Openness and the CIA   [open pdf - 421KB]

This document is an essay written by Warren F. Kimball of Rutgers University. He explains that "Intelligence is, by its own definition, inherently secret and clandestine. Exposed intelligence agents are either dead, "turned," or retired--and writing their memoirs" and that this "raises an interesting conundrum. If intelligence must be secret forever lest national security and the effectiveness of the CIA be jeopardized, how can such memoirs be permitted? And since they are permitted and vetted by the CIA are they then, by definition, dis-information?" He argues that "the issue for a fixed "drop dead" date for releasing all secrets is merely a matter of determining the date, not a matter of principle and national security." He writes, 'Moreover, I know of not a single plausible threat to the capability of the CIA to perform its mission that has been created by the release of previously classified information that was reviewed using approved procedures for declassification reviews" and that "the important details of history, even intelligence history, can be declassified without jeopardizing national security or individuals." He concludes that "awkwardness and difficulty do not constitute a logical argument for changing the CIA's current public commitment to legitimate and reasonable openness. Openness flows from the nature of our democratic republic. Moreover, the fact is that declassification review of large amounts of highly sensitive intelligence information has been and is being done."

Public Domain
Retrieved From:
Center for the Study of Intelligence: http://www.cia.gov/csi/
Media Type:
Studies in Intelligence (Winter/Spring 2001), no.10, p.63-67
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