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Seeking Declassification Under the Executive Order

Requesting Declassification of CIA Information

In most cases, you should not make a direct request to the Agency. To file a declassification review under the EO, you usually first do research at a Presidential library, NARA, or other place with access to an unclassified index of classified US Government documents. You identify the specific documents usually by a NARA Document Accession Number or other unique document identifier from a Presidential library or other source. After identifying the document, you then request through the specific Presidential library or NARA staffs that they forward it to the CIA for declassification review. Please note that broad or topical requests may not be accepted under this EO.

Historical Accesses Under the Executive Order

Requesting Access as a Historical Researcher or Former Presidential Appointee

Before requesting access as a historical researcher or former Presidential appointee, you should:

  1. Satisfy the definition of a former Presidential appointee or historical researcher as contained in the EO implementing regulations:
  2. Former Presidential appointees are those who previously occupied policy-making positions in the Executive Branch to which they were appointed by a President and confirmed by the US Senate.
  3. Historical researchers are those who have received professional training in the academic field of history (or related fields such as journalism) and who are engaged in a research project for publication (or academic pursuit such as academic course development) intended to increase the understanding of the American public about the operations and activities of the US Government.
  4. Outline a serious, professional, or scholarly research project and the records of interest.
  5. Exhaust FOIA and PA avenues of access in view of limited Agency resources.
  6. Prove access is clearly consistent with the interest of national security.
  7. Be willing to sign an agreement not to disclose or otherwise compromise classified information.
  8. Be willing to sign a pre-publication agreement for Agency officials to review notes and the resulting manuscript.

Additional Considerations for Historical Access

After you have satisfied the minimum requirements above, you should write to the Information and Privacy Coordinator, Central Intelligence Agency, Washington, D.C. 20505. Because of the limited resources supporting the Agency's historical review programs, CIA policy requires that requesters show that their needs cannot be satisfied through requests for reasonably described records under the FOIA or PA or the declassification provisions of EO 13526--that is, requests for declassification of Agency documents through NARA or the Presidential libraries as set forth under the "Requesting Declassification of CIA Information" section above. The Agency must also determine if the information requested can be located and compiled with a reasonable effort and if there is a reasonable expectation that substantial and substantive documents or information can be declassified and released or published. Moreover, the Agency must consider the availability of its administrative resources to support the requester in light of current mission requirements and issues of fairness to all members of the historical research community.

The CIA believes that it best serves the entire scholarly community by focusing its resources on declassifying historical records and transferring them to NARA where they are open to all researchers. As part of the CIA's openness policy, we have established a group to review important historical records for declassification. The Agency must be very sparing in approving access to classified CIA records for individual scholars under the "Historical Researchers" program since the substantial Agency support necessary for each scholar--to provide security clearances, escorts, and records--reduces our ability to move forward with the Historical Review Program.

Former Presidential appointees should identify their records of interest. The Agency will then consider giving them access to classified records that they originated, reviewed, signed, or received while serving in their appointee capacities.