30+ Years of Freedom of Information Action

Testimonials

“The [truth] commission [on East Timor] relied on more than 4,500 pages of recently declassified documents collected by the Washington-based National Security Archive, a nonprofit research group, which posted a 119-page portion of the commission’s 2,500-page report on its Web site Tuesday.”

- Colum Lynch, The Washington Post (2006)

“In timely fashion, the National Security Archive has released another one of its well-devised electronic briefing books for consideration by the general public.”  

- Internet Scout Report, University of Wisconsin (2005)

The National Security Archive [is] a private group devoted to prying documents out of the federal government’s files and making them public … The house that FOIA built and a mecca for documents buffs … Some of the documents are mind-numbingly boring, of course, but others are nothing short of astonishing.

- Peter Carlson, The Washington Post, (2008)

“An important contribution came from Thomas S. Blanton and the National Security Archive in Washington, which provided key historical documents and analysis.  I am also grateful to Anne Hessing Cahn for access to her collection of papers at the [National Security Archive]. Svetlana Savranskaya guided me with precision and patience through Cold War memoirs and documents.”

- David E. Hoffman, 2010 Pulitzer Prize winning author of The Dead Hand (2009)

“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)

“Agradecimientos: Al National Security Archive (NSA) que por medio de un Convenio firmado con la Corte Suprema de Justicia, posibilitó la instalación del equipo informático y la conexión de Internet en la oficina.”

- Centro de Documentacion y Archivo Para La Defensa de los Derechos Humanos in Paraguay (2007)

Masterpieces of History ... provides a fascinating array of sources from the late 1980s and early 1990, largely from Russian-language originals.  Experts who have seen these documents already at conferences or the archive itself, as I did in the course of writing my book 1989: The Struggle to Create Post-Cold War Europe, already know how valuable they are.” 

- Mary Elise Sarotte, University of Southern California

“[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)

“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)

“[Peter Kornbluh's] column has highlighted for the profession of journalism in Chile the investigative value of archives and documents, and the need for vigilance and control over their declassification, as well as the need for a normal process of public release with fewer documents being classified as ‘secret.’”

- Monica Gonzalez, Executive Editor, Diario Siete (Chile) (2005)

“Two of Russia’s most accomplished Cold War historians have brought us a treasure trove of arresting new information, insights, and judgments that do much to change our understanding of the Soviet Union’s motives and behavior during its long and tragic confrontation with the West.” 

- Michael R. Beschloss, author, on Inside the Kremlin’s Cold War (1996)

“Drawing upon a trove of new documents, the authors provide a full length fascinating account of Nixon and Kissinger's madman nuclear threat making in 1969 against North Vietnam ... I didn't know any of this as I was copying the top secret Pentagon Papers that fall but if I had I would have given the Papers to the newspapers right away rather than two years later ... A gripping and essential read.”

- Daniel Ellsberg on Nixon’s Nuclear Specter (2015)

“In this brilliant and disturbing book [Becoming Enemies], America’s foreign policy toward the Islamic Republic of Iran in the 1980s is told, for the first time, from deep inside the U.S. decision making apparatus of the Carter and Reagan administrations. It is a sobering tale of Washington’s misperceptions, ignorance and arrogance drawing on newly declassified documentation and oral testimony from key participants, who struggle to come to grips with how and why the U.S. rallied behind one of the twentieth century’s most brutal despots, Iraq’s Saddam Hussein, in his war with Ayatollah Khomeini’s Iran, thereby sowing the seeds of bitter U.S.-Iranian enmity that exists to this day.”

- Patrick Tyler, author and former correspondent for The New York Times and The Washington Post (2012)

“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)

“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)

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