviet spies in the U.S.
Atomic Energy Intelligence
June 28, 1950. Top Secret , Memorandum. Provides Intelligence Advisory Committee’s comments and indicates actions to be taken in response to recommendations made by Ad Hoc Committee on Atomic Energy Intelligence.
SIGINT Production Organization Manual
March 01, 1960. Top Secret. Presents mission, organization, composition, management, staff groups, offices, and other facts about National Security Agency’s signals intelligence component that performs SIGINT collection, production, and related tasks.
[Excised] SIGINT Readiness Bravo, Owen, Spot Report, Report Nr. 4
October 23, 1962. Secret Sabre, Cable. Presents mission, organization, composition, management, staff groups, offices, and other facts about National Security Agency’s signals intelligence component that performs SIGINT collection, production, and related tasks.
Views on Situation in Angola and the FNLA
June 26, 1975. Top Secret Gamma; Cable. Provides Johnny Pinnock’s comments on liberation movements in Angola.
Soviet and Cuban Intervention in the Angolan Civil War
March, 1977. Top Secret Umbra, Intelligence Memorandum. Assesses Soviet and Cuban military aid during Angolan civil war.
[John F. Kennedy Assassination Records, Venona, and Other Issues]
March 12, 1996. Unclassified, Newsletter. Provides letter from new director Kenneth Minihan and update on providing documents to Assassination Records Review Board, new chairman of President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board, and releasing records on Venona project.
[Excised] Iraq’s Continuing Programs for Weapons of Mass Destruction
October, 2002. Top Secret (Code Word Excised). Presents key judgments about Iraq’s weapons program, State Department view of program, and confidence levels for particular judgments.
["Terrorist Surveillance Program"]
July 31, 2007. Explains that "Terrorist Surveillance Program" phrase was not used prior to 2006 to refer to warrantless interception of international communications of al-Qaeda and affiliated terrorist organizations coming into or going out of U.S., activity George W. Bush had publicly described in December 2005.
Unclassified Report on the President’s Surveillance Program
July 10, 2009. Unclassified. Summarizes review by intelligence community’s inspectors general of legality of President’s Surveillance Program, through which George W. Bush periodically authorized intelligence activities "to detect and prevent further terrorist attacks in U.S.
Arms Deliveries to Cuba
September 26, 1960. Top Secret Daunt. Memorandum about Cuban acquisition of arms from both Soviet bloc and non-bloc countries; lists arms and equipment.
Supplement to the Military Buildup in Cuba: A Chronology of Significant Events since 20 January 1961 and Major Bloc Arms Shipments to Cuba.
July 11, 1961. Top Secret Dinar. Presents chronology of events since January 20, 1961 related to Cuban military buildup.
Cuban MiGs Scramble on Two U.S. Navy Patrol Planes
September 11, 1962. Secret Kimbo. Reports and comments on September 8, 1962 incident in which two Cuban Revolutionary Air Force MiG planes intercepted two U.S. Navy patrol planes over international waters.
Supplement 9 to Joint Evaluation of Soviet Missile Threat in Cuba
October 28, 1962. Top Secret (Code Word Excised), Report. Evaluates force readiness, construction pace, and changes in Soviet missile deployment program in Cuba.
[Excised] Comment on Castro’s Reaction to Death of Kennedy Top Secret Dinar, Communications Intelligence Report, Annotated Copy; Excised Copy, 3/O/[Excised]/T1463-63, December 05, 1963,
December 05, 1963. Top Secret Dinar. Reports on Fidel Castro’s attempts to immediately refute accusations that U.S. President Kennedy’s assassin was Marxist or "communist Castroite."
Cuba 1962: Khrushchev’s Miscalculated Risk
February 13, 1964. Examines implications of aerial photographic evidence of deployment of Soviet forces in Cuba, discussing Cuba-Soviet economic and military relations before mid-1962, and activity relating to military buildup, air defenses, and naval and ground systems.
