The CIA’s power to purge

An editorial in the New York Times says: Last September, a brief mention in a welter of bureaucratic announcements caught the eye of Steven Aftergood, an advocate for government transparency at the Federation of American Scientists. He investigated and discovered that the Central Intelligence Agency was proposing to eventually destroy the email of all but a small number of its thousands of employees, from covert operatives to counterterrorism officers.

Not only that, Mr. Aftergood found out the National Archives and Records Administration had already offered tentative approval in August of the plan to — as a spy might put it — disappear the email of every worker but the C.I.A.’s top 22 managers, three years after they left the agency.

The proposal was treated as part of a governmentwide effort to trim worthless emails from federal archives. But, please, it was shocking on its face considering the agency’s dark history of destroying videotaped evidence of waterboarding and other torture methods and its repeated finessing of congressional attempts to take account of the C.I.A.’s clandestine clout in the world. Station chiefs in the Middle East, Mr. Aftergood noted, surely could shed interesting light retrospectively on history and agency mismanagement via their email record. [Continue reading…]

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