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United States Government Privacy

The CIA Is Closing the Office That Declassifies Historical Documents 67

Daniel_Stuckey writes "As a result of the sequester-induced budget cuts, the CIA is closing the Historical Collections Division office, which declassifies historical documents, and transferring the divisions responsibilities to the office that handles FOIA requests. The Historical Collections Division is described on its website as 'an important part of CIA's ongoing effort to be more open and to provide for more public accountability.' It is a 'voluntary declassification program that focuses on records of historical value,' including information on the Vietnam War, spy satellites, the Bay of Pigs and other historical scandals and operations."
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The CIA Is Closing the Office That Declassifies Historical Documents

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  • It not about paper (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward

    It's about sending a message.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Nah its simply to say when the JFK info should be released that it got lost in the post.

      • "We are doing everything we can to be as transparent as we possibly can be.", Brick Wall said at a press conference today.

        • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          Transparency is not core business... so it gets cut.

        • by pnutjam ( 523990 )
          Somewhere Dick Chaney is caressing a cloned heart murmuring, "Finally our goals are being met..."
    • by Jeremiah Cornelius ( 137 ) on Thursday August 22, 2013 @07:59PM (#44649517) Homepage Journal

      "Memory Hole" the new game, from Milton Bradley!

      Look on the bright side. You now live in one of those cool, science fiction dystopias, that made things so interesting for your favorite protagonists.

      • Look on the bright side. You now live in one of those cool, science fiction dystopias, that made things so interesting for your favorite protagonists.

        It didn't end too well for Winston Smith and Joseph K. But yeah, interesting times!

        • by Anonymous Coward

 not named either of those so ill be ok

      • In New Zealand the game is known as Brain Fade [].

    • Much like NOAA shutting down local weather observation sites?

    • by interkin3tic ( 1469267 ) on Thursday August 22, 2013 @11:45PM (#44651011)
      The message I'm getting is that they're doing something right now so reprehensible that they're worried we'll still be pissed about it in 30 years when it's declassified.

      A lot of the shit we pulled decades ago with overthrowing foreign governments, which eventually came back to bite us in the ass, that angers me, but I'm not going to demand we jail Regan's administration and CIA officials from back then. Time heals a lot of wounds, and they know this. Why should it concern them if things from the JFK era are declassified? Perhaps it's because the clock is ticking down for some of the current government officials' earlier sins. Like maybe there's a memo that would otherwise be declassified in the next ten years from some underling typed up and put in the record that was the patriot act down to the punctuation, and a note that the next terrorist attack would be a good opportunity to slip it in?
    • by Camael ( 1048726 ) on Thursday August 22, 2013 @11:53PM (#44651043)

      So much for greater transparency [].

  • Typical (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TubeSteak ( 669689 ) on Thursday August 22, 2013 @07:55PM (#44649479) Journal

    CIA officials said they closed the Historical Collections Division to accommodate federal budget cuts that the White House and Congress proposed last year to create pressure for a deficit reduction deal. No deal materialized, so across-the-board budget cuts known as the sequester were imposed.

    The real problem isn't that they're rolling this into their FOIA office, it's that they'll undoubtedly not move the personnel too.
    Institutional knowledge is incredibly important in any organization and even more so for a group that deals with history.

    Not to mention the fact that FOIA requests are always backlogged, 30 day response requirements be damned.

    • Re:Typical (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Trepidity ( 597 ) <delirium-slashdo ... g ['kis' in gap]> on Thursday August 22, 2013 @08:26PM (#44649753)

      This is one way, at least, in which the politicians who always promise to "run government like a business" seem to be keeping their word. When budget cuts come in the private sector, the corporate history/archival department is among the first to get axed. Sure, 30 years later you might need those documents [], but that's a problem for someone 30 years later to sort out.

      • by dbIII ( 701233 )
        Very true. There are eight boxes of nine track tape reels from 1991 next to a desk behind me because the client threw out their originals and we not asked to ship back the copies made for transport, so they ended up being left in the back of a shed. That's seismic data that cost a million or two to acquire back in the day and it would cost a lot more to do the survey again today.
        That sort of thing happens one or two times a year (though most of the time it's just one or two tapes) and it's different clien
        • What I think is sad is that so much recent culture has been locked up in corporate basements. Racist cartoons, the black and white mistrals, cowboys patronising indians, high ranking politicians ranting (to loud applause) on such topics as "keeping niggers separate" and "a woman's place is in the home". These were all standard fare on the TV between 4pm and 8pm when I was a child in the 60's. As a teenager I remember getting up early on new years day and I started watching the (Australian) draft pick for th
      • Competitive businesses don't close branches that their customers like and want, and they do close branches that their customers don't want. It's monopolies and governments that do the opposite.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      Not to mention the fact that FOIA requests are always backlogged, 30 day response requirements be damned.

