30+ Years of Freedom of Information Action

Secrecy and FOIA

Jul 13, 2007 | Briefing Book
Washington D.C., July 13, 2007 - Throughout the 1960s and most of the 1970s, while the U.S. government conducted its space reconnaissance program under a veil of absolute secrecy, officials debated whether information about the program (including the "fact of" its existence and certain photographs) should be disclosed to other elements of the government, public, allies, and even the Soviet Union, according to documents obtained through the Freedom of Information Act and archival research and posted today by the National Security Archive.
Jul 12, 2007 | News
Washington DC, July 12, 2007 - At a hearing of the House Permanent Select Intelligence Committee, Subcommittee on Intelligence Community Management, on classification of national security information and its implications, Archive General Counsel Meredith Fuchs testified that unnecessary classification poses risks to our security and to the accountability and legitimacy of government agencies. Referring to the Central Intelligence Agency's recent release of its "family jewels" file in response to an Archive Freedom of Information Act request, Ms.
Jul 3, 2007 | News
Washington DC, July 3, 2007 - As the 41st birthday of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) approaches, a coalition of groups urged the U.S. Congress to pass a bill - currently locked behind a closed door - that would reform the FOIA and make it work better for the public. The OPEN Government Act (S. 849) would enact common-sense reforms to the FOIA and put in place incentives for federal agencies to process FOIA requests from the public in a timely manner.
Jul 2, 2007 | Briefing Book
Washington, D.C., July 2, 2007 - The oldest Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests still pending in the federal government were first filed two decades ago, during the Reagan presidency, according to the Knight Open Government Survey released today by the National Security Archive at George Washington University. "Forty years after the law went into effect, we're seeing twenty years of delay," said Tom Blanton, the Archive's director, noting the July 4, 1967 implementation date for FOIA.
May 3, 2007 | News
Washington DC, May 3, 2007 - The National Security Archive and several other public interest organizations argued yesterday, in an amicus curiae brief filed in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, that courts should not simply defer to the government's assertion of the state secrets privilege but rather must independently evaluate the claim that a case must be dismissed to protect national security.
Apr 16, 2007 | News
Washington DC, April 16, 2007 - Yesterday, Fox News Sunday featured a segment with Chris Wallace interviewing Archive director Tom Blanton. Secret documents featured on the Fox News Sunday show include: Mullah Omar calls Washington two days after the cruise missiles hit Osama bin Ladin’s camps in 1998. The Iraq war plans briefed to President Bush in PowerPoint slides assumed there would be only 5,000 U.S. troops left in Iraq by now. The Nixon and Elvis file, including Elvis’s handwritten letter. The CIA wires a cat to be a mobile microphone – Project Acoustic Kitty.
Mar 22, 2007 | News
Washington DC, March 22, 2007 - At a hearing of the House Committee on Homeland Security, Subcommittee on Intelligence, Information Sharing, and Terrorism Risk Assessment on "Over-classification and Pseudo-classification: The Impact on Information Sharing," Archive General Counsel Meredith Fuchs testified Thursday that serious overuse of pseudo-classification markings persists. "We are long overdue for solving the challenges of information sharing and overcoming the strain on government accountability brought about by excessive secrecy," she said.
Mar 16, 2007 | News
Washington D.C., 16 March 2007 - The U.S. Air Force today won the third annual Rosemary Award, which recognizes the worst Freedom of Information Act performance by a federal agency. Given annually by the Emmy-and George Polk Award-winning National Security Archive, the Rosemary Award is named after President Nixon's secretary Rosemary Woods and the backwards-leaning stretch which she testified resulted in her erasing eighteen-and-a-half minutes from a key Watergate conversation on the White House tapes. Today’s Rosemary Award citation quotes the U.S.
Mar 14, 2007 | News
Washington DC, March 14, 2007 - National Security Archive General Counsel Meredith Fuchs today testified before the Senate Committee on the Judiciary in support of a FOIA reform bill introduced yesterday by Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Senator John Cornyn (R-TX). The OPEN Government Act of 2007 is “critical for improving the functioning of FOIA,” according to Ms. Fuchs’s statement. Ms.
Mar 13, 2007 | News
The American ideal of open government has reached critical condition and needs intensive care. We have enough lab results to know the news is bad: *The oldest still-pending Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request is old enough to join the Army and go to Iraq (18 years). *Backlogs on FOIA requests keep rising while the number of civil servants who the government assigns to FOIA keeps dropping — could there be a connection?

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