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Re: Applicability of Federal Criminal Laws and the Constitution

In May, David Barron was confirmed as a judge in the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, after a half-hour filibsuter by Rand Paul, and opposition stemming from a confidential memo (previously) he wrote, justifying the use of targeted drone strikes against terrorists, e.g. Anwar al-Awlaki (previously).
After a court ruling in the FOIA lawsuit filed by the ACLU and New York Times, Court Releases Large Parts of Memo Approving Killing of American in Yemen. [more inside]
posted by the man of twists and turns on Jul 25, 2014 - 27 comments

The Secret to Getting Top-Secret Secrets

How a journalist with a dark past learned to pry info from the government—and redeemed himself in the process.
posted by valkane on Jun 19, 2014 - 12 comments

IRS Claims Authority to Read Your E-Mail Without A Warrant

The ACLU reports that the IRS claims in an internal document that it has the authority to access citizens' online communications without a warrant. The IRS claimed in a 2009 document that "the Fourth Amendment does not protect communications held in electronic storage, such as email messages stored on a server, because internet users do not have a reasonable expectation of privacy in such communications." It still retains that position even after the 2010 case of US v Warshak which determined that citizens have a reasonable expectation of privacy in such communications. [more inside]
posted by Sleeper on Apr 11, 2013 - 50 comments

"The merger of the private sector, DHS and the FBI"

How the FBI coordinated the crackdown on Occupy [more inside]
posted by dubold on Dec 29, 2012 - 177 comments

The FBI has a "Do Not Contact" List?

The Feynman Files. For the first time, FBI records for Dr Richard Feynman have been released to the public. They document the Bureau's apparent obsession in the 1950's with outing him as a communist sympathizer, and include notations from several background checks as well as interviews with his colleagues, friends and acquaintances.
posted by zarq on Jun 6, 2012 - 43 comments

In the name of Defense.

In December 1974, New York Times reporter Seymour Hersh's front-page account (paywall) of the CIA's MK-ULTRA program documented their illegal domestic intelligence operations against the antiwar movement and other dissident groups in the United States. The article eventually prompted investigations by the Rockefeller Commission and the Church and Pike committees. "There have been other reports on the CIA's doping of civilians, but they have mostly dished about activities in New York City. Accounts of what actually occurred in San Francisco have been sparse and sporadic. But newly declassified CIA records, recent interviews, and a personal diary of [George H. White,] an operative at Stanford Special Collections shed more light on the breadth of the San Francisco operation." SF Weekly: "Operation Midnight Climax: How the CIA doped San Francisco citizens with LSD." MK-ULTRA: Previously on Metafilter. (Via)
posted by zarq on Mar 26, 2012 - 29 comments

Just becuase you're crazy doesn't mean they're not beaming voices into your head.

...this stubborn idea he had about maintaining his sanity took a couple of hard hits when: 1. He presented the shoes that government agents had supposedly melted...which simply looked like worn out running shoes. 2. The government's psychologist and one of Friedman's choosing both concurred that he was totally schizophrenic. Still, Friedman pressed on, demanding better counsel for himself and filing a second Freedom of Information Act (he was not satisfied with the first) for:
"all documents pertaining to the microwave auditory effect, microwave hearing effect, Frey effect, artificial telepathy, and/or any device/weapon which uses and/or causes such effect; and any covert or undisclosed use of hypnosis"
This FOIA request, however, was much more successful. The document (which was verified by wired.com in 2008 through the US Army Intelligence And Security Command Freedom Of Information/Privacy Office), contained quite a bit of interesting/terrifying information...

posted by Slap*Happy on Feb 21, 2012 - 91 comments

Steve Jobs FBI files

Please be advised that the FBI’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) release regarding (STEVEN PAUL JOBS) is now available.
posted by Ad hominem on Feb 9, 2012 - 50 comments

All I want is to be left alone in my average home... But why do I always feel I'm in the twilight zone?

In August 2011, 35 ACLU affiliates filed 381 requests in 32 states with local law enforcement agencies seeking to uncover when, why and how they are using cell phone location data to track Americans. So how long do American cell phone carriers retain information about your calls, text messages, and data use? According to data gathered by the US Department of Justice, it can be as little as a few days or up to seven years, depending on your provider. (Via / More)
posted by zarq on Oct 9, 2011 - 27 comments

I'm shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here!

