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U.S. House of Representatives
Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence
Washington, D.C. 20515-6415

August 16, 1999

The Honorable George Tenet
Director of Central Intelligence
Central Intelligence Agency
Washington, D.C. 20505

Dear Director Tenet:

I write to communicate my concern over the escalating costs associated with the proliferation of "special searches" conducted by CIA staff in response to urgent declassification requests from the National Security Council and other executive branch agencies, Members of Congress, and the media.

The Committee has been advised that CIA's Office of Information Management (OIM) conducted 33 "special searches" during 1998-99 to find, review and, to the extent possible, release classified information in response to numerous requests from Members of Congress and Presidential advisory bodies. These 33 special searches were conducted by OIM as follows:

I would therefore like to request a comprehensive and unclassified list of all such special searches conducted by OIM since 1993 listing the following data: (1) title/case of special search; (2) identification of executive branch official(s), Congressional Member(s), or other organization requesting a special search; (3) status of the search; (4) description of the purposes and accomplishments of the special search; (5) numbers of relevant documents reviewed, redacted, and released to the public; and (6) costs associated with the search in terms of specific dollar amounts and manpower expenditures. Furthermore, I would appreciate a detailed summary of the declassification projects originally scheduled to be conducted by OIM in 1998-99, but which have been deferred due to the increase in special searches. I want to request the legal guidance upon which CIA and OIM rely to initiate and manage special searches for each of the four issue categories listed above. Finally, I would appreciate your recommendations as to possible means for more equitably allocating the costs of these special searches, such as using the FOIA cost recovery process as a model. I look forward to receiving your response no later than September16,1999.


Central Intelligence Agency
Washington, DC 20505

OCA 99-1494
18 October 1999

The Honorable Porter J. Goss
Chairman
Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence
House of Representatives
Washington, D.C. 20515

Dear Mr. Chairman:

This letter and a draft version of enclosure were faxed to the Committee on 20 September 1999 to the attention of Mr. Chris Barton. This is the final version for your retention.

The attached table, prepared by our Office of Information Management (OIM), addresses your request for a list of and relevant details for significant special searches since 1993.

In addition to the significant cases listed, you should be aware that we receive and act upon a relatively large number of smaller special efforts that fall into four broad categories and also compete with special searcbes for resources: equal employment opportunity matters; criminal and/or civil inquiries from the Department of Justice (or subordinate agencies); Inspector General and other undenominated but official demands; and administrative appeals to Executive Branch classification decision. On an annual basis we receive, respectively, an average of 50, 180, 70 and 10 such taskings. They require, by approximate measure, 11 FTE personnel annually. We calculate that on average it costs $2.87 per page to declassify a document in our declassification factory; the average fully loaded salary per person is $62,000. Special searches, however, require a much higher level of effort.

You also requested a summary of declassification projects that have been deferred due to special searches. The identification of any one project, to the exclusion of others, would be misleading because special searches affect productivity across all information review and release programs. Simply stated, each resource directed to a new special search reduces the resources previously dedicated to an existing program. Some specific efforts have been deferred in their entirety; examples include a number of historical reviews previous Directors scheduled for action. Other efforts, such as Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), suffer reduced productivity.

The legal authority upon which the CIA initiates and manages special searches derives from four broad areas:

As to your request for our recommendations for how the costs of these special searches can be more equitably allocated including, possibly using the FOIA cost recovery process as a model. The FOIA cost recovery provisions offer little assistance in the problems we jointly face. Last year, this Agency collected only $1,268.00 for processing in excess of 7,000 FOIA, Privacy Act, and/or Executive Order mandatory declassification requests. This very low cost recovery derives directly from the fact that amendments to the FOIA make the vast majority of such requests fee free; essentially, only commercial requesters acting in their commercial capacity are subject to fees. All other requesters either receive services without fees of any kind or pay only minimal fees for copying after receiving the first several hundred pages free.

In sum, special searches are a growth industry and compete with the mandates of the many existing information review and release programs.

Please let me know if you require additional information or further discussion. An original of this letter is also being sent to Ranking Democratic Member Dixon.

Enclosure


Compilation of Special Search Efforts at CIA (1993 to date)*
(as of 01 September 1999)

Title

Tasking Authority

Status

Description

Summary of Level of Effort

UN Truth Commission; El Salvador I

Congress/NSC

Completed

Letter from Senator Pell, Rep. Hamilton and 15 other members for search of records relating to 32 Human Rights cases.

