Medium length redacted CIA docs, 2022

This post picks up from the previous one, and continues grinding through comparisons of CIA redactions in 2021 and 2022 in order to get a better idea of what they are still holding out on us. This time I look at “medium-length” (2-10 page) redacted docs. These medium long docs are now the largest component in the redacted doc pile.

A less precipitous fall

As we saw in an earlier note, there were 4462 medium length CIA docs with redactions at the beginning of 2021. After the December 2021 and December 2022 releases, the number is down to 1307, a 70% drop.

The short docs, of course, fell even more (from 5672 to 1095 or 80%). Why the difference? Well, for one thing, prior to the releases in 2021 and 2022, the short docs were in a very parlous state, with seriously inconsistent redactions making a mess of things.

In addition, however, the medium length docs were more heavily redacted than the short docs to begin with. The variety of doc types is much greater, and the redacting more complicated. The majority of short length docs were cables, with the majority of redactions related to CIA employee names. The medium length docs include many more forms and memos, and redactions often cross multiple categories, with more sentence and paragraph length boxes marking up the page.

In the last post I pointed to several name releases that I thought were notable. It is harder to point out notable releases in the medium length docs, which cover a broader range of materials. As I pointed out in an earlier post on the 2022 releases, 152 documents from Lee Oswald’s 201 file were finally released in full. Most of these were medium length documents. At the same time, the 30 documents from the Oswald 201 that still have redactions are almost all medium length docs.

Redactions per page

I did a table of the number of redactions per page for medium length docs in 2021. What would it look like now? Again, I haven’t actually counted redactions in the new releases, but using the method I used in my post on the short docs in 2022, where I gave figures using a maximal estimate of redactions left in the docs, here is a comparison with medium-length docs in 2021:

# of redacts # of docs (2022) percent (2022) percent (2021)
1 232 18% 33%
2 181 14% 20%
3 144 11% 13%
4 132 10% 8%
5 105 8% 6%
6 79 6% 4%
7 70 5% 3%
8 56 4% 3%
9 29 3% 2%
10 29 2% 1%

In addition, there are 242 records with more than 10 redactions apiece, about 18% of the total. Remember, this is just a quick, dirty approximation, I have not actually gone through and counted total redactions for each doc in the new releases.

Justifications

One of the more interesting aspects of the 2022 release is that CIA’s document index specifies which of three categories of information is implicated in the document: people, locations, and operational details. Taking the simplest case, 1 page 1 redaction docs, the remaining redacted docs stack up as follows:

reason # of docs percent of total
people 421 32%
operations 390 30%
locations 158 12%
mixed 332 20%

Again we see that people’s names are the main thing being held back here, but the mixed records are also more numerous. Longer = more complex redactions needed.

My two cents

The complex situation makes it harder to generalize here. One thing is for sure, there are still inconsistent redaction, AKA “zombie redactions”. I will present some examples of these old (and new!) zombies soon. Zombies must go!

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