North Korea: 1950-68
[Chinese, Soviet, and North Korean Military Movements] Secret, Intercept, July 03, 1950,
July 03, 1950. Secret, Intercept. Comments on intelligence information derived in part from radio intercepts concerning troop and naval movements in Soviet Union, China, and North Korea.
Enemy Radio Information [Includes North Korean Radio Information], Confidential, Memorandum, July 29, 1950
July 29, 1950. Confidential, Memorandum. Forwards intercept of North Korean radio information.
[U.S. Mission in Korean War; Operations Plan 10…]
September 10, 1950. Top Secret. Describes weather patterns, terrain features, North Korean military strength, and other factors affecting U.S. mission in Korean War, derived in part from signals intelligence.
[North Korean Troop Movements]
January 08, 1951. Secret. Reports on North Korean rifle division movements, based in part on signals intelligence.
Summary of Enemy Situation
May 11, 1951. Top Secret. Analyzes intercepted intelligence indicating North Korean attack, including military divisions and locations involved.
The Prospects for an Effective Truce in Korea
July 23, 1953. Top Secret Canoe. Forwards intelligence derived in part from signals intelligence on prospects for Korean War truce, including objections by Syngmann Rhee, recovery of released prisoners of war, and other issues.
Background–Communist Violations of the Armistice in Korea
March 09, 1955. Top Secret Eider. Reports on violation by communists in Korea of July 27, 1953 armistice in relation to ground, air, and naval forces; political subversion in South Korea; and retention of U.N. Command prisoners of war.
[Seizure of USS Pueblo; Includes Map]
January 23, 1968.; Top Secret. Reports North Korean seizure of signals intelligence ship USS Pueblo.
The Pueblo Incident
February 05, 1968. Top Secret Trine. Discusses North Korean decision to capture USS Pueblo, propaganda about U.S. and South Korean ships near North Korean waters, and Pyongyang’s military capability.
The President’s Daily Brief: Kennedy, Johnson, and the CIA, 1961-1969
Once called "the most highly sensitized classified document in the government,” the President’s Daily Brief (PDB) is a Top Secret CIA digest of essential intelligence presented every morning to the president and a handful of his closest advisers. Spotlighting the most sensitive world flash points, the PDBs provide insight into what presidents knew and when they knew it about the most critical issues of the day.
The National Security Archive – in partnership with others in the academic community – was instrumental in paving the way for the first substantial release of PDBs through a campaign of public education and pressure finally leading to litigation. In 2007, the Archive joined with Professor Larry Berman, then a professor of political science at the University of California, Davis, in a suit against the CIA. Though the court denied the plaintiffs’ immediate request, it rejected the CIA’s attempt to obtain a blanket exemption for all PDBS, opening the door for the eventual release of the 2,500 documents and nearly 19,000 pages included in this collection.
These highly succinct records provide a day-by-day glimpse into the historic global challenges facing the Kennedy and Johnson administrations. Themes covered include Cold War conflicts over access to West Berlin; the Cuban missile crisis; the Vietnam War; the Six-Day War; conflicts sparked by decolonization in Africa, Indonesia, and the Middle East; political turmoil in Central and South America; NATO and EEC concerns; and reporting on the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, among other topics.
While the extreme secrecy that has shrouded these 40-year-old documents now seems dubious, this collection nonetheless serves as a rich source not only on a pivotal period in modern world history but on the workings of government and the national security system, especially presidential decision-making, CIA intelligence production, and government secrecy.
The Soviet Estimate: U.S. Analysis of the Soviet Union, 1947–1991
The Soviet Union represented the major concern of U.S. national security decision makers for more than 40 years. The ultimate policies they adopted during that period were the result of numerous factors. Their understanding of Soviet objectives and capabilities–military, diplomatic, economic, and scientific and technical-was certainly one of those factors. Intelligence reports helped shape that understanding. With respect to some issues, such as Soviet ICBM strength, intelligence was by far the most important ingredient.