Over 6,000 hours to search and over 1,800 documents identified as responsive; [several words deleted]

El Salvador II

Congress

Completed

In April 1998, Senator Lautenberg requested the review and release of any documents related to the murders of four U.S. churchwomen in El Salvador in December, 1980.

Level of effort data not readily available.

El Salvador III

Congress

Completed

In May 1998, 32 members of Congress requested the declassification of any documents about the murders of the four U.S. churchwomen.

Level of effort data not readily available.

El Salvador IV

DCI

Completed

Religious order requested declassification of documents that pertain to the murders of the U.S. churchwomen

Level of effort data not readily available.

El Salvador V

Congress

Completed

An August 1998 letter from Reps. Moakley and McGovern posed seven questions about the murders and individuals believed to have knowledge of the deaths.

Level of effort data not readily available.

El Salvador VI

DoJ

Completed

Justice requested information on the immigration or residency of named Salvadoran officials, [lines deleted]

A manual search of relevant paper files.

El Salvador VII

NSC

Completed

A manual review of the 48 documents responsive to El Salvador I was requested for possible release of additional information. The re-review commenced in September 1998.

Level of effort data not readily available.

El Salvador VIII

EXDIR

Ongoing

In November 1998, an updated search on the killings of the U.S. churchwomen, focused on post-1993. [sentence deleted]

Electronic databases and paper files were searched. No substantive new information was found.

El Salvador IX

EXDIR

Completed

In April 1999, the Lawyers Committee for Human Rights requested re-review of [deleted] documents with Agency equities. In June, requested general release, queried status of pending releases (FBI, El Sal VIII), and enclosed 47 documents for re-review.

[sentence deleted] On 1 July, we answered the June queries, following exhaustive research of the enclosure, which contained both Agency and DIA documents.

Guatemala I (NSC)

NSC

Completed

Selection of 15 named Human Rights cases from 1984.

Over 1,400 hours to search tens of thousands of documents. [words deleted]

Guatemala (IOB)

IOB

Completed

Specific documents located in the Guatemala I search were requested for IOB review.

Over 900 hours to search for relevant documents and review for release. [words deleted].

Guatemala I Follow-On (re: Myrna Mack)

NSC

Completed

Focused on the death in Guatemala of Myrna Mack, the noted anthropologist and Nobel Prize winner. CIA provided information to the family and worked with State to produce a statement for use in a foreign court case.

Conducted an oral Vaughn with lawyers for the sister of Myrna Mack; required research, notes on each paragraph of text discussed. [words deleted] coordinated court statement with State and family attorneys.

Guatemala I Follow-On (re: Nicholas Blake)

NSC

Completed

Focused on the death in Guatemala of Nicholas Blake, a journalist

Prepared an oral Vaughn for brothers of Nicholas Blake; provided case overview [words deleted]

Guatemala I Follow-On (re: Diana Ortiz)

Federal Court

Completed

Litigation by Sister Diana Ortiz concerning her kidnapping and torture in Guatemala

Level of effort data not readily available.

Guatemala I Follow-On (re: Michael DeVine)

Federal Court

Ongoing

Litigation by Carole DeVine concerning the murder of her husband, Michael DeVine, in Guatemala

To date, over 500 documents have been released.

Guatemala I Follow-On (re: Bamaca/Harbury)

Federal Court

Completed

Litigation by Jennifer Harbury concerning the murder of her husband, Efrain Bamaca Velasquez

Level of effort data not readily available.

Guatemala II

NSC

Completed

Focused on 18 named human rights cases in Guatemala prior to 1984

Over 500 hours to search for relevant documents and review for release. [words deleted]

Guatemala III

NSC and DCI

Completed

Addressed a selection of historically significant records pertaining to the 1954 CIA-backed coup in Guatemala.

Over 11,000 hours to search for relevant documents and review for release. 1,800 pages and 300 tapes were released.

Guatemala IV

NSC

Completed

Inquiry into more than 80 human rights events, many of which already had been addressed in other contexts.

Level of effort data not readily available.

Guatemala V

NSC

Completed

Query by the Guatemala Historical Clarification Commission for information in several areas.

