The CIA dumped millions of declassified pages online to allow others to read them within the last couple of years. This was brought on by a push by freedom of information activists that had been going on for several years. The number of documents, 13 million, are extensive and can make for extremely interesting reading. Included is scientific research, senior correspondence, policy files, an even UFO sightings that encompass psychic experiments that were conducted under the program entitled Stargate. This program ran from the 1940 to the 1990s before being shut down. There are even reports created in the 70s that looked into the psychic abilities of Uri Geller.
Since the year 2000, there has been a searchable database operate by the CIA. This is called Crest and is run from the National Archives in Maryland. This system is populated with records that are yearly reviewed by staff to make sure they fell under a policy implemented by Bill Clinton. This policy was a 25 year program that made documents public if they were considered as historically valuable. Following the large bulk drop of 13 million documents, there have been an additional 1.1 million pages released and printed. However, for the printed files, one must go to the National Archives to gain access.
However, the CIA recognized that visits such as that were inconvenient and often created unnecessary obstacles for researchers. Since this is the case, in early 2017, the CIA published all the printed documents on the Crest collection. However, the CIA failed to mention that a lawsuit around the freedom of information lawsuit is forcing them to make every document readily available soon. This has finally occurred as of the writing of this post.
Crest has creatively organized the large number of files into collections on the site. With names like “General CIA Records” an “STARGATE” the collections are pretty easy to locate. Some will find more interest than others in collections like “Secret Writing”, but some may enjoy the research into things like the short live “Berlin Tunnel”. The point is they are all open for viewing if you are willing to visit the site and search through.
The files are not necessarily easy t rea as they are scanned copies of the originals and not always clear. The site itself also offers inconvenient tools for an advanced search. Instead of being able to select a range of dates, you must choose a date then use a drop down menu that includes options like “greater than or equal to” and other not so useful options. Though the former CIA information manager Joseph Lambert was determined to complete this project before he left, and did, the organization leaves a bit to be desired. If you do choose to search, at least it can be from the comfort of home.
If you do decide to deep dive into the massive collection of documents, have a bit of fun and start with topics of interest. You may have your mind blown or tear down your own conspiracy theories. Either way, the option is available for all those who will try.