Until recently scholars have had to address issues such as the performance of U.S. intelligence analysis with respect to the Soviet Union or the impact of intelligence on policy without reference to most of the key documents. Thus, until December 1994, all the National Intelligence Estimates relating to the origins and demise of the "missile gap" were classified. Scholars were often forced to rely either on other government documents that reproduced some of the information in those estimates (for example, Department of Defense posture statements) or unofficial sources.
The documents included in this collection will permit scholars to refer directly to the primary documents in discussing U.S. intelligence estimates of Soviet actions, intentions, and capabilities, their impact on policy making, or Soviet developments. Thus, the documents should be of great relevance to scholars in a variety of fields, including those in:
National security policy formation
Terrorism and U.S. Policy, 1968–2002
This collection covers a great deal of territory. Details of individual attacks, accounts of the experiences of American hostages, and descriptions of U.S. and other governments’ responses give researchers a vivid picture of how terrorist incidents often unfold, how they are perceived by various sides, and how costly they are in human terms. Because many of the documents were written by U.S. officials observing and reacting to events as they unfolded, they open a fascinating window into the thinking and patterns of the men and women who sit on the front lines in this international war and whose actions have an immediate impact on many levels. Among these materials are regular, sometimes hourly, reports sent to the president that impart some of the urgency of events at the top levels of the U.S. government, as well as detailed narratives from U.S. embassy and military officials reporting from the scene.
Beyond the immediacy of these descriptive documents, the materials in this collection also give a uniquely detailed portrait of the enormous counter-terrorism planning and decision-making apparatus that has grown over the years within the U.S. government. As mentioned in the previous section, among the set’s highlights are the selection of materials from the lawsuit of former Lebanon hostage Terry Anderson, which forced the release of documents often having high levels of original classification. Also featured are the decision-level records of the Cabinet Committee to Combat Terrorism from the Nixon and Ford years. This important group met regularly to discuss responses to specific events and overall strategies. In addition, a large selection of CIA weekly reports on terrorism only recently declassified (albeit with some heavy excisions) gives a realistic sense of the priorities and scope of CIA coverage of events world-wide. Yet another feature is the inclusion of comprehensive series of reports and analyses from the research arms of Congress—the Congressional Research Service and General Accounting Office—as well as from the United Nations which offer very different institutional perspectives from those within the executive branch.
The collection also contains numerous contextual documents that shed light on specific missions, notably the 2001–2002 U.S.-led military and intelligence operations inside Afghanistan. There is even documentation on the Soviet experiences during their nine-year war against the Mujaheddin in the 1980s. Thus, the document set offers a multi-dimensional look at the complex interaction of history, politics and warfare that policy-makers and foot soldiers alike must now take into account in the modern era of terrorism.
U.S. Espionage and Intelligence, 1947–1996
The documents reproduced in U.S. Espionage and Intelligence provide a unique documentary record of U.S. intelligence community organizations, operations, and management. They portray the bureaucratic reality underlying " some of the most highly secret activities of the U.S. government. Thus, the varied organization and functions manuals provide detailed information on the structure and responsibilities of the numerous and often obscure intelligence organizations that make up the U.S. intelligence community.
The regulations issued by the various intelligence organizations give the researcher insight into the procedures and activities involved in performing specific missions — whether the mission be intelligence analysis, intelligence collection (such as signals intelligence or nuclear monitoring), or the acquisition of foreign military equipment. A researcher will be able to examine entire regulations of interest, rather than to rely solely on the portions quoted or paraphrased in other works.
Also of great value are the interagency directives (such as presidential national security directives, National Security Council Intelligence Directives, Director of Central Intelligence Directives) that form a significant part of the document collection.
Two further categories of documents will be of significant value to researchers — command histories and official studies of intelligence community structure and performance. Command histories of military intelligence units provide yearly, often detailed, accounts of the activities of these units. Also included are all official studies performed concerning the intelligence community’s structure and performance that have been released or appeared since the publication of the Archive’s The U.S. Intelligence Community document set.