A series of emails released through a Freedom of Information Act request shine light on collusion between the United States government and TransCanada, a corporation building a controversial pipeline from the Canadian Athabasca oil sands into its southern neighbor. The controversy extends beyond the currently poor safety record for delivering oil between the two countries, and beyond the environmental and health consequences of the oil extraction process for locals and the cost of climate changes it will contribute to, all the way to legal wrangling between Canadian media and Saudi Arabia over the "death panels"-like term "ethical oil", based upon a conservative group's advertising that argues that the purchase of Canadian-sourced oil is a morally superior act, because of oppression of women and human rights violations by the Saudi kingdom.
posted by Blazecock Pileon on Oct 3, 2011 - 73 comments

And how much better to die in all the happy period of undisillusioned youth, to go out in a blaze of light, than to have your body worn out and old and illusions shattered.

A FOIA request for Ernest Hemingway's FBI file has revealed that J. Edgar Hoover had placed him under surveillance due to his activities in Cuba. His fear that the FBI was spying on him was previously viewed as a consequence of the mental deterioration that eventually lead to his suicide.
posted by jeffburdges on Jul 2, 2011 - 76 comments

FOIA request for WI Professor emails

A week ago, University of Wisconsin History Professor Bill Cronon wrote a blog post about the organization he claimed was driving much of the legislation in Wisconsin: ALEC. Shortly after that, he wrote an op ed for the New York Times about the legislation. Now, the Wisconsin GOP have sent a FOIA request to the University requesting all emails that Cronon may have sent containing the terms "Republican, Scott Walker, recall, collective bargaining, AFSCME, WEAC, rally, union ..." and others. Cronon responds, calling it an "Attack [on] academic freedom". (via TPM)
posted by demiurge on Mar 25, 2011 - 119 comments

Corporations, Don't Take It Personally

Today the Supreme Court in ruled 8-0 in FCC v. ATT that corporations have no "personal privacy" exemption under the Freedom of Information Act. The opinion ended the speculation that the Supreme Court would use this case to take yet another step towards equating corporations with actual people. For links to the various briefs, lower court decisions, and a summary of the underlying facts and opinion, visit the SCOTUSblog. [more inside]
posted by Muddler on Mar 1, 2011 - 93 comments

Call the wahmbulance?

The ambulance that was used to carry the body of John F. Kennedy from Andrews Air Force Base to Bethesda Naval Hospital was sold at auction last night for $120,000. Or was it? [more inside]
posted by fixedgear on Jan 23, 2011 - 10 comments

"A Death Threat Magnet"

The FBI has released their extensive files on US Senator Edward M. Kennedy to the public, covering their relationship with him between 1961 and 1985. The seven files, totaling more than 2,200 pages of documents reveal (among other things,) the perhaps unsurprising news that the late Senator received "scores" of death threats from radical groups, including the Ku Klux Klan, “Minutemen” organizations, and the National Socialist White People’s Party. The release was initiated by a Freedom of Information Act Request from Judicial Watch on May 3, 2010, (Complaint pdf) but the FBI gave the Senator's family the "rare opportunity" to raise objections before releasing the file.
posted by zarq on Jun 14, 2010 - 20 comments

Journey to the Bottom of the (Cold War) Sea and Back

Submarine causalities are tragedies of war that are not always directly associated with combat. Systems failures at sea are often mysterious, with evidence and remains disappearing to all but the deepest diving vehicles. This was no different in the Cold War, with non-combat losses from the US and the Soviet Fleets. In that era of nuclear secrets, both those of nuclear-powered submarines and nuclear weapons, learning about the enemy's technology was paramount. Such an opportunity came to the US with the sinking of K-129, a Golf Class II Soviet submarine that went down with 98 men on board. The recovery took over six year, involved the possible payback of Howard Hughes, a videotaped formal sea burial that was eventually copied and given to then-President Boris Yeltsin, and decades of CIA secrecy. [more inside]
posted by filthy light thief on May 27, 2010 - 41 comments

ACPO: We're Private, You're Public?

