Jeffrey T. Richelson

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Richelson, Jeffrey T. "Intelligence: The Imagery Dimension." In Strategic Intelligence, Vol. 2: The Intelligence Cycle: The Flow of Secret Information from Overseas to the Highest Councils of Government, ed. Loch K. Johnson, 61-74. Westport, CT: Praeger Security International, 2007.


Richelson, Jeffrey T. "Intelligence Secrets and Unauthorized Disclosures: Confronting Some Fundamental Issues." International Journal of Intelligence and Counterintelligence 25, no. 4 (Winter 2012-2013): 639-677.

"[T]here are good reasons to cast a very critical eye at any suggestion that those outside of government, particularly the media, should let the classification system serve as a guide to the suitability of reporting on or discussing U.S. intelligence activities."


Richelson, Jeffrey T. "The IPCRESS File: The Great Game in Film and Fiction, 1953-2002." International Journal of Intelligence and CounterIntelligence 16, no. 3 (2003): 462-498.


Richelson, Jeffrey T. ""The Keyhole Satellite Program." Journal of Strategic Studies 7, no. 2 (1984): 121-153.


Richelson, Jeffrey T. "MASINT: The New Kid in Town." International Journal of Intelligence and Counterintelligence 14, no. 2 (Summer 2001): 149-192.

"MASINT's history as a unified discipline is in its earliest stages. Clearly, its multitude of scientific techniques can be exploited to collect and exploit data relevant to key national security issues and requirements at both the strategic and battlefield levels. How well those techniques succeed in providing needed intelligence will be a function of both scientific ingenuity and management skill."


Richelson, Jeffrey T. "The Mossad Imagined: The Israeli Secret Service in Film and Fiction." International Journal of Intelligence and Counterintelligence 20, no. 1 (Spring 2007): 136-166.

One of the masters of writing about technical intelligence matters turns his attention to the role of Mossad in English-language film and fiction. Light but well researched and interesting reading.


Richelson, Jeffrey T. "The Office That Never Was: The Failed Creation of the National Applications Office." International Journal of Intelligence and Counterintelligence 24, no. 1 (Spring 2011): 65-118.

"Numerous potential explanations for the failure to establish the National Applications Office are possible. Certainly, the attempt to make requests from law enforcement for data from classified satellites routine ... was a key factor.... [T]he comments from some of the witnesses at the September 2007 hearings, remarks made by members of Congress, and the concerns raised by representatives of privacy and civil liberties groups indicated that fears of current or future satellite capabilities and their ability to invade private areas ... extended beyond individuals who obsess about black helicopters."


Richelson, Jeffrey T. "Out of the Black: The Disclosure and Declassification of the National Reconnaissance Office." International Journal of Intelligence and Counterintelligence 11, no. 1 (Spring 1998): 1-25.

This is a straightforward chronicle of the process that resulted in the declassification of the NRO and the National Reconnaissance Program, as well as a brief look at some of the subsequent problems attendant to having done so. Richelson speculates that additional declassification "is likely with respect to defunct imagery satellite programs," but wonders when a similar process will begin for long-dead SIGINT satellite programs. He adds that "it would be an unexpected quantum leap if NRO were to ... reveal details ... of current systems anytime soon."


Richelson, Jeffrey T. "Restructuring the NRO: From the Cold War's End to the 21st Century." International Journal of Intelligence and Counterintelligence 15, no. 4 (Winter 2002-2003): 496-539.

"[B]etween 1962 and 1988, the internal structure of the NRO remained remarkably stable." Since 1989, however, there have been multiple reviews of the NRO, and '[s]ignificant organizational changes have followed review group recommendations."


Richelson, Jeffrey T. "A 'Rifle' in Space." Air Force Magazine 86, no. 6 (Jun. 2003): 72-75. []

On 12 July 1963, an Atlas/Agena D rocket from Vandenberg AFB placed the first KH-7 satellite in orbit 100 miles above the Earth. The satellite weighed about 4,500 pounds and carried "a camera system..., a single recovery vehicle in which ... film would be returned to Earth for analysis, and command and communications equipment." The images produced were "far sharper" than those from the existing Corona system, operating since 1960.

The KH-7 was "developed under a highly secret program code-named Gambit." The U.S. Air Force's "special projects office was responsible for delivering the finished satellite. However, a contractor team ... conduct[ed] the actual research, development, and production work. General Electric ... produced the spacecraft body, while Eastman Kodak ... develop[ed] the camera system. Lockheed was the integrator, responsible for putting together the whole package."

