CIA Historical Collection Publications

An Underwater Ice Station Zebra [PDF 6.1MB]

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The Trieste II (DSV-1), the Navy’s most advanced deep sea submersible at the time, surfaced about 350 miles north of the Hawaiian Islands in the pre-dawn hours of 26 April 1972 after recovering a mysterious item. Publicly called a “data package,” the object was actually part of a U.S. spy satellite, codenamed HEXAGON. Before today’s digital technology, photoreconnaissance satellites used film, which returned to Earth in capsules ejected from the satellite. The capsules, called “buckets,” reentered Earth’s atmosphere and deployed a parachute to slow their descent. During the first HEXAGON mission in 1971, the parachute broke off causing the bucket to crash into the ocean. This release includes photos of the capsule on the ocean floor, pictures of the Trieste II (DSV-1), and an article recounting the deepest undersea salvage then attempted.

View the Underwater Ice Station Zebra FOIA documents and photographs.

Preparing For Martial Law: Through The Eyes of Col. Ryszard Kuklinski [PDF 13.0MB]

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Between July 1980 and December 1981, Poland stumbled through the most serious political crisis faced by a Warsaw Pact member since the Prague Spring in Czechoslovakia in 1968. The resolution of this crisis through the declaration of martial law by the Polish authorities provided only a temporary respite. The rise and suppression of the trade union Solidarity, followed by the inability of Polish communist authorities to restore political credibility or economic activity, were key developments that created the conditions that led to the eventual collapse of the Warsaw Pact by the end of the decade. In 1972, Ryszard Kuklinski, a senior officer on the Polish General Staff, volunteered his services to the United States at a time of increased friction between the Soviet Bloc and the Free World. During the Polish crisis, from the initial outbreak of labor unrest in July 1980, until the declaration of martial law in December 1981, Col. Kuklinski provided periodic reporting and commentary on the chaotic progression of events.

View the Preparing For Martial Law FOIA documents.

CIA Analysis of the Warsaw Pact Forces:
The Importance Of Clandestine Reporting
[PDF 4.1MB]

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This study examines the role of clandestine reporting in CIA's analysis of the Warsaw Pact from 1955 to 1985. The Soviet Union established itself as a threat to the West at the end of World War II by its military occupation of eastern European countries and the attempts of its armed proxies to capture Greece and South Korea. The West countered with the formation of NATO. While the West welcomed West Germany into NATO, the Soviets established a military bloc of Communist nations with the Warsaw Treaty of May 1955. This study continues CIA’s efforts to provide a detailed record of the intelligence derived from clandestine human and technical sources from that period.

View the CIA Analysis of the Warsaw Pact Forces declassified documents, maps and photographs
and the video files on CIA's YouTube channel.

President Nixon and the Role of Intelligence in the 1973 Arab-Israeli War [PDF 4.1MB]

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This collection highlights the causes and consequences of US Intelligence Community’s (IC) failure to foresee the October 1973 Arab-Israeli War, also known as the October War or the Yom Kippur War. A coalition of Arab nations led by Egypt and Syria launched a surprise attack on Israel on October 6, the day of Yom Kippur. Prior to October 6, the CIA concluded that the Arabs would not attack, so the offensive surprised US policymakers as well as Israel. Directorate of Intelligence (DI) analysts believed that Arab military inferiority would militate against an attack on Israel. DI analysis did not explore the possibility that leaders might go to war--even at the risk of losing--to pursue political objectives. According to an internal postmortem, Agency analysis was impaired by preconceptions about Arab military capabilities, information overload, rational actor modeling and groupthink.

View the President Nixon and the Role of Intelligence FOIA documents and photographs.

