Original reporting, commentary, and analysis of public records by MuckRock’s staff and affiliates, with new articles every weekday.

When Congresswoman Bella Abzug and the CIA went to war

Congresswoman Bella Abzug infamously had issues with trusting CIA when it came to their handling evidence of illegal and improper Agency activities. Internal memos shows those fears were well-founded - while the Congresswoman fought to prevent the destruction of records of CIA wrongdoing, the Agency rushed to begin destroying everything they could.

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Harrowing audio clip reveals unlicensed bounty hunters running amok in North Dakota

After filing near 50 public records requests tracking regulations that may or may not exist on bail enforcement agents (also commonly called bail recovery agents or bounty hunters), is that the industry is almost entirely devoid of any meaningful oversight. A perfect illustration of this comes to us from North Dakota’s Insurance Department, which helpfully provided a lone audio file concerning a violent struggle by an unlicensed bounty hunter team, and a single complaint written by a woman whose brother had experienced the wrath of an abusive bail agent.

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CIA’s release of ORIS database could change the way FOIA requests are made to the Agency

In 1985, citing concerns regarding “difficulty determining what has been publicly disclosed,” the CIA had a truly great idea that would serve both the Agency and the public’s interest in government transparency - a “proposal to establish a focal point to record CIA information released to the public.” The resulting Officially Released Information System, or ORIS, would take years to finally implement, and thanks to a recent FOIA, it might finally become the transparency tool it has the potential to be.

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FOIA’ing Dixie: A look inside Corey Stewart’s Confederate carpetbag

Curious to see what the email inbox of controversial Gubernatorial candidate Corey Stewart looked like after his comments attacking proponents of removing Confederate Statue, Virginian native Tom Nash filed a public records request. After some pushback, the commonwealth relented, and what they released makes for a fascinating read.

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CIA memo highlights the dilemma of declassification

One of the dilemmas of reading declassified documents is that readers are constantly faced with the question of whether or not to take the exemptions at face value - after all, CIA redacts beer brands and cafeteria names while claiming to “protect sources and methods.” Doing so erodes faith in the Agency’s choices to redact certain pieces of information, creating a situation where one of two possibilities are likely: that the CIA chose to improperly redact information to protect itself from embarrassment regarding improper activities, or that some of those activities are still seen as at least potentially valid.

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