This is a selective guide to resources at Columbia University Libraries and on the Internet, for conducting research on U.S. government agencies involved in intelligence activities, the classification and declassification of government documents related to intelligence activities, and Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests. Some of the items included may also have information about commercial espionage or intelligence activities of foreign governments, but that is not the focus of this guide.
Start your research with a guide:
Chapman, Bert. Researching National Security and Intelligence Policy.
Washington, D.C. : CQ Press, c2004.
Call Number: UA 23 .C5135 2004
CLIO: Columbia Libraries Online Catalog
CLIO is the online catalog for the Columbia and Barnard libraries. It includes over 4 million records for books, journal or newspaper titles (not articles), online resources, government documents, microforms, sound or video recordings, archival collections, etc.
An online catalog of the collections of 24,000 member libraries of the OCLC consortium, comprising more than 36 million records for books, serials, manuscript collections, audiovisual materials, computer files, and other media.
A borrowing service offered by the university libraries of Columbia, Brown, Cornell, Dartmouth, Pennsylvania, Princeton, and Yale. It is designed to allow students, faculty and staff to request (and receive in four days) books directly from each other's collections.
Intelligence Community Legal Reference Book 2nd ed.
Washington, D.C. : Office of the Director of National Intelligence, 2009.
Call Number: KF 4850 .A3 2009g
A compilation of unclassified laws, regulations, and executive orders, from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, Office of General Counsel, August 2007.
An Intelligence Community Primer
Designed for those without extensive knowledge about the U.S. intelligence community, from the report of the Commission on the Intelligence Capabilities of the United States Regarding Weapons of Mass Destruction, March 31, 2005.
The Pentagon's Spies, May 2001
A National Security Archive Electronic Briefing Book which documents the creation, evolution and (in some cases) abolition of a number of military service/DoD human intelligence organizations, the product of their activities, and the controversies that have occurred over the last several decades.
Ransom, Harry Howe. The Intelligence Establishment.
Cambridge, MA : Harvard University Press, 1970.
Call Number: JK 468 .I6 R3 1970(Copies available in multiple locations)
American Foreign Policy and Treaty Index (AFPTI).
Washington, D.C. : Congressional Information Service, 1993-1999.
Call Number: Z 1245 .A45 (Copies available in multiple locations)
A comprehensive index, with abstracts, to key foreign policy documents produced by the executive branch, Congress, and independent agencies, including some of the intelligence agencies. Both depository and non-depository publications are indexed, with an accompanying AFPTI microfiche set of the full text of the non-depository publications.
Current Military and Political Literature: Comment and Abstracts & Citations of Important Articles from International Military and Defence Periodicals. Bimonthly.
Oxford : Military Press, 1983-1993.
Call Number: Z 6721 .C82
Intelligence, Espionage and Related Topics : an Annotated Bibliography of Serial, Journal and Magazine Scholarship, 1844-1998.
Westport, Conn. : Greenwood Press, 1999.
Call Number: R016.355 In8
Jane's Online provides full text access to Jane's Geopolitical Library, Defence Weekly, International Defense Review, Intelligence Review, All the World's Aircraft, Fighting Ships, and World Defense Industry, as well as news and information sources.
A comprehensive index, mostly with full text, to congressional publications. Intelligence community materials may be located under the subject heading "Intelligence Services" and the names of the individual agencies.
Lowenthal, Mark M. The U.S. Intelligence Community: an Annotated Bibliography.
New York: Garland Publishing, 1994.
Call Number: Z 6724.I7 L69 1994
Contains not only valuable annotations to items on intelligence theory and practice, history and organization, oversight, and other bibliographies, but also a very useful appendix with the full text of the most important legislation and executive orders pertaining to U.S. intelligence.
Commission on the Intelligence Capabilities of the United States Regarding Weapons of Mass Destruction. Report to the President, March 31, 2005
Commission on the Roles and Capabilities of the United States Intelligence Community. Preparing for the 21st Century: An Appraisal of U.S. Intelligence
Washington, DC : GPO : 1996.
