30+ Years of Freedom of Information Action

Testimonials

“President Nixon’s historic 1972 trip to China was one of the greatest diplomatic coups in history.  This heavily-researched documentary reveals an unknown story behind the one most journalists and historians think they know.  To tell it, the producers had to find, sift, evaluate and codify thousands of declassified documents, both from the U.S. government and the secretive Chinese government too.  Working in cooperation with the National Security Archive, the program’s researchers brought dry government files to life, revealing details that would have rattled the world at the time ... ”

- Emmy Award Citation (2005)

“It is gratifying that my February 2006 memo has now been released.  Thank you for your contribution to that.”

- Philip D. Zelikow, former State Department Counselor and National Security Council, e-mail to Malcolm Byrne (2012)

“I am happy that the cooperation between the National Security Archive in Washington and the Czech foundation ‘Prague Spring 1968’ has resulted in this voluminous collection of documents, which, I hope, will lead readers to a closer understanding of the dramatic events that the then-Czechoslovakia lived through three decades ago.”

- Václav Havel, President of the Czech Republic, on the volume The Prague Spring ’68 (1994)

“Over the years the archive has found that declassifying documents may alter the course of history as well as illuminate it.  A database on the Guatemalan military, assembled from declassified U.S. documents, wound up helping the truth commission examining human rights abuses in Guatemala to pursue its investigations despite resistance from Guatemalan authorities.”

- David Anderson, “Open Secrets,” Ford Foundation Report (2000)

“For that matter, you will learn more about who wins and who loses in the real business of politics, which is governance, from the public interest truth-tellers of Washington than you will from an established press tethered to official sources. The Government Accountability Project, POGO, the Sunlight Foundation, Citizens Against Government Waste, Taxpayers for Common Sense, the Center for Responsive Politics, the National Security Archive, CREW, the Center for Public Integrity, just to name a few – and from whistleblowers of all sorts who never went to journalism school, never flashed a press pass, and never attended a gridiron dinner.”

- Bill Moyers, InTheseTimes.com (2008)

“This volume opens the door to one of the most important yet largely neglected chapters of the Cold War in Europe – the Warsaw Pact. Mastny's provocative overview of its history should fire the interest of general readers as well as specialists; only a scholar with his breadth of knowledge of Eastern European history and languages could execute such a project. He and Byrne are to be congratulated for producing this monumental volume, with a trove of translated documents that is a major boon to both scholars and teachers.”

- William E. Odom (Lt. Gen.-retired), former Director, National Security Agency

“Th[is] volume constitutes an unparalleled resource of primary documentation on the events of 1968, which is of inestimable value for future researchers, and equally valuable for classroom use and for a broader attentive public.”

- H. Gordon Skilling on The Prague Spring (1998)

“Using freedom of information law and extracting meaningful details from the yield can be an imposing, frustrating task.  But since 1985, the non-profit National Security Archive has been a FOILer’s best friend, facilitating thousands of searches for journalists and scholars.  The archive, funded by foundations and income from its own publications, has become a one-stop shopping center for declassifying and retrieving important documents, suing to preserve such government data as e-mail messages, pressing for appropriate reclassification of files, and sponsoring research that has unearthed major revelations .... We are pleased to present this special 1999 George Polk Award to the National Security Archive ... for piercing self-serving veils of government secrecy, guiding journalists in search for the truth and informing us all.”

- George Polk Award citation (2000)

“LeoGrande and Kornbluh’s exhaustive and masterful diplomatic history will stand as the most authoritative account of U.S.-Cuban diplomatic relations during the five decades of Cuban President Fidel Castro’s rule – at least until scholars gain better access to Cuban archives and officials.” 

- Richard Feinberg, review of Back Channel To Cuba in Foreign Affairs (2014)

“Despite denials by the Brazilian government that Araquaia guerrillas existed and that human rights violations had occurred during the twenty-year military dictatorship, a declassified US government document detailed the plans for a “bloody” revolution.  Additional evidence was also uncovered, including a taped conversation of President Geisel discussing his plans for eliminating the guerrillas. (Document from the National Security Archive).”

- Equipo Argentino de Antropologica Forense (2005)

“In this well-written, carefully documented, and important study [Spying on the Bomb] Jeffrey Richelson describes how and why a succession of nations, beginning with Nazi Germany in World War II, have secretly sought to build nuclear weapons.” 

- J. Kenneth McDonald, Journal of Military History (2006)

“[Critical oral history architect James] Blight has made a ‘massive and uniquely valuable contribution’ to the historical literature.”

- Philip D. Zelikow, former State Department Counselor and National Security Council staff member (2002)

“Subtly devastating .... The most revealing of the newest books [on Nixon] is Nixon’s Nuclear Specter by William Burr and Jeffrey P. Kimball ... Burr and Kimball neatly recreate the Vietnam dilemma that Nixon and Kissinger confronted: they couldn’t win, but they couldn’t face losing. Nixon’s Nuclear Specter is a detailed and careful account of Nixon’s and Kissinger’s fruitless efforts during 1969 to find an ‘honorable’ way out of Vietnam. As events that year unfolded, these authors demonstrate, honor had little to do with it .... Quite amazingly, Nixon and Kissinger, according to documents cited by Burr and Kimball, also ordered an unannounced, worldwide nuclear alert: an elaborate military exercise that put US strategic forces – missiles, missile-carrying submarines, and bombers – in a position of high readiness, as though the US was preparing to launch a nuclear attack.  These details were particularly fascinating for me because, as a young correspondent in Vietnam for most of 1969 and 1970, I knew nothing about any of this secret maneuvering.”

- Robert G. Kaiser, The New York Review of Books (2016)

“Extraordinary primary documents on this and other SALT matters can be found in the Digital National Security Archive, “U.S. Nuclear History, 1969-1976: Weapons, Arms Control, and War Plans in an Age of Strategic Parity.”

- Michael Krepon, Arms Control Wonk (2016)

The Kissinger Transcripts is among the most important Cold War records to emerge thus far. In these pages we see the bare knuckles of Triangular diplomacy, the mercurial Mao, the blustery Brezhnev, and the multiple personalities of Henry Kissinger, all of them analyzed in expert commentary by William Burr of the National Security Archive.” 

- Patrick E. Tyler, author and former correspondent for The New York Times and The Washington Post, on The Kissinger Transcripts (1999)

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