Institute for Historical Review (IHR)

Emma North-Best filed this request with the Federal Bureau of Investigation of the United States of America .
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Est. Completion None
No Responsive Documents


From: Michael Best

To Whom It May Concern:

This is a request under the Freedom of Information Act. I hereby request the following records:

Records relating to or mentioning theInstitute for Historical Review (IHR). Founded in 1978 by Willis Carto, a longtime anti-Semite, the Institute for Historical Review (IHR) is a pseudo-academic organization that claims to seek "truth and accuracy in history," but whose real purpose is to promote Holocaust denial and defend Nazism.

In 1978, Willis Carto, founder and head of the anti-Semitic Liberty Lobby, based in Washington, D.C., spun off a new organization called the Institute for Historical Review (IHR). It presented itself as a legitimate historical research group, devoted to "revisionism" — a term hijacked from a school of credible historians who offered new interpretations for the origins of World War I. But in fact, it was made up of white supremacists and neo-Nazis, and it would draw expertise from the like-minded around the world. Its mission was to erase the Holocaust by any means at its disposal — including distortion, misquotation and outright falsification.

IHR's first annual conference in 1979 attracted deniers from around the world and helped to introduce some key American extremists to Holocaust denial. David Duke, the neo-Nazi who was then the national leader of the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, was so taken with the idea that he followed up the conference with a "Special Holocaust Edition" of his Crusader newspaper. In the same way, National Socialist Party of America leader Frank Collin enthusiastically embraced denial, saying, "There was no Holocaust, but they deserve one — and will get it." For years, IHR's yearly conferences were key events that offered networking opportunities for neo-Nazis and anti-Semites from around the world.

A critical contribution by IHR was the pseudo-academic gloss it applied to its anti-Semitism. The group actively tried to avoid blatant anti-Jewish slurs, and instead sought to couch its politics in distortions of history and science meant to sound reasonable. Though the theories that resulted were far out, they had at least the appearance of legitimacy, as did The Journal of Historical Review that the IHR began to publish in 1980. Deniers would claim, for example, that the Anne Frank diary is a fraud because it contained marks made with a postwar ballpoint pen (they didn't mention that the marks were made later by Frank's father, who survived German concentration camps to edit and publish the diary). They would assert that the death-camp ovens were not capable of burning as many bodies as the Allies had said were disposed of after gassing. They lied about the qualities of the Zyklon B gas used to kill Jews, the operation of the Einsatzgruppen (the mobile killing squads which shot to death more than 1 million Jews in Eastern Europe), and hundreds of other facts. Through it all, IHR sought to give the appearance that its writers were honest, if skeptical, students of history.

Throughout the 1980s and early 1990s, IHR hosted conferences that attracted various well-known Holocaust deniers from around the world: Ernst Zündel and John Ball of Canada (Zündel was later deported by Canada to his native Germany); Robert Faurisson of France; Friedrich Berg of Germany; Carlo Mattogno of Italy; and Jürgen Graf and Arthur Vogt of Switzerland. Most notably, David Irving, a writer whose Holocaust denial activities caused a British judge to label him "a right-wing, pro-Nazi polemicist," attended in 1983, and went on to speak before at least four more conferences, in 1989, 1990, 1992, 1994, as well as at numerous other IHR events.

While outwardly thriving during this period, internally there was a power struggle going on for control of IHR. In the mid-1980s, Mark Weber, a former news editor of National Vanguard, a neo-Nazi publication of the National Alliance, began taking a leading role at Willis Carto's IHR. In 1984, Weber began leading the group's annual conferences, and the next year he joined the IHR's editorial advisory committee; in 1992, he took over IHR's The Journal of Historical Review. In 1993, with Weber's support, the IHR board ousted Carto as its leader, accusing him of interfering in editorial decisions. The following May, Carto and his wife tried to retake IHR by occupying its California offices, a situation that led to fistfights and Carto being forcefully removed by the police. Around the same time, another dispute between IHR and Carto broke out, with IHR leaders accusing Carto of diverting some $10 million that was allegedly left to IHR's parent body, the Legion for the Survival of Freedom.

During the decade of litigation that followed, Carto's The Spotlight, the newspaper published by his Liberty Lobby, characterized Weber as a "rat," "cockroach" and "devil," but in the end Weber's side basically won. In 1996, a California court ruled in favor of IHR, saying that Carto owed the Legion for the Survival of Freedom $6.43 million. In 2001, The Spotlight was shut down, although it was rapidly replaced with the look-alike American Free Press, which like its predecessor focused on the alleged evils of "Zionism," wild-eyed conspiracy theories, and wacky alternative health claims. Carto also created The Barnes Review, a new Holocaust denial journal that competed directly with IHR.

