CIA Documents: Task Force on Greater CIA Openness

[ The section on academia begins at Document 2, p. 8 ]

Document 1

18 November 1991

MEMORANDUM FOR: Director of Public Affairs

FROM: Director of Central Intelligence

SUBJECT: Greater CIA Openness

1. In my hearings, I indicated my desire to continue Director Webster's policies in terms of improving accessibility to information about CIA by the public and overall openness to the extent possible, whether through background briefings for the press, public speeches by senior officials, or appearances on college campuses and elsewhere by professionals within CIA. I would like for you to appoint a task force to review these practices and see how they can be improved, and also to suggest additional proposals for making more information about the Agency available to the American people and to give greater transparency to our organization, internal control mechanisms, and steps that we take to ensure compliance with the law, actions consistent with the values of the American people, and cooperation with Congress. I invite you to include non-Agency individuals in your task force if that is appropriate and useful.

2. I would like to have your report and recommendations by 20 December 1991.

Robert M. Gates

Document 2, p.1

20 December 1991

MEMORANDUM FOR: Director of Central Intelligence

FROM: Task Force on Greater CIA Openness

SUBJECT: Task Force Report on Greater CIA Openness

REFERENCE: Memo for D/PAO fr DCI, dtd 18 Nov, Subj: Greater CIA Openness (Tab A)

1. In response to your referenced request, the Task Force addressed the following:

2. Senior officials in the media, in the Executive and Legislative Branches, in the business/private sector and in academia all shared their views on CIA openness with the Task Force. (See Tab B) We also consulted Agency retirees and employees throughout the organization.

3. Many of those interviewed said the CIA was sufficiently open; all thought the CIA could do more to declassify and make available portions of its historical archives, especially regarding CIA successes and scientific/technical accomplishments; some said the CIA will have to work harder at explaining the need for intelligence in a post-cold war world.

Document 2, p.2

All agreed that an effective public affairs program for the CIA was necessary and that whatever changes were made to increase openness, all would expect the CIA to keep the secrets it is charged to protect.

4. In whatever program we pursue, we should:

We should also ensure a coordinated PAO-OCA effort for this program. It will be important to get the Hill on board with the Agency's public position on various issues and to articulate the overall Agency strategy to Congress to honor your commitment re openness.

5. Before we can pursue greater openness, it is important to understand the Agency's current program in this area to put down a marker for possible change in the future. To provide some context you should be aware that while PAO grew during Judge Webster's tenure to meet the needs of increased requirements and an expanded program, PAO is now being told to downsize by about 33%. We recognize that a program of increased openness will require commitment of additional resources, not only for PAO but for other parts of the Agency. The Directorates will need to assess the resource implications of these recommendations.

6. In most of our discussions with outsiders as well as within the task force there was substantial agreement that we generally need to make the institution and the process more visible and understandable rather than strive for openness on specific substantive issues. To do this, we need to develop a strategic vision of what we want to be open about, why we want to be more open and to whom we want to be more open. Our suggestion for such a vision statement is:

Document 2, p.3 Formal acceptance of this statement by the Agency, or one similar to it, will provide a necessary and well-understood framework for taking the steps to achieve greater CIA openness.

7. We have an important story to tell, a story that bears repeating. We are the most open intelligence agency in the world which is proper in our form of democracy. (In fact, several foreign intelligence organizations have sought advice from PAO on how to establish a mechanism for dealing with the public.) That said, many Americans do not understand the intelligence process and the role of intelligence in national security policymaking. Many still operate with a romanticized or erroneous view of intelligence from the movies, TV, books and newspapers. These views often damage our reputation and make it harder for us to fulfill our mission. There are steps we can take which will benefit us and the American people.

8. To increase CIA openness and signal a change in how we do business, we need to take initiatives to share our history through the declassification of old records, explain our mission and functions in a changing world through an expanded briefing program within and outside of government, and develop a strategy for expanding our work with the media as a means of reaching an even broader audience. Our major recommendations address these issues:

Document 2, p.4 1 The Editorial Board of Studies has identified several hundred unclassified or declassified articles and taken steps to interest scholars and publishers in them. About half a dozen university presses have expressed interest, but to date none have actively begun the editorial process.

