How to FOIA secret algorithms and White House summits

Sometimes the most direct way to get the answers you want is through a rejection, and sometimes it’s through another agency entirely. In this week’s FOIA roundup, some great examples of creative and persistent requesting that overcame the odds to expose public scrutiny in hard-to-reach places. Plus, FOIA comedy.

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Robert Blum, the spy who shaped the world Part 2

At the same time that Robert Blum was helping shape National Security Council’s policies on covert psychological operations and paramilitary actions, Secretary of Defense Forrestal named Blum to the committee exploring the creation of the Armed Forces Security Agency - the direct predecessor to the NSA.

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Texas wants over a million dollars for records regarding sexual assault in prisons

Our request for investigations of sexual assault in Texas correctional facilities since 2013 returned a price tag of $1,132,024.30 from the Department of Criminal Justice, which says there are more than 260,000 pages of responsive documents that would require more than 61,000 hours to process.

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Robert Blum, the spy who shaped the world Part 1

Even for students of the history of the Intelligence Community (IC), Robert Blum is all but forgotten except as a bureaucrat, a professor, and the head of a philanthropic foundation with ties to the CIA. In reality, he was a counterintelligence chief who worked for several agencies, built large pieces of the United States’ foreign economic policies, had the Director of Central Intelligence fired, and redesigned a significant portion of the IC, including its mechanisms for covert action and propaganda.

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While California is teaching inmates to code, other states ban them from teaching themselves

Lists of banned books acquired by MuckRock through public records requests show that Ohio and Michigan prisons ban books that aim to teach computer programming skills. Their decisions to ban educational texts related to programming, alongside erotica and literature published by neo-nazi groups, are in stark contrast with practices in other states and countries, where prisons include coding in educational programs.

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Projects See all

  • The Private Prison Project

    ★ Featured
    • Contribute
    • 43% funded
    • $4395.00 raised
    • 106 backers
    Despite what you've heard, for-profit detention continues to reap the rewards of an incarceration system filled to the brim and facing an uncertain future. Over the last two years, our FOIA requests have released thousands of documents that show how for-profit prisons have leveraged the legal system to their advantage, letting companies pick-and-choose inmates to off-load costs, ignore complaints and concerns, and create dangerous conditions for prisoners and staff alike. This is all done while billions of taxpayer dollars are funneled into these private companies, which then pour millions into politicians' campaigns to keep their growth going. With your help, we can provide needed scrutiny of an industry few are even aware exists.

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  • Subjects Matter: FBI Files

    ★ Featured
    • Contribute
    • 35% funded
    • $1750.00 raised
    • 13 backers
    From Abbie Hoffman to Malcolm X, Ol' Dirty Bastard to the Insane Clown Posse, FBI files read like a veritable Who's Who of the 20th Century. This project aims to sift through the hundreds of thousands of agency archival material we've managed to get released, so we can better understand why the Bureau had an eye on these people - and through that, better understand who they're keeping tabs on today.

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  • FOIA the Trump Administration

    ★ Featured
    FOIA requests regarding the Trump administration and transition.

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  • Counting the Uncounted: The Sexual Assault Evidence Collection Kit Project

    ★ Featured
    • Contribute
    • 43% funded
    • $505.00 raised
    • 8 backers
    • 1 month, 1 week remaining
    Despite an estimated 175,000 sexual assault evidence collection kits that sit untested in evidence rooms and crime labs across the country, there is no federal law in place mandating policies or testing of kits, and we don't know how many more go uncounted. This project aims to end that, one city and one kit at a time.

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