Notes on Studies in Intelligence

I’ve read a bit more from and about Studies in Intelligence, the CIA’s in-house intelligence journal (not that much, put down that blindfold and cigarette).  A few random notes on this for today.

The most interesting discovery was the SI article ‘Fifty Years of Studies in Intelligence by Nicholas Dujmovic.  This article answered many of the questions I had after careful research in SI‘s back issues (e.g., “Rita Kronenbitter” was a man, not a woman), but it also beat me to the punch, publishing some of the discoveries I had made in my own in-depth research (e.g. the journal changed page format in 1972).  The list of chief editors, the overview of trends in article topics, and the description of the evolution of SI’s unclassified section, along with second thoughts about whether it’s a good idea for SI to develop a readership among the general public (my hand is up) are all well worth a read.

Another interesting article from a very different perspective is by Jeffrey Richelson at George Washington University’s National Security Archive, Studies in Intelligence: New Articles from The CIA’s In-House Journal.’ The Archive is an academic project by several researchers who have banded together to pry open as many government filing cabinets as the Freedom of Information Act allows. Richelson has been working on getting SI articles declassified for some time; this article presents some of his finds as well as some carefully documented complaints about CIA failures to comply with the spirit, and sometimes the letter, of the FOIA.  The article was originally posted June 4, 2013, with 19 newly declassified articles.  A revised version was posted November 20, 2014 with seven additional articles after the Jeffrey Scudder case concluded (see Washington Post, July 4, 2014, “CIA employee’s quest to release information ‘destroyed my entire career.'”)

If you are looking here for trivia on SI, an overview of its content, or a critique of its value, you are definitely looking in the wrong place; that is not the sort of thing the Archive usually does. Instead, the focus is on what articles SI has not been willing to release, and why their decisions are often arbitrary, inconsistent, and just plain wrong headed.  Fair enough, especially since Richelson, unlike Dujmovic, has only a carefully redacted copy of SI’s table of contents to date.  And as Richelson notes, the copy they gave him is about 130 titles shorter than the copy they gave another group, who used litigation to get it, rather than a polite FOIA request.

Certainly there is much confusion about what has been declassified and what has not. Tracing down when where and how articles were declassified and made publicly available might be interesting in this respect. Dujmovic has actually made a start on this, but for the fan of the truly trivial, no doubt there is a lot more to be done.

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1 Response to Notes on Studies in Intelligence

  1. Nicholas Dujmovic says:

    Thanks for highlighting an article I wrote more than ten years ago. I’m glad you found it interesting.

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