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January marks the 30th anniversary of Richard Nixon’s inauguration, and the beginning of a fertile period for historians: The State Department is required to periodically publish foreign policy documents relating to events that took place more than 30 years ago. Forthcoming editions of this official history, called Foreign Relations of the United States (FRUS), will include previously unavailable documents from Nixon’s active — some say unscrupulous — foreign policy operations.

Yet the intelligence community has refused to declassify documents for previous FRUS editions, a problem Congress tried to address in 1991 by appointing a group of independent historians to review all FRUS editions. In the committee’s annual report last year, however, chair Warren F. Kimball wrote that if intelligence agencies don’t start cooperating, FRUS could become “so incomplete and misleading as to constitute an official lie.” The CIA and other agencies balk at declassification, Kimball says, not always out of national security concerns, but more often for fear of embarrassment.

The government recently established a panel of senior intelligence officials to decide disputes over covert operations, and Kimball says he looks forward to the Nixon FRUS editions with guarded optimism: “The issue … is not going to go away. [Nixon] was all over Latin America like a wet blanket.”

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THE TRUTH...

is the first thing despots go after. An unwavering commitment to it is probably what draws you to Mother Jones' journalism. And as we're seeing in the US and the world around, authoritarians seek to poison the discourse and the way we relate to each other because they can't stand people coming together around a shared sense of the truth—it's a huge threat to them.

Which is also a pretty great way to describe Mother Jones' mission: People coming together around the truth to hold power accountable.

And right now, we need to raise about $400,000 from our online readers over the next two months to hit our annual goal and make good on that mission. Read more about the information war we find ourselves in and how people-powered, independent reporting can and must rise to the challenge—and please support our team's truth-telling journalism with a donation if you can right now.

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