30+ Years of Freedom of Information Action

Nuclear Strategy and Weapons

May 1, 2009 | Briefing Book
Washington, DC, May 1, 2009 - President Obama's recent call for a "world without nuclear weapons" immediately raised questions of how do you get there, what does deterrence actually require before you get there, and how many nuclear weapons would that involve at each step. Exactly these questions of "how much is enough" were raised fifty years ago in secret debate within the U.S. government, when Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Arleigh Burke argued that a small force of mainly nuclear missile-launching Polaris submarines was enough for deterrence.

Nov 14, 2008 | Briefing Book
Washington DC, November 14, 2008 - Forty-six years ago, a month before the Cuban Missile crisis, Soviet leaders put their strategic forces on their “highest readiness stage since the beginning of the Cold War,” according to a newly declassified internal history of the National Security Agency published today for the first time by the National Security Archive.

Jul 2, 2008 | Briefing Book
Washington, DC, July 2, 2008 - Senior Kennedy administration aides claimed incorrectly that U.S. warships had come “eyeball to eyeball” with Soviet missile-carrying ships during the Cuban missile crisis, a myth that has persisted for over four decades, according to evidence published today by the National Security Archive.

Jun 25, 2008 | Briefing Book
Washington, DC, June 25, 2008 - American signals intelligence collectors tracked the activation of Soviet air defenses prior to the shootdown of a U.S. spy plane at the peak of the Cuban missile crisis, according to documents published on the Web today by the National Security Archive.

Jun 18, 2008 | Briefing Book
Washington, DC, June 18, 2008 - The CIA failed to identify the storage bunkers for Soviet nuclear warheads in Cuba during the October 1962 Cuban missile crisis, despite obtaining numerous photographs of the sites, according to new materials -- including a selection of photos -- being published on the Web today by the National Security Archive.

Jun 11, 2008 | Briefing Book
Washington, DC, June 11, 2008 - An American spy plane went missing over the Soviet Union at the height of the Cuban missile crisis for one and a quarter hours without the Air Force informing either President Kennedy or Defense Secretary Robert McNamara, according to a new book by Washington Post reporter Michael Dobbs (drawing on documents posted here today by the National Security Archive.)

Jun 4, 2008 | Briefing Book
Washington, DC, June 4, 2008 - Soviet nuclear-tipped cruise missiles were ready to destroy the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo had the U.S. military persuaded President Kennedy to invade Cuba during the missile crisis in 1962, according to a new book by Washington Post reporter Michael Dobbs (citing documents and interviews posted here today by the National Security Archive).

Apr 30, 2008 | Briefing Book
Washington, D.C., April 30, 2008 - The U.S. Air Force expected to use nuclear weapons against China during the Taiwan Strait crisis of 1958, but President Eisenhower required the Air Force to plan initially to use conventional bombs against Chinese forces if the crisis escalated, according to a previously secret Air Force history obtained from a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit and posted today by the National Security Archive. Eisenhower's instructions astounded the Air Force leadership, but according to Bernard Nalty, the author of one of the studies released today, U.S.

Nov 21, 2007 | Briefing Book
Update - 1 October 2009 - On 11 September 2009, as a sidebar to the posting "Previously Classified Interviews with Former Soviet Officials Reveal U.S. Strategic Intelligence Failure Over Decades," the National Security Archive posted histories of SIOP-62 and 63, with more information declassified by the Interagency Security Classification Appeals Panel (ISCAP). Those updated versions replace the histories originally posted in 2007—Documents 1 and 2 below.

Aug 18, 2006 | Briefing Book
Cold War Missile Numbers "De-re-classified" On 26 September 2006, the Department of Defense's Washington Headquarters Services duly released, as a result of an administrative appeal, unredacted versions of the 1971 charts, first published in a public report by Secretary of Defense Melvin Laird. This was, as it should have been, a routine decision to correct a mistake. Pentagon reviewers had previously treated the charts, which included numbers of U.S. strategic missiles and bombers, among other weapons systems, as classified documents.

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