MEMORANDUM FOR: Director of Central Intelligence

VIA: [deleted] Deputy to the DCI for Resource Management

FROM: [deleted] Office of Performance Evaluation and Improvement

1. Purpose of the Meeting:

a. The meeting has been scheduled to discuss the proposed declassification of the "fact of" US satellite photoreconnaissance. The interagency paper containing a statement of the issues for decision and a discussion of the issues is at Tab A. I recommend that you read this paper in its entirety even though Sections D, E, and F pertain primarily to the related issue of declassification of photoreconhaissance imagery.

b. [deleted] will accompany you to the meeting.

c. This memorandum contains some additional background on this issue, and the views of the Intelligence Community and other agencies (if known). Proposed talking points are at Tab B.

2. Background:

a. Presidential Directive/NSC-37, an outgrowth of the large interagency effort conducted as part of [deleted] was approved by the President May 11, 1978. In this Directive, the President directs that "The fact that the United States conducts satellite reconnaissance for intelligence purposes without disclosing the generic type of activity will be classified CONFIDENTIAL..."

b. In May 1978, the Secretary of State advanced the idea of declassifying the "Fact Of" to meet the needs of the public debate about SALT II ratification. Secretary Vance proposed to do so in a low key and unobtrusive manner.

c. In June 1978, in response to Presidential direction, Dr. Frank Press, the President's Science Advisor, convened the NSC Space Policy Review Committee (SPRC), established recently under NSC/PD-37, to prepare an interagency space policy options paper for use during the fall budget cycle. In late June, Vance discussed his "Fact of" proposal with Brzezinski, who agreed to task Press to add this issue to the on-going space policy review. On 7 July, Admiral Murphy was informed by Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) that the "Fact of" issue would be assigned to his task force on Equipment and Technology Overlap Between Civil, Military, and National Intelligence Space Programs (see OSTP Tasking Memo at Tab C). OSTP asked Murphy to "determine whether the benefits to be derived in defense of our foreign and defense policies sufficiently outweigh the potential risks." In the tasking memo, the declassificaticn of "Fact of" is viewed as a first step towards the possibility of changing the current policy concerning utilization of information.

d. In a conversation with the Secretary of Defense on 15 June 1978 you discussed the State proposal and told him that your position was to:

You also noted that Secretaries Brown and Duncan agreed with this approach.

e. On 7 August, Vance and Warnke sent a memo to the President on SALT verification. This memo outlined public concerns over SALT verification, cited the limitations on government spokesmen because of the classification of "Fact of," and ended by recommending the declassification of the "fact of" satellite reconnaissance, including specifically photoreconnaissance. We do not have the Vance/Warnke memo; however, the key points are summarized at Tab D.

f. Brzezinski, however, informed Vance and Warnke that he would delay forwarding their memo in keeping with the prior agreement to task Press to examine the subject as part of his space policy review. Brzezinski would also request Press to separate out this issue for earliest treatment by the SPRC.

g. The Task Force report on the "fact of" problem was forwarded to OSTP in late July and formed the basis for the current interagency issues paper. The information in the two reports is substantially the same; however, the tone of the Task Force report is far more cautious on the timing and benefits of a change to the "fact of" policy. I recommend that you read the Task Force report (Tab E) if time permits.

3. Issue for Decision:

Should a decision be made now on the declassification only of the fact that satellite photoreconnaissance is one of the national technical means used by the US for verification of compliance with SALT and other arms control agreements?

4. Factors Bearing on the Issue:

a. Factors Bearing on the Decision to Declassify

b. Factors Bearing on the Timing of the Decision

5. Intelligence Community Views:

We have requested formal comments on the "fact of" issue from:

With the excepilon of State/INR, the comments received to date point out the limited beiefits to be expected from declassification of only the basic "fact of," highlight some of the serious risks, and conclude by recommending that this step must be preceded by careful and thorough planning, including consideration of the release of "facts about" and product. I recommend that you read all of the comments at Tab N.

6. Agency Views:

a. Agency views, to the extent they are known at the staff level, are as follows:

7. Recommendation:

a. Except for the pressures resulting from the Kampiles prosecution, we see no compelling reason for a premature Presidential decision. The major uncertainties relate to unknown foreign and domestic reactions to this change in policy. These uncertainties should be resolved to the greatest extent possible before a Presidential decision is made. Any negative reactions should be brought to his attention.

b. We therefore recommend that you support Option 2. However, the completion of the study and the implementation plan should be scheduled for mid-October to allow time for a Presidential decision prior to the scheduled start of the Kampiles trial.

Source: CIA Hardcopy from National Archives