Jeffrey T. Richelson

U - Z


Richelson, Jeffrey T. "Undercover in Outer Space: The Creation and Evolution of the NRO, 1960-1963." International Journal of Intelligence and Counterintelligence 13, no. 3 (Fall 2000): 301-344.

The author makes use of declassified internal histories and supporting documentation to fill in considerable detail about "how management of the U.S. satellite reconnaissance effort evolved during its early years."


Richelson, Jeffrey T. "Unearthing Secrets: How the U.S. Digs up Intelligence on Underground Sites," C4ISR Journal 7, no. 7 (Aug. 2008): 28-30. []

The DIA established the Underground Facilities Analysis Center (UFAC) in 1997. UFAC "is staffed by representatives of the DIA's measurement intelligence and technical collection directorates; the Defense Threat Reduction Agency; NSA, and NGA." The United States continues to work on "technologies to study underground facilities in greater detail from the air and space and with seismic sensors." For example, in June 2006, DARPA awarded "a $3.13 million contract to help develop the Low Altitude Airborne Sensor System to be tested on low-altitude UAVs and manned aircraft. The system will employ passive electromagnetic, acoustic and gravity gradiometer sensing. DARPA is also funding the Airborne Tomography using Active Electromagnetics (ATAEM) program," which "focuses on developing an active electromagnetic system for airborne imaging of subsurface structures."


Richelson, Jeffrey T. United States Strategic Reconnaissance: Photographic/Imaging Satellites. ACIS Working Paper No. 38. Los Angeles: University of California, Center for International and Strategic Affairs, May 1983.


Richelson, Jeffrey T. The U.S. Intelligence Community. Cambridge, MA: Ballinger, 1985. [pb] 2d ed. New York: HarperCollins, 1989. 3d ed. Boulder, CO: Westview, 1995. 4th ed. Boulder, CO: Westview, 1999. 5th rev. ed. Boulder, CO: Westview, 2007. 6th ed. Boulder, CO: Westview, 2011.

Clark Comment: This work is used in several intelligence or intelligence-related courses at U.S. colleges and universities. (See Fontaine, Teaching Intelligence in the 1990s.) It will serve well as a "nuts-and-bolts," organization-oriented text for an intelligence course. Now in its 6th edition, this work deserves the judgment that it "is the best single book on the subject," offered by Peake, Studies 57.2 (Jun. 2013).

With regard to the third edition, Proceedings 121.10 (Oct. 1995), suggests that this book "might be considered an order of battle of the U.S. intelligence community, in which the missions and organizational structures of its various components are described. Included are the more familiar organizations ... as well as the lesser-known components." Friedman, Parameters, Summer 1997, notes that Richelson's work is "worth having as a reference even though some of the information" is out of date. Less satisfied is Lowenthal, who comments that the author "is a dogged but somewhat indiscriminate researcher, when greater selectivity of sources might be useful."

Peake, Studies 51.4 (2007), finds that the fifth edition of The US Intelligence Community is well organized and written to make a complex topic understandable. It is a valuable reference work." For David, Cryptologia 33.1 (Jan. 2009), the fifth edition, "just like its predecessors,... proves to be a very valuable reference work for researchers, journalists, teachers, and others." Aftergood, Secrecy News, 13 Aug. 2007, says that when looking for terms, acronyms, or references to obscure offices, "Richelson's book more often than not -- more often than Google -- provides the explanation and the needed background, typically with a footnote to an official source."

For the sixth edition, Aftergood, Secrecy News, 8 Aug. 2011, notes that this work "benefits from Richelson's meticulous research, his dispassionate presentation, and his robust sourcing, all of which make it an invaluable reference." Peake, Studies 57.2 (Jun. 2013), and Intelligencer 20.1 (Spring/Summer 2013), says "for anyone wishing to get a sound overall grasp of the Intelligence Community today, this is by far the best place to start. It is thoroughly documented, well written, and generally comprehensive."


Richelson, Jeffrey T. "When Kindness Fails: Assassination as a National Security Option." International Journal of Intelligence and Counterintelligence 15, no. 2 (Summer 2002): 243-274.

