For CIA, 50-year-old data still too hot to handle
Agency withheld figures from official government history of intelligence
Fifty years may have passed, but basic historical information about the size and scope of the CIA during the mid-twentieth century is apparently still a closely guarded agency secret.
The Intelligence Community, 1950-1955, an official account of US intelligence operations published by the State Department, withholds key data about budget and personnel increases at the top spy agency during an eight-year span from 1947 to 1955. Those figures, according to the publication, remain classified by the CIA.
First reported by Steven Aftergood, director of the Federation of American Scientists Project on Government Secrecy, the classified numbers constitute "significant" omissions from the historical record.
"If a new information security policy emerges, it's not likely to come from the Central Intelligence Agency, which still adheres to the coldest of cold war secrecy policies," Aftergood writes at Secrecy News.
The incomplete sections of the State Department's volume read as follows:
"Between the fiscal years ended June 30, 1947 and 1955 the total budget has increased from approximately [dollar figures not declassified]..."
"The number of civilian employees of the Agency under personnel ceilings has increased from [number not declassified] at June 30, 1947, to an estimated [number not declassified] for the fiscal year ending June 30, 1955..."
"Thus," writes Aftergood, "the official government history of US intelligence from 1950-1955 does not include either the budget or the size of the CIA. Instead, this half-century old information remains classified, which indicates that CIA thinks its disclosure would damage national security."
He adds that the agency's caution is "too silly to require refutation," and that the numbers in question have already been published.
"Fortunately," he says, "a good deal of the historical CIA budget information that was withheld from the State Department volume can be found in David M. Barrett's book 'The CIA and Congress' (University Press of Kansas, 2005) at pages 154-156."