What is the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO)? It is a private company, financed by UK taxpayers, immune from freedom of information requests. It dictates police operations and sells police national computer data. It may also be engaged in covert domestic surveillance of what it deems as extremists: antiwar protesters, strikers, and others. According to an ACPO spokesperson ""there doesn't seem to be a single, commonly agreed definition."
posted by terranova on Feb 18, 2009 - 22 comments

Who said what now?

Wired: Obama Sides With Bush in Spy Case. "The Obama administration fell in line with the Bush administration Thursday when it urged a federal judge to set aside a ruling in a closely watched spy case weighing whether a U.S. president may bypass Congress and establish a program of eavesdropping on Americans without warrants."
posted by blue_beetle on Jan 23, 2009 - 86 comments

The Open Government Act

Secrecy no more? The first major overhaul of the Freedom of Information act in years is awaiting President Bush's signature. It will finally create an "independent" government agency to handle to disputes between records holders and information requesters. The passage of the act comes after, ironically, after an Arizona senator used a "secret hold" to block the bill. He was ferreted out by a group of journalists.
posted by nospecialfx on Dec 20, 2007 - 26 comments

freedom of information

Do you have an FBI file? Or do your grandpa and grandma? "Find out now by ordering a copy of their FBI files and learn a bit more about your family history. Best of all, it's free! (Well, except for the cost of a postage stamp.)" This web site helps you generate the letters you need to send to the FBI to get a copy of your own FBI file. While we're at it, we can generate request letters to some other Federal agencies besides the FBI that you may be interested in (or who may have been interested in you!). [more inside]
posted by nickyskye on Nov 2, 2007 - 30 comments

John Young of Cryptome: The man behind the world's most dangerous website

When journalists from Radar Magazine interview John Young of Cryptome.org, Young suspects he is actually being double-crossed by MI6 agents.
posted by deern the headlice on Sep 3, 2007 - 23 comments

Senator Secrecy

A senator places a secret hold on a bill designed to counter secrecy in government. The Society of Professional Journalists, which supports the bill, smoked out Senator Jon Kyl (R-AZ) as the source of the hold, one of the more obscure parliamentary tactics possible in the Senate. The bill in question is the OPEN Government Act of 2007, which is an overhaul of the Freedom of Information Act. (See also.) Kyl claims the bill would force the release of "sensitive information." Kyl is also behind a measure that would criminalize the leaking of classified information.
posted by beagle on Jun 1, 2007 - 47 comments

[Obligatory reference to song lyric with Sunshine in it.]

Same Old Dogs, Same Old Tricks. In a rare act of bipartisan cooperation, the House of Representatives passed a group of bills strengthening the FOIA (HR 1309), streamlining access to Presidential Libraries (HR 1255), and expanding safeguards for whistleblowers (still in process, HR 985), with those that were passed having a veto-proof margin. The White House sharply criticized these acts of transparency as unconstitutional, a threat on the established separation of Powers, and as a threat to national security [pdf]. All of which heralds back to an earlier time, that looks vaguely familiar...
posted by rzklkng on Mar 15, 2007 - 23 comments

You can read this but then I'll have to kill you

The NSA Bibliographies The NSA internally publishes thousands of papers every year, on every topic from spycraft to cryptography to physics & aliens (no, really!). Each year the titles of these papers gets indexed & those indexes are also published internally. The Memory Hole has made a successful FOIA request for a large number of these, spanning almost 50 years. We don't get to see the actual papers, but just the titles are fascinating - including such page turners as "Computer Virus Infections: Is NSA Vulnerable?", "KAL 007 Shootdown: A View from [redacted]", "NSA in the Cyberpunk Future", "Telephone Codes and Safe Combinations: A Deadly Duo", "Coupon Collecting and Cryptology", "Cranks, Nuts, and Screwballs" & my personal favorite, "Key to the Extraterrestrial Messages". When you're done browsing the titles, there's a sample form you can use to request some of the documents yourself!
posted by scalefree on Oct 2, 2006 - 10 comments

Me and My Shadow.