Call Number: JK 468.I6 C62 1996 (Copies available in multiple locations)
The Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 1995 (P.L. 103-359) created the Commission on the Roles and Capabilities of the United States Intelligence Community (the Aspin-Brown Commission). This bipartisan panel was charged with reviewing "the efficacy and appropriateness" of U.S. intelligence activities in the "post-cold war global environment" and with submitting a report of its findings and recommendations to the President and the Congress. The Commission's report was released on March 1, 1996. It addresses such issues as the size and secrecy of the intelligence budget; the organization of U.S. Intelligence Community; management of the CIA; covert action; economic intelligence; intelligence support to policy makers and military operations; space reconnaissance; "right-sizing" intelligence agencies; and oversight of intelligence.
Gentry, John A. A Framework for Reform of the U.S. Intelligence Community., June 1995
This comprehensive treatment of intelligence reform issues was prepared by former CIA analyst John A. Gentry for submission to the Congressional intelligence committees and the Aspin Commission on Intelligence Roles and Missions.
Intelligence Reform, from the FAS Intelligence Resource Program
Sponsored by the Federation of American Scientists (FAS), the Intelligence Reform site promotes public awareness and discussion of the various Executive and Legislative intelligence reform initiatives and their successful implementation. FAS challenges excessive government secrecy which obscures public participation in this debate, and promotes public oversight of the intelligence reform process.
National Performance Review (U.S.) Intelligence Community: Accompanying Report of the National Performance Review.
Washington, DC : Office of the Vice President : 1993.
Call Number: PRVP 42.2:G 74/INTELL.
Transforming U.S. Intelligence.
Washington, D.C. : Georgetown University Press, c2005.
Call Number: JK 468 .I6 T67 2005(Copies available in multiple locations)
Twentieth Century Fund. Task Force on the Future of U.S. Intelligence. In From the Cold: the Report of the Twentieth Century Fund Task Force on the Future of U.S. Intelligence.
Call Number: JK 468.I6 T94 1996
U.S. Intelligence at the Crossroads: Agendas for Reform.
Washington, DC : Brassey's, c1995.
Call Number: JK 468.I6 U18 1995
Intelligence activities are conducted by numerous departments, agencies, and bureaus within the executive branch of the government. Congress plays a role in the areas of authorization, funding and accountability. The items in this section address that often contested relationship.
The variety of documents (located in the U.S. Government Documents Collection on microfiche) related to appropriations for intelligence activities can be located in CLIO by the following subject searches:
There is a useful compilation of intelligence laws issued biennally:
Compilation of Intelligence Laws and Related Laws and Executive Orders of Interest to the National Intelligence Community.
Washington, D.C.: U.S. House of Representatives, 1983-
Call Number: U.S. Government Documents (microfiche) Y 4.In 8/18:L 44 [date]
For legislation from the 106th Congress to the present, try a keyword search for the relevant keywords on Thomas
Disclosures to the Congress, Presidential memo, October 5, 2001
Restricts classified information to only the Speaker of the House, the House Minority Leader, the Senate Majority and Minority Leaders, and the Chairs and Ranking Members of the Intelligence Committees in the House and Senate, text from the Federation of American Scientists.
Intelligence in Congress: from the FAS Intelligence Resource Program
The full text of Congressional Floor Debates, Hearings, and Reports, 1994-present.
Olmsted, Kathryn. Challenging the Secret Government: the Post-Watergate Investigations of the CIA and FBI.
Chapel Hill, NC : The University of North Carolina Press, 1996.
Call Number: JK 468.I6 O45 1996
Smist, Frank John. Congress Oversees the United States Intelligence Community, 1947-1994. 2nd ed.
Knoxville, Tenn.: University of Tennessee Press, 1994.
Call Number: JK 468.I6 S56 1994
United States. Congress. House. Select Committee on U.S. National Security and Military/Commercial Concerns with the People's Republic of China. 3 vols. U.S. National Security and Military/Commercial Concerns with the People's Republic of China.
Washington : U.S. G.P.O. : U.S. G.P.O. <distributor>, 1999.
Call Number: Y 1.1/8:105-851/V.1-3
Also known as the Cox Report.
"This three-volume report is an unclassified, redacted version of the Final Report of the Select Committee on U.S. National Security and Military/Commercial Concerns with the Peoples Republic of China issued on January 3, 1999. The Final Report was, when issued, and remains today, classified Top Secret."
