30+ Years of Freedom of Information Action

Secrecy and FOIA

Jan 24, 2018 | Briefing Book
Washington D.C., January 24, 2018 - On the day before September 11, 2001, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld believed the gravest threat to American national security was Pentagon bureaucracy, according to “snowflakes” he wrote that were released by the Defense Department after a five-year Freedom of Information Act fight and lawsuit by the National Security Archive.
Dec 14, 2017 | Blog Post
Video Won Through FOIA Shows AG Sessions Spar with DOJ Interns Over Marijuana, Gun Control A video obtained by ABC News through the FOIA shows Attorney General Jeff Sessions taking pointed questions from Justice Department interns during a June 22 department event. While Sessions spent most of his time explaining his policies, the question and […]
Dec 11, 2017 | Blog Post
This article originally appeared in Bloomberg.  A Q&A with Tom Blanton, director of the National Security Archive, on the historical value of Hillary Clinton’s emails, the sins of Julian Assange, and what national secrets are really worth keeping. How much does it cost to keep a secret? Well, the U.S. government sort of has an […]
Nov 16, 2017 | Blog Post
Border Wall Plans in Texas would Disrupt Retirement Community, Wildlife Preserves A FOIA request from the Sierra Club’s borderlands team won the release of documents, which were then shared with the Texas Observer, showing tentative border wall plans in the Rio Grande Valley. One of the releases – a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers map […]
Nov 13, 2017 | Blog Post
This post originally appeared on The Wilson Center’s blog, Sources and Methods.  The archives of Ukraine are open and they are filled with former Soviet secrets. Anyone conducting research on the Soviet Union, nuclear history, or the Cold War should visit Ukraine as soon as possible. After being selected as the Nuclear Proliferation International History […]
Nov 9, 2017 | Blog Post
Anemic FBI Crime Report Published in Consultation with Public Affairs, not Advisory Board FiveThirtyEight has an excellent article on the FBI’s 2016 Crime in the United States report – “a collection of crime statistics gathered from over 18,000 law-enforcement agencies” that contains 70 percent fewer data tables than previous iterations. The missing data from the […]
Nov 1, 2017 | Special Exhibit
Over the years, we've seen countless cases of a government agency or official refusing to declassify a document on national security grounds, only to find out it's already been safely released to the public by another deparment. The sheer quantity of these "dubious secrets" points up problems of subjectivity, poor communication, and overclassification within the secrecy system.  Sometimes the decisions have real impact — halting criminal trials, for instance.  At other times they're downright silly.  Here are some of the more questionable ones we’ve encountered.    
Oct 26, 2017 | Blog Post
DOJ OIP Head Implies New FOIA Portal will be “Better than the Letter of the Law” The FOIA Improvement Act of 2016 mandates the creation of a “consolidated online request portal that allows a member of the public to submit a request for records under subsection (a) to any agency from a single website. The […]
Oct 25, 2017 | Briefing Book
US dropped prosecution of Chicago Tribune for espionage during World War II for leaking that US Navy knew about Japanese plans to attack Midway Island
Oct 19, 2017 | Blog Post
FOIA Federal Advisory Committee Highlights Email Preservation, FOIA Searches The Federal FOIA Advisory Committee met today (video available here and other resources here), with updates from the three subcommittees (searches, efficiencies and resources, and proactive disclosure), and a very interesting presentation on NARA’s email Capstone policy from Jason Baron, formerly NARA’s director of litigation and now […]

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