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Unearthing CREST: CIA's Declassified Archives

After our three-year lawsuit led to the public release of 13 million pages of declassified CIA records, we've begun a daily-deep dive into the depths of the Agency's seven-decade history.

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CIA archives document Agency’s decades of ASCII woes

CIA archives document Agency’s decades of ASCII woes

In the ‘60s, the US federal government saw a need for a unified standard for digitally encoding information. Lyndon Johnson’s 1968 executive order on computer standards directed federal agencies to convert all of their databases to the new character encoding standard: the American Standard Code for Information Interchange, or ASCII. While now a universal standard, records from the Central Intelligence Agency archives document decades of reluctance and frustration from the technicians actually responsible for making the change happen.

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Getting records from a presidential library can take longer than their term in office

Getting records from a presidential library can take longer than their term in office

The National Archives and Records Administration’s recent announcement that there will be no Barack Obama Presidential Library was met with understandable outrage from historians and transparency advocates, who saw it as a blow to a functioning democracy. However, as the National Security Archive’s Nate Jones was quick to point out, this discussion needs to be understood in the larger context of NARA’s current failings in the presidential library system, where FOIA requests can take years, even decades.

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According to a declassified CIA memo, Moscow has been trying to influence U.S. elections since 1964

According to a declassified CIA memo, Moscow has been trying to influence U.S. elections since 1964

A declassified 1964 memo to the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency reveals that the Moscow has been attempting to influence the U.S. Presidential elections since 1964, a full fifty-two years before the election of Donald Trump.

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LBJ’s “hullabaloo” made the FBI decide to avoid doing security checks for Congress

LBJ’s “hullabaloo” made the FBI decide to avoid doing security checks for Congress

In June 1956, Lyndon B. Johnson caused a “hullabaloo” over the search search of a Senator’s office conducted by Department of Defense security officers who were looking for a potential listening device. Johnson caused such a stink that the Federal Bureau of Investigation decided to avoid helping the Senate with security issues lest they be subject to unnecessary scandal the way the DOD security officers were.

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Bayard Rustin was being investigated by the FBI while, unbeknownst to the Bureau, he was working for the CIA

Bayard Rustin was being investigated by the FBI while, unbeknownst to the Bureau, he was working for the CIA

Bayard Rustin was many things: He was a key organizer of the 1963 March on Washington, an advocate for Soviet Jewry, and, “a convicted homosexual,” according to his Federal Bureau of Investigation file. Despite being what many would consider a textbook lefty, Rustin also moonlighted for the Central Intelligence Agency. While that might seem like an irreconcilable contradiction for a man who sat in prison for two years because he refused to serve in World War II, but contradictions aren’t there to be reconciled, they’re there to confound.

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