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Jeffrey T. Richelson 1949-2017

On November 14, 2017 the National Security Archive mourned the passing of our most senior fellow, Dr. Jeffrey T. Richelson, prolific Freedom of Information Act requester and critically-praised author of extraordinary reference works on intelligence, nuclear weapons, China, terrorism, military uses of space, and espionage. Dr. Richelson passed away on Saturday, November 11, 2017, at his home in Los Angeles after a months-long battle against cancer, according to his brother, Charles. He was 67.

Dr. Jeffrey T. Richelson was a Senior Fellow with the National Security Archive, a non-profit research and archival institution located on the campus of the George Washington University in Washington, DC. He directed Archive documentation projects on the organization and operations of the U.S. intelligence community, electronic surveillance, U.S.-China relations, U.S. military space activities, and Presidential national security directives. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Rochester and taught at the University of Texas and the American University.

He was also the author of a number of electronic briefing books on intelligence and nuclear terrorism. He was the author of The U.S. Intelligence Community (Boulder: Westview Press, 7th ed., 2015), Defusing Armageddon: Inside NEST, America's Secret Nuclear Bomb Squad (New York: W.W. Norton, 2009), Spying on the Bomb: American Nuclear Intelligence from Nazi Germany to Iran and North Korea (New York: W.W. Norton, 2006); The Wizards of Langley: Inside the CIA's Directorate of Science and Technology(Boulder: Westview, 2001), America's Space Sentinels: DSP Satellites and National Security (Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1999), A Century of Spies: Intelligence in the Twentieth Century (New York: Oxford University Press, 1995), and America's Secret Eyes in Space: The US KEYHOLE Spy Satellite Program (New York: Harper & Row, 1990).

His articles appeared in Scientific American, The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, The International Journal of Intelligence and Counterintelligence, International Security, Intelligence and National Security, The Journal of Economic Theory, Public Choice, and other publications.

Jeff Richelson enjoyed Andy Warhol’s predicted 15 minutes of fame occurred in August 2013 when his research intersected with the international obsession with UFOs and Hollywood’s favorite secret space, Area 51. Jeff’s FOIA request forced declassification of the CIA’s internal history of Area 51, describing how senior officials chose the actual desert space in Nevada and then used it to test stolen Soviet MiGs as well as top-secret U.S. stealth aircraft. The NBC Today Show put Jeff’s visage into the breakfast rooms of millions of Americans as The George Washington University domain, which at the time hosted the Archive’s web site, experienced one of its biggest user spikes ever.

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