Formerly Top-Secret Multi-Volume History Details Spy Agency's Conflicts with NSA and Military over SIGINT Role
Additional Declassified Documents Describe CIA Domestic and Foreign SIGINT Activity
CIA Role Often Put It in Direct Competition with NSA, but Recent Cooperation Made Possible Controversial Exploits Uncovered by Edward Snowden
National Security Archive Electronic Briefing Book No. 506
Compiled and edited by Jeffrey T. Richelson
Posted March 20, 2015
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Washington, DC, Posted March 20, 2015 -- For decades the Central Intelligence Agency has conducted a major signals intelligence (SIGINT) effort that often placed it in competition with other members of the Intelligence Community, according to a significant collection of declassified documentation posted today by the National Security Archive (www.nsarchive.org). As described in a previously Top-Secret multi-volume history of the CIA's role from 1947-1970 -- obtained by the Archive through the Freedom of Information Act -- the CIA regularly struggled with not only Soviet counterintelligence and international upheavals like the Iranian revolution but overlapping missions and domestic budgetary battles with the National Security Agency (NSA) and other entities during the height of the Cold War.
Among the CIA's successes described in the documents that make up today's posting was the creation of the RHYOLITE geosynchronous satellite program which allowed continuous coverage of missile telemetry and targets in Eurasia. Agency operatives were also able to tap into radio-telephone communications of Communist leaders as they rode in limousines around Moscow, to track Soviet missile launches from two secret stations inside the Shah's Iran, and to intercept Warsaw Pact communications from a tunnel dug under East Berlin.
These achievements were not without bureaucratic costs. The RHYOLITE program raised hackles at both the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO), which oversaw much of U.S. satellite intelligence activity, and the NSA, whose personnel initially found themselves cut out of the program. Overseas, the Soviet limo bugging ended after a news report disclosed it and may also have led to the execution of the Soviet agent who installed the listening devices. After the Shah fled Iran during the 1979 revolution, the founders of the Islamic Republic quickly seized the two sensitive US monitoring sites, handing a major loss to American intelligence.
These and other aspects of the CIA's long involvement with SIGINT are described in over forty documents obtained by Archive Senior Fellow Jeffrey Richelson through Freedom of Information Act requests, archival research, and other websites.
Check out today's posting at the National Security Archive - http://www.nsarchive.org/NSAEBB/NSAEBB506/
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