CIA FOIA Electronic Reading Room Special Collections (Historical Review Program)
CIA's Historical Review Program, with the exception of several statutorily mandated requirements, is a voluntary declassification program that focuses on records of historical value. Two projects currently in progress in HRP involve the review of National Intelligence Estimates (NIEs) on the former Soviet Union and international communism and intelligence analyses on the former Soviet Union published by the CIA's Directorate of Intelligence.
Cold War International History Project
The project supports the full and prompt release of historical materials by governments on all sides of the Cold War, and seeks to disseminate new information and perspectives on Cold War history emerging from previously inaccessible sources on "the other side" -- the former Communist bloc.
Declassification Advisory Panels
Provided by the Federation of American Scientists Project on Government Secrecy, this site has full text of various documents released by the Interagency Security Classification Appeals Panel, Central Intelligence Agency, Department of State, Department of Energy, Department of Defense, Security Policy Advisory Board, and Assassination Records Review Board.
Foreign Relations, 1950-1955: the Intelligence Community.
Washington, D.C.: Dept. of State, 1996.
Call Number: JX 233 .A3 1950/1955
This volume, The Intelligence Community, 1950–1955, is the sequel to The Emergence of the Intelligence Establishment, 1945–1950, published in 1996. This new volume, which is organized chronologically from January 1950 to December 1955, documents the institutional growth of the intelligence community during its heyday under Directors Walter Bedell Smith and Allen W. Dulles.
Executive Order on Classified National Security Information
Full text of E.O. 12958, issued by President Clinton on April 17, 1995, which created ISCAP. "This order prescribes a uniform system for classifying, safeguarding, and declassifying national security information. Our democratic principles require that the American people be informed of the activities of their Government."
National Security Archive
The National Security Archive is an independent non-governmental research institute and library located at The George Washington University in Washington, D.C. The Archive collects and publishes declassified documents acquired through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). Its public web site contains information about several programs and projects, including the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Database, Cold War International History Project, Nuclear History, White House E-mail (Reagan through Clinton), FOIA, and more. It also publishes excellent print indexes and microfiche sets for specific, usually foreign, policy topics, retrieved mostly through FOIA requests.
The subscription site, Digital National Security Archive provides online searching and full text access to all of the collections listed below. Those marked with an asterisk also have a print/microfiche set, located in Lehman Library.
A coalition of groups united over a concern about the secrecy policies in U.S. government.
The President's Daily Brief
The PDB compiles the Intelligence Community’s highest level intelligence analysis targeted at the key national security issues and concerns of the President. The PDB is given only to the President, the Vice President, and a very select group of Cabinet-level officials designated by the President. The link provides a description of the Daily Brief and the controversy surrounding it, along with links to a few declassified briefs; from the National Security Archive.
Public Intelligence is an international, collaborative research project aimed at aggregating the collective work of independent researchers around the globe who wish to defend the public’s right to access information.
USGS Declassified Satellite Imagery - 1 and USGS Declassified Satellite Imagery - 2
The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) has begun distributing film negatives, positives, and paper prints from declassified satellite photographs collected by the U.S. intelligence community during the 1960's and early 1970's. The sale of photographs to the public has begun with the initial transfer of 2,650 of the total 18,000 rolls of film slated for delivery to the USGS from the Central Intelligence Agency. The entire collection of these declassified photos will incrementally reach USGS National Satellite Land Remote Sensing Data Archive at the Earth Resources Observation Systems (EROS) Data Center in Sioux Falls, South Dakota by the end of the summer of 1996. The online catalog will be updated daily as new rolls are added to the archive.
University Publications of America indexes and microform sets
Microform Reading Room, Butler Library.
Indexes and microfilm sets for various declassified documents, such as the Confidential U.S. State Department Central Files, Documents of the National Security Council, and the national security files for John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson. Check CLIO for specific titles.
"WikiLeaks is a non-profit media organization dedicated to bringing important news and information to the public. We provide an innovative, secure and anonymous way for independent sources around the world to leak information to our journalists. We publish material of ethical, political and historical significance while keeping the identity of our sources anonymous, thus providing a universal way for the revealing of suppressed and censored injustices."