Over 500 hours to search for relevant documents and review for release. [words deleted].

Guatemala V, Follow-On

NSC

Completed

Additional questions concerning the documents released as a result of Guatemala V.

Level of effort data not readily available.

Honduras Working Group

DCI

Completed

Task force set up to focus on Agency's knowledge involving a variety of human rights issues in Honduras including Battalion 316.

Task force worked for 1 year. Located and reviewed thousands of documents. Briefed Congress on several occasions on findings and wrote a report on final findings.

Honduras I

NSC

Completed

Request for information on Father Carney.

Over 1,000 hours to search for relevant records and review for release. [words deleted]

Honduras II

NSC

Completed

Request for information on five named individuals.

Over 500 hours to search for relevant documents and review for release. [words deleted]

Honduras III

NSC

Completed

Request information on an Honduran Military leader, General Alvarez, re: Human Rights issues.

Over 200 hours to search for relevant documents and review for release. Identified and released 21 documents.

Honduras IV

NSC

Completed

Request for information on [words deleted] Battalion 316

Over 100 hours to search for relevant documents and review for release. Identified and released 5 documents, including IG reports.

Honduras Follow-up

NSC

Completed

Conducted an oral Vaughn with Dr. Valladares and the Honduran Attorney General regarding the documents released in Honduras I, II, & III.

Level of effort data not readily available.

Honduras V

NSC

Ongoing

Follow-up requests from Dr. Valladares for explanations, re-review of material, and new search.

Level of effort data not readily available.

Unit 731

White House IG SecDef

Completed

Multiple inquiries re: Japanese unit in WWII alleged to have conducted human experiments.

Responded to multiple but somewhat differing inquiries; extensive OSS and FOIA records searches; documents reviewed but not directly relevant and released w/minor redactions.

Pollard

DCI

Ongoing

Demands for documents (e.g. damage assessment) and declassification reviews alleged relevant to possibility of a parole for Pollard.

Research, searches, re-reviews and explanation on continued need for classification.

Mena, Arkansas

Congress, DoJ, & IG

Completed

Sought answers to allegations connecting Airport in Mena during the 1980s to guns, drug trafficking and/or money laundering and Pablo Escobar.

Two searches were done, but no CIA documents were located. Reviewed and released CIA information contained in other agency documents.

Dulles Papers

DCI

Completed

Request for review of papers held by DCI Allen Dulles.

A small task force was convened to review over 2,700 documents for release. Most of these documents were released.

Venona Documents

D/NSA & DCI

Completed

Multiple requests for insights into cryptographic information that formed partial basis of cold war spy cases.

Within 19 days completed our coordination, review, and release of information.

[deleted]

DCI

Completed

[deleted]

Level of effort data not readily available.

UK Criminal - HMG vs. Deacon & Fuller

CIA General Counsel

Completed

Supported criminal prosecution that involved obtaining property by theft and forgery

Level of effort data not readily available.

Air America

CSI

Ongoing

Review of all records linked to Air America and subsidiary corporations.

To date, over 42,000 pages have been released.

Gulf War Veterans' Illness Task Force

DCI and SecDef

Completed

Inquiry into information concerning Gulf War Illness and lessons learned.

Thousands of documents were released and put on the DIA internal web site; exhaustive effort at CIA occupied for a time 20 FTE including all IROs; subsequent inquiries re errors continued until 1999.

Combest re Vietnam

Congress

Completed

Request that Agency provide copies of all previously released Vietnam-era documents to the Center for the Study of the Vietnam Conflict at Texas Tech.

Over 100 hours to search for material. Some 15,000 pages of records delivered to Rep. Combest.

Merriman Family

DCI

Completed

Requested information on events surrounding the [deleted] death of John Merriman [deleted]

Researched officer's career and circumstances of his death. Briefed family. Declassified administrative and photographic material.

Brownlee Family

Congress

Completed

Request for information from Rep. Dornan regarding Vietnam Vet Brownlee, who was reported MIA in Vietnam on April 25, 1972.

Conducted a search and no records were located.

BNL Follow-on

NSC

Completed

A search and declassification review of the BNL holdings.

39 documents (174 pages) were released in part.

Contra Drugs, LA

CIA/IG

Completed

Response to allegations of CIA involvement in drug trafficking (cocaine) into the LA area.

