Welcome to the Central Intelligence Agency’s Freedom of Information Act Electronic Reading Room.
Do UFOs fascinate you? Are you a history buff who wants to learn more about the Bay of Pigs, Vietnam or the A-12 Oxcart? Have stories about spies always fascinated you? You can find information about all of these topics and more in the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Electronic Reading Room.
aquiline adj. of or like the eagle.
Aerial intelligence collection platforms have played a critical role in US national security from the earliest beginnings of aviation. CIA’s 1960s OXCART Program and its use of U-2s are examples of collection innovations that have kept US leaders informed about adversaries’ capabilities and intentions. Despite their success, however, use of these platforms carried significant risks and repercussions, including detection and even pilot loss, such as the downing of the U-2 flown by Francis Gary Powers in 1960. Ever-evolving research by the CIA led to the development concept of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) as collection platforms. An innovative Agency program in the 1960s codenamed Aquiline was the very first to test this concept. Based initially on the study of flight characteristics of birds, Aquiline was envisioned as a long-range vehicle that could safely and stealthily provide a window into denied areas such as the Soviet Union through photography and other capabilities, and would even support in-place agent operations. While it never became operational, the concept proved invaluable as a forerunner to today’s multi-capability UAVs.
Learn more about CIA’s early eagle (40 documents/289 pages).
Central Intelligence Bulletin
Harry Truman was the first U.S. president to receive a daily intelligence digest. At his direction, the Daily Summary began production in February 1946, and continued until February 1951. President Truman was pleased with the product, but a survey group commissioned by the National Security Council in 1949 was critical of the Daily Summary and issued several recommendations to improve it. The “new and improved” version, called the Current Intelligence Bulletin, began production on 28 February 1951. This remained the format of the president’s daily digest through Dwight Eisenhower’s two terms, although it was titled the Central Intelligence Bulletin from 1958-1961. The Current/Central Intelligence Bulletin grew longer than its predecessor over time with the addition of more items and more analysis, and would eventually contain more graphics as printing technology improved.
US relations with Cuba continued to deteriorate in 1960, as Fidel Castro nationalized US business and commercial enterprises, and entered into several trade agreements with the USSR. The month of May was dominated by the downing deep inside Soviet territory of a U-2 photographic aerial reconnaissance aircraft, piloted by Francis Gary Powers, who was captured and later that summer tried and convicted of espionage. The ensuing diplomatic crisis led to the scuttling of the 17 May summit in Paris between the United States, the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom, and France. Later in the year, turmoil erupted in the Congo after Belgium granted the Belgian Congo formal independence in June.
This historical release includes: the Central Intelligence Bulletin reports from 2 January-31 December 1960 (4336 pages).
This release is the twelfth in a multi-part monthly series. Check back in late August to see more reports from the president’s digest.
The Collapse of Communism in Eastern Europe: A 30-Year Legacy
This collection includes a broad sampling of articles from the National Intelligence Daily—the CIA’s principal form of current intelligence analysis at the time—from February 1989 to March 1990. These articles represent much of the Agency’s short-term analysis of events unfolding in Central and Eastern Europe as popular opposition to Soviet misrule erupted and quickly surpassed anything the Communist regimes were prepared to understand or to which they could respond. The material also represents a major source of information and insight for US policymakers into what was happening in these countries, where the situation was heading, and how a collapse of Communist rule in Europe and the beginnings of the breakup of the Soviet Union would impact Europe and the United States.
Please note: Some of the material is marked “NR” or “not relevant.” This means that material is unrelated to events in Central and Eastern Europe, and was therefore not reviewed for declassification as part of this collection.
Learn more about the collapse of Communist rule in Europe (105 documents/151 pages)
Lunik on Loan: A Space Age Spy Story
The Cold War and the emerging space race were in full swing in the late 1950s. CIA kept President Eisenhower regularly apprised on the progress of the Soviet space program, which became a subject of worldwide attention following the successful 1957 launch of Sputnik—the first artificial satellite and the first manmade object to be placed into earth’s orbit. The Soviets’ achievement, which indicated that they had intercontinental ballistic missiles capable of striking the United States, stunned the American public and set off a debate in the United States about the “Missile Gap,” and America’s competence in science and technology.
