30+ Years of Freedom of Information Action

United States and Canada

Jan 31, 2018 | Briefing Book
Washington, D.C., January 31, 2018 – Like so many treasure hunters, beachcombers, and curio shoppers, U.S. military and intelligence operatives have for decades scoured the planet for access to everything from captured surface-to-air missiles to medicines to bits and pieces of spacecraft that have fallen to Earth – all with an eye to learning something useful about America’s adversaries.

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.

Nov 30, 2017 | Briefing Book
Washington, D.C., November 30, 2017 – U.S. presidents sometimes made nuclear threats in the course of Cold War crises and confrontations, but powerful social norms – not just military considerations – inhibited them from initiating the combat use of nuclear weapons, according to declassified documents posted today by the nongovernmental National Security Archive.

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 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 26, 2017 | Briefing Book
Declassified documents describe founding of IAEA including US demand for leadership role plus safeguards system and deep Soviet skepticism over agency effectiveness

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 5, 2017 | Blog Post
FOIA Details Pruitt’s Deep Industry Ties, Costly Security Detail   A FOIA request from American Oversight has won the “most detailed look” to date at Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) chief Scott Pruitt’s schedule. The 320-pages reveal the daily schedule for Pruitt’s first three months in office (February through May); included on the schedule is an […]

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