While Weber and the IHR won their lawsuits, the fight with Carto proved to be a great distraction for the organization. It could not regularly publish the bimonthly The Journal of Historical Review (no issues were published between April 1996 and May 1997) and it was unable to hold any conferences between 1994 and 2000. IHR did manage to put on a major conference in 2000, with Irving, Zündel, and other notable Holocaust deniers in attendance, but a planned 2001 conference on "Revisionism and Zionism" in Beirut, Lebanon, was cancelled after the host government "would not permit the four-day meeting to take place."

Since then, the IHR has continued to decline. By 2003, it had stopped publishing its journal and its once-large conferences were reduced to mostly small, one-day affairs with a couple of speakers. A major blow came in 2009 when Weber decided to downgrade Holocaust denial in favor of criticizing Jews and Israel. Weber was viciously attacked by several important revisionists, many of whom called for his resignation from IHR. Weber still speaks in public and on radio shows such as "The Political Cesspool," which is run by white nationalist James Edwards of Memphis, Tenn. IHR also still maintains its website and continues to sell extremist books, but it is clearly a shadow of its former self.

Please conduct a search of the Central Records System, including but not limited to the Electronic Surveillance (ELSUR) Indices, the Microphone Surveillance (MISUR) Indices, the Physical Surveillance (FISUR) Indices, and the Technical Surveillance (TESUR) Indices, for both main-file records and cross-reference records of both HQ and all field offices for all relevant names, agencies, organizations, companies and events including but not limited to those cited in the previous paragraphs and/or links as well as a cross-reference with the Southern Poverty Law Center to include any information provided by the SPLC. My request includes but is not limited to 137, 157, 176, 177, 183, 184, 188, and 214 files. If previously released records are available, then I request a rolling release consisting of those records while additional records are located and processed for release.

I am a member of the news media and request classification as such. I have previously written about the government and its activities for AND Magazine, MuckRock and Glomar Disclosure and have an open arrangement with each. My articles have been widely read, with some reaching over 100,000 readers. As such, as I have a reasonable expectation of publication and my editorial and writing skills are well established. In addition, I discuss and comment on the files online and make them available through the non-profit Internet Archive, disseminating them to a large audience. While my research is not limited to this, a great deal of it, including this, focuses on the activities and attitudes of the government itself. As such, it is not necessary for me to demonstrate the relevance of this particular subject in advance. Additionally, case law states that “proof of the ability to disseminate the released information to a broad cross-section of the public is not required.” Judicial Watch, Inc. v. Dep’t of Justice, 365 F.3d 1108, 1126 (D.C. Cir. 2004); see Carney v. U.S. Dep’t of Justice, 19 F.3d 807, 814-15 (2d Cir. 1994). Further, courts have held that "qualified because it also had “firm” plans to “publish a number of . . . ‘document sets’” concerning United States foreign and national security policy." Under this criteria, as well, I qualify as a member of the news media. Additionally, courts have held that the news media status "focuses on the nature of the requester, not its request. The provision requires that the request be “made by” a representative of the news media. Id. § 552(a)(4)(A)(ii)(II). A newspaper reporter, for example, is a representative of the news media regardless of how much interest there is in the story for which he or she is requesting information." As such, the details of the request itself are moot for the purposes of determining the appropriate fee category. As such, my primary purpose is to inform about government activities by reporting on it and making the raw data available and I therefore request that fees be waived.

The requested documents will be made available to the general public, and this request is not being made for commercial purposes.

In the event that there are fees, I would be grateful if you would inform me of the total charges in advance of fulfilling my request. I would prefer the request filled electronically, by e-mail attachment if available or CD-ROM if not.

Thank you in advance for your anticipated cooperation in this matter. I look forward to receiving your response to this request within 20 business days, as the statute requires.


Michael Best

From: FOIPARequest

Good morning,

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From: Federal Bureau of Investigation

A no responsive documents response.

From: Michael Best

I am appealing the integrity of the search, based on but not limited to the failure to perform searches for ALL indices specified, the failure to search field offices as specified and the failure to perform the cross-reference searches requested using the ample information I provided in the original request.


02/15/2017 12:18 PM FOIA Request: DOJ-AP-2017-002298


DOJ-AP-2017-002298 has been processed with the following final disposition: Completely reversed/remanded.

  • Best, Michael, DOJ-AP-2017-002298, FBI-Remand cross references search

From: Muckrock Staff

To Whom It May Concern:
I wanted to follow up on the following request, copied below. Please let me know when I can expect to receive a response.
Thanks for your help, and let me know if further clarification is needed.

From: Muckrock Staff

To Whom It May Concern:
I wanted to follow up on the following request, copied below. Please let me know when I can expect to receive a response.
Thanks for your help, and let me know if further clarification is needed.

From: Federal Bureau of Investigation

A no responsive documents response.