THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Vice President
VICE PRESIDENT JOINS CIA DIRECTOR TO DECLASSIFY SATELLITE IMAGERY Cold War-Era Information To Be Used For Environmental Studies, Civilian Applications Marking the signing of an Executive Order and a long-term effort
to use Cold War-era satellite imagery for environmental and civilian uses, Vice President Al Gore today (2/24) joined Central Intelligence Agency Acting Director William O. Studeman to declassify and release more than 800,000 satellite images of the earth's surface collected during a 12-year period by photo- reconnaissance satellites.
"Today we have turned the swords of Cold War-era intelligence gathering into plowshares of information that will help us to better understand and analyze our global environment," Vice President Gore said.
President Clinton signed earlier this week an Executive Order titled the Release of Imagery Acquired by Space-Based National Intelligence Reconnaissance Systems. It directs the declassification of imagery obtained by the first generation of photo-reconnaissance satellites, otherwise known as the Corona, Argon and Lanyard systems, and will make available over an 18-month transition period more than 800,000 satellite images of the earth's surface collected by these satellites between 1960 - 1972.
The effort to declassify information gathered by the military and intelligence agencies during the Cold War for civilian applications was first proposed by Vice President Al Gore when he was a member of the U.S. Senate. Then- Senator Gore and Sen. Sam Nunn, D-GA, introduced legislation in 1990 titled the Strategic Environmental Research Program, which proposed shifting substantial Defense Department and intelligence resources to address ecological problems.
In 1992, at the request of then-Senator Gore and the former Director of the CIA, Robert Gates, an Environmental Task Force was convened to examine the usefulness of historic imagery archives for scientific studies. Today's declassification of the imagery follows recommendations made to the White House by the CIA's Classification Review Task Force led by the Central Imagery Office and Environmental Task Force.
"The Cold War is over. Communism has collapsed. We no longer face the threat of a large-scale war with the former Soviet Union," Vice President Gore said. "Selectively declassifying information we already have gathered during this period is a common-sense way to address new threats to global and regional security, including depletion of food and water supplies and the ozone layer, large-scale destruction of forests, and global warming linked to pollution."