      Well the Historical Collections Division is legally backlogged by at least 25 years. What's an extra 30 days? ;-)

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Obummer. You just can't trust him.

    In b4 some liberal whines "BUT BUUUUUUUUUSH"! As if what the monkey boy Dubya did is any excuse for Obummer has been doing for the last 5 years.

    • by Anonymous Coward
      I finally understand why 'you people' think Liberals blame everything Obama does wrong on Bush. It's because 'you people' are so FUCKING CLUELESS that you blame things Bush did wrong on Obama! (See recent poll about Katrina response.)

      Seriously, admit Bush was a miserable failure as a president. I'll happily admit Obama was a major disappointment (although still better than the Republican alternatives, if only marginally).
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 22, 2013 @07:56PM (#44649489)

    And I've got this nice bridge for sale, cheap.

  • Your plane to Moscow is boarding.

    In Soviet Russia the Cagey Bee welcomes YOU!

  • by AHuxley ( 892839 ) on Thursday August 22, 2013 @08:02PM (#44649555) Journal []
    In the 1980's a CIA staff historian wrote a secret history of the Bay of Pigs invasion in 1961.
    Thanks to FOIA, some of the work was released in the 1990's.
    One final volume was locked up as the CIA "does not want to discourage disagreement among its historians."
    Welcome to a world where the CIA knows that any basic history can "confuse the public".
    Thanks to the sequester-induced budget cuts more US history can be kept safe with ever better long term document hygiene.
    • It's not the sequester that's at fault here. It's the way government agencies run their finances.

      I like the way Thomas Sowell put it not too long ago, paraphrased: Let's say there was a government agency who had two purposes. First, to give life-saving medications and vaccines to children. Second, to build statues of Benedict Arnold. Cut the budget by 50%. What happens? The agency quits giving out the medications and vaccines. Why? Because it's a hell of a lot easier to get that funding restored.


  • Riiiight (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    It's the "sequester". That's why.

    Does anyone still believe Obama is about hope and change now?

  • Next comes the oversight functions.
  • Angleton is turning peacefully in his grave!

  • by redelm ( 54142 ) on Thursday August 22, 2013 @08:28PM (#44649769) Homepage

    Just what did anyone reasonably expect? That in response to budget cuts a bureaucracy would suddenly get religion and root out the fat & waste? Why?

    That fat and waste has resisted previous cuts and is remarkably good at protecting itself. Spends all its energy at self-defense. Otherwise it would have been long gone.

    Useful activities spend at least some of their efforts at delivering services so has less for self-defense. Besides, they probably think they're too important to cut. And they are -- so what better way to stop the cutting?

  • by Anonymous Coward

    an important part of CIA's ongoing effort to be more open and to provide for more public accountability.

    Too bad we can't mod TFA, Score:5, Funny.

  • Historical? (Score:4, Funny)

    by Darinbob ( 1142669 ) on Thursday August 22, 2013 @09:13PM (#44650079)

    What are things that occured during my lifetime now being called "historical"? I'm not that old dammit!

    • by Artea ( 2527062 )

      What are things that occured during my lifetime now being called "historical"? I'm not that old dammit!

      Above comment is historical. As is this one by the time you read it. Don't you get it man?! We're MAKING HISTORY RIGHT NOW. WE ARE GODS. People will look back on this in 20 years in amazement on how we stuck it to the man and freed the internets from tyranny of government!

    • Before you know it, they'll put the expiration of secret documents on par with the copyright law expirations. Only our grand children will be able to read what really happened during our life times and the CIA would get away with way more than they do already.
  • by Hamsterdan ( 815291 ) on Thursday August 22, 2013 @11:24PM (#44650889)

    Guess we'll never know who really killed Kennedy and Monroe

    • by eyenot ( 102141 )

      Or anything else the Clinton administration gave the CIA a deadline of ( what was it? 2014? 2019? 2029? I can't even remember ) to de-classify.

      If they get rid of the department, will they still have to serve the Clinton administration's wishes?

      • Probably not, or if those reports ever come out, all the interesting stuff (AKA who did it) will be blanked out...

  • "closing the [redacted] office, which declassifies [redacted]"
  • by Alain Williams ( 2972 ) <> on Friday August 23, 2013 @05:08AM (#44652313) Homepage

    I am not surprised, they have blown their budget spying on everyone; so they don't have any funds left to tell us what they have been up to. How convenient!

The only function of economic forecasting is to make astrology look respectable. -- John Kenneth Galbraith