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The CIA Is Closing the Office That Declassifies Historical Documents

samzenpus posted about a year ago | from the box-it-up dept.

United States 67

Daniel_Stuckey writes "As a result of the sequester-induced budget cuts, the CIA is closing the Historical Collections Division office, which declassifies historical documents, and transferring the divisions responsibilities to the office that handles FOIA requests. The Historical Collections Division is described on its website as 'an important part of CIA's ongoing effort to be more open and to provide for more public accountability.' It is a 'voluntary declassification program that focuses on records of historical value,' including information on the Vietnam War, spy satellites, the Bay of Pigs and other historical scandals and operations."

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It not about paper (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44649387)

It's about sending a message.

Re:It not about paper (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44649511)

Nah its simply to say when the JFK info should be released that it got lost in the post.

Re:It not about paper (2)

davester666 (731373) | about a year ago | (#44651469)

"We are doing everything we can to be as transparent as we possibly can be.", Brick Wall said at a press conference today.

Re:It not about paper (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44651647)

Transparency is not core business... so it gets cut.

Re:It not about paper (1)

pnutjam (523990) | about a year ago | (#44654409)

Somewhere Dick Chaney is caressing a cloned heart murmuring, "Finally our goals are being met..."

Re:It not about paper (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44657591)

Except this isn't happening under Bush/Cheney's watch, it's happening under Obama.

Re:It not about paper (1)

pnutjam (523990) | about a year ago | (#44663247)

Yes, but the sequestration is not an Obama policy. At best (from a Republican view) it can be attributed to both parties. However, as an educated voter I pay attention to who attempts compromise and who overplays their hand.

I'm certain there are plenty of people who are confused or outright fooled due to the beam in their eye.

Re:It not about paper (4, Insightful)

Jeremiah Cornelius (137) | about a year ago | (#44649517)

"Memory Hole" the new game, from Milton Bradley!

Look on the bright side. You now live in one of those cool, science fiction dystopias, that made things so interesting for your favorite protagonists.

Re:It not about paper (2)

erikkemperman (252014) | about a year ago | (#44649657)

Look on the bright side. You now live in one of those cool, science fiction dystopias, that made things so interesting for your favorite protagonists.

It didn't end too well for Winston Smith and Joseph K. But yeah, interesting times!

Re:It not about paper (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44650067)

Phewww....im not named either of those so ill be ok

Re:It not about paper (1)

master5o1 (1068594) | about a year ago | (#44649671)

In New Zealand the game is known as Brain Fade [google.co.nz] .

Re:It not about paper (1)

jimmydevice (699057) | about a year ago | (#44649557)

Much like NOAA shutting down local weather observation sites?

Re:It not about paper (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44649755)

Yes and Navy shutting down the Blue Angels.

Re:It not about paper (4, Interesting)

interkin3tic (1469267) | about a year ago | (#44651011)

The message I'm getting is that they're doing something right now so reprehensible that they're worried we'll still be pissed about it in 30 years when it's declassified.

A lot of the shit we pulled decades ago with overthrowing foreign governments, which eventually came back to bite us in the ass, that angers me, but I'm not going to demand we jail Regan's administration and CIA officials from back then. Time heals a lot of wounds, and they know this. Why should it concern them if things from the JFK era are declassified? Perhaps it's because the clock is ticking down for some of the current government officials' earlier sins. Like maybe there's a memo that would otherwise be declassified in the next ten years from some underling typed up and put in the record that was the patriot act down to the punctuation, and a note that the next terrorist attack would be a good opportunity to slip it in?

Re:It not about paper (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44652049)

Like maybe there's a memo that would otherwise be declassified in the next ten years from some underling typed up and put in the record that was the patriot act down to the punctuation, and a note that the next terrorist attack would be a good opportunity to slip it in?

You mean a memo written 30 years ago when Osama Bin Laden was still on the CIA payroll?

I can see why that wouldn't look too good.

Re:It not about paper (1)

interkin3tic (1469267) | about a year ago | (#44656011)

Even that wouldn't be bad enough. Aside from genocide, it seems like 30 years is beyond the statute of limitations for anything that our political leaders do. Even my example with the patriot act, that would I think be met with a whole lot of "meh" and "Well, we knew that before basically."

Re:It not about paper (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44654123)

A lot of the shit we pulled decades ago with overthrowing foreign governments...

We?

You were personally involved with that?

Re:It not about paper (4, Insightful)

Camael (1048726) | about a year ago | (#44651043)

So much for greater transparency [whitehouse.gov] .

Re:It not about paper (4, Insightful)

stenvar (2789879) | about a year ago | (#44652817)

It's merely the lies that are becoming more transparent.

Re:It not about paper (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44651523)

The brainwashing value had not borne the cost of the program.

