30+ Years of Freedom of Information Action

Secrecy and FOIA

May 21, 2003 | News
Washington DC, May 21, 2003 - The Central Intelligence Agency classified and withheld from a Freedom of Information Act release a 25-year-old joke item in a weekly terrorism report about the terrorist threat to Santa Claus and the North Pole, among many other examples of "dubious secrets" published today on the Web by the National Security Archive at George Washington University. The CIA's secret Santa leads the Archive's lengthy compilation of declassified documents that illustrate the arbitrary and capricious decision making that all too often characterizes the U.S.
May 5, 2003 | News
Washington, D.C., May 5, 2003 - The proposed FY 2004 Defense Authorization Act would throw a cloak of secrecy over valuable National Security Agency ("NSA") records now released under the Freedom of Information Act, including important historical records on the use of signals intelligence and cryptology in U.S. defense history. There have been no public hearings on the proposed legislation, which is based on unsupported justifications.
Mar 14, 2003 | Briefing Book, FOIA Audit
WASHINGTON, D.C., 14 MARCH 2003 - The National Security Archive at George Washington University today released results from the first-ever government-wide audit of federal responses to Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests. The audit shows dramatic variations in agency reactions to the restrictive FOIA guidance issued by Attorney General John Ashcroft in October 2001. Some agencies concluded the Ashcroft memo represented a "drastic" and "fundamental" change; others saw no change or said "Yeah. OK" when asked about impact.
Feb 26, 2003 | News
Washington, D.C., February 26, 2003 - The National Security Archive today submitted comments on the new Department of Homeland Security (DHS) regulations that detail how the DHS will implement open government laws. The DHS regulations, issued on January 27, fall short of Congress's intent in eight specific areas, detailed in the Archive's formal comments.
Feb 5, 2003 | News
Washington, D.C., February 6, 2003 - The National Security Archive yesterday filed an amicus brief in the pending U.S. Supreme Court case, Department of the Treasury v. City of Chicago. The case involves the gun trace database maintained by Treasury's Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, which seeks to prevent Chicago from obtaining information such as names and addresses of gun purchasers from the database.
Jun 10, 2002 | Briefing Book
Mexico City, 10 June 2002—Mexico’s first national freedom of information initiative became the law of the land today, when it was signed by President Vicente Fox Quesada in a ceremony held at the presidential residence in Mexico City. The signing follows unanimous votes in both chambers of the Mexican Congress during the last week of April, and ushers in a landmark piece of legislation aimed at guaranteeing the public’s right to request and receive information from the government. The law represents a compromise between two proposals presented to the Congress during 2001.
Feb 11, 2002 | News
Washington, D.C., February 11 – In answer to a three-year-old National Security Archive request, the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) today confirmed that former national security adviser Henry Kissinger has returned to NARA’s custody the 20,000 pages of transcripts of his telephone conversations conducted while serving President Nixon from 1969 through September 1973.
Feb 5, 2002 | Briefing Book
The PBS documentary Bill Moyers Reports: Trading Democracy, which premieres tonight, February 5, at 10 p.m. Eastern time (local times may vary) exposes an obscure provision of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) that has given multinational corporations the power to demand compensation if a law of any one of the three NAFTA countries – the United States, Mexico or Canada – threatens their potential profits. Laws designed to protect the environment or public health, the decisions of states or local communities - even jury verdicts - can prompt a corporation to file a lawsuit.
Nov 28, 2001 | News
Washington D.C., 28 November 2001- Today the National Security Archive at George Washington University joined the American Historical Association (AHA) and other scholars and public interest groups in filing suit to stop implementation of President Bush’s November 1st executive order 13,233 which limits public access to presidential records. For a copy of the complaint and related documents, see www.nsarchive.org and www.citizen.org.
Aug 9, 2001 | News
Washington, D.C., August 9 – The State Department today announced that former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger had returned 10,000 pages of transcripts of his telephone conversations conducted while in office from 1973 through January 1977, and spokesman Richard Boucher credited the National Security Archive for prompting the Department to seek this return. “These telcons are a minute-by-minute, hour-by-hour verbatim record of the highest-level foreign policy deliberations of the U.S. government during Mr.

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