"Assassination should not be used as attempted in the past -- as a foreign policy tool to eliminate troublesome foreign leaders.... Rather, it should be employed only ... in dealing with severe threats, for example, the heads of rogue states who are seeking to develop weapons of mass destruction (and whose employment of such weapons against the United States is all too plausible), those who are playing a key role in helping them attain such capabilities, and a variety of terrorists. In addition, there should be some reason to believe that a successful assassination ... will have a significant impact in alleviating the threat from the offending nation or terrorist group."


Richelson, Jeffrey T. "When Secrets Crash." Air Force Magazine, 84, no. 7 (Jul. 2001). []

"Over the years, a variety of secret intelligence and military aircraft have crashed, and the specifics of US government responses have varied -- sometimes as the result of the different circumstances of the crashes, other times as the result of different rules for dealing with the press queries concerning classified programs. However, preserving secrecy has been a constant objective."

[MI/AirForce; Recon/Planes/Gen]

Richelson, Jeffrey T. "The Wizards of Langley: The CIA's Directorate of Science and Technology." Intelligence and National Security 12, no. 1 (Jan. 1997): 82-103.

Richelson traces the "history" of the Directorate of Science and Technology (DS&T) from Richard Bissell's Development Projects Staff, to the formation of the Directorate of Research in 1962, to the establishment of the DS&T under Albert (Bud) Wheelon in 1963, to the present day. He touches on the organization's evolution, collection systems development, collection operations, analysis and processing, and research and development. He suggests that the Directorate's role is changing, that its influence is on the wane, and that the DS&T's future may be in "scientific breakthroughs that can be applied to intelligence collection and analysis performed by other organizations."

The importance of Donald E. Welzenbach's groundbreaking article to understanding the early history of the DS&T, "Science and Technology: Origins of a Directorate," Studies in Intelligence 30, no. 2 (Summer 1986), 13-26, is illustrated by Richelson's numerous references to it (17 of the first 28 footnotes).


Richelson, Jeffrey T. The Wizards of Langley: Inside the CIA's Directorate of Science and Technology. Boulder, CO: Westview, 2002.

Clark comment: This book is enormously informative about a major player in the development of U.S. intelligence from the 1960s into the 1990s. It is packed with details about the DS&T's many technical accomplishments (and some failures and misdirections), and it accurately portrays the long-standing and eventually losing bureaucratic struggle with the Defense Department for primacy in the development and operation of space-based reconnaissance. Although the DS&T was pushed organizationally to the sidelines in the 1990s, the manner in which it responded to President Eisenhower's trust and foresight in placing the development of CORONA (and follow-on systems) with the CIA is marvelously retold by the author. Although he certainly has not played down the bureaucratic and personal animosities involved over the years, Richelson either did not pick up or decided not to focus on the very real antagonisms between senior DS&T and NSA managers, which by the mid-1980s had a distinctly personal flavor. The Wizards of Langley is not light reading, but repays the effort with a wealth of information about and insight into a critical aspect of America's intelligence arsenal.

Although displeased by the author's excessive use of acronyms, Seamon, Proceedings 128.1 (Jan. 2002), still finds this to be "a thoroughly researched tale of political infighting, personal animosities, and interservice and interagency bickering." Still, the DS&T turned out many "impressive successes," and "[t]he variety of its failures also testifies to its unfettered energy."

Mazzafro, I&NS 17.3, also refers to Richelson's "acronym-laden story," but adds that this is "a well-documented though antiseptic narrative of Cold War history." The work provides "a compact history of how technology effected and affected the practice of intelligence in the last 50 years of the twentieth century, that serious students of both technology and intelligence will want to be familiar with." For Bath, NIPQ 18.2/3, this "book is timely, well organized, and shows impeccable scholarship." However, the reviewer found the author's "coverage of the bureaucratic history of CIA's Directorate of Science & Technology" to be somewhat heavy on detail.

[CIA/60s/A-12; CIA/Components/DS&T; Recon/Planes & Sats/Books][c]

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