Typical (5, Insightful)

TubeSteak (669689) | about a year ago | (#44649479)

CIA officials said they closed the Historical Collections Division to accommodate federal budget cuts that the White House and Congress proposed last year to create pressure for a deficit reduction deal. No deal materialized, so across-the-board budget cuts known as the sequester were imposed.

The real problem isn't that they're rolling this into their FOIA office, it's that they'll undoubtedly not move the personnel too.
Institutional knowledge is incredibly important in any organization and even more so for a group that deals with history.

Not to mention the fact that FOIA requests are always backlogged, 30 day response requirements be damned.

Re:Typical (4, Insightful)

Trepidity (597) | about a year ago | (#44649753)

This is one way, at least, in which the politicians who always promise to "run government like a business" seem to be keeping their word. When budget cuts come in the private sector, the corporate history/archival department is among the first to get axed. Sure, 30 years later you might need those documents [slashdot.org] , but that's a problem for someone 30 years later to sort out.

Re:Typical (2)

dbIII (701233) | about a year ago | (#44650309)

Very true. There are eight boxes of nine track tape reels from 1991 next to a desk behind me because the client threw out their originals and we not asked to ship back the copies made for transport, so they ended up being left in the back of a shed. That's seismic data that cost a million or two to acquire back in the day and it would cost a lot more to do the survey again today.
That sort of thing happens one or two times a year (though most of the time it's just one or two tapes) and it's different clients each time. Some of it can be blamed on things lost in mergers but most of it is "tell the new kid to clean out the storeroom".

To the moon Alice! To the moon! (2)

TapeCutter (624760) | about a year ago | (#44652617)

What I think is sad is that so much recent culture has been locked up in corporate basements. Racist cartoons, the black and white mistrals, cowboys patronising indians, high ranking politicians ranting (to loud applause) on such topics as "keeping niggers separate" and "a woman's place is in the home". These were all standard fare on the TV between 4pm and 8pm when I was a child in the 60's. As a teenager I remember getting up early on new years day and I started watching the (Australian) draft pick for the military, my birthday came up and there was a sudden realisation that in 3yrs time "gooks" could be trying to set me on fire with napalm, for the first time politics was up close and personal, thankfully conscription and the war ended before I tuned 18. The vast majority of that material has been made taboo by anything that resembles mass media, but for some reason hard porn is now on tap everywhere, and the mass media are broadcasting soft porn 24X7.

Not that I mind porn, but it's probably the clearest social signal of how different the world is now to when most slashdotter's parents were growing up. At the time I hit puberty some women were out in the street setting fire to their bras. other equally angry mobs of women were out on the street in protest against such things as, a "lewd" statue of david replica in a craft shop window, the movies "Deep Throat", "Alvin Purple", and "The life of Brian".

I think if the taboo on this "culturally embarrassing" material was lifted rather than constantly reinforced by corporate group think, then maybe the 20-something "revolutionaries" here on slashdot would have a better appreciation of the liberties the civil right movement has won, if nothing else it would certainly add some perspective to the loud claims of "lost freedoms".

This is not to say that all the injustices in our society have gone away, they haven't and never will, but if "individual freedom" is the measure we're using, then the world is definitely a better place than it was when I found it 50+yrs ago, "pics and videos" do exists to back up my optimistic claims, it's just that "grandpa nobody" can't access them as easily as he can access (admittedly very amusing) cat videos.

Re:To the moon Alice! To the moon! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44654951)

I think if the taboo on this "culturally embarrassing" material was lifted rather than constantly reinforced by corporate group think, then maybe the 20-something "revolutionaries" here on slashdot would have a better appreciation of the liberties the civil right movement has won, if nothing else it would certainly add some perspective to the loud claims of "lost freedoms".

Congratulations on joining the "old guys who think things are ok as they are" demographic.

The point isn't about how crappy things were back in the day, it's about making tomorrow less crappy than today. That struggle doesn't end juts because one generation decides their personal goals have been achieved.

Also for the record "The Life of Brian" has full frontal nudity and a PG rating if it were released tomorrow it would get at least as much outcry (also probably a lot of christians would bitch about how it makes fun of their mythology).

Re:To the moon Alice! To the moon! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44656547)

Also for the record "The Life of Brian" has full frontal nudity and a PG rating if it were released tomorrow it would get at least as much outcry

Yeah. Apparently kids these days lack genitalia or parents/siblings with same.

Re:Typical (1)

stenvar (2789879) | about a year ago | (#44652821)

Competitive businesses don't close branches that their customers like and want, and they do close branches that their customers don't want. It's monopolies and governments that do the opposite.

Which universe did you come from? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44655759)

Competitive businesses close branches that customers want all the bloody time. End products customers are fine with. Disable services customers use.

All the bloody time.