Document 2, p.5

2 For example, an Agency spokesperson reading our statement in response to the allegations made by Nightline in summer 1991 would have been more effective than Ted Koppel's reading of it with raised eyebrows and a look of "What do you expect given the source?".

Document 2, p.6

9. In most of our discussions we defined the audiences for greater CIA openness as the following: the media, academia, business, the private sector, government and our own employees. We have used these categories to describe our current program related to openness which provides a context for offering our other recommendations.


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3 The recent Denison University Alumni Magazine feature on Martha Kessler is a good example. (See Tab C)

Document 2, p.9

4 For example, PAO is currently talking with the Truman Library about a conference in late 1992 or 1993 on the origins of the Intelligence Community. A similar conference with the Wilson Center is being considered to mark the 30th anniversary of the Cuban Missile Crisis next fall.

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5 Hill staffers rely heavily on OTA and CRS products. Moreover, active interaction with these congressional support organizations can provide invaluable insights into issues that key House and Senate committees and individual members believe are important, as well as what legislation is under consideration or in the conceptual state. Some Hill staffers have suggested that CIA assign officers to act as liaison through OCA for relevant OTA projects, as the military services do. For example, OTA is now focusing on two projects of particular interest to several congressional committees, proliferation and economic analyses of other nations as they relate to U.S. industrial competitiveness.

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10. In recommending ways to increase CIA openness, we also wanted to come up with some means to measure the results of these efforts and to make changes in course, as appropriate. Since these are not programs or initiatives that lend themselves readily to quantifiable impact, we need to rely on an evaluation of how the perception of the Agency has changed. This can manifest itself in many ways including: a friendlier, more cooperative working environment for our officers, more interest in employment, more accurate reporting on our activities, etc. To this end, we recommend that you:

Document 2, p.15

[one-half page deleted]

Document 2, p.16

The Task Force Members received views on Greater CIA Openness from the following:

[one page deleted]

Document 3, p.1

6 January 1992


FROM: Director of Central Intelligence

SUBJECT: Task Force Report on Greater CIA Openness

1. The task force has done a commendable job of examining the challenge of greater CIA openness and presenting a number of useful recommendations for implementing such a policy. Before addressing specific recommendations, it is important to establish policy and strategy.

2. I endorse the statement in paragraph 6 of the report that our objective is to make CIA and the intelligence process more visible and understandable rather than to seek inevitably incomplete or unattainable openness on specific substantive issues. In short, we are trying to help people understand better what this Agency does and how it does it.

3. The idea of a strategy or "vision" statement has merit but it should be short -- something to the effect that "CIA's approach to public affairs grows out of our belief that it is important that CIA should be accountable to the American public as a law abiding organization comprised of talented people of integrity whose role supporting national security policymakers is important in an increasingly complex and often dangerous world." The Executive Committee should consider such a strategy statement, revise it as appropriate or desired, and submit it by 1 February for my approval.

4. I believe that CIA, whatever the level of its public affairs effort, will find it difficult to win recognition as an "open" institution. What we should do is strive where we can to be as forthcoming, candid, informative, and helpful as possible to the public, the media, and academia consistent with our mission and the protection of sources and methods. My decisions on specific recommendations have been made in this spirit.

Document 3, p.2

SUBJECT: Task Force Report on Greater CIA Openness

5. Reference paragraph 8.A.(1) and (2) of the report: The Executive Committee should establish a senior-led Agency-wide group to review CIA policy and practices related to declassification and release of records under the historical review and FOIA programs with a view to accelerating the process. Additionally, this senior-level group should examine the initiation of a program in the near term to declassify historical materials on specific events as suggested by the task force report -- a suggestion that I am inclined to support. (Further to this issue, see paragraph 18.a.) At the same time, this group should identify what additional resources would be necessary to augment our efforts in both of these areas.

6. Reference paragraph 8.A.(3): The editorial board of Studies in Intelligence should intensify its efforts to find a university prepared to publish unclassified or declassified articles from Studies in Intelligence. If no university has made a firm commitment by the end of May, OTE should begin publishing compendia of unclassified articles from past Studies. These should be made available in the same way as other unclassified CIA publications.