The Caesar, Polo, and Esau Papers [PDF 3.3MB]

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This collection of declassified analytic monographs and reference aids, designated as the CAESAR, POLO, and ESAU series, was originally released in 2007. The documents reflect the views of seasoned analysts who often engaged in heated debate. The 147 documents in this collection, over 11,000 pages of analysis, were written between 1953 and 1973. In contrast to the intelligence community’s streams of formal assessments on the Soviet Union and China, the less formal and uncoordinated CAESAR, POLO, and ESAU studies were not intended as "finished" intelligence products. Rather, the authors sought to develop a comprehensive knowledge base on select political issues that could contribute to analytic capital for specialists throughout the community. The intent of the collection is to provide insight into some aspects of CIA analytic thinking of the period and to make the documents more readily accessible to the general public.

View the The Caesar, Polo, and Esau Papers FOIA documents.

Bosnia, Intelligence, and the Clinton Presidency [PDF 6.3MB]

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The compilation contains Statements of Conclusions from National Security Council meetings where senior officials made decisions on the Bosnian conflict, BTF memoranda pertaining to those meetings, key intelligence assessments, and selected materials from the State Department, White House, Department of Defense, and William J. Clinton Presidential Library. The records center around 1995, the year in which the Dayton Accords ending the Bosnian War were signed.

View the Bosnia, Intelligence, and the Clinton Presidency FOIA documents, interactive website, photographs
and the video and audio files on CIA's YouTube channel.

Intelligence and the Camp David Accords [PDF 12.2MB]

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These documents cover the period from January 1977 through March 1979, and were produced by the CIA to support the Carter administration’s diplomatic efforts leading up to President Carter’s negotiations with Egyptian President Anwar Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin at Camp David in September 1978. The declassified documents detail diplomatic developments from the Arab peace offensive and President Sadat’s trip to Jerusalem through the regionwide aftermath of Camp David.

View the Intelligence and the Camp David Accords FOIA documents, interactive website, photographs
and the video and audio files on CIA's YouTube channel.

The Creation of the Intelligence Community [PDF 3.6MB]

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President Truman shuttered the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) as an unneeded, wartime-only special operations/quasi-intelligence agency. The State Department, the Navy, and the War Department quickly recognized that a secret information vacuum loomed and urged the creation of something to replace OSS.These previously declassified and released documents present the thoughtful albeit tortuous and contentious creation of CIA, culminating in the National Security Act of 1947. The declassified historic material dissects the twists and turns and displays the considerable political and legal finesse required to assess the many plans, suggestions, maneuvers and actions that ultimately led to the establishment of the Central Intelligence Agency and other national security entities, which included the incorporation of special safeguards to protect civil liberties.

View The Creation of the Intelligence Community FOIA documents

Intelligence, Policy, and Politics:
The DCI, the White House, and Congress
[PDF 13.7MB]

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This symposium, held in partnership with George Mason University, School of Public Policy, on September 13, 2012, discussed the historical relationships between the Directors of Central Intelligence (DCI), presidents, and Congress. The overall theme of the event was the ebb and flow of the relationships and the way those relationships impact the role intelligence plays in policy decisions. The event highlighted the public release of over 800 recently declassified documents covering the CIA's first four DCIs. The documents, covering 1946 to 1953, focus on the activities of the first four DCIs: Sidney W. Souers, Hoyt S. Vandenberg, Roscoe H. Hillenkoetter and Walter B. Smith, and include office logs, memorandums, reports and various correspondence from each DCI's tenure.

View the videos from the symposium and Intelligence, Policy, and Politics FOIA documents

From Typist to Trailblazer:
The Evolving View of Women in the CIA's Workforce
[PDF 11.1MB]

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The collection includes more than 1,200 pages from various studies, memos, letters, and other official records documenting the CIA's efforts to examine, address, and improve the status of women employees from 1947 to today. Key documents include the 1953 Panel on Career Service for Women (dubbed the "Petticoat Panel"); a 1976 letter written by DCI George H.W. Bush nominating three female officers for the Federal Woman's Award: a poignant 1984 memo on career opportunities for women; a 1992 summary of he CIA's Glass Ceiling Study; the 2013 Director's Advisory Group Report on Women in Leadership; and a transcript of four SIS women speaking candidly about the course of their careers.