Why?

Short term thinking, gut the business and sell out.

Selling new stuff to new customers is more profitable than continuing old things in maintennance or looking after previous customers.

When the new division head takes over, all the previous head's efforts are shitcanned because they hate each others' guts.

Re:Typical (3, Interesting)

The Grim Reefer (1162755) | about a year ago | (#44650155)

Not to mention the fact that FOIA requests are always backlogged, 30 day response requirements be damned.

Well the Historical Collections Division is legally backlogged by at least 25 years. What's an extra 30 days? ;-)

Impeach Obummer. His hope and change sucks! (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44649485)

Obummer. You just can't trust him.

In b4 some liberal whines "BUT BUUUUUUUUUSH"! As if what the monkey boy Dubya did is any excuse for Obummer has been doing for the last 5 years.

Re:Impeach Obummer. His hope and change sucks! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44649711)

I finally understand why 'you people' think Liberals blame everything Obama does wrong on Bush. It's because 'you people' are so FUCKING CLUELESS that you blame things Bush did wrong on Obama! (See recent poll about Katrina response.)

Seriously, admit Bush was a miserable failure as a president. I'll happily admit Obama was a major disappointment (although still better than the Republican alternatives, if only marginally).

Re:Impeach Obummer. His hope and change sucks! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44649833)

Seriously, admit Bush was a miserable failure as a president.

Monkey boy was a bad president. His predecessor is far worse, though.

Re:Impeach Obummer. His hope and change sucks! (1)

JeanInMontana (2020420) | about a year ago | (#44651399)

Seriously, admit Bush was a miserable failure as a president.

Monkey boy was a bad president. His predecessor is far worse, though.

LOL Monkey boy's predecessor was his Monkey Daddy.

Re:Impeach Obummer. His hope and change sucks! (4, Informative)

CeasedCaring (1527717) | about a year ago | (#44651695)

You're all wrong. Bush and Obama (and all who came before for at least 100 years) are just FIGUREHEADS!
The real power is not with elected officials at any level, but with the jobs-for-life civil servants.

For proof I direct your attention to the BBC docu-drama "Yes, Prime Minister!"

Re:Impeach Obummer. His hope and change sucks! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44656595)

LOL Monkey boy's predecessor was his Monkey Daddy.

Really? Bill Clinton is Bush 2's dad? I know he has a reputation as a womanizer but I didn't think Barbara was that sort.

Re:Impeach Obummer. His hope and change sucks! (1)

JeanInMontana (2020420) | about a year ago | (#44697733)

LOL Monkey boy's predecessor was his Monkey Daddy.

Really? Bill Clinton is Bush 2's dad? I know he has a reputation as a womanizer but I didn't think Barbara was that sort.

oops my bad

Most. Transparent. Administration. Ever. (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44649489)

And I've got this nice bridge for sale, cheap.

in b4 the liberals... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44649499)

But...but...but...but Buuuuuuuuuuuush!!!!

Re:in b4 the liberals... (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44649691)

you got someone better? No? Well, then. Looks like we're fucked.

Re:in b4 the liberals... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44651195)

I saw a fat bearded man on the street today. he had a sign, "will work for food", while drinking something out of a paper bag. I nominate him for president. All in favor say aye

Paging the next leaker (1)

ackthpt (218170) | about a year ago | (#44649513)

Your plane to Moscow is boarding.

In Soviet Russia the Cagey Bee welcomes YOU!

No more disagreement.. among .. historians (5, Interesting)

AHuxley (892839) | about a year ago | (#44649555)

http://www2.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/news/20121207/ [gwu.edu]
In the 1980's a CIA staff historian wrote a secret history of the Bay of Pigs invasion in 1961.
Thanks to FOIA, some of the work was released in the 1990's.
One final volume was locked up as the CIA "does not want to discourage disagreement among its historians."
Welcome to a world where the CIA knows that any basic history can "confuse the public".
Thanks to the sequester-induced budget cuts more US history can be kept safe with ever better long term document hygiene.

Re:No more disagreement.. among .. historians (2)

intermodal (534361) | about a year ago | (#44653463)

It's not the sequester that's at fault here. It's the way government agencies run their finances.

I like the way Thomas Sowell put it not too long ago, paraphrased: Let's say there was a government agency who had two purposes. First, to give life-saving medications and vaccines to children. Second, to build statues of Benedict Arnold. Cut the budget by 50%. What happens? The agency quits giving out the medications and vaccines. Why? Because it's a hell of a lot easier to get that funding restored.

That's what we're seeing here. The decisions about how and where to make cuts are being made politically rather than in a fiscally responsible fashion.

Re:No more disagreement.. among .. historians (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44656649)

Cut the budget by 50%. What happens? The agency quits giving out the medications and vaccines. Why? Because it's a hell of a lot easier to get that funding restored.

