As of April, CIA identified the following collections and the corresponding number of documents within them followed by a description, most of which were taken from CIA’s various materials: If you’re looking for something specific, then searching is almost certainly the best option for you.If you’re simply curious and looking to see what’s there, then you may want to browse instead or take a look at the Muck Rock bot that highlights historic CIA documents from this day in history.
If these words are typed in lowercase, they’re processed as regular search terms.When they are capitalized, they’re the Boolean operators that are a part of many search engines.The browsing option, listed on CIA’s website under FOIA Category Search, provides some useful ways of diving into the Agency’s online library.The date options, while limited, do offer the ability to sort materials based their release date and their post (on the website) date.It’s possible to search CREST and CIA’s FOIA Reading Room by just typing in some keywords of interest, but this won’t always produce results you’ll looking for.
If more than one word is searched for and no boolean parameters are applied, then the search results can include any documents which have any of the searched terms, regardless of whether the other terms are present.
While there’s nothing stopping you from searching all of the CIA’s online database at once, it can also be useful to limit your search to specific categories in order to reduce false hits.
Be warned, however - according to the Agency, “some documents do not fall into a collection and may be missed if you have limited your search to a specific collection or collection(s).” In other words, you’ll see a few more documents by selecting no categories than by selecting every category and limit the results to only the documents that have been assigned to a specific category.
Wildcards can be used when you’re unsure about some of the content, or want to account for text recognition errors.
The two wildcards you need to know about are the asterisk and the question mark.
Search results are automatically listed in order of relevance, though it’s possible to weight certain terms to be more relevant than others.