Five significant, formerly classified documents

To kick off Sunshine Week, Catherine Shreve, the librarian for public policy and political science at Duke University's Perkins Library lists her five favorite declassified documents.

3. Bay of Pigs: Military Evaluation of the Central Intelligence Agency Para-Military Plan, Cuba. This memo from the Joint Chiefs of Staff to Secretary of Defense McNamara in early 1961 foreshadowed the humiliating failure of President Kennedy's Cuban invasion. It reads in part: "The amphibious assault should be successful even if lightly opposed; however the personnel and plans for logistic support are marginal at best. Against moderate, determined resistance logistic support as presently planned will be inadequate."

4. Iraq Weapons of Mass Destruction: Senate Report 109-331 "Postwar Findings about Iraq's WMD Programs and Links to Terrorism and How They Compare with Prewar Assessments (unclassified version)". This 2006 report refuted President George W. Bush's reason for invading Iraq -- that it was developing weapons of mass destruction. In part, it says: "Postwar findings support the assessment...that claims of Iraqi pursuit of natural uranium in Africa are 'highly dubious.'"

5. John Nash letters to National Security Agency. A find that made me smile, remembering the movie "A Beautiful Mind" based on the brilliant but schizophrenic mathematician John Nash. In this handwritten letter, he proposes an enciphering-deciphering machine he has invented. "I hope my handwriting, etc. do not give the impression I am just a crank or circle-squarer."

Top 5 Formerly Top Secret Documents (Thanks, Eric!)



  1. I like that the Army intelligence memo on Axis activities was stamped “TOP SECRET CREAM” on the top. I wonder how that topping compares to Awesome Sauce.

  2. Ok, I give, what pray tell is a “circle-squarer”?

    Ahhh, its an idiom, meaning-someone trying to do the impossible. I am going to put that one into rotation.

    1.  More than this: someone trying to do something which is not only impossible, but which has been known for some time to be impossible; so that a circle squarer is invariably an amateur who is so isolated from the community they wish to belong to as to have irreconcilable differences in both information of the state-of-the-art, and therefore also of priorities.

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