As the report notes, “Santa Claus was again impressed with the generosity of the Agency employees.” But, this being the CIA, Santa was also intent on keeping tabs on who was naughty and nice: “As a proponent of MBO,” or Management By Objectives, “Santa Claus attempted to record who gave what to whom,” the report notes.
It’s almost enough to melt a spy’s jaded little heart.
These holly jolly public records weren’t released because of FOIA or other public records laws, however. Instead, they were “requested” by the president, via an executive order issued by President Clinton in 1995. That order, and a second, amending EO issued by President Obama, requires that agencies review and declassify millions of documents once they are 25 years old or older.
Less adorable that the CIA Christmas Drive is the treatment of a December, 1974 Weekly Situation Report on International Terrorism -- and not just because terrorism isn’t cute. The documents highlight some of the dubious and inconsistent redactions agencies make when releasing information to the public. Situation Reports were produced for the Nixon administration following the Black September attacks on Israeli athletes during the Munich Olympics. The report at issue here, according to the George Washington University’s National Security Archive, was released to the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library in 1997 and made public once again in 1999, when it was made part of the CIA’s CREST archive.
In the 1999 version redacted an entire page on “Terrorist Plans and Threats: Worldwide.” The 1997 version provided to the Ford Library did not. So, what was blocked out in ‘99 that was made public in ‘97? A joke about a potential attack on the “Government of the North Pole,” planned for Christmas Eve:
A new organization of uncertain makeup, using the name “Group of the Martyr Ebenezer Scrooge,” plans to sabotage the annual courier flights of the Government of the North Pole. Prime Minister and Chief Courier S. Claus has been notified and security precautions are being coordinated worldwide by the CCCT Working Group.