Last month, a federal court ruled that the Central Intelligence Agency can selectively disclose classified information while shielding its release from FOIA in order to protect “intelligence sources and methods.” That ruling ignores the Agency’s history of arbitrarily applying that label to everything from beer brands to cafeteria names and using it to hide behavior that was embarrassing, illegal, or both.
A series of 1984 memos from the Central Intelligence Agency Inspector General’s office reveals some alarming views on the press and how to deal with them. Among other things, the memo shows that 33 years before the Agency declared WikiLeaks a hostile non-state intelligence service, they were viewing the general press in the same terms.
After the Reagan administration barred journalists from covering the invasions of Grenada in 1983, a panel conjured the idea of using a Department of Defense sanctioned press corps to cover military activity. They actually gave it a shot during “Operation: Just Cause” in Panama, but quickly ran into the interference of then-Defense Secretary Dick Cheney, whose excessive concern over secrecy came at the expense of crucial coverage.