Blaming Sequestration, CIA Closes Historical Document Declassification Office

from the nice-going,-everyone-involved-[finger-pointed-at-Congress] dept

The forced cuts of the sequester are hitting everywhere, apparently even at agencies with black budgets. With the budgets not open for public inspection, whatever's cut by those agencies will take on the appearance of being "discretionary." The latest cut by the CIA certainly looks to be a cut of convenience, rather than one of necessity.

The budget ax has fallen on a CIA office that focused on declassifying historical materials, a move scholars say will mean fewer public disclosures about long-buried intelligence secrets and scandals.

The Historical Collections Division, which has declassified documents on top Soviet spies, a secret CIA airline in the Vietnam War, the Cuban missile crisis and other major operations, has been disbanded. The office that handles Freedom of Information Act requests will take over the work.
While most of the documents are mainly of historical interest, the fact is that there's a lot in the CIA's past that should be opened up to the public. It's not as if the agency has run a tight, clean program for the past several decades. Even if its past misdeeds (and that term really understates some of its actions) have little bearing on its current work, they still provide some insight into the mindset of the agency.

Dumping this onto the FOIA department just adds more work to a part of the agency that already uses every excuse it can to avoid complying with requests.
"This move is a true loss to the public," said Mark Zaid, a Washington lawyer who frequently litigates against the CIA. He said the CIA office that handles Freedom of Information Act requests "is the most obstructionist and unfriendly of those I have dealt with during the last two decades."
The agency's spokesman says this move will "create efficiencies," which is both untrue and a buzzword-ish mistreatment of English. All it does is push a likely unwanted task (does the CIA really care whether or not the public's interest is served?) to a part of the agency that wants it even less. With this move, the CIA's history is allowed to slink back into the shadows while its present continues to be kept out of the sunlight by an antagonist FOIA department.

The off-the-record budget keeps anyone from stating definitively whether this cut was mandatory or simply convenient, but considering its lack of direct benefit to the agency (and its agenda), it's not a surprise to see it swiftly placed on the chopping block.

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  1. icon
    Ninja (profile), 23 Aug 2013 @ 3:38am

    Maybe if they spend less spying on everyone and focus there will be spare money left for important tasks, no?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 23 Aug 2013 @ 3:58am

    Well, it kills two birds with one stone. Consider this:

    The CIA wants its embarrassing historical screw-ups to stay there, regardless of what the law says. it also wants it's current screw-ups to stay hidden. Thus, by adding mroe work onto the FOIA office and closing down the Historical Declassification Office, it gets to "cut waste" whilst also conveniently giving the FOIA Office for the CIA yet another reason it "cannot comply with FOIA requests".

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. icon
    Michael Leo Lively (profile), 23 Aug 2013 @ 4:06am

    The Prophet George Orwell..., again...

    "Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past."

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. icon
    ioconnor (profile), 23 Aug 2013 @ 4:25am

    Too Funny

    These types of disrespectful in your face flagrant examples of "we can get away with anything" is what happens when you have a two party political system. Vote Libertarian to surgically remove this cancer.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 23 Aug 2013 @ 5:00am

    If it was an across the board budget cut, there must have been just 1/10 of a person working the department.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. identicon
    Pragmatic, 23 Aug 2013 @ 5:34am

    Re: Too Funny

    I doubt that voting for a political party whose platform is to end all regulation and turn essential services over to the private sector whether this benefits the public or not is the answer. Getting money out of politics is.

    That said, it makes sense to vote the bums out in 2014. Just be aware that other parties exist.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 23 Aug 2013 @ 6:29am

    Re: Too Funny

    Dont blame me, I voted for Kodos

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 23 Aug 2013 @ 9:21am


    The cuts were not "across the board". Certain pet programs were made exempt. Many who were instrumental in allowing (causing) the cuts to happen then complained about this and that specific program being made to suffer.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. identicon
    Alt0, 23 Aug 2013 @ 9:23am

    Damn, now we will never know who killed JFK...

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 23 Aug 2013 @ 10:40am

    > Getting money out of politics is [the answer].

    If giving politicians money is outlawed, then the outfits desiring favors will trade other favors for them. We already see that in the way war profiteers put jobs in the districts of congresscritters whose votes they need.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. icon
    That One Guy (profile), 23 Aug 2013 @ 11:05am

    Handy that

    Quite handy indeed that these budget cuts all seem to be hitting 'inconvenient' parts of these various agencies. NSA cuts 90% of their potential whistlblowers, and now the CIA cuts out the group that was responsible for declassifying their actions in the past, including the less than shining moments.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12. icon
    gorehound (profile), 23 Aug 2013 @ 2:57pm

    They love this happening ! After what the US Government is doing to the Citizens of the World sure they want to hide whatever they can.Hope the whole Governments trash gets outed.........I love our Nation but I so hate this Government.Think I hate them more now than I ever did in the late 60's.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 8 Sep 2013 @ 12:20am

    \*#Saint America mission in independent Oromiya may Ethiopia.
    America has many challengies. Challenge of support developing countries like Oromiya Ethiopia, e.t.c countries by education, promot level of democrase, transformation of development reducing nucler woopen, challeng of rational and physical treet of nucler affecties, challeng of leading system, challenge of have freedom of spiritual religion, challenge of owner of country, etc.
    Cia, mossad, kgb, space sciencies group, etc charged oromiya and ethiopia parties not activat us by freedom work our mission. Tigiray liberation front(eprdf) stragl rational for freedom of others nations is pain for tplf himself and others nations. Eprdf is physical mature in ethiopia, but mental still boby that not orderd by principle of nature. I dislike his democrasy system that like Christ rational(organic democrasy society) lode heave of others peoples. Modern ethiopia constitution is Liberal democrase, but can't to impliment this constitution itself. We are write, think, speek, etc by others peoples. To exist in life we stragle shirking ourself, like Gorge and dragon ira next death of family is who ? Saing looking and strageling to remain with soul.
    This constitution componset many problums and open life, but ethiopian open to attaked themselves by external force, like planat action, etc. Insa shado is out of controling letting face to life.
    One love... Oromo olf society or olf_cia society.
    Mr Lencho Leta one of plaed cia gole or mission in olf society in oromiya world or universe. But its' gole finished like Somson(from bibil) divorsing himself from olf. Mortal Ethiopia wag her tell to Oromo Oromiya society. House that stabiled on sand wind bellow hit faild on ground, but oromo oromiya olf society still in rebel by Christ Somson histry that hous stabilished on rock wind bellow hit not faild on grownd. Cia rebel for real soul exist in life.*/

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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