Conducted exhaustive search for records - none located. IG Reports, classified and unclassified, were prepared.

OSS Member Records

DCI

Completed

Request for release of the total membership list, 21,000+ names as well as multiple individual requests for details of individual service.

Level of effort data not readily available.

OSS Operational Records

DCI

Completed

Transfer of OSS 1941-1946 records (328 cubic feet) to NARA.

Reviewed records of which approximately [deleted] were subsequently declassified.

Zona Rosa

SSCI

Completed

Request for declassification of IG Report on Zona Rosa, San Salvador incident (4 Marines and 2 US businessmen killed).

Review and release completed. Also reviewed other agencies' IG reports for CIA entities.

Spanish MLAT re Pinochet

DoJ & OGC

Completed

Natl. Court of Spain investigation of Pinochet/ Chilean HR concerns for the period '73-'90; request under provision of Treaty with Spain for Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters.

[deleted] Located 43 documents.

Stargate

Congress

Nearing completion

Review of all USG records re parapsychology studies.

110,000 pages have been fully reviewed per the CDA.

Capt. Sanderson

Congress

Completed

Disappearance of AF Capt. Sanderson in 1953, shot down by Soviet aircraft over the Sea of Japan.

Conducted search no records located.

Reinhard Gehlen

Congress

Completed

Information concerning one document on Gen. Reinhard Gehlen, purported Nazi and post war spymaster.

Determined that document had been previously released.

Mt. Ararat

Congress

Ongoing

Multiple requests and demands for satellite imagery and/or analytical conclusions re presence of Noah's Ark.

More than 1,000 hours have been expended over time in responding to various requests, conducting searches, explaining results; no definitive information identified.

Operation Peter Pan

Federal Court

Completed

Exodus of Cuban children to the United States.

One document located and released; well over 1,500 hours expended in searches, reviews, and defense.

Pinochet Chile I

Tranche I

NSC

Ongoing

Request for information concerning Pinochet regarding human rights abuses and political violence (1973-1978).

To date, search effort completed (1968-1978). Tranche I released 492 documents from 1973-1978. Continuing review of remaining documents.

Pinochet Chile I

Tranche II

NSC

Ongoing

Continuation of Chile I for 1968-1978.

See above

Pinochet Chile II

NSC

Anticipated

Continuation of Chile I, plus search for records in the 1979-1991 timeframe.

See above

MKULTRA

DCI

Ongoing

Search and review of information on CIA drug research and "mind control."

Over 2,000 hours expended this FY on searches, reviews, and preparation for court testimony.

Operation TAILWIND

DepSecDef & DCI

Completed

CNN and Time Magazine published charges that US troops had used lethal nerve gas in Laos in 1970 and had targeted American defectors; DepSecDef and DCI commissioned exhaustive document searches and historical research effort.

Over 1,000 hours expended (searches and interviews).

POW/MIA Records of the SSCI on POW/MIA Affairs

Congress

Ongoing

Senate-directed mandatory declassification review of SSCI POW/MIA Committee CIA documents, held by NARA and transferred to CIA for review.

Labor intensive review and re-review of more than 40,000 documents (22 cartons) is underway, matching them to earlier releases, as documented in MORI database, where applicable.

Ustashe Gold

Dept of State + [illegible]

Completed

Request for records of Holocaust related assets of the Croatian Nazis.

Located and released 23 documents.

Illegal Campaign Finance Contributions

DoJ, NSC, Congress

DoJ ongoing, Congress and NSC completed

Investigation of alleged international criminal activities in political fundraising.

Conducted searches and reviews levied by six Congressional committees, NSC, and DoJ. Original DoJ request included several hundred names.

China Technical Transfer/ Cox Committee

Cox Committee

See Above

An initial Cox Committee focus on generic campaign financing became focus on tech transfer to China.

Level of effort data not readily available.

China Threats to National Labs

PFIAB

Completed

Foreign espionage threats to named national laboratories

Level of effort data not readily available.

[deleted]

DCI

Completed

Parents requested information about their son's work for the Agency.

Approximately 60 hours expended researching officer's career and briefing family.

[deleted]

DCI

Completed

[deleted]

Researched officer's career and circumstances of death [deleted]

[deleted]

DCI

Completed

Request for details of father's relationship with the Agency [deleted]

[deleted]

[deleted]

Congress

Completed

[deleted]

Conducted search, briefed individual, [deleted]

[deleted]

DCI

Completed

[deleted]

Level of effort data not readily available.

