The CIA announced in a press release on January 17, 2017, that it had made available online more than 12 million pages of previously declassified CREST documents. CREST stands for “CIA Records Search Tool,” which is a stand-alone database located at the National Archives Records Administration (NARA) in College Park, Maryland.
The 930,000 documents, per CNN, had previously only been available to access from the four computer terminals physically located at the National Archives in Maryland. As of January 17, however, any old “Joe blow” in the world can now go perusing the documents from the comfort of his or her own living room—pants optional!
Your intrepid columnist has begun to do just that, and let me just tell you my initial impressions: Some of this shit is absolutely…mind-numbing. There are a lot of indecipherable admin memos, press clippings (why were these ever classified?), redacted personnel records, image reports from the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA), and other less-than-exciting documents. Some are surely going to be fascinating—do not misunderstand me—and one such is detailed below. However, it is undeniable that many simply are not fascinating.
This author began by digging into the “General CIA Records” category of documents. There is also the “OSS Collection,” from the CIA’s precursor, the Office of Strategic Services, which should prove to have some items of interest to intelligence historians. Additionally, there are categories devoted to the “Berlin Tunnel,” “Scientific Abstracts,” and “Secret Writing.”
In other words, there is likely some treasure buried within the detritus. As I noted, one such is below:
This short memo has the “subject” and “memorandum for” lines unfortunately redacted, as you can see. In addition, the name or type of “covert project” is also redacted, as well as the signature of the memo’s author. Interestingly though, the print spelling of the name is visible. The memo was approved for release to CREST back in July 2001, and was previously classified “SECRET: Security Information.”
The redactions bear the “25X1” classification marking, which exempts them from automatic declassification 25 years after redaction, and indicates that they pertain to human intelligence collection (even if only peripherally).
Confused? This is basically an office of security memo pertaining to an employee’s fitness to serve as part of a covert project. The office of security was carrying out some sort of routine background check on the employee to make sure he was fit to be a part of the program.
Unfortunately, he was not. The reason? He failed to disclose his gonorrhea to one of the CIA’s “cleared physicians.” D’oh! The subject’s regular physician provided the fact that the “gonorrhea was now completely cured” to the CIA’s physician, and while that was undoubtedly good news to the subject, it unfortunately demonstrated a lack of transparency on the part of the subject to his potential employers. They thus refused his participation in the covert project.
It just goes to show that when applying to the CIA for any reason at all, even if you are already an employee in good standing applying for a different internal job, it is best to lay all your secrets out there, both good and bad.
And for God’s sake, use protection!
Featured image courtesy of the film “Dr. No”