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2 oktober 2007

Declassifying the "Fact of" Satellite Reconnaissance

Today the National Security Archive publishes a collection of documents concerning U.S. policy with regard to acknowledging the "fact of" U.S. satellite reconnaissance operations--particularly satellite photoreconnaissance. It was 29 years ago today that President Jimmy Carter, in a speech at the Kennedy Space Center, acknowledged that the U.S. was operating photoreconnaissance satellites.

As the documents illustrate, the perceived need to persuade segments of the public that the U.S. would be able to effectively monitor Soviet compliance with the strategic arms limitation agreements served as the catalyst for the acknowledgment. They also show that the Nixon administration had also considered acknowledging U.S. satellite reconnaissance activities in 1972 as a means of providing reassurance that any Soviet cheating would be detected, but the idea was rejected by national security adviser Henry Kissinger.

The documents published include memos stating the positions of various individuals and institutions on the issue in both the Nixon and Carter administrations, assessments of the risks and benefits of declassification, an assessment of the reactions to President Carter's disclosure, and presidential directives from the Carter, Reagan and Clinton administrations specifying the classification associated with the "fact of" different types of satellite reconnaissance.

Visit the Web site of the National Security Archive for more information about today's posting.

(bron/source National Security Archive)

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