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FOIAsourcing: The Lansdale Collection

December 6, 2013
Maj. Gen. Edward G. Lansdale's Air Force photo.

Maj. Gen. Edward G. Lansdale’s Air Force photo.

Air Force officer Edward G. Lansdale was famous for his influential theories of counterinsurgent warfare, namely that Communist revolution was best confronted by democratic revolution. His theories proved successful in the Philippines after World War II, but were much less so later in South Vietnam. From 1957 through 1963 Lansdale worked for the Department of Defense in Washington, serving as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Special Operations, Staff Member of the President’s Committee on Military Assistance, and Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations. During the early 1960s he was primarily involved in clandestine efforts to topple the Cuban government, mostly through Operation Mongoose, including concocting plans to assassinate Fidel Castro.

Nearly 25 years ago the Archive submitted FOIA requests for all material from Lansdale’s papers that were obtained in 1983 and 1984 from the Hoover Institution of War’s Archive. Today, thanks to a series of FOIA appeals, MDR requests, and the hard work of the declassifiers at the Department of Defense’s Washington Headquarters Service, the Archive is posting the Lansdale Releases, a great addition to the Archive’s on-site Lansdale Collection. Please check out the over 300 pages of newly declassified documents, which includes the Confidential February 24, 1960, memorandum by Col. Lansdale, “Subject: Presidential Candidates, Philippines,” on how the US could best wield influence through the 1961 elections (page 80), the Secret February 26, 1966, memorandum by Lansdale’s one-time subordinate Daniel Ellsberg, “Subject: Colonel Chau and CIA,” on the Vietnamese colonel’s concerns over rural construction programs (page 46), a Confidential October 29, 1956, memorandum for the Customs commissioner on the smuggling of pornographic films, referred to as “fighting Fish films,” into Saigon (page 115), and much, much more.

A Confidential October 26, 1956, memorandum for the Customs commissioner on the smuggling of pornographic films, referred to as “fighting Fish films,” into Saigon (page 115) - just one of the documents in the new #Lansdale2013 release.

A Confidential October 29, 1956, memorandum for the Customs commissioner on the smuggling of pornographic films, referred to as “fighting Fish films,” into Saigon (page 115) – just one of the documents in the new #Lansdale2013 release.

This posting is part of an ongoing crowdsourcing initiative where the Archive provides documents newly-released through the Freedom of Information Act to the public, and gives you the first crack at the documents so you can tell us what is significant about them. Please read these Lansdale documents, and find and flag those that are important or interesting and tag it #Lansdale2013!

The Lansdale Releases

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