"In August 1980 the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) will complete its second decade of successful operation, and can likely be accorded credit as the largest, longest, and most effective covert program in U.S. history. The systems designed, procured and operated by the NRO have played a major role in American national security, as well as in making possible strategic arms-control. This record of technical achievements and management effectiveness is both distinguished, and one which reflects well on those associated with the NRO. Since the 'declassification' of the National Security Agency in 1957 by publication of a three sentence description, the NRO presently remains the only major 'classified' element of the U.S. Intelligence Community, and in many ways a bureaucratic anomaly. In terms of its mission, there is nothing inherently more covert about the NRO than CIA's clandestine activities or the operations of NSA, both acknowledged QY the U.S. Government. Indeed, none of the 'abuses' associated with other elements of the Intelligence Community in the post-Watergate Congressional investigations can be associated with the NRO. As a practical matter, much about the NRO is an 'open secret.' The NRO name, mission, and several NRO programs have been the subject of increasing media discussion over the past several years, and the existence of the NRO is 'officially' confirmed by OSD (Public Affairs)."
2008 National Security Archive
National Security Archive: http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/