In 1959, a Soviet exhibit of the USSR’s industrial and economic achievements toured several countries. This exhibit included displays not only from Sputnik but also the Lunik or Luna (Lunar) spacecraft—the Soviet’s first lunar probe. In September of that year, the Lunik 2 became the first manmade object on the moon — a feat that only compounded fears in the United States that the USSR was winning the space race. CIA conducted a covert operation to access the Lunik display to learn more about the USSR’s moon program. A team of CIA officers gained unrestricted access to the display for 24 hours, which turned out not to be a replica but a fully-operational system comparable to the Lunik 2. The team disassembled the vehicle, photographed all the parts without removing it from its crate before putting everything back in its place, gaining invaluable intelligence on its design and capabilities. And the Soviets were none the wiser. Sound like something from a movie script? It really happened.
Check out the story of a bit of Space Race derring-do. Also included in this release is a sample of CIA’s analysis of the Soviet space program at the time. (6 documents/51 pages)
Throughout history, trained animals have been used in security roles to fulfill mission requirements, notably by the armed forces, whether for transport, communication, or threat detection. From carrier pigeons in World War I to today’s explosives-detecting dogs, government agencies have turned to animals to do the important jobs humans couldn’t do. CIA is no exception, and it once worked on developing ways animals could help with intelligence collection. This collection of declassified documents highlights the diverse programs involving the feasibility of using marine and avian animal capabilities in support of intelligence operations. For a variety of technical and other reasons, none of the programs ever became operational. Yet these documents provide a window into the innovative thinking applied to the intelligence mission aimed at countering increasingly sophisticated foreign adversaries.
Check out the story of the Agency’s finned and feathered partners (97 documents/579 pages).
Fifty years ago, on 1 September 1969, the first and only King of Libya was deposed. The documents in this collection highlight the bloodless coup by a group of Libyan military officers which removed King Idris I. The group, which called itself the Revolutionary Command Council, was motivated by the ideology of Arab socialism modeled by Egypt’s Gamal Abdel Nasser. Within a short time, a young officer named Muammar Qadhafi emerged as a leader of the group, and he would rule Libya for the next 40 years. These documents cover major developments related to the coup, including US reaction. The Nixon administration believed that Washington need not be overly distressed by the coup and felt the US could have a working relationship with the new regime. Also discussed in the documents is Libya’s intention to honor treaty obligations regarding Wheelus Air Base, a major US Air Force installation in Libya that supported Mediterranean operations.
Learn more about the fall of Libya’s king (15 documents/90 pages).
In concert with the DNI’s third in a three-part installment on the Vietnam War’s Tet Offensive and in recognition of its 50th anniversary, the CIA reviewed and contributed 235 documents associated with the Tet Offensive for the DNI’s April 2019 release.
During the Argentine government’s seven year (1976-83) campaign against suspected dissidents and subversives, often know as the “Dirty War”, between 10,000 and 30,000 people were killed, including opponents of the government as well as innocent victims. Responding to a White House directive, the CIA declassified and is now releasing documents relating to the “Dirty War” period in Argentina.
**Note: CIA focused its review on Argentina only information. Anything marked with “Page Denied” and /or “NR” has been deemed not relevant to the Argentina Project, whether or not it has been previously released. Other information can be consulted on the CIA’s Electronic Reading Room or by submitting a FOIA request.
Do You Know What Came Before the PDB?
You probably know that the CIA provides the President of the United States a summary of critical intelligence issues every day. But did you know that this was happening even before there was a CIA? The Central Intelligence Agency was not formally established until 1947. In January 1946, however, President Harry Truman directed the newly-formed Central Intelligence Group to provide him with a coordinated intelligence report known as the Daily Summary. This report evolved over the years and its name has changed —it’s now called the President’s Daily Brief or PDB— but the tradition begun in 1946 of informing the President with a coordinated daily report continues to this day. Once “for the President’s eyes only” (and those of his most senior advisors), these reports can now be released to the public.
With gratitude and respect
From the men and women of the Central Intelligence Agency