In a just world (i.e., not the one we live in), that agency would then get axed entirely because all it does is build statues of Benedict Arnold.

Re:No more disagreement.. among .. historians (1)

intermodal (534361) | about a year ago | (#44656745)

Agreed, AC. Agreed.

Riiiight (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44649593)

It's the "sequester". That's why.

Does anyone still believe Obama is about hope and change now?

Re:Riiiight (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44649635)

Obummer still has quite a few defenders. Mention any negatives about him and they'll quickly pull the "BUT BUUUUUUUUUUUUUSH!!!" card. As if what Dubya the Monkey Boy did has any relevance to what Obummer has been doing the last 5 years.

Re:Riiiight (1, Offtopic)

pecosdave (536896) | about a year ago | (#44650271)

Questioning hims the quickest way to not only get called a racist, but to get a -1 as well. SEE you racist?

Re:Riiiight (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44650731)

How dare you second-guess Obamessiah. This racist needs to be downmodded to hell!

Next (1)

WOOFYGOOFY (1334993) | about a year ago | (#44649705)

Next comes the oversight functions.

I know one person who is happy (1)

Lawrence_Bird (67278) | about a year ago | (#44649733)

Angleton is turning peacefully in his grave!

Expected bureaucractic response (5, Interesting)

redelm (54142) | about a year ago | (#44649769)

Just what did anyone reasonably expect? That in response to budget cuts a bureaucracy would suddenly get religion and root out the fat & waste? Why?

That fat and waste has resisted previous cuts and is remarkably good at protecting itself. Spends all its energy at self-defense. Otherwise it would have been long gone.

Useful activities spend at least some of their efforts at delivering services so has less for self-defense. Besides, they probably think they're too important to cut. And they are -- so what better way to stop the cutting?

Transparent and accountable (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44650037)

an important part of CIA's ongoing effort to be more open and to provide for more public accountability.

Too bad we can't mod TFA, Score:5, Funny.

Historical? (3, Funny)

Darinbob (1142669) | about a year ago | (#44650079)

What are things that occured during my lifetime now being called "historical"? I'm not that old dammit!

Re:Historical? (1)

Artea (2527062) | about a year ago | (#44650661)

What are things that occured during my lifetime now being called "historical"? I'm not that old dammit!

Above comment is historical. As is this one by the time you read it. Don't you get it man?! We're MAKING HISTORY RIGHT NOW. WE ARE GODS. People will look back on this in 20 years in amazement on how we stuck it to the man and freed the internets from tyranny of government!

Be glad it is. (1)

dutchwhizzman (817898) | about a year ago | (#44652121)

Before you know it, they'll put the expiration of secret documents on par with the copyright law expirations. Only our grand children will be able to read what really happened during our life times and the CIA would get away with way more than they do already.

Great... (3)

Hamsterdan (815291) | about a year ago | (#44650889)

Guess we'll never know who really killed Kennedy and Monroe

Re:Great... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44650927)

"BUT BUUUUUUUUUUUUUSH!!!"

Re:Great... (2)

eyenot (102141) | about a year ago | (#44651063)

Or anything else the Clinton administration gave the CIA a deadline of ( what was it? 2014? 2019? 2029? I can't even remember ) to de-classify.

If they get rid of the department, will they still have to serve the Clinton administration's wishes?

Re:Great... (1)

Hamsterdan (815291) | about a year ago | (#44665493)

Probably not, or if those reports ever come out, all the interesting stuff (AKA who did it) will be blanked out...

I read that as... (2)

The RoboNerd (551256) | about a year ago | (#44650975)

"closing the [redacted] office, which declassifies [redacted]"

windows 7 keys online shop (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44651913)

windows 7 enterprise key [windows8productkeys.net] , upgrade key for windows 7 starter to home premium , windows product key online [yumzup.com] , windows 7 prouduct key , is there any genuine ms office 2010 product key ? , how can i get a free windows 7 ultimate product key? , windows 2008 premium key

welp (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44651995)

besttimingever

Run out of money ? (2)

Alain Williams (2972) | about a year ago | (#44652313)

I am not surprised, they have blown their budget spying on everyone; so they don't have any funds left to tell us what they have been up to. How convenient!

What A Joke (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44654871)

Sequester induced budget cut - A decrease in the increase in the buget.
That is more money than last year but less than we wanted.

Recent release sunk them (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44656817)

Their recent release of CIA involvement in Iran was the final nail in the coffin. This is why they're history. When you are the gatekeeper and you screw up that badly you can expect your days to be numbered.

Well, duh... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44657195)

"As a result of the sequester-induced budget cuts..."

Why pay someone to declassify when Bradley ... er uh ... Chelsea ... Manning will do it for free!

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