In four years of operation, there were 38 KH-7 launches. "[S]ome 19,000 frames of varying length,... 43,000 feet of film," were returned to Earth. "In contrast, the Corona satellites over their 12 years of operation ... return[ed] more than 800,000 frames." The KH-7 "was truly a close-look system. [Its] perigee (the point of the orbit on which a spacecraft comes closest to Earth) averaged 92 miles in altitude, although on one mission it came within 75 miles.... The time on orbit was short -- on average 5.5 days and never longer than eight days."

The last KH-7 satellite was orbited on 4 June 1967.


Richelson, Jeffrey T. "The Satellite Gap." Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists 59, no. 1 (Jan.-Feb. 2003): 49-54.


Richelson, Jeffrey T. "Satellite in the Shadows." Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists 61, no. 3 (May-Jun. 2005): 26-33.


Richelson, Jeffrey T. Spying on the Bomb: American Nuclear Intelligence from Nazi Germany to Iran and North Korea. New York: Norton, 2006.

Peake, Studies 50.3 (Sep. 2006) and Intelligencer 15.2 (Fall-Winter 2006-2007), finds that the author "reviews the Intelligence Community's track record for monitoring the nuclear programs of 11 other nations, beginning with Nazi Germany." He is, in effect, asking whether the IC's "historical experience is prologue to predicting the outcome of future programs. Overall, the results are mixed; the story is fascinating." Brown, I&NS 23.4 (Aug. 2008), sees this as "an excellent and well-researched work" the "primary flaw" of which is "the usage of highly technical jargon concerning nuclear physics and collection methods."

For Graczewski, DIJ 15.2 (2006), Richelson's "book is an outstanding open-source reference manual on the IC's 50-year history of tracking the nuclear activities and intentions of over a dozen nations." However, the author offers no "assessments or lessons learned from the half century of American engagement in nuclear espionage." Freedman, FA 86.2 (Mar.-Apr. 2007), comments that the author "has a gift for following clues and picking up disparate pieces of information from a variety of sources and pulling them together to form an account that makes sense even while acknowledging what remains unknown."

Jakola, Military Review (Jul.-Aug. 2008), sees this "exceptionally well researched and documented history" providing a "straightforward text" that "transforms deep technical details of atomic weapons manufacture into easily comprehensible language." The work "achieves its greatest value by collecting virtually all publicly available information on America's atomic spying in one concise location." To Mattox, Parameters 37.1 (Spring 2007), the author "fills a huge gap in our understanding of the dynamics of the Cold War with this monumental work." This work "is essential reading for anyone concerned with perhaps the most challenging security issue of our time."

In his review, Katz, IJI&C 20.3 (Fall 2007), is not so much negative about Spying on the Bomb as wishing that a physicist with a background in intelligence had written it. He believes that the text lacks "the nuance and insight that inside experience would give." The author "makes no major mistakes, but his book is short on the technical background necessary to put intelligence in context."


Richelson, Jeffrey T. Sword and Shield: The Soviet Intelligence and Security Apparatus. Cambridge, MA: Ballinger, 1986.

NameBase: "Political science professor Jeffrey Richelson is one of the few writers who treats the topic of Soviet intelligence with the detached thoroughness that it ultimately deserves.... Each of the[] 12 chapters has an average of 70 endnotes, frequently citing authors who are academic specialists on some aspect of the Soviet system."


Richelson, Jeffrey T. "Task Force 157: The US Navy's Secret Intelligence Service, 1966-77." Intelligence and National Security 11, no. 1 (Jan. 1996): 106-145.

Richelson, Jeffrey T. "The Technical Collection of Intelligence." In Handbook of Intelligence Studies, ed. Loch K. Johnson, 105-117. London: Routledge, 2007.


Richelson, Jeffrey T. "'Truth Conquers All Chains': The U.S. Army Intelligence Support Activity, 1981-1989." International Journal of Intelligence and Counterintelligence 12, no. 2 (Summer 1999): 168-200.

The U.S. Army Intelligence Support Activity (USISA) "was the successor to an ad hoc organization established in 1980 to support a possible second mission to rescue the American hostages held by Iran.... The ISA straddled the intelligence and special operations world[s]."

The existence of the covert organization became public knowledge in 1983 through a succession of newspaper reports (Washington Post, New York Times, Los Angeles Times), but it remained a classified activity conducting both Sigint and human intelligence operations. Richelson gives some details on specific operations undertaken. Although officially discontinued in March 1983, the author believes the activity still exists within the U.S. Army, possibly within the U.S. Special Operations Command.


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