7. Reference paragraph 8.A.(4): We should not publish compendiums of papers delivered at conferences sponsored or co-sponsored by CIA. However, when such conferences are unclassified, we should indicate to participants that we have no objection to their publishing their papers -- with appropriate disclaimers -- and referencing a CIA conference. The choice should be up to the scholar.

8. Reference paragraph 8.B.: PAO, in cooperation with other appropriate elements of the Agency, should develop additional unclassified material on CIA, its history, mission, functions, and changing role. The Agency's briefing program for the full range of potential audiences should be expanded as opportunities arise.

9. Reference paragraph 8.C.(1): The current role of the Agency spokesperson is satisfactory but I would welcome views from the Executive Committee on greater use of television by the DCI and DDCI.

10. Reference paragraph 9.A.(2): PAO should be prepared to provide more background briefings to the media as opportunities arise and be prepared to respond to telephonic queries from the media. Careful records should be kept of such contacts. I endorse having the Deputy Directors, the General Counsel, the Director of Congressional Affairs and the Director of Public

Document 3, p.3

SUBJECT: Task Force Report on Greater CIA Openness

Affairs provide both background and on-the-record interviews about intelligence process. CIA should not give groups of reporters unclassified background briefings when there is a major international event. Any exception to this should be approved by the DCI or DDCI. I do support the idea of individual profiles of people in the Agency that highlight the quality of our people, the diversity of our work force and that personalize the work of intelligence.

11. Reference paragraph 9.B.(2): The Officer-in-Residence program, which I support, should continue to be administered by individual Directorates and Offices. I agree that PAO should work with OTE and OP to develop a program for CIA employees involved in recruiting to ensure that they are conversant on issues affecting CIA, with emphasis on the intelligence process and multi-cultural sensitivities. I gather that this would simply give structure to informal guidance to employees from all Directorates who go on recruiting trips. I support participation of Agency employees in relevant scientific and professional societies and approve the recommendation for updating procedures for individuals to present papers in such meetings. I am not persuaded that CIA should become an institutional member of these societies. I support conducting more academic conferences at Langley, examining ways to continue to enhance the program of disseminating unclassified publications, and encouraging the establishment of intelligence studies programs at academic institutions.

12. I believe that the co-location of our Coordinator for Academic Affairs with Public Affairs confuses two related but separate functions. The Executive Committee should examine and provide me with a recommendation by 1 February on moving the Coordinator for Academic Affairs and associated functions to the Center for the Study of Intelligence. In this connection, I endorse the recommendation that the Center should sponsor either unilaterally or in cooperation with academic institutions conferences on the history and craft of intelligence.

13. Reference paragraph 9.C.(2): I am satisfied with the present and planned arrangements. Accordingly, none of the recommendations are approved.

14. Reference paragraph 9.D.(2): I am not persuaded that recommendations a. and c. are workable and therefore they are not approved. On the other hand, recommendation b. seems a worthwhile undertaking and I believe the Executive committee should direct the development of a program along these lines, perhaps beginning with CEOs of companies that have been cooperative with NR.

Document 3, p.4

SUBJECT: Task Force Report on Greater CIA Openness

15. Reference paragraph 9.E.(2): I support continuation and strengthening of the Agency Speakers' Bureau for addressing outside audiences about the intelligence process and the role of CIA in a changing world. Home components should pay the expenses of an expanded list of non-PAO speakers.

16. Reference paragraph 9.F.: I support the idea of PAO working with OTE to invite more members of the media to speak to CIA groups either in the classroom or at off-sites/seminars. PAO should brief employees authorized to give background briefings on pertinent guidelines and rules. I prefer to reserve decision on recommendation c. pending completion of the task force on internal communications.

17. Reference paragraph 10: I do not believe we will soon see any marked effect on all of the programs we have had underway and are now undertaking. I believe this will be a cumulative process and that all of us in the Agency simply should keep our eyes and ears open for feedback, from whatever quarter, on the success of our efforts.

18. I received a number of useful comments from several of the addressees of this memorandum, as well as a number of others in the Agency. As the Executive Committee considers the actions assigned to it above, as well as additional ideas for greater CIA openness, I commend to you:

Document 3, p.5

SUBJECT: Task Force Report on Greater CIA Openness

19. The Executive Committee or Task Force, as appropriate, should report to me on progress in implementing decisions for which no deadlines are specified above by 15 February.

Robert M. Gates

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