The Central Intelligence Agency said this week that it will post its database of declassified CIA documents online, making them broadly accessible to all interested users.
The database, known as CREST (for CIA Records Search Tool), contains more than 11 million pages of historical Agency records that have already been declassified and approved for public release.
Currently, however, CREST can only be accessed through computer terminals at the National Archives in College Park, MD. This geographic restriction on availability has been a source of frustration and bafflement to researchers ever since the digital collection was established in 2000. (See CIA’s CREST Leaves Cavity in Public Domain, Secrecy News, April 6, 2009; Inside the CIA’s (Sort of) Secret Document Stash, Mother Jones, April 3, 2009).
But that is finally going to change.
The entire contents of the CREST system will be transferred to the CIA website, said CIA spokesperson Ryan Trapani on Tuesday.
“When loaded on the website they will be full-text searchable and have the same features currently available on the CREST system at NARA,” he said.
CIA was not able to provide a date for completion of the transfer, but “we are moving out on the plan to make the transition,” Mr. Trapani said.
In the meantime, “The CREST database housed at NARA will remain up and running at least until the website is fully functioning,” he said.
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