NARA & CIA Reach Agreement on Release of Federal Records

On April 17, 2008, the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) announced that it had signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) describing the procedures and conditions that govern the treatment of CIA records once they are transferred to NARA’s legal custody. This agreement sets the stage for the transfer of the CIA’s permanent Federal records that are 50 years or older to the National Archives.

According to a press release issued by NARA, the MOU “will enable the Archives to process records that were generated by the CIA and other agencies and organizations that contain identifiable and classified CIA information more quickly.”

However, Steven Aftergood, editor of Secrecy News said, “The memorandum itself does not seem very promising. It imposes a number of binding requirements on NARA officials, including referral to CIA of any request for records that have not already been approved for public release. No binding requirements are imposed on CIA, beyond an open-ended commitment to ‘review’ any such requests.”