Some old news regarding Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld. Further proof that tigers don't change their stripes. Tiger Force in operated in Vietnam, led by the recently-deceased Colonel David Hackworth), with the task of out-guerilla-ing the guerillas. Their attrocities were covered up by Cheney, Rumsfeld, and James Schlesinger, who most recently headed an independent panel probing Abu Gharib. Others incidents inside...
posted by rzklkng on Jul 10, 2006 - 63 comments

Known Searches

The CIA is publishing their top 25 searched-for phrases on the CIA's Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) site. Looks like people are still spooked by UFOs, the Soviet Menace, and JFK. I guess some people think that it could still happen here.
posted by mathowie on Jun 7, 2006 - 12 comments

Freedom of Information Act

Request information using the Freedom of Information Act with this handy form put together by the People For The American Way
posted by Mr_Zero on Mar 2, 2006 - 9 comments

The Monocled Mutineer

Etaples, 1917 - The first and last mutiny of the British Army. The story was first told in "The Monocled Mutineer" by William Allison & John Farley which was later made into a BBC drama (script written by Alan Bleasdale) broadcast in 1986. This program has never been shown since on British terrestrial TV and even resulted in questions being asked in Parliament about the BBC's left-wing bias. The true facts will be classified until 2017, 100 years after the events. [mi]
posted by longbaugh on Jan 5, 2006 - 10 comments

Pentagon FOIA Logs

FOIA'd again Mike Petrelis from 2000 through 2005 and found that major media have used the law on the DoD less than 50 times each in five years. E&P asks if reporters are using the law enough and some think that points to the media's laziness, others think they're missing the point.
posted by nospecialfx on Nov 25, 2005 - 6 comments

Defense Department Refuses to Turn Over Abuse Photographs

Defense Department Refuses to Turn Over Abuse Photographs
Today was the day the government was supposed to process and redact photographs and videos relating to the abuse and torture of prisoners held abroad. Raising new arguments on the eve of its deadline, the United States government refused to release the materials to the public.
June 1, 2005, court order [PDF]; statement from the Center for Constitutional Rights.
posted by kirkaracha on Jul 22, 2005 - 104 comments

Scientia est Potentia

The Intelligence Resource Program from the website of the Federation of American Scientists is a lovely nugget of information about the intelligence field. It has intelligence budget data, threat assessments, imagery information, and more. But, in a little-known unlisted directory you can find intelligence and security related .pdf manuals for all four combat branches of the DOD and even a few others. Check it out, and don't worry because everything there is technically unclassified, it's just hard to find.
posted by mystyk on Jul 1, 2005 - 5 comments

This little light of mine...

So it's Sunshine Week. That's not a weather forecast, but a creation of the press to focus attention on the need for more open government. Some sites have posted How-To Guides on filing a FOIA request, a skill without which sites like this wouldn't be able to publish entertaining mugshots and court documents. My local paper has a package of articles on Sunshine Week. Anything happening in your town?
posted by baltimore on Mar 13, 2005 - 8 comments

National Security Archive

George Washington University's National Security Archive carries a collection of declassified US documents and articles on Saddam Hussein; Mexico, Cuba and other Latin American countries; Nixon's meeting with Elvis; the CIA and Nazi war criminals; etc.
posted by plep on Feb 10, 2005 - 8 comments

An Executive Order Along Torture's Path

Request for guidance regarding the OGC's EC regarding detainee abuse, referring to “interrogation techniques made lawful” by the “President's Executive Order.” comes from Records Released in Response to Torture FOIA Request.
Smoking Gun ? asks the ACLU--or just another stepping stone from Torture's Path ? As Ex-Military Lawyers Object to Bush Cabinet Nominee, and in Torture begins at the top, Joe Conason suggests that a recently disclosed FBI memo indicates that "marching orders" to abandon traditional interrogation methods came from Defense Secretary Rumsfeld himself and all the while Guantánamo torture and humiliation still going on, says shackled Briton. (more inside)
posted by y2karl on Dec 20, 2004 - 35 comments

Ready for WW4 ?

