CIA to release Cold War documents

August 29, 1993|By New York Times News Service

WASHINGTON -- The CIA has decided to release thousands of files on its most politically charged Cold War operations, including the 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba, the overthrow of the president of Guatemala in 1954 and the 1953 coup that installed Shah Mohammed Riza Pahlevi of Iran, government officials said.

The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the agency would make public historically significant files on every major covert operation from 1950 through 1963. The files should be released by next year, they said.

They said that although the release of the files would hurt the agency, because of the nature of the information to be disclosed, it was necessary if the promises of openness the agency had been making since the end of the Cold War were to be fulfilled.

"We have hidden those records," one official familiar with the process said. "That has to stop."

Also to be released in the coming year are CIA analyses of the former Soviet Union from 1950 to 1983. Prominent among them will be the annual report called the Soviet estimate, considered the most important product of U.S. intelligence in that period. The estimate was the agency's opinion of the status and future direction of the military programs of the United States' main Cold War adversary.

An official familiar with the files said they reflected the fear of the national security establishment in the 1950s that the United States was in imminent danger Soviet attack.

The context is supplied by the top secret report of a 1954 commission, which called on the CIA to be "an aggressive covert psychological, political and paramilitary organization more effective, more unique and, if necessary, more ruthless than that employed by the enemy."

The release of the covert-action files, along with last week's release of files on the assassination of President Kennedy in 1963, are intended to be seen as concrete signs that the culture of the agency may be changing, government officials said.

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