Open Source Intelligence (OSINT) is the least famous, least exciting, and most prevalent form of intelligence, covering any sources that are theoretically open to anyone, such as newspaper articles, published books, or social media posts. With the ubiquity of the internet, the use of such commercial databases is beyond routine for both the Intelligence Community and the government at large, but there was a time, however, where the mere interest was not only cutting edge, but problematic.
In 1976 and again in 1977, the Justice Department decided not to prosecute anyone for the CIA’s illegal surveillance and mail openings. The report issued in 1977 reveals the Justice Department’s highly flawed reasons, including claims that prosecution would not serve to prevent such questionable or outright illegal surveillance from happening again - ironically setting the stage for modern surveillance programs.
In 1983, cybermania would grip the nation: The movie WarGames is released over the summer, becoming a blockbuster hit for the time and intriguing President Ronald Reagan enough to summon his closest advisors to help study emerging cyberthreats and ultimately pass the first directive on cybersecurity. But according to declassified documents, made fully public thanks to MuckRock’s lawsuit, one intelligence agency made a hard pass on the computer craze.
Kissinger and the CIA discussed ways to limit Congressional access to information regarding the Agency’s activities
Leaks from the government and even Congress itself are nothing new. As shown by a declassified memo describing a meeting between Henry Kissinger and CIA Director William Colby, these concerns were among the very ones facing the White House, the Rockefeller Commission and the Church Committee in the mid-1970s. Topics included NSA spying on Americans, selectively leaking less damaging info, and how much blame could be shifted to the FBI.
While some aspects of the investigation into the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. remain unknown to the public - such as NSA’s tracking of James Earl Ray - others are unknowable simply because they were never properly investigated. The most egregious example is Loyd Jowers, who in 1993 confessed to participating in an alleged conspiracy to, with the U.S. government and the mafia, kill Dr. King, and was found culpable in court. While the Department of Justice denied the veracity of these claims, the FBI, however, never investigated the matter and have no files on the man.