30+ Years of Freedom of Information Action

Testimonials

“Forty years have now passed and we have become forty years older.  Had we not told our children the truth about what happened in 1956, they could not tell their children either.  Our grandchildren, however, will unearth the truth for themselves.  From archival sources and written memorials.  From facts.  Mercilessly.  Out of the desire for knowledge.  Without having lived in that age and breathed the air of those days.  It may well be that the story they reconstruct will be more accurate than our own version.  Hosts of young researchers abroad and in Hungary are working on that narrative already – as typified by the editors of this extraordinary volume – and I am sure that they will sincerely answer the prevailing questions of “why” and “how”.  With this outstanding volume, the scholars at the 1956 Institute in Budapest and the National Security Archive in the United States are helping to lead the way in this important historical exercise.”  

- Árpád Göncz, former President of Hungary, on the book The 1956 Hungarian Revolution

“Thank you for sending me a summary of the Musgrove Conference on U.S.-Soviet Relations.  I found the analysis and comments very useful.  As the project proceeds, I would welcome continuing assessments.  Congratulations on such a successful conference.”

- Former President Jimmy Carter, letter to James Blight (1994)

“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)

“George Washington University’s excellent National Security Archive has just published a fascinating but hair-raising new account, based on newly declassified documents, of the incident in 1979 when Zbigniew Brzezinski, then Jimmy Carter’s national security adviser, was awoken by one of those fabled 3am telephone calls and told that the Soviet Union had launched 250 nuclear missiles at the United States.  America had a matter of minutes to decide whether to launch a counter-strike.  Not a nice start to anyone’s day.  It was, of course, a false alarm ... [But] if you want to give yourself a fright, read the archive’s new documents.”

- The Economist (2012)

“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)

“A groundbreaking book on a vital and timely topic, one that gives a valuable historical perspective to the recurrent crisis on the Korean peninsula.” 

- Charles K. Armstrong, Columbia University, on Trilateralism and Beyond (2012)

“[The Chronology is] the most comprehensive, authoritative, objective and useful summary of the Iran-Contra affair available.  It makes the pieces fall into place and brings the individual players into focus.”

- Bob Woodward, The Washington Post (1987)

“It’s time we used the ‘information age’ to our advantage in reclaiming our democracy from the secret-keepers.” 

- Jesse Ventura, former Minnesota governor, recommending the National Security Archive in his book 63 Documents The Government Doesn’t Want You To Read (2011)

“Governments at every level these days are providing less information about their inner workings, sometimes using fear of terrorism as an excuse.  But it’s precisely times like these that mandate citizens’ rights to check the efficiency of their government and hold those who fail accountable, open government advocates say.  The government itself won’t make it easy, so an increasing number of websites and data crunchers are stepping in to provide information about the inner workings of government …  Another trove of information is George Washington University’s National Security Archive, which contains thousands of documents acquired through patient Freedom of Information Act requests.”

- Ryan Singel, Wired.com (2004)

“It is absolutely excellent work that you have done, and I do hope you will keep me informed of any similar publications in the future; they are an invaluable addition to any collection of documents on the genocide in Rwanda.”

- James Smith, The Holocaust Centre (U.K.), (2006)

“A nice trove of documents was declassified and made public yesterday by the invaluable National Security Archive of George Washington University.”

- Michael Tomasky, in The Daily Beast (2012)

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)

Politics of Illusion reads like a novel – and I devoured it as quickly as I might a Le Carre …. It must have been an amazing experience for the participants.” 

- Frances FitzGerald, on Politics of Illusion (1998)

“Carlos Osorio keeps records in his office that many people would kill to have.  They are intelligence documents that reveal kidnappings, assassinations, tortures, and massacres of the recent past.  … If Osorio has these it is because he works at the National Security Archive, an organization that investigates international issues drawing on confidential documents freed from the government of the United States.  ...In ten years of work he has found that one really can never get used to uncovering the face of infamy.”

- El Comercio (Peru), (2005)

“LeoGrande and Kornbluh's exhaustive and masterful diplomatic history [Back Channel to Cuba] will stand as the most authoritative account of U.S.-Cuban diplomatic relations during the five decades of Cuban President Fidel Castro's rule.”

- Foreign Affairs (2015)

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