The Secret to Getting Top-Secret Secrets
June 19, 2014 7:12 PM   Subscribe

Shhhh, don't tell.
posted by sammyo at 8:13 PM on June 19, 2014

Excellent story, thanks for this.
posted by Daddy-O at 8:39 PM on June 19, 2014

Nicely done - thank you.
posted by speug at 9:09 PM on June 19, 2014

Well worth the read, and I'm forwarding it to some of my journo chums - we need that sort of obsessive drive here in the UK, bashing down the doors through our own (much more recent and not terribly good) FOIA. Though hopefully not bought at such personal cost
posted by Devonian at 3:29 AM on June 20, 2014

Very cool, @JasonLeopold followed, thanks!
posted by jeffburdges at 3:30 AM on June 20, 2014 [1 favorite]

He reminds me of - and I say this with admiration - one of those super dedicated coupon-clippers who pays like $12 for a full cart of groceries. It's a work flow that really seems to suit him.
posted by klarck at 4:20 AM on June 20, 2014 [2 favorites]

This is inspirational.
posted by oceanjesse at 5:06 AM on June 20, 2014

It's great that we have someone like him out there. And more on the way, from the sound of it. I love the detail about requesting the process notes, to better work the system in the future.
posted by vibratory manner of working at 11:39 AM on June 20, 2014

I tweeted this page directly at him, so hopefully he shows up!
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 1:07 PM on June 20, 2014 [1 favorite]

One day at lunch—a Greek place in Beverly Hills—he tells me he dreams of discovering the ultimate document ... The Document. A record of such clear and deep injustice that it will upend trust in the powerful at the same time it restores trust in him. A thing he can show not just to the public but to the journalism community, to his peers, and say, “Okay, are we good now?”

He'd better hope that never happens, because if it did he would immediately begin to experience a compulsion to vandalize it; the way he did with the Rove story, and before that his gig at the LA Times, and before that at The Whittier Daily News, and before that the music thing, and before that at NYU, and before that and before that all the way down maybe to one of those times his father was beating him with the arm that had the panther tattoo on it.

He thinks he wants to be in everybody's good graces, but I think what he really wants is to always be working his way back into those good graces. Just the way he is right now.

I loved the touch of blanking out the plate on his Mercedes, and his resemblance to Levine's caricature of IF Stone as seen in the poster on the wall in the first shot is nothing less than uncanny-- as is the resemblance of his investigative technique to Stone's. That's where you could look if you need a father figure's approval, Mr. Leopold, to someone who can never give it, but would be so proud of you if he were still alive.
posted by jamjam at 2:51 PM on June 20, 2014 [1 favorite]

Leopold has shown that it’s possible to build an entire working method around FOIA. Over and over, by demanding information more creatively and more persistently than anyone else, he gets documents no one else gets, like the military’s horrifyingly clinical description of how guards at Guantánamo are force-feeding prisoners on hunger strikes, and manuals describing how the Department of Homeland Security is monitoring Twitter for terrorist threats, and FBI records about the late investigative journalist Michael Hastings. (Leopold got the Hastings records by suing the bureau along with Ryan Shapiro, a friend and fellow FOIA obsessive; the documents showed that the bureau opened a file on Hastings to “memorialize controversial reporting” by him, including a story in Rolling Stone about the American prisoner of war Bowe Bergdahl, captured in 2009 by the Taliban and released in May.)
Speaking of Hastings: Michael Hastings' Life After Death: A year after his fatal car crash, reporter’s darkly funny autobiographical novel

"The Last Magazine": One Year After Death, Michael Hastings’ Lost Novel Satirizes Corporate Media
posted by homunculus at 6:28 PM on June 22, 2014 [1 favorite]

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