The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) gives you the right to access information from federal agencies. FOIAonline allows you to submit FOIA requests to all participating agencies from this website, track the status of requests, search for requests submitted by others, and generate up-to-the-minute reports on FOIA processing.
This site is a one-stop portal that describes best practices, consolidates lessons learned, explains campaign strategies and tactics, and links the efforts of freedom-of-information advocates around the world.
National Freedom of Information Coalition
The National FOI Coalition joins First Amendment and open government organizations from individual states in a self-supporting alliance as they seek to protect the public's right to know through the education of media professionals, attorneys, academics, students and the general public.
The National Security Archive Audits of FOIA Administration
In January 2003 the National Security Archive initiated a "Freedom of Information Act Audit" - borrowing the methodology developed by state and local journalism groups to file simultaneous FOIA requests at multiple agencies and offices, and compile the results in order to identify the best and worst practices.
FOIA Annual Reports.
The FOIA requires each federal agency to submit an Annual Report to the Attorney General each year. These reports contain detailed statistics on the numbers of requests received and processed by each agency, the time taken to respond, and the outcome of each request.
As of 2001, FOIA Post will serve as a primary means of FOIA policy dissemination and as an efficient vehicle for communicating FOIA-related information to agency FOIA personnel and others who are interested in the Act's administration.
Uncle Sam - FOIA Information, from the University of Memphis
This site has links to and information about the specialized FOIA offices in each of the Cabinet departments and many of the independent agencies.
Association of Former Intelligence Officers
AFIO's educational focus is on fostering understanding of the vital importance and role of US intelligence, firstly in terms of understanding the critical need for US foreign intelligence collection and evaluation as well as special operations and covert activities, using both high technology and human sources, supporting the President, US policy and decision makers, diplomacy, strategy, security and defense, and secondly, in terms of understanding the critical need for effective counterintelligence against foreign political, technological or economic espionage as well as clandestine actions and covert, terrorist or criminal operations threatening US security, the national infrastructure, or corporate and individual safety.
Centre for Counterintelligence and Security Studies
The Centre for Counterintelligence and Security Studies (called the CI Centre) and the Centre for Counterterrorism Studies (CT Studies) of Alexandria, Virginia is a non-governmental center committed to excellence in counterintelligence, counterterrorism and security education, analysis and leadership to serve you and your organization's needs. We provide advanced counterintelligence and security training, counterterrorism training, research and analysis for the US Government, the Intelligence Community and private sector companies. Our aim is to increase the number of people within these communities who have a broad and deep understanding of the counterintelligence discipline and its strategic importance to mission success.
Cold War International History Project
CWIHP was established at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C., in 1991. The project supports the full and prompt release of historical materials by governments on all sides of the Cold War, and seeks to disseminate new information and perspectives on Cold War history emerging from previously inaccessible sources on "the other side" -- the former Communist bloc. Registration required.
A database of more than 6000 documents, articles, and news reports related to U.S. intelligence and classification matters, provided by John Young.
The FAS Intelligence Resource Program
A "comprehensive resource on the past and future of the American intelligence community," from the Federation of American Scientists, it includes sections on Intelligence Systems and Programs, Intelligence Agencies and Budgets, Worldwide Intelligence Agencies, Documents and Records, Congressional Material, News Reports and Analysis, and more.
Working Document of the European Parliament Temporary Committee on the ECHELON Interception System, May 4, 2001
The FAS Project on Government Secrecy
This is an extremely rich web site, also maintained by the Federation of American Scientists, which features the texts of White House memos and executive orders, Security Policy Board documents, other government documents related to secrecy questions, as well as issues of their publication, Secrecy and Government Bulletin.
National Military Intelligence Association
The NMIA was formed in 1974 as an organization to network intelligence professionals in the Military Services, the Intelligence Agencies and Offices of the U.S. Government and Congress, within which they can share and exchange ideas for their individual professional enhancement and the good of the entire Intelligence Community.
Stratfor: Global Intelligence
A private intelligence company which provides open-source information, current-awareness and analysis. Areas of focus are three Intelligence Centers: Global, CIS & Eastern Europe, and Asia; Hotspots (areas of current world conflict); Global Intelligence Update (GIU), a weekly and quarterly summary of events arranged around a specific theme; and quarterly and annual forecasts of economic and political events worldwide.
