30+ Years of Freedom of Information Action

Testimonials

“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)

“It was one of the more enjoyable and important efforts that I have been involved in recently … Yours is truly a critical effort as we must find a way to engage with Iran … and quickly.  Building trust thru your historical work (here) certainly will be helpful.”

- General J. H. Binford Peay, III, former Commander-in-Chief of CENTCOM (2011)

“The editors, from the National Security Archive and the Cold War International History Project – organizations whose continuing publications have provided essential insights into the recurring crises of the Communist system from the l940s until its collapse by l991 – have assembled a series of sources that demonstrate the true depth and amplitude of the East German uprising of June 16-17, 1953.”

- Charles Maier, Harvard University, on the book Uprising in East Germany, 1953

"Nate Jones of the George Washington University’s National Security Archive has done a superlative job [in Able Archer 83] of drawing together primary-source material that paints a compelling picture of this terrifying crisis, helped considerably by the outstanding scene-setting in his colleague Tom Blanton’s foreword .... The National Security Archive has done a great service to the people of the United States and anyone who wishes to learn from its history by obtaining the release of so many highly classified documents central to this story, in particular the PFIAB Report ... This is a book that should not be missed by historians, national-security experts, or any person interested in the fate of the earth."

- Ambassador Thomas Graham, Jr.

- Thomas Graham on Jones, 'Able Archer 83: The Secret History of the NATO Exercise That Almost Triggered Nuclear War', Nonproliferation Review

“In September 2008, Kate Doyle, a senior analyst at the Washington-based National Security Archive, gave expert testimony in the trial on the nature of the 21 U.S. documents that were submitted to the court as evidence by the prosecution team. During her testimony she noted that the documents reflected the conclusions of the U.S. Embassy that Fujimori had engaged in a ‘covert strategy to aggressively fight against subversion through terror operations, disregarding human rights and legal norms.’”

- Marina Litvinsky, Inter Press Service News Agency (2009)

“Russia has reverted to authoritarian type, yet there are opportunities for human rights cases and accountability in the European context.  We need from you any US documents you can retrieve on Chechnya and the enormous human cost of those wars.  Such information is called ‘state secrets’ in Russia.”

- Sergei Kovalev, chairman of “Memorial” and former human rights ombudsman of the Russian Federation, to Archive director Tom Blanton in Moscow (2006)

“A pioneering and illuminating assessment of the role and influence of secret intelligence in the twentieth century which contains much of importance that more conventional histories of international relations leave out.” 

- Christopher Andrew, on A Century of Spies (1995)

“The National Security Archive in Washington proved, as always, to be the principal and most accessible source of declassified materials, providing information that extends well beyond the collections of the presidential libraries; Thomas Blanton and William Burr provided special help and insight.” 

- James Mann, author (2009)

“I have compiled this list with the assistance of researchers at the indispensable National Security Archive, a non-profit group that has published more than half a million government documents.”

- Michael Dobbs, The Washington Post (2007)

“[T]he world’s largest nongovernmental library of declassified documents.” 

- Los Angeles Times (2001)

“The conference held at the Musgrove plantation on Georgia’s southeast coast in 1998 illuminated one of the most important periods in 20th century history: the liberation of the countries in Eastern Europe from Soviet control .... The National Security Archive rendered a service to historians and the public as a whole when it gathered declassified source material from both Soviet and American archives and invited scholars and several former officials to examine the historical evidence, comment on it, and discuss its implications .... The National Security Archive has once again helped us reach a more reliable understanding of the past in order better to deal with the problems of the present, and of the future.”

- Jack F. Matlock, Jr., former U.S. Ambassador to Moscow (1998)

“More detailed and more international examinations of these cases and new studies of others are needed.  An organization that will galvanize future research is the National Security Archive, the invaluable Washington non-profit organization that uses the Freedom of Information Act to secure the declassification of U.S. government documents.  When I interned at the Archive as a college sophomore, I had no idea how much I would later benefit from their work.”

- Samantha Power, 2003 Pulitzer Prize winning author of “A Problem from Hell”: America and the Age of Genocide

“This is a splendid contribution to recent history.” 

- Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., on Politics of Illusion (1998)

“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)

“[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)

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