from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
Volume 2002, Issue No. 78
August 16, 2002


Taking most observers by surprise, the National Imagery and Mapping Agency (NIMA) has announced the impending declassification of historical intelligence satellite imagery from the KH-7 and KH-9 spy satellites. NIMA will sponsor a conference on Historical Imagery Declassification on September 20.

Given the Bush Administration's well-established predisposition in favor of official secrecy, the new declassification initiative was unexpected, said Tim Brown of, but "They've gone ahead and done the right thing."

"The high-resolution KH-7 surveillance imaging satellite, flown from July 1963 to June 1967, monitored key targets such as ICBM complexes, radar systems, and hot spots around the globe," according to the NIMA conference fact sheet.

"The lower-resolution KH-9 mapping system was devoted exclusively to gathering information for mapmaking, and collected imagery from March 1973 to October 1980."

Imagery from both systems will declassified, but probably on a fairly selective basis. The releases are unlikely to include images of NATO allies or of Israel, speculated Tim Brown of His policy research organization has made intensive use of previously declassified imagery from the CORONA satellite program, as well as current commercial high-resolution satellite imagery.

CORONA imagery was declassified pursuant to President Clinton's 1995 executive order 12951, which also called for declassification of certain follow-on imagery systems. Until now, that directive has gone unfulfilled.

See the NIMA fact sheet on the September 20 Historical Imagery Declassification conference, along with links to the conference agenda and registration information, here:


The controversial volume of historical documents on U.S. policy towards Greece, Turkey and Cyprus in the 1960s whose publication was deferred for two years under pressure from the Central Intelligence Agency is now publicly available.

The full text of "Foreign Relations of the United States (FRUS) 1964-1968, Volume XVI, Cyprus; Greece; Turkey" is posted on the State Department web site here:

Among several points of potential political sensitivity, the FRUS volume documents U.S. intervention in Greece's internal politics.

The volume underwent declassification from 1993 to 1999 and then, once printed, sat in storage for a couple of years when CIA objected to its publication. (See Secrecy News, Issue No. 73).

The State Department this week also published another meaty FRUS volume on National Security Policy, 1964-1968.

"The main topics covered in this volume are the nuclear capabilities and intentions of the Soviet Union and the People's Republic of China, the status of U.S. nuclear preparedness, issues of chemical and biological weapons, and contingency plans in case of attack on the United States," the volume's summary states.

See "Foreign Relations of the United States, 1964-1968, Volume X, National Security Policy" here:


The Palestinian Authority encompasses a disproportionately large number of intelligence and security services with diverse functions and authorities. Palestinian officials are laboring to trim this overgrowth and to normalize their security apparatus.

Rare insight into the current status and evolution of the Palestinian intelligence system is provided in a recent interview with the Palestinian intelligence chief, Brigadier General Tawfiq al-Tirawi.

Of necessity, Palestinian intelligence will be limited in scope and directed at immediate security objectives.

"Our agency is still nascent and its objectives are modest," said Gen. Al-Tirawi. "Do not expect us to spy on France, for example."

See the interview, published in the London newspaper Al-Sharq al-Awsat on August 14 and translated by the CIA's Foreign Broadcast Information Service, here:


DC District Court Judge Gladys Kessler yesterday granted a government motion for a stay of her August 2 decision that required disclosure of most of the names of those individuals detained by government in connection with the September 11 attacks.

The stay enables the government to appeal the decision to a higher court, a procedure that will likely take several months.

The latest decision is available here:


Meredith Knox Gardner, the National Security Agency linguist and cryptanalyst who led the effort to decrypt KGB cable traffic on Soviet espionage that became known as VENONA died August 9.

He is memorialized in this Washington Post obituary:


Secrecy News is written by Steven Aftergood and published by the Federation of American Scientists.

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