Records requests can take anywhere between a few days to sometimes even years. But how much does the level of the agency impact how long you’ll have to wait? Eesha Pendharkar sifted through the last four years of our request data to find out.
An eight page document unearthed in the Central Intelligence Agency’s declassified archives offers a standardized procedure for remote viewing, the psychic espionage technique utilized by various agencies during the government’s decades-long researcher into the militarization of ESP.
Troy Thibodeaux, the Associated Press’ data desk editor, joined us on MuckRock’s Slack channel to talk about how to get and use data.
Private prison giant GEO Group appeals to the powers of the federal government and property rights to allow continued operation in Tacoma, Washington.
The Trump administration’s policies will be benefiting the bank accounts of the country’s largest for-profit prison operators and echo correctional policies that have been controversial since the ’80s.
The administration’s attitude has helped to make the last year one of the most promising for the private prison industry, but local initiatives continue to combat its expansion at home.
The official record on the 2015 death of Mikhail Lesin deems the event an accident, the result of falling and suffering a number of “blunt force injuries” in his hotel room after a days-long alcohol binge. But while others have cast doubt on that account, attributing it to more nefarious external actors, materials released by the Federal Bureau of Investigation don’t contradict the accidental death determination.
Back in 2014, MuckRock reported that a request for Federal Bureau of Investigation files on the online movement “#GamerGate” had been rejected on grounds there were ongoing criminal investigations. Several years later, the FBI released a heavily-redacted copy of that file, largely consisting of the Bureau looking to various death threats related to the movement. While details are scarce, a one point it appears as if the threats had escalated to full-blown nuclear retaliation.
At the height of the Cold War, an informant’s tips resulted in the Federal Bureau of Investigation looking into the then newly-formed LGBT organization, the Mattachine Society and their publication ONE Magazine. The FBI was concerned that the organization was pro-Communist and had been publishing articles detailing allegations of unfair government discrimination and entrapment by police departments.
UPDATED: Help release the FBI files on the Black Panther informant involved in the murder of Fred Hampton
In response to a FOIA request for the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s files on Black Panther informant William O’Neal, the Bureau located over 7,000 pages. But actually releasing the documents will cost a duplication fee of $250. You can chip in and help.
Until recently, police in Columbus, Ohio couldn’t differentiate between rape kits and shopping carts
A public records request with the Columbus Police Department revealed that until a year ago, the department tagged rape kits in evidence as “other,” a designation also used for shopping carts and cell phones.
For the last year, we’ve been requesting data surrounding the national backlog of untested sexual assault evidence. While we still don’t know the actual number- so far more than 225,000 rape kits have been found sitting on evidence collection shelves and in hospitals from coast to coast - we have a greater understanding of the many hurdles victims and law enforcement face. There are many reasons rape kits go untested, and the lack of forensic funding continues to exacerbate the problem.
Trump signs the SAFER Act of 2017, strengthening efforts to eliminate the nationwide rape kit backlog
Amid #metoo stories and Hollywood’s women coalescing around a fight against sexual assault and harassment in the workplace, there’s finally some good news: President Donald Trump has signed the SAFER (Sexual Assault Forensic Evidence Reporting) Act of 2017. In doing so, Trump reauthorized the original SAFER Act of 2013, extending and strengthening efforts to eliminate the nationwide rape kit backlog.
After hearing stories of women having to travel long distances to receive the rape kit exams that are guaranteed to them under the Violence Against Women Act, we began to file the same request with the health departments in all 50 states asking for locations where sexual assault forensic examiners are available on staff or on-call. Like most of the other data surrounding sexual assault policies, what we’ve found so far varies widely, and there are large deserts - huge, mostly rural areas without easy access to a medical examiner
Breaking the law with snail mail, large fees for student newspapers, and whether tweets are public record
What’s considered public record or not is not a new debate. But the increasing prevalence of social media use amongst government agencies and officials, such as Twitter, brings up a new debate: If you delete social media posts on an official account, is it a violation of public records laws?
Adam Marshall recently joined us to talk about government surveillance and answer common questions that can stump FOIA requesters. Find out what you missed and details on Friday’s upcoming FOIA chat.
For Sunshine Week, we’re excited to launch a new collaboration that makes it easy to explore every state’s public records laws, find sample appeals, and more.
With Sunshine Week just around the corner, we wanted to count down the days to our favorite time of year with a closer look at what’s going on behind the black bars: the nine federal FOIA exemptions. Today, we’re wrapping things up with perhaps the rarest of all exemptions: b(9), the one about wells.