Alongside the Cold War and covert ops, the CIA considered FOIA a major concern in the ‘70s

Alongside the Cold War and covert ops, the CIA considered FOIA a major concern in the ‘70s

“The very concept of FOIA is incompatible with the activities of a secret intelligence service.”

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Edited by JPat Brown

What were the biggest problems for a freshman Director of Central Intelligence in the 70s?

In March 1977, shortly after the new president Jimmy Carter nominated Stansfield Turner as the head of the Central Intelligence Agency, the CIA’s components began compiling some subjects on which the new DCI should get caught up.

That meant keeping him apprised of the many media appearances on his docket for the month.

It would require a review of the growing legal issues for the Agency, which, in recent years, had been put through the scrutiny of the Church Committee and the added hoop of the Hughes-Ryan Amendment.

And, apparently, it would require him to reconsider the burden being placed on the Agency by recent amendments to the Freedom of Information Act.

Page 31 of CIA RDP80M00165A002600010012 3

MuckRock user condor5791 found the memorandum in our recent assignment From the Archives: Memos mentioning Senator Joe Biden. The Presidential hopeful has hundreds of mentions in the CIA’s CREST archive after years of serving in the Senate, and, indeed, his reference in this document is as part of the roster for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

FOIA, which grants access to the records of the federal government, has long been an issue for the CIA - such an issue that, according to the office for the Deputy Director for Administration, the “very concept of FOIA is incompatible with the activities of a secret intelligence service.”

While the Agency hasn’t yet managed to totally excuse itself from its responsibilities under FOIA, it has been able to structurally implement other ways to slow itself down. According to the record, the agency had about 100 officers dedicated to handling requests 42 years ago.

That number today? Seventy-seven, according to the Agency’s 2018 Annual FOIA Officer Report.

You can read through the whole document here. Then, flip through some of the other CIA records referencing Senator Joe Biden, and let us know what you find!


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