Intelligence experts gather to explore the history of the CIA

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28 Apr 2011 15:35:00.000


Fifty years after the CIA was thrown into the public spotlight by its attempt to remove the Castro regime in Cuba in the disastrous Bay of Pigs invasion, some of the world’s leading experts on intelligence and espionage will gather for a conference at The University of Nottingham to reveal new findings about the history of the Central Intelligence Agency.

‘Landscapes of Secrecy: The CIA in History, Fiction and Memory’, will be held at the East Midlands Conference Centre on Friday 29th and Saturday 30th April, 2011.

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It will feature several guest lectures and panel sessions on such topics as:
• The origins of the CIA
• The CIA and its relations with the press, including the recruitment of journalists
• The CIA and its unknown operations in East Germany during the Cold War
• Covert action and democracy
• The CIA and spy fiction
• The CIA and conspiracy theory
• The CIA and declassification of its own history
• How the CIA was viewed by MI6 in London and the KGB in Moscow
• The CIA’s secret spy-flights over China
• Why the CIA has failed on issues such as 9/11 and Iraqi weapons

The conference marks the final stage of a three-year research project funded by the UK Arts and Humanities Research Council, which has seen a team of academics from The University of Nottingham and the University of Warwick trawling through records at the US National Archives and other repositories across the United States, as well as conducting numerous interviews.

The aim of the project as a whole has been to investigate the CIA’s past history, recent performance, and how it is portrayed in films, memoirs and the media.

At The University of Nottingham, Dr Paul McGarr and Professor Matthew Jones from the School of American and Canadian Studies have examined the efforts of the CIA to display more openness in how its own history is presented in the ‘official’ documentary record of US foreign relations produced by the State Department, and through its own declassification initiatives.

Dr McGarr has also pursued a research theme on the portrayal of the CIA in the media of the developing world during the Cold War era, with a particular focus on India.

Professor Jones has looked at the various allegations of the relationships between journalists working for the New York Times and the CIA. Dr Maria Ryan, also of the School of American and Canadian Studies, will present a paper at the conference on the CIA’s perceptions of Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction programme in the run-up to the invasion of 2003.

More information at:

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May Fest 2011 is on Saturday 7 May, 11am to 5.30pm, at The University of Nottingham. The University is throwing open its doors to the community – with heaps of free activities for all ages. The Physics Buskers, thunder and lightning on demand and brain games. Get a glimpse of some of the amazing things that are happening on your doorstep. Visit:

Notes to editors: The University of Nottingham, described by The Sunday Times University Guide 2011 as ‘the embodiment of the modern international university’, has award-winning campuses in the United Kingdom, China and Malaysia. It is ranked in the UK's Top 10 and the World's Top 75 universities by the Shanghai Jiao Tong (SJTU) and the QS World University Rankings. It was named ‘Europe’s greenest university’ in the UI GreenMetric World University Ranking, a league table of the world’s most environmentally-friendly higher education institutions, which ranked Nottingham second in the world overall.

The University is committed to providing a truly international education for its 40,000 students, producing world-leading research and benefiting the communities around its campuses in the UK and Asia.

More than 90 per cent of research at The University of Nottingham is of international quality, according to the most recent Research Assessment Exercise, with almost 60 per cent of all research defined as ‘world-leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’. Research Fortnight analysis of RAE 2008 ranked the University 7th in the UK by research power.

The University’s vision is to be recognised around the world for its signature contributions, especially in global food security, energy & sustainability, and health. More news from the University at:

Story credits

More information is available from Dr Paul McGarr, School of American and Canadian Studies, University of Nottingham, +44 (0)115 8468505,; or Professor Matthew Jones, School of American and Canadian Studies, University of Nottingham, on +44 (0)115 8467284,
Tim Utton

Tim Utton - Deputy Director of Communications

Email: Phone: +44 (0)115 846 8092 Location: University Park

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