Your annual reminder: FOIA still doesn’t apply to private prisons

Though challenges have been brought successfully in four states where private prisons operate, federal public records law remains inapplicable to the operations of for-profit prisons.

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The FBI can’t decide what it has on the Tor Project

Three MuckRock users filed FOIA requests from 2013 to 2015 for FBI files on The Tor Project, Inc., the developer of Tor. The software enables (in theory) untraceable access to both the regular internet and a network of websites inaccessible through other browsers, commonly called the “dark web.” Each request returned radically different sets of records, most predating the first request, and all linked only by their lack of substantial information.

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Declassified CIA memo predicted the 1980 October Surprise

A formerly TOP SECRET memo to the CIA Director written by the Agency’s Office of Political Analysis shows that as early as August 1980, the Agency had concluded Iranian hardliners such as Ayatollah Khomeini were “determined to exploit the hostage issue to bring about President Carter’s defeat in the November elections.” While the document doesn’t prove the Reagan campaign intended to collude with Iran, it does document Iran’s motives and matches the October Surprise narrative outlined by former CIA officers.

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How you can use FOIA to dig into Trump’s business empire, environmental danger, and dubious site downtime

Every week, journalists, researchers, and every day people use public records laws and the Freedom of Information Act to shine light on important (or at least interesting) issues in the most unexpected places. Whether you’re just getting started with public records or are a seasoned document hunters, here’s ideas to help jumpstart your own requesting.

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CIA psychic program undone by a burrito

By the early ’90s, the multi-agency program investigating psychic phenomenon known as STARGATE was nearing its end. After decades of dubious “remote viewing” experiments, the CIA been tasked by Congress with consolidating and evaluating the program’s efficacy - and little did anyone know, but that evaluation was about to be heavily influenced by one subject’s lunch.

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Projects See all

  • The Private Prison Project

    ★ Featured
    • Contribute
    • 43% funded
    • $4360.00 raised
    • 104 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
    • 34% funded
    • $1725.00 raised
    • 12 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
    • 35% funded
    • $405.00 raised
    • 7 backers
    • 2 months 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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