Documents in the set that cut across all categories will be useful to researchers exploring changes in the intelligence community in reaction to the collapse of the Soviet Union and the lessons of the Persian Gulf War.
U.S. Intelligence Community After 9/11
Research Value of the Collection
One consequence of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, on New York and Washington was the initiation of the most significant organizational change in the U.S. Intelligence Community in over five decades – the abolition of the position of director of central intelligence and the establishment of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. Other changes made as a direct result of the attacks occurred in the form of policy decisions regarding organization and operations, such as the creation of the Department of Homeland Security and its intelligence component, and the detention of ‘high-value" al-Qaeda officials.
Additional changes were the consequence of technological and/or doctrinal developments or the natural result of the inevitable periodic reorganizations that government agencies undertake. Thus, the ability to provide data in real-time to military commanders led to the creation of the Joint Intelligence Operations Center within the Defense Intelligence Agency and the military commands. Modifications in operational activity (the targeted killings of al-Qaeda officials) were also due to technology (such as the capabilities of Predator unmanned aerial vehicles to provide real-time data and the ability to mate Hellfire missiles with the Predators) and adjustments in what were considered acceptable activities in the face of terrorist attacks.
Another change – in how the U.S. sought to prevent Saddam Hussein from acquiring and possibly employing weapons of mass destruction – had dramatic implications for the U.S. Intelligence Community. The community’s estimates of Iraq’s WMD programs became the basis for the Bush administration’s public information campaign in support of the decision to invade Iraq and topple the Saddam Hussein regime. In the aftermath, the community’s collection and analysis efforts became the subject of multiple investigations by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and other official bodies.
The documents contained in the set will allow a researcher to explore:
The creation and authorities of the Director of National Intelligence.
The creation and responsibilities of new intelligence components in the Department of Defense, Department of Homeland Security, Department of the Treasury, and Drug Enforcement Administration.
The performance of the CIA and the U.S. Intelligence Community with respect to 9/11 and estimating the state of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction programs.
The organization, authorities, and activities of the Counterintelligence Field Activity.
The transformation of military service intelligence agencies and the resurgence of service human intelligence.
The transformation of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s intelligence structure and activities.
U.S. interrogation and electronic surveillance policies and activities.
Bin Ladin Determined to Strike in U.S., President’s Daily Brief
August 06, 2001. Asserts that based on clandestine, foreign government, and media reports, al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden seeks to conduct terrorist attacks in U.S.
We’re at War
September 16, 2001. Confidential, Memorandum. Encourages staff to be "passionate and driven" in efforts to combat terrorism.
Collecting Information on U.S. Persons
November 05, 2001. Secret. Offers information collection guidance in light of concern about military intelligence collection authority.
In re: All Matters Submitted to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court
May 17, 2002. Classification Unknown. Finds that proposed minimization procedures intended to protect privacy of U.S. citizens from electronic surveillance authorized by Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act are not "reasonably designed" and orders that they be modified in part.
What Do I Have to Do to Get a FISA? Classification Unknown, Report, Excised Copy, September 12, 2002,
September 12, 2002. Classification Unknown. Provides guidelines for seeking authorization to conduct electronic surveillance or physical searches under Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.
[Concerns about Bush Administration Intelligence Policy; Handwritten]
July 17, 2003. Senator Rockefeller expresses concern to Vice President Cheney about direction of Bush administration policy toward security, technology, and surveillance.
Director’s Message: "NSA in the Media–‘Intelligence Gathering Practices’"
December 16, 2005. Directs National Security Agency staff not to publicly comment on New York Times story revealing NSA’s warrantless communication intercepts.
Audit of the U.S. Department of Justice Terrorist Watchlist Nomination Processes
March 2008. Examines Dept of Justice’s process for nominating known or suspected terrorists to terrorist watch list; presents findings and recommendations.