View the video, interactive website, and From Typist to Trailblazer FOIA documents

CIA's Clandestine Services:
Histories of Civil Air Transport
[PDF 7.9MB]


This booklet and CD represent the public release of some of the most closely held activities in CIA history concerning one of the most controversial operations in American history. Within these pages, you will find excerpts of the CIA’s Clandestine Services Histories of Civil Air Transport (CAT) – the precursor to Air America. The Histories were written by Alfred T. Cox who was named the President of CAT when CIA acquired it, and guided both the covert operations side and the public commercial side of the airline for a number of years. As the name suggests, these histories are normally not released in any form to the public. In this case, time and circumstances allow us to release these particular products in concert with the 2011 CAT Association Reunion. You also will find pictures of the men and women who dedicated their lives to keeping the airline afloat through good times and bad. These people became a family in the early days and, although many of the founding members have passed on, the CAT community remains committed to the memory of the enormous accomplishments they and their families
achieved with this airline.

View the Histories of Civil Air Transport documents

Ronald Reagan:
Intelligence and the End of the Cold War [PDF 65.1MB]


Ronald Reagan became the 40th president of the United States more than thirty years ago, and ever since he stepped down to return to California eight years later, historians, political scientists, and pundits of all stripes have debated the meaning of his presidency. All modern presidents undergo reappraisal after their terms in office. Reagan has undergone a similar reappraisal. The old view, exemplified by Clark Clifford’s famous characterization that Reagan was “an amiable dunce,” posited Reagan as a great communicator, to be sure, but one without substance, a former actor who knew the lines others wrote for him, but intellectually an empty suit. Reagan, in the old narrative, simply could not be the architect of anything positive that happened while he was president. That perspective has changed forever and is marked by the continually improving regard historians have for Reagan.

View the videos for this publication on the CIA'sYouTube Channel.
View the Ronald Reagan FOIA documents.

A City Torn Apart:
| Building of the Berlin Wall [PDF 5.1MB]

BerlinWallPublication.jpgFrom the end of World War II in 1945, the question of Berlin’s status 90 miles within the
Deutsche Demokratische Republik (East Germany) and the Soviet Union’s zone of occupation,
along with the status of Germany among the community of nations, remained a source of tension
between the East and West. Premier Khrushchev continued to push President Eisenhower
and the other Western leaders for resolution of the issue.

View The Berlin Wall FOIA documents.

Penetrating the Iron Curtain:
Resolving the Missile Gap with Technology [PDF 21.0MB]

Missile Gap.jpgIn the mid-1950s the US faced the first real challenge since World War II to its strategic superiority over any nation on earth. The attempt to collect intelligence on the Soviets began with an initial period of poor collection capabilities and consequent limited analysis. With few well-placed human sources inside the Soviet Union, it was only with the CIA’s development of, what can only be called, timely technological wizardry—the U-2 aircraft and Corona Satellite reconnaissance program—that breakthroughs occurred in gaining valuable, game-changing intelligence. Coupled with the innovative use of aerial and satellite photography and other technical collection programs, the efforts began to produce solid, national intelligence.

View the Missile Gap FOIA documents.

Stories of Sacrifice and Dedication:
Civil Air Transport, Air America, and the CIA [PDF 18.5MB]

Sacrifice and Dedication Cover.jpgBooklet featuring two specific stories that exemplify
the themes of sacrifice and dedication: Lima Site 85 and a CIA mission
utilizing CAT flight support to recover an
agent inside Communist China.

View the movie Extraordinary Fidelity on the CIA'sYouTube Channel.

Air America:
Upholding the Airmen's Bond [PDF 9.0MB]

AirAmericaCover.jpgQuietly and courageously throughout the
long and difficult Vietnam War, Air America,
a secretly owned air proprietary of
the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA),
remained the indispensable instrument of
CIA’s clandestine mission.

View the Air America FOIA documents.