Columbia University does NOT subscribe.
The Director of National Intelligence (DNI) serves as the head of the Intelligence Community (IC). The DNI also acts as the principal advisor to the President; the National Security Council, and the Homeland Security Council for intelligence matters related to the national security; and oversees and directs the implementation of the National Intelligence Program. The major publication of the DNI is:
The DNI establishes community-wide policy through a series of directives, which remain in force until they are updated or replaced. The nomenclature for these directives change over time. The following links are to web pages from the Federation of American Scientists, with lists of the directives, including full text of any directives which have been released, usually as a result of FOIA requests.
The CIA : Current Issues and Background.
New York : Nova Science Publishers, c2003.
Call Number: JK 468.I6 C24 2003
A concise history of the CIA and U.S. intelligence.
CIA Cold War Records.
A series of monographs published by the CIA's Center for the Study of Intelligence, resulting from the declassification of older records. Search CLIO under the title, CIA Cold War Records to retrieve a list of titles in the libraries.
The CIA's "Family Jewels"
The CIA's self-described "Family Jewels" file lays out the agency's most closely held secrets about their domestic intelligence activities conducted at the height of the Cold War, through 1973. This is a detailed index to the full page images of the 703 pages comprising the 67 individual or combined sets of documents and ancillary material from the National Security Archive.
CIA Historical Review Panel. Reports, 1996-present
The CIA Historical Review Panel is an advisory group of non-governmental historians that was established to provide recommendations to the CIA concerning its declassification of historically valuable records.
Records Management in the Central Intelligence Agency, March 2000
A report by the National Archives and Records Administration which cites "serious shortcomings" in the CIA records management program, and calls for the CIA to turn over its records to NARA sooner than the current 50-year retention period.
Richelson, Jeffrey. The Wizards of Langley: Inside the CIA's Directorate of Science and Technology.
Boulder, CO : Westview Press, 2001.
Call Number: UB 251.U5 R53 2001
OpenNet will include references to all documents declassified and made publicly available after October 1, 1994. New references will be added periodically as they occur. In addition to these documents, OpenNet references older document collections from several DOE sources.
United States. Dept. of State. Foreign Relations of the United States. Irregular.
Washington : GPO, 1861-
Call Number: JX 233 .A3 (Copies available in multiple locations)
For additional print versions, search CLIO Title Search.
The Foreign Relations of the United States series presents the official documentary historical record of major U.S. foreign policy decisions and significant diplomatic activity. The series, which is produced by the State Department's Office of the Historian, began in 1861 and now comprises more than 350 individual volumes. The volumes published over the last two decades increasingly contain declassified records from all the foreign affairs agencies.
Foreign Relations volumes contain documents from Presidential libraries, Departments of State and Defense, National Security Council, Central Intelligence Agency, Agency for International Development, and other foreign affairs agencies as well as the private papers of individuals involved in formulating U.S. foreign policy. Publication of FRUS volumes occurs after the declassification of the documents, therefore publication is delayed for the last (approx.) 30 years at any one time. It is edited by the State Department Advisory Committee on Historical Diplomatic Documentation, whose reports outline some of the conflicts between the academic concerns of the historians involved with FRUS and the agencies responsible for supplying the material.
The FBI is the lead counterintelligence agency in the United States. It has the principal authority to conduct and coordinate counterintelligence and counterterrorism investigations and operations within the United States. The FBI, supported by other U.S. agencies as needed, conducts espionage investigations when the subject of the investigation is not under the jurisdiction of the Department of Defense, Uniform Code of Military Justice.
National Security Branch
The National Security Branch (NSB) was established on 9/12/05, in response to a presidential directive to establish a “National Security Service” that combines the missions, capabilities, and resources of the counterterrorism, counterintelligence, and intelligence elements of the FBI under the leadership of a senior FBI official.
The NRO designs, builds and operates the nation's reconnaissance satellites. NRO products, provided to an expanding list of customers like the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the Department of Defense (DoD), can warn of potential trouble spots around the world, help plan military operations, and monitor the environment.
