• CIA’s release of ORIS database could change the way FOIA requests are made to the Agency

    In 1985, citing concerns regarding “difficulty determining what has been publicly disclosed,” the CIA had a truly great idea that would serve both the Agency and the public’s interest in government transparency - a “proposal to establish a focal point to record CIA information released to the public.” The resulting Officially Released Information System, or ORIS, would take years to finally implement, and thanks to a recent FOIA, it might finally become the transparency tool it has the potential to be.

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  • CIA memo highlights the dilemma of declassification

    One of the dilemmas of reading declassified documents is that readers are constantly faced with the question of whether or not to take the exemptions at face value - after all, CIA redacts beer brands and cafeteria names while claiming to “protect sources and methods.” Doing so erodes faith in the Agency’s choices to redact certain pieces of information, creating a situation where one of two possibilities are likely: that the CIA chose to improperly redact information to protect itself from embarrassment regarding improper activities, or that some of those activities are still seen as at least potentially valid.

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  • The Undying Octopus: FBI and the PROMIS affair Part 2

    As the FBI file show, the PROMIS case was not only far reaching, with ties to corruption, murder, and Iran-Contra, but purposely obstructed. While at least some allegations were confirmed by sources and documentation, others were blocked in their entirety - with critical evidence being lost and destroyed by both Congress and the FBI.

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  • CIA considered working with the creator of “Dragnet” on a TV show about the CIA

    In 1982, former CIA Director Richard Helms was approached by Dragnet creator Jack Webb about a possible TV show regarding the Agency. Like Dragnet, which, it would focus on realism, and would be at least inspired by, if not based on, events that had happened.

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  • The Undying Octopus: FBI and the PROMIS affair Part 1

    The PROMIS affair, once labelled ‘the scandal that wouldn’t die,’ lives on according to a recent FBI FOIA response. The affair centered around the government’s theft of the PROMIS software, a forerunner to the infamous PRISM, and the far-reaching fallout which allegedly included everything from fraud, to covert operations and surveillance, to Danny Casolaro’s mysterious death, and remains the subject of an investigation decades after the Department of Justice declared the matter officially closed.

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  • Despite three separate instructions not to, the CIA still destroyed Iran-Contra evidence

    A decade after Congresswoman Abzug had struggled with CIA Director George Bush over the destruction of evidence of CIA wrongdoing, the Agency’s Office of the Inspector General ignored the moratorium on destruction of relevant materials and destroyed several memos from the Iran-Contra investigation. When this was raised with the Agency’s Acting Director, it was played off as no big deal and the employees were praised for responding “remarkably well” to the investigation.

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  • Read the Justice Department’s guide to using psychics in police investigations

    Police psychics have so saturated popular culture that the concept borders on the cliche. There was a time, however, when the Department of Justice took the matter very seriously - not only were instances reported of the police using psychics, there were studies on the matter, and even guidance issued by the DOJ.

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  • Culprit behind 2014 CIA hack turned out to be … the CIA

    Declassified CIA emails released to Michael Morisy show that the Agency believed that their online FOIA Reading Room had been taken down by a vicious cyberattack. Later emails admitted, however, that the attacks against the Agency’s website had been unsuccessful - and that the damage had been entirely self-inflicted.

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  • Dead cats, fouled nests, and the book of horrors - inside the CIA’s darkest hour

    A pair of declassified memos from January 4, 1975 reveal just how contentious things were in the lead-up to the Rockefeller Commission and the Church Committee, with recent exposés having rocked the American public’s faith in the government, already strained by the still-fresh memories of Watergate, and undermined CIA’s legitimacy.

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  • Watch the video that sparked a CIA debate over psychic phenomenon

    A video produced by Stanford as part of its government funded research into psychic phenomena alleged to show Uri Geller performing various psychic and extrasensory feats. While some in the Agency were “humbled” by the film, others were quick to declare it ordinary trickery from a con artist using techniques from stage magic and mentalist.

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