What was classified is now declassified:

The US Central Intelligence Agency is to declassify hundreds of documents detailing some of the agency’s worst illegal abuses from the 1950s to 1970s.

The papers, to be released next week, will detail assassination plots, domestic spying and wiretapping, kidnapping and human experiments.

Many of the incidents are already known, but the documents are expected to give more comprehensive accounts.

It is “unflattering” but part of agency history, CIA chief Michael Hayden said.

“This is about telling the American people what we have done in their name,” Gen Hayden told a conference of foreign policy historians.

The documents, dubbed the “Family Jewels”, offer a “glimpse of a very different time and a very different agency”.

A good question to ask, given some of the international contents, would be “Why release this stuff?”

Hayden also announced the declassification of some 11,000 pages of the so-called CAESAR, POLO and ESAU papers–hard-target analyses of Soviet and Chinese leadership internal politics and Sino-Soviet relations from 1953-1973, a collection of intelligence on Warsaw Pact military programs, and hundreds of pages on the A-12 spy plane.

We’ll tell the world what we knew, which will give them clues to how we knew it, which might help them guage what we know now–at a time when Russia is reverting to Stalinism.

President Vladimir Putin said no one should try to make Russia feel guilty about one of the most notorious episodes of the Stalinist era -the so-called Great Purge of 1937 – saying that “in other countries even worse things happened.”

Speaking at a televised meeting on Thursday with social studies teachers, Putin noted that 2007 is the 70th anniversary of a year that many Russians regard as a synonym for state-sponsored terror. It is an anniversary that has, however, gotten relatively little attention in Russian media.

“Yes, we had terrible pages” in Russia’s history, Putin said in remarks broadcast on state television. “Let us recall the events since 1937, let us not forget that. But in other countries, it has been said, it was more terrible.”

What could be worse than the systematic murder of millions of people by their own government? American actions during World War II, of course:

Speaking with the teachers, Putin suggested the United States’ use of atomic weapons against Japan at the end of World War II was worse than the abuses of Stalin. He also cited the massive US bombing campaigns during the war in Vietnam, as well as the use there of the defoliant Agent Orange.

“We have not used nuclear weapons against a civilian population,” he said. “We have not sprayed thousands of kilometres (miles) with chemicals, (or) dropped on a small country seven times more bombs than in all the Great Patriotic (war),” as WWII is known in Russia.

“We had no other black pages, such as Nazism, for instance,” he said.

The Soviets didn’t need “black pages” like Nazism. They had themselves.

So yeah, let’s just declassify everything and hope for the best. What can go wrong?

(h/t Chris R.)

Tags: China