Memorial Wall/ Stars

DCI

Completed

Request to review whether information/ identities of CIA persons who died in line of duty could be declassified.

Level of effort data not readily available.

Ballistic Missile Commission Records

DCI

Completed

Support to Congressional Committee, including review of testimony, review of commission report, and decisions on record storage.

Level of effort data not readily available.

Project Poppy

NRO

Ongoing

Classification review of programmatic and other records pertaining to Project Poppy, which is America's first ELINT satellite by the Naval Research Laboratory.

Level of effort data not readily available.

Kirkpatrick Report

DCI

Completed

1996 news articles alleged CIA withholding IG Report on Bay of Pigs.

Determined that the Agency did not deny release of document.

[deleted]

DCI

Completed

Official request to determine if there were any previous, official releases on this subject.

Level of effort data not readily available.

Berlin Tunnel Project

DCI

Completed

Request to review Agency records and obtain recognition for the work of six military translators detailed to the Berlin Tunnel Project in the mid-1950s.

Level of effort data not readily available.

Harvard Intelligence & Policy Program

DCI

Ongoing

Provide support of research programs and the development of instructional material and case studies for their National Security Programs curriculum.

Level of effort data not readily available.

UFO/Roswell

DCI

Ongoing

Request for information re: UFO sightings.

To date, over 2,700 pages have been released. Documents have been put on the CIA FOIA internet site.

Bay of Pigs

DCI

Ongoing

Records pertaining to the 1960 Bay of Pigs Conflict.

To date, thousands of hours expended conducting searches and reviews of material. 1,200 pages released [deleted]

JFK Records Program

JFK Board

Ongoing

The largest special search ever conducted-- all records pertaining to the assassination of JFK -- given an extremely broad definition of responsive records.

Over the life of the project, over 200 FTE have been expended; some 250,000 pages have been identified and processed for release to the public; only minimal withholdings.

1954 Guat Coup

DCI

Ongoing

Historically significant records pertaining to the 1954 CIA-backed coup in Guatemala.

To date, 1,800 pages & 300 tapes have been sent to NARA, see Guat III. Continue to work on remaining 100,000 pages for release.

Soviet National Intelligence Estimates (NIEs)

DCI

Ongoing

Review for possible release NIEs pertaining to the Soviet Union.

To date, thousands of hours expended conducting searches and reviews of material. Over 500 NIEs released to date.

Soviet Finished Intelligence

DCI

Ongoing

Review for possible release of finished intelligence reports concerning the Soviet Union.

To date, thousands of hours expended conducting searches and reviews of material. Research and review of approximately 33,000 pages.

ODCI Records

DCI

Ongoing

Identified in 1995 as an objective for DCI historical program, focus is systematic review of O/DCI records beginning with the oldest and progressing forward.

To date, 3,200 pages reviewed and awaiting final approval. Program requires 3 FTE.

Studies of Intelligence

DCI

Ongoing

Review of articles, book reviews, etc. on current and historical intelligence issues.

To date, 4,000 pages released.

CORONA Imagery Program

DCI

Completed

Pursuant to Executive Order, a declassification effort of all KH 1-6 (Corona, Argon, Lanyard Programs) imagery.

All imagery (some 800,000 frames) was reviewed and transferred to NARA and the US Geological Service for public access. Efforts exceeded 16 FTE.

Nazi War Crimes

Congress

Ongoing

Search, review, and declassification, where possible, of all records related to Nazi War Crimes.

To date, thousands of hours expended conducting searches and reviews of material.

Human Radiation Experiments

President's Advisory Board

Completed

Search and review of information regarding human radiation experiments.

Level of effort data not readily available.

Airborne Imagery

DCI

Completed

Review and declassify CIA airborne imagery

Level of effort data not readily available.

[deleted]

DCI

Ongoing

[deleted]

Level of effort data not readily available.

[deleted]

DoJ

Ongoing

[deleted]

New tasking

 

 

* Data for years prior to 1998 may be incomplete, centralized management of most forms of information requests did not occur prior to that time.


Source: CIA Hardcopy
Original Classification: Secret
Approved for Public Release: 21 July 2000
Transcription and HTML by FAS




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