January 19, 2017

Sources to Search: Exploring the Newly-Expanded CIA Public Archives

The CIA just announced this week that they’ve added almost a million records and over 12 million pages to their CREST (CIA Records Search Tool) library, significantly expanding the data in the tool and providing a lot of fascinating insights into different periods of American history, including notable moments like the Bay of Pigs invasion.

The newly declassified records are over 25 years old, so they only reach into the early 90s. Nonetheless, researchers might still find them interesting, given that they contain records on lots of folks who were in public office and government in the 70s and 80s, and the CIA logged its interactions with legislators, and kept an archive of relevant news clippings, etc. These new records significantly expand the tool, and make it a must-search when doing diligence on anyone with a long public track record.

And some of the records contained are very interesting and relevant today. A cabinet briefing from 1984, for example, contains a lengthy memo from then-deputy U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, titled “Microeconomic Measures to Deal with the Trade Deficit”. It’s a lengthy document, covering trade and tariff policy with dozens of countries, and hitting on a host of policy questions (i.e. “Tariff and licensing problems with Mexico”) which might be of interest given his pending appointment to be the next U.S. Trade Representative, and may offer some additional insights into his policy views.

The archive also catalogues a lot of activity between the agency and legislators, and other government officials at the time. You can search the archive here. In general, you’ll want to use “” around your searches. Find anything interesting? Let us know!

Databases like CREST are integrated into the illumis research platform and be accessed and monitored through the tool. Contact us if you’re interested in a trial.

Please Note: This post was updated in June 2020 to reflect our company’s new name: illumis


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