The CIA has posted their largest-ever collection of declassified records covering subjects from Nazi war crimes to UFO sightings online for anyone to peruse at their leisure. Approximately 930,000 newly declassified documents (over 12 million pages) are now accessible via the CIA's Electronic Reading Room.
The path to declassification began in 1995 when Bill Clinton ordered that all documents that were over 25 years old and had “historical value” be declassified. The agency complied, but the documents were only available at the US National Archives. In 2000, the CIA inched into the digital age with an electronic database called CREST. This database only contained the titles of the documents, however, and any interested party still had to visit the Archives to actually read the documents.
In response to a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit filed by MuckRock in 2014, the CIA finally scanned all of these documents for online viewing. “Access to this historically significant collection is no longer limited by geography. The American public can access these documents from the comfort of their homes,” Joseph Lambert, CIA Director of Information Management, said.
The documents cover a wild range of topics from the 1940s to the 1990s, including the history of the CIA, the Cold War, Vietnam, and the U-2 reconnaissance plane. The documents contain information about war criminals fleeing from Nazi Germany, as well as the Berlin Tunnel project designed to tap Soviet telephone lines. The archive even contains information on how to create invisible ink for sending secret messages.
For fans of the esoteric attempting to appease their inner Mulder, the documents also contain details on UFO sightings and the agency's STARGATE program, which investigated psychic phenomena. A 1973 file describes experiments conducted with performing psychic Uri Geller, who was placed in an isolated room and asked to draw a copy of a picture that a stranger was looking at in another isolated room. Geller's attempts were successful, and the test concluded that "he has demonstrated his paranormal perceptual ability in a convincing and unambiguous manner.”