CREST Background

following is the background information on CREST, as supplied by the CIA.

automatic declassification provisions of Executive Order 13256 (formerly EO
12958, as amended) require the declassification of nonexempt historically
valuable records 25 years or older. The EO was originally issued in April 1995
and via amendment established 31 December 2006 as the first major deadline for
automatic declassification under the “25-year program”.  By that date,
agencies were to have completed the review of all hardcopy documents
determined to contain exclusively their equities.  For CIA, the 2006
deadline covered the span of relevant documents originally dating from the
establishment of the CIA after WWII through 1981.

requirement to automatically declassify records 25 years or older “rolls”
forward one year at a time.  For example, by 31 December 2012,
permanent records through 31 December 1987 were automatically declassified,
unless appropriately exempted under the guidelines of the EO.  In
this regard, CIA maintains a program operating out of the CIA Declassification
Center to review records under the purview of EO 13526 before they reach their
automatic declassification deadline.


2000, CIA has installed and maintained an electronic full-text searchable
system, which it has named CREST (the CIA Records Search Tool), at NARA II
in College Park, Maryland. The CREST system is the publically accessible
repository of the subset of CIA records reviewed under the 25-year program in
electronic format (manually reviewed and released records are accessioned
directly into the National Archives in their original format). Over 11 million
pages have been released in electronic format and reside on the CREST database,
from which researchers have printed about 1.1 million pages.

In order
to directly access CREST, a researcher must visit the National Archives
at College Park, Maryland. CIA recognizes that such visits may be
inconvienent and present an obstacle to many researchers. Therefore, this
website provides researchers with an online CREST Finding Aid to research
the availability of CIA documents declassified and loaded on CREST. In certain
cases, as described below, PDF document images are also available.

Title: The title
listed will be the formal title of a report or the stated subject of a
memorandum. However, the title maybe the best attempt by Agency indexers to
identify documents without clear formal titles such as cables, letters, written
notes, and other forms of communication and correspondence. In such cases, the
title may include reference to the type of document, originator, recipient,
location, etc.

 The Electronic Standard Document Number (ESDN) is
the internal Agency tracking number which should be used when submitting a FOIA

each rolling year, CIA will continue to release documents on CREST that are
25-years old or older in compliance with the provisions of the Executive Order.

CREST Manuals

In April of
2014, I requested all CIA manuals that pertain to CREST. I was supplied with
the below document.

User’s Manual, 2008 Version
[80 Pages, 9.3MB]

Executive Overview, 2008 Version
[15 Pages, 1.7MB]

Quick Reference Guide, 2008 Version
[7 Pages, 1.2MB]

User Training, 2008 Version
[26 Pages, 2.6MB]