89. Memorandum From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger) to the Director of Central Intelligence (Colby)1 2


  • Modification of the Security Controls for the Products of Photographic Reconnaissance Satellites

The President has approved the recommendation of the Director of Central Intelligence to modify some of the special security controls relating to the U.S. photo reconnaissance program which were established by Presidential Memorandum of August 26, 1960. Specifically, the President has authorized that:

The fact that the United States Government conducts a photographic satellite reconnaissance program for foreign intelligence collection be classified SECRET.
The Director of Central Intelligence, after consulting the Secretary of Defense, may remove from the special controls presently governing the U.S. photo reconnaissance program the product of such collection as he deems appropriate, provided that (a) the product removed from the special controls under this authorization shall be classified according to the provisions of Executive Order No. 11652, and (b) such product shall not reveal the sensitive technical capabilities of current or future intelligence satellite programs. The present special control system itself will continue to exist to provide compartmented protection for those aspects and products of satellite reconnaissance programs requiring such protection.

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The President has further directed that the Director of Central Intelligence shall continue to be responsible to him for establishing policy guidelines for the security protection and control of information pertaining to the U.S. intelligence satellite collection program and the products derived from it. This will include the establishment and continued review of appropriate procedures, consistent with United States policy interests, for the release of the satellite intelligence product or information derived from it to foreign governments.

Henry A. Kissinger
  1. Source: Ford Library, National Security Adviser, Presidential Subject Files, Box 1, Committee for Civil Applications of Classified Overhead Photography of the United States. Top Secret; Sensitive. A copy was also sent to the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Defense, the Attorney General, the Secretary of the Treasury, and the Chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission.
  2. The President approved modification of certain security controls applied to satellite-based photographic reconnaissance.