The Freedom of Information Act FOIA

Linked with National Security Archive (September 28th, 2005).

The U.S. Freedom of Information Act FOIA is a law ensuring public access to U.S. government records. FOIA carries a presumption of disclosure; the burden is on the government – not the public – to substantiate why information may not be released. Upon written request, agencies of the United States government are required to disclose those records, unless they can be lawfully withheld from disclosure under one of nine specific exemptions in the FOIA. This right of access is ultimately enforceable in federal court.

Text of the FOIA:

Homepage;
What’s New;
documents;
FOIA basics;
news;
guide for researchers;
Internships;
Newsletter;
contact.

About: An independent non-governmental research institute and library located at The George Washington University, the Archive collects and publishes declassified documents obtained through the Freedom of Information Act.

The Archive also serves as a repository of government records on a wide range of topics pertaining to the national security, foreign, intelligence, and economic policies of the United States. The Archive won the 1999 George Polk Award, one of U.S. journalism’s most prestigious prizes, for-in the words of the citation-”piercing the self-serving veils of government secrecy, guiding journalists in the search for the truth and informing us all.”

The Archive obtains its materials through a variety of methods, including the Freedom of Information act, Mandatory Declassification Review, presidential paper collections, congressional records, and court testimony. Archive staff members systematically track U.S. government agencies and federal records repositories for documents that either have never been released before, or that help to shed light on the decision-making process of the U.S. government and provide the historical context underlying those decisions.

The Archive regularly publishes portions of its collections on microfiche, the World Wide Web, CD-Rom, and in books. The Washington Journalism Review called these publications, collectively totaling more than 500,000 pages, “a state-of-the-art index to history.” The Archive’s World Wide Web site, www.nsarchive.org, has won numerous awards including USA Today’s “Hot Site” designation.

As a part of its mission to broaden access to the historical record, the Archive is also a leading advocate and user of the Freedom of Information Act. Precedent-setting Archive lawsuits have brought into the public domain new materials on the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Iran-Contra Affair, and other issues that have changed the way scholars interpret those events. The Archive spearheaded the groundbreaking legal effort to preserve millions of pages of White House e-mail records that were created during the Reagan, Bush, and Clinton administrations … (full text).

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