Baptism by Fire:
CIA Analysis of the Korean War [PDF 116.5MB]

BaptismbyFire.jpgThe Korean War erupted less than three years after President Harry
S. Truman signed the National Security Act of 1947, establishing the
Central Intelligence Agency. Before North Korean forces invaded the
South on 25 June 1950, the CIA had only a few officers in Korea, and
none reported to the Agency’s analytic arm, the Office of Research and
Estimates (ORE). Analytical production relating to Korea reflected the
generally low priority given the region by the Truman Administration’s
State Department and the military services.

View the Baptism by Fire FOIA documents.

Office of Scientific Intelligence:
The Original Wizards of Langley [PDF 12.0MB]

Wizards Cover.jpgThe emergence of the Cold War accelerated the development of ever
more technically advanced weapons and generated early recognition of
the need for additional technical intelligence. For U.S. policymakers this
meant obtaining data on Soviet weapons developments and operational
concepts, identifying important new systems and, most important, developing the technical means for collecting and processing such data.

View the Original Wizards of Langley FOIA documents.

The Warsaw Pact:
Treaty of Friensdhip, Cooperation and Mutual Assistance [PDF 12.2MB]

WarsawPact.jpgAfter Communist regimes in Eastern Europe collapsed twenty years ago and the Soviet Union disintegrated two years later, immense opportunities for archival research opened. Even though serious obstacles to archival work have persisted in Russia (which houses the central repositories of the Soviet regime), the archives of nearly all of the former Warsaw Pact countries are now fully or at least largely open. As a result, scholars have been able to explore many aspects of the Warsaw Pact that could only be guessed at in the past, including questions of military planning, force preparations and operations, nuclear command arrangements, and civil-military issues.

View the Warsaw Pact FOIA documents.

Wartime Statues:
Instruments of Soviet Control [PDF 7.6MB]

Wartime Statutes.jpgSoviet military planning for conflict in Europe after World War II from the outset harnessed East European military capabilities to Soviet military purposes and assumed operational subordination of East European military formations to higher-level Soviet commands. A Polish command-staff exercise in 1950, for example, assumed subordination of a Polish Army (comprised of five divisions and other units) to a Soviet Maritime Front (tasked in the exercise with occupying Denmark).1 Following founding of the Warsaw Treaty Organization (Warsaw Pact) in May 1955, a supreme Warsaw Pact military command was established in Moscow, but this institution existed largely on paper until the 1960’s.

View the Wartime Statutes FOIA documents.

A Life in Intelligence:
The Richard Helms Collection [PDF 3.0MB]

Richard Helms.jpgThis collection of material by and about Richard Helms as Director of Central Intelligence (DCI) and Ambassador to Iran comprises the largest single release of Helms-related information to date. The documents, historical works, essays, interviews, photographs, and video offer an unprecedented wide-ranging look at the man and his career as the United States’ top intelligence official and one of its most important diplomats during a crucial decade of the Cold War. From mid-1966, when he became DCI, to late 1976, when he left Iran, Helms dealt directly or indirectly with numerous events whose impact remains evident today and which are covered in the release.

View the Richard Helms FOIA documents.

Strategic Warning & The Role of Intelligence:
Lessons Learned from the 1968 Soviet Invasion of Czechoslovakia [PDF 27.8MB]

Czech Invasion.jpgThe Czechoslovak crisis, as it became known, started in January 1968, when Alexander Dubček was elevated to the post of First Secretary of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia (CPCz), replacing moribund Antonin Novotny, who had served as First Secretary since 1957. Under Dubček, the communist leadership embarked on a program of dramatic liberalization of the Czechoslovak political, economic, and social order, including the overhaul of the CPCz leadership, increased freedom of speech, surrender of authority to the Czech National Assembly by the Communist Party, real elections at local and national levels, and even the suggestion of legalizing non-communist political parties.

View the Czech Invasion FOIA documents.

Hardcopy publications are available to the public through the Government Printing Office.  There is an associated cost for the publications on the GPO site.