FOIA is both a vital tool for the public to gain access to government records, and a frustrating process that reveals infuriating facts and sometimes even more infuriating government employees - as well as super helpful public servants who replenish your faith in humanity just enough to keep you filing FOIAs another day.
Here’s the best and worst of some of MuckRock’s recent interactions with the keepers of public information.
Mexico’s “Dirty War,” nestled in the middle of what the Central Intelligence Agency called a period of “stability” for the country was carried out in part by their asset Miguel Nazar Haro and his secret police. Nazar would later be arrested for his role in the “disappearance” of 1,200 dissidents, and investigated for torture, murder, and even genocide, all while working with, and protected by, the CIA.
When Mexican spymaster Miguel Nazar Haro was implicated in a car theft ring operating in both the United States and Mexico, the Central Intelligence Agency moved to prevent prosecution of one of their most valuable assets. As the ensuing investigation revealed, however, the web of corruption surrounding Nazar connected to more than just grand theft auto, with ties to narcotics trafficking, the torture and disappearance of numerous dissidents, and at the murder of a DEA Agent.
A DEA Intelligence Report on “Drug Slang Code Words” obtained by Public Intelligence offers law enforcement a list of “street names” for various illicit substances. Marijuana, unsurprisingly, has the largest number of entries, although, upon closer inspection, you have to wonder what the agents who compiled the list were smoking.
The Government Accountability Office investigations into Central Intelligence Agency-linked illegal activities are often stymied - a process well documented in files discussing the GAO’s attempt to investigate General Noriega’s ties to drug trafficking, and what the Intelligence Community knew, and when. Documents previously leaked to the Washington Post have now been declassified, confirming the Post’s reporting and providing new details about how CIA blocked all of GAO’s audits touching on any subject which required oversight.