[What follows is excerpted from an article in today’s edition of The National headlined Uncovering the shocking secrets of the CIA files:]
Two nuclear submarines were involved in a collision off the west coast of Scotland at the height of the Cold War, according to a document from 1974, which is in a batch of around 13 million published online by America’s Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).
They shine some light on decades of spooks’ thinking in the US and were put on the CIA Records Search Tool (Crest) following a lengthy challenge from Muckrock, a freedom of information pressure group.
The papers were in the public domain, but could only be inspected on a personal visit to the National Archives in Maryland, where only four computers gave office-hours access to Crest. This, said Muckrock, “presented an obstacle to many researchers”.
The documents cover a vast range of topics including briefings on the Lockerbie bombing, UFO sightings, psychic experiments from the Stargate programme and include a collection of papers from Henry Kissinger, the former US diplomat, secretary of state and national security adviser, who served under Presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford. (...)
TO examine them properly you would need to set aside a month or so. Apart from the sheer volume, the CIA search engine is not the best and an innocuous search can turn up 50,000 or more documents.
One previously secret set of papers is a briefing from December 1989 for then Director of Central Intelligence William H Webster, for a meeting with Ann McLaughlin, chairman of the president’s commission on aviation security and terrorism, a year after the Lockerbie bombing.
It describes allegations – later discredited – that the CIA allowed terrorists to place a bomb on Pan Am Flight 103. Other claims centre on a bigger drugs-for-hostages operation used as cover by leader of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command (PFLP-GC) to plant a bomb on board; and a bomb threat warning from the Israelis to Germany and the CIA which the agency failed to act on.
However Webster dismissed the claims and said the CIA had no information that could have given advance warning of the tragedy.