Get Ready For WW4 : FOIA document details SSS preparations for a widespread draft to start with a callup of 36,000 doctors and nurses : an in depth analysis with a detailed timeline : "...the SSS is in fact preparing for the real possibility of a Skills, Medical and Combat Draft for 2005. Congress of course must still pass a 1-page trigger resolution reauthorizing current conscription law, but the Selective Service will by early 2005 have geared up the entire draft system and be prepared to register more than 40 million Americans for a new Skills Draft and the Medical Draft....The NY Times on Oct. 19 published a long article on a subcontractor, Widemeyer Communications, that over the summer consulted the SSS on how a Medical Draft could be started up with minimal attention. The SSS said 36,000 doctors and nurses would be taken in the first batch of draftees. Why would Bush need so many? 36,000 is a huge number....Wesley Clark charges in his book Winning Modern Wars, that a senior Pentagon official told him in 2001 that there was a 5-year plan to topple 7 countries" Here's the Seattle PI's take : "Administration's own actions fuel rumors of draft" Here's a Feb. 2003 document (~500k pdf) obtained under the FOIA, on the SSS plans for a widespread draft. (more inside)
posted by troutfishing on Oct 31, 2004 - 63 comments

um, instead of hiding this info, could you maybe fix the problems?

Nuclear Safety Lapses Won't Be Revealed -- The Nuclear Regulatory Commission announced the change in policy during its first public meeting on power plant safety since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. It drew barbs from critics who said the secrecy would erode public confidence in the agency. Until now, the NRC has provided regular public updates on vulnerabilities its inspectors found at the country's 103 nuclear power reactors, such as broken fences or weaknesses in training programs. The NRC's release is here, which also states that they'll be exempt from Freedom of Information Act requests.
posted by amberglow on Aug 4, 2004 - 13 comments

Coffins

The coffins that George Bush doesn't want you to see. The Memory Hole filed a Freedom of Information Act request for photographs of American servicemen and women who died in Iraq. After an initial refusal, the request was granted. Over a hundred US troops have been killed in action in the last month alone.
posted by digaman on Apr 21, 2004 - 101 comments

Department of Homeland Security to be exempt from the Freedom of Information Act and the Whistleblower Protection Act?

Department of Homeland Security to be exempt from the Freedom of Information Act and the Whistleblower Protection Act? The last episode of NOW ran a piece on the FOIA which described how back in 1974 President Ford and his staff, which included Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney, opposed Congress' strengthening of the FOIA, and Ford tried unsuccessfully to veto it. Now this new exemption looks like the continuation of a 28 year-old feud. Ridge says it is in order to not "draw a road map of critical infrastructure vulnerabilities," but are complete exemptions really necessary for that? The potential for abuse seems quite dangerous. (Some previous discussions of FOIA revelations here and here).
posted by homunculus on Jul 1, 2002 - 17 comments

"A federal judge on Wednesday ordered the Energy Department to release thousands of records on Vice President Dick Cheney's energy task force, criticizing the government for moving at 'a glacial pace.' " Is anyone else interested in this? This is honestly the first time since Bush took office that I've felt optomistic about much. Anyone old enough to remember the look on Nixon's face as he stepped on to Marine One for the last time, when he turned to give the victory sign? The Vice President surely remembers, I wonder if he's thought of it lately?
posted by jack-o on Feb 27, 2002 - 32 comments

On the Public's Right to Know

On the Public's Right to Know or another reason why I hate John Ashcroft.
posted by zedzebedia on Jan 8, 2002 - 25 comments

The U.S. Department of Justice issued a revised memorandum for how to treat requests received under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) that establishing a "sound legal basis" rather than the existing "foreseeable harm" standard for defending FOIA request refusals in court, John Ashcroft FOIA Memorandum, October 12, 2001. This was part of the EFF link below, but it's probably disturbing enough to have it's own discussion.
posted by rhyax on Oct 26, 2001 - 5 comments

Ashcroft issues new policy on FOIA requests

Ashcroft issues new policy on FOIA requests that rescinds a 1993 policy that made it somewhat harder for federal agencies to refuse requests for public records. No surprise, especially given the current situation, but the interesting part is the rationale: Ashcroft cites national security, the effectiveness of law enforcement and protecting sensitive business information. "I encourage your agency to carefully consider the protection of all such values and interests when making disclosure determinations under the FOIA." (via Politechbot)
posted by thescoop on Oct 18, 2001 - 5 comments

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