Its site also contains information and images from Corona, the nation's first photo reconnaissance satellite system, operating from August 1960 until May 1972. The program was declassified in February 1995.
Bamford, James. The Puzzle Palace: a Report on America's Most Secret Agency.
Boston : Houghton Mifflin, 1982.
Call Number: UB 251.U5 B35 1982
Bamford, James. Body of Secrets : Anatomy of the Ultra-secret National Security Agency: from the Cold War Through the Dawn of a New Century.
New York : Doubleday, c2001.
Call Number: UB 256.U6 B36 2001
Burns, Thomas L. The Origins of the National Security Agency, 1940-1952
Published in-house by the NSA's Center for Cryptologic History in 1990, it was originally classified as Top Secret. On 08 Sept 2004, it was declassified - minus certain passages - thanks to a Freedom of Information Act request; from the Memory Hole
The National Security Agency: Organization and Operations, 1945-2009
Alexandra, VA : Chadwyck-Healey; Washington, D.C. : The National Security Archive, 2009
A uniquely detailed collection of records documenting the history, mission, and intelligence collection and analytic operations of America's largest and most secretive intelligence agency, the National Security Agency (NSA) and its predecessor organizations. Documents have been culled from both archival sources and FOIA requests submitted to more than a dozen government departments and intelligence agencies over the past 25 years.
The National Security Agency's Declassification Initiative
Under the provisions of Executive Order 12958 (Classified National Security Information), dated 17 April 1995, NSA is reviewing for declassification all permanently classified documents 25 years or older. This declassification effort, which NSA has named OPENDOOR, will include information about all documents declassified and made available to the public under E.O. 12958. As these documents are declassified, they will be turned over to the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA).
The National Security Council is the President's principal forum for considering national security and foreign policy matters with his senior national security advisors and cabinet officials. Since its inception under President Truman, the function of the Council has been to advise and assist the President on national security and foreign policies. The Council also serves as the President's principal arm for coordinating these policies among various government agencies. It's main publication is:
Documents of the National Security Council, 1947-1977 and Supplements.
Washington, D.C. : University Publications of America, 1980- .
For item locations, search CLIO. Description of the microfilm sets from UPA.
Intelligence Reports from the National Security Council’s Vietnam Information Group, 1967-1975
Primarily Department of State cables and CIA intelligence information cables concerning South and North Vietnam. Topics include the Vietnam War, U.S.-South Vietnam relations, South Vietnam’s political climate, opposition groups, religious sects, ethnic groups, labor unions, corruption, press censorship, the North Vietnam’s military and economy, peace negotiations, and events in Cambodia and Laos.
Lord, Carnes. The Presidency and the Management of National Security.
New York : Free Press, 1988.
Call Number: UA 23 .L7 1988 (Copies available in multiple locations)
The National Security Council Project, from the Brookings Institution
The NSC Project examines the its importance in the U.S. foreign policy process, and focuses on both its historical evolution and on key issues relating to structure, staff, policy, and interagency process.
Prados, John. Keepers of the Keys: a History of the National Security Council from Truman to Bush.
New York : W. Morrow, 1991.
Call Number: UA 23.15 .P73 1991 (Copies available in multiple locations)
The intelligence organizations of the four military services (Air Force, Army, Navy, and Marines) concentrate largely on concerns related to their specific missions. Their analytical products, along with those of DIA, supplement the work of CIA analysts and provide greater depth on key technical issues.
Defense Information Systems Agency
The Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) is a combat support agency responsible for planning, developing, fielding, operating, and supporting command, control, communications, and information systems that serve the needs of the President, Vice President, the Secretary of Defense, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Combatant Commanders, and the other Department of Defense (DOD) Components under all conditions of peace and war.
Dept. of Defense Organization and Functions Guidebook, March 2008
This Guide outlines the functions of the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD), Defense Agencies, and DoD Field Activities. Where appropriate, the functional statement cites the pertinent Department of Defense (DoD) Directive which charters the organization and provides more detailed information on the authorities, responsibilities, and functions of the organization.
National Intelligence Council
The National Intelligence Council is a center for U.S. government mid-term and long-term strategic thinking and for Intelligence Community collaboration on substantive issues. The NIC reports directly to the Director of National Intelligence in his role as head of the Intelligence Community.