On Monday, Democratic Congressional candidate Abigail Spanberger shared that a complete, unredacted copy of her federal security clearance application, known as an SF-86, was released to a Republican opposition research group America Rising through FOIA. Here’s some background on what that means, how it might have happened, and the potential fallout.
Vanessa Nason, who runs our “Counting the Uncounted: The Sexual Assault Evidence Collection Kit Project,” reflects on a year spent tracking down the extent of the rape kit backlog in America.
The National Archives and Records Administration’s recent announcement that there will be no Barack Obama Presidential Library was met with understandable outrage from historians and transparency advocates, who saw it as a blow to a functioning democracy. However, as the National Security Archive’s Nate Jones was quick to point out, this discussion needs to be understood in the larger context of NARA’s current failings in the presidential library system, where FOIA requests can take years, even decades.
Last month, a federal court ruled that the Central Intelligence Agency can selectively disclose classified information while shielding its release from FOIA in order to protect “intelligence sources and methods.” That ruling ignores the Agency’s history of arbitrarily applying that label to everything from beer brands to cafeteria names and using it to hide behavior that was embarrassing, illegal, or both.
As someone who has been threatened with jail, lawsuits, and the occasional death threat over requests I’ve filed or helped file, I understand how frustrating public records can be. But with Sunshine Week 2018 wrapped up, I think it’s worth taking note of everything that’s gone well.