Whether serving democracies or dictatorships, secret services never like opening up the archives. According to a well-known (possibly apocryphal) story, after the revolution in Romania in 1989 a naive Westerner asked the head of the country's freshly minted post-Communist secret service, restyled the Romanian Information Service, to do just that. 'Why do you ask me?' was the spy chief's response. 'Aren't you the head of the Information Service?' replied the puzzled Westerner. 'Yes,' retorted the Romanian. 'But I get information, I don't give it out.'
When Communism collapsed across the Soviet bloc in 1989, there was a general call for the Party's leaders and its henchmen in the secret police to be brought to account for their crimes, or at least for the secret state archives to be opened so that a truthful picture could