CIA releases trove of Cold War-era Intel briefs

The Glomar Explorer ship in the U.S. Navy's National Defense Reserve Fleet, built by the CIA for a secret Cold War mission in 1974. (File photo: Reuters)

The CIA released an unprecedented trove of previously classified intelligence briefs Wednesday from the height of the Cold War that were provided to presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson.

The collection includes about 2,500 “President’s Daily Briefs” that contain intelligence analysis on key national security issues, the CIA said in a statement.

Only the president, the vice president and a few trusted advisors received the briefings, which gave the CIA’s insights during a tumultuous decade that included the Vietnam War and fears of nuclear war that nearly came to cataclysmic realization during the Cuban missile crisis.

Historians and foreign policy experts had asked for the CIA to release the briefings, but the spy agency had long resisted.

“The release of these documents affirms that the world’s greatest democracy does not keep secrets merely for secrecy’s sake. Whenever we can shed light on the work of our government without harming national security, we will do so,” CIA Director John Brennan said at an event in Texas, according to prepared remarks.

The CIA said it spent several years reviewing the documents to ensure they were safe for release. Still, many parts remain redacted -- only about 80 percent of the collection has been declassified.

“This is just the beginning -- some 2,000 additional declassified PDB documents from the (Richard) Nixon and (Gerald) Ford administrations will be released next year, and the process will continue,” according to Brennan.

He describes the briefs as “among the most highly classified and sensitive documents in all of government.”

The released documents can be viewed on the CIA’s Freedom of Information Act website: http://www.foia.cia.gov.

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Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:45 - GMT 06:45
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