Author Topic: List of selected NTRS documents from 1980 or before  (Read 3024 times)

Offline WallE

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Re: List of selected NTRS documents from 1980 or before
« Reply #20 on: 06/17/2018 07:58 PM »
But the real question is why exactly said NSA persons would be against declassifying it. Jim thinks it's because of the data, I suggested they don't like to admit they tapped into comm systems for political reasons. Other programs such as Jumpseat performed similar sorts of actions that are also more aggressive in nature than taking photographs and one has not seen any sort of effort made to declassify them.

And off the record, the declassification of GAMBIT/HEXAGON was also done to celebrate the NRO's 50th anniversary in 2011.

Offline Jim

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Re: List of selected NTRS documents from 1980 or before
« Reply #21 on: 06/17/2018 09:20 PM »
But the real question is why exactly said NSA persons would be against declassifying it. Jim thinks it's because of the data, I suggested they don't like to admit they tapped into comm systems for political reasons. Other programs such as Jumpseat performed similar sorts of actions that are also more aggressive in nature than taking photographs and one has not seen any sort of effort made to declassify them.

And off the record, the declassification of GAMBIT/HEXAGON was also done to celebrate the NRO's 50th anniversary in 2011.

I don't think, I know.   It is the data and it is for political reasons.

No sensitive photos were released during declassification of GAMBIT/HEXAGON.  Commercial sats approach GAMBIT/HEXAGON resolution so no big deal.  There is no equivalent for COMINTsats.

It isn't "Other programs such as Jumpseat", it is all SIGINT sats that also do COMINT are in the same category and they can't really be done individually. 

Offline Blackstar

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Re: List of selected NTRS documents from 1980 or before
« Reply #22 on: 06/17/2018 09:44 PM »
But the real question is why exactly said NSA persons would be against declassifying it.

Because they're spooks. Because many of them think none of this should be declassified ever. You're implying that this is somehow about logic, but it's really more about emotion, about some people being uneasy with even very old information being declassified. It's also about inertia: keeping historical stuff classified costs little money, but declassifying it requires money and effort. And it's about generations: when the older guys die off, the newer guys take over and they look at this ancient stuff and see no reason for it to stay classified.

And mixing GAMBIT/HEXAGON into it doesn't help the argument if you actually know what really happened. For background, in the mid-1990s I was involved in supporting the GWU conference where CORONA was first discussed. We did that in cooperation with the CIA's Center for the Study of Intelligence. A year or two later we still had a relationship with CSI and proposed a conference on Cold War intelligence collection on the Soviet space program. They actually liked that idea, but thought that it could not be done because of current classification of GAMBIT/HEXAGON (which they could not mention by name to us, so they simply said "post-CORONA systems"). At that time, the NRO historian said that he expected the post-CORONA systems to be declassified within the next year (i.e. 1998 or so), but the other CSI people said no, that was unlikely. They were right and it did not happen until 2011, about 13 years after the NRO historian thought it would. Why? Because somebody kept saying "no" even though a bunch of other people had said "yes."

Offline WallE

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Re: List of selected NTRS documents from 1980 or before
« Reply #23 on: 06/18/2018 01:38 AM »
Because they're spooks. Because many of them think none of this should be declassified ever. You're implying that this is somehow about logic, but it's really more about emotion, about some people being uneasy with even very old information being declassified. It's also about inertia: keeping historical stuff classified costs little money, but declassifying it requires money and effort. And it's about generations: when the older guys die off, the newer guys take over and they look at this ancient stuff and see no reason for it to stay classified.

That's pretty much concurring with what I said earlier--government "logic" doesn't follow the same rules of logic you and me follow and to those looking in from the outside, it seems actually quite non-logical. Declassifying things does cost time and money as I mentioned and of course if you're looking for a practical as opposed to an emotional reason, there's that.

For example, about 100 GAMBIT photos of Israel (most likely taken during the 1967 war) were not released presumably to avoid offending a US ally with the knowledge that we were snooping on them. This is one example of government "logic" at work--it's ok to admit you were spying on an ally, but somehow releasing the photos isn't. Either that or they simply lost/misplaced those images so they were left out of the GAMBIT photo release--that's also possible.

Also they still don't want to release those KH-11 shots of Columbia during the STS-1 mission although we already know the photo capabilities of the first-generation KH-11 from the Samuel Morison leaks and that a cell phone from 2001 takes better photos than that. The ostensible reason given is that they don't want to admit that they have the ability to photograph satellites, never mind that the cat was out of the bag years ago that they photographed the Shuttle. Which is another example of the strange way government logic works.

In regard to the third point you made, I was actually going to mention that in my previous post but forgot to include it. It is also true that everyone involved with the programs in the '70s would have retired some time ago and in some cases passed on (it was over 40 years ago after all). Someone working in the NSA today probably doesn't even know those programs ever existed unless he dug in an old file cabinet in a basement somewhere.

And mixing GAMBIT/HEXAGON into it doesn't help the argument if you actually know what really happened. For background, in the mid-1990s I was involved in supporting the GWU conference where CORONA was first discussed. We did that in cooperation with the CIA's Center for the Study of Intelligence. A year or two later we still had a relationship with CSI and proposed a conference on Cold War intelligence collection on the Soviet space program. They actually liked that idea, but thought that it could not be done because of current classification of GAMBIT/HEXAGON (which they could not mention by name to us, so they simply said "post-CORONA systems"). At that time, the NRO historian said that he expected the post-CORONA systems to be declassified within the next year (i.e. 1998 or so), but the other CSI people said no, that was unlikely. They were right and it did not happen until 2011, about 13 years after the NRO historian thought it would. Why? Because somebody kept saying "no" even though a bunch of other people had said "yes."

Aside from the earlier mentioned point that 2011 marked the NRO's 50th anniversary, that year was also significant in that it was 25 since the last HEXAGON flew (well, really 27 years since we all know what happened to the last HEXAGON  ::)) and it has to be a minimum of 25 years before something can be considered for declassification. So, there you go--2011-1986=25 years and HEXAGON was eligible to be declassified.

And some people who worked on the programs have said that back in the day, they never imagined GAMBIT et al being declassified for the next 100 years. The end of the Cold War did bring some radical changes nobody had foreseen and then it was just four years after the Soviet Union died that the CORONA photos were released.
« Last Edit: 06/18/2018 04:23 AM by WallE »

Offline Jim

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Re: List of selected NTRS documents from 1980 or before
« Reply #24 on: 06/18/2018 11:40 AM »

1.  Also they still don't want to release those KH-11 shots of Columbia during the STS-1 mission although we already know the photo capabilities of the first-generation KH-11 from the Samuel Morison leaks

2.  In regard to the third point you made, I was actually going to mention that in my previous post but forgot to include it. It is also true that everyone involved with the programs in the '70s would have retired some time ago and in some cases passed on (it was over 40 years ago after all). Someone working in the NSA today probably doesn't even know those programs ever existed unless he dug in an old file cabinet in a basement somewhere.

1.  It doesn't matter about leaks, they don't count as official acknowledgement

2.  Not true
« Last Edit: 06/18/2018 11:40 AM by Jim »

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