30+ Years of Freedom of Information Action

Secrecy and FOIA

Jul 4, 2003 | Briefing Book
WASHINGTON, D.C., July 4 - George Washington University's National Security Archive, the leading non-profit user of the U.S. Freedom of Information Act, today released its annual Freedom of Information Act birthday posting, 37 years to the day after President Johnson grudgingly signed the U.S. FOIA into law on July 4, 1966.

Jun 11, 2003 | News
Washington, D.C., June 11, 2003 - The Congress is poised to give the National Security Agency a free pass from complying with the Freedom of Information Act for any NSA "operational" files, even though NSA has failed to demonstrate a need for the exemption and the Central Intelligence Agency and the National Reconnaissance Office are abusing similar provisions previously granted by Congress.

May 21, 2003 | Briefing Book
The National Security Archive's experience with the U.S. government's declassification process has been a varied one, as it should be given the great diversity of its declassification requests during more than fifteen years of effort. During the Archive's history, it has seen the classification review and declassification processes at their best, at their worst, and many cases in between.

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.

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