Interrogation of al-Qaeda Operative
August 01, 2002. Top Secret, Memorandum. Describes interrogation techniques to be used on Abu Zubaydah, his prominence in al-Qaeda, and his mental state; concludes that proposed techniques fall within legal definition of torture.
[Legal Review of U.S. Interrogation Methods]
August 01, 2002. Classification Unknown, Letter. Reviews international law relating to torture of enemy combatants and concludes that U.S. interrogation methods do not violate U.S. obligations under U.N. torture convention and do not fall within jurisdiction of International Criminal Court.
A Review of the FBI’s Involvement in and Observations of Detainee Interrogations in Guantánamo Bay, Afghanistan, and Iraq
May, 2008. Unclassified, Report. Reviews whether Federal Bureau of Investigation agents witnessed detainee abuse in military zones, participated in abuse, and reported incidents to supervisors or others; how incident reports were handled; and FBI policies, guidance, and training for agents deployed to military zones.
DOD Intelligence Interrogations, Detainee Debriefings, and Tactical Questioning
October 09, 2008. Non-Classified. Codifies and consolidates existing Defense Department policies related to humane treatment during interrogations, establishes requirement to report policy violations, provides classification guidance to protect intelligence sources and methods, assigns related responsibilities, and provides related updates.
U.S. Intelligence Community: Organization, Operations and Management, 1947–1989
The documents reproduced in The U.S. Intelligence Community provide a unique documentary record of U.S. intelligence community organizations, operations and management. They portray the bureaucratic reality underlying some of the most highly secret activities of the U.S. government. Thus, the varied organization and functions manuals provide detailed information on the structure and responsibilities of the numerous and often obscure intelligence organizations that make up the U.S. intelligence community. The level of detail in these manuals exceeds that available even in the most comprehensive books on the U.S. intelligence community.
The regulations issued by the various intelligence organizations give the researcher insight into the procedures and activities involved in performing specific missions–whether the mission be intelligence analysis, intelligence collection (such as signals intelligence or nuclear monitoring), or the acquisition of foreign military equipment. A researcher will be able to examine entire regulations of interest, rather than to rely solely on the portions quoted or paraphrased in other works.
Also of great value are the interagency directives (that is, the presidential national security decision documents, the National Security Council Intelligence Directives, the Director of Central Intelligence Directives and the United States Signals Intelligence Directives) that form a significant part of the document collection. Included are all available directives from the inception of each series (1947 in some cases). Thus, a researcher will have access to a comprehensive collection of currently-in-force directives as well as past directives.
Two further categories of documents will be of significant value to researchers. The command histories of numerous military intelligence units provide yearly, often detailed, accounts of the activities of these units. They often provide surprising details concerning the production of national intelligence estimates, the structure of National Foreign Intelligence Board committees and other aspects of national intelligence operations that cannot be obtained from the CIA.
In addition, the document set includes all presently available official studies that have been done concerning the operations of the U.S. intelligence community or some subset of the community. Included are studies performed by the National Security Council, the Office of Management and Budget, the Department of Defense and the Department of Justice during the period 1949 to 1976. These documents provide valuable background information on changes in the organization and operation of the intelligence community. On occasion, they provide information that continues to be excised from other government documents released under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).
U.S. Military Uses of Space, 1945–1991
The U.S. Military Uses of Space collection provides the first extensive documentary record of the highly sensitive military space activities of the United States. Researchers now have access to documents concerning four basic areas of U.S. military space activity: organization, policy, military support systems (communications, meteorology, reconnaissance and other satellites), and space weaponry (anti-satellite weapons and the Strategic Defense Initiative).
The collection provides details concerning the origins of military space programs, the evolution of programs and policy, the capabilities of various space systems and the operational use of space systems. The organization and functions manuals in the set provide detailed data on the structure and role of organizations involved in space systems development and operations.
Through the histories, memoranda and organization and functions manuals, the researcher will be able to identify, for different time periods, the organizational players and space operations of the United States government.