Steven Rich, the database editor for the investigations team at The Washington Post, recently gained access to a database that traced every pain pill distributed across the US between 2006 and 2012. The database provides a look at where opioids have been distributed by which pharmaceutical companies, and shows that the federal government has long been aware of the scope of the opioid crisis. Rich spoke to MuckRock about taking advantage of a lawsuit to gain access to the Drug Enforcement Administration pain pill database and how to use public records to report on private companies.
This week’s FOIA round-up: DEA database points to companies’ roles in opioid epidemic and Interior emails reveal violations of federal ethics rules
In this week’s FOIA round-up, the Washington Post and HD Media gain access to a database that tracks opioid distribution, emails obtained through a FOIA request reveal the extent of a top Department of the Interior official’s violations of federal ethics rules, and city and court records reveal that in one Alaska town every single police officer has been convicted of domestic violence.
In response to a FOIA request filed by Emma Best back in June, the Federal Bureau of Investigation has located close to 22,000 pages of records on Adler Berriman “Barry” Seal, a notorious drug smuggler with ties to the Central Intelligence Agency, whose life was most recently fictionalized in the 2017 film American Made.
A newly released Federal Bureau of Investigation memo shows that the exposure of Scientology’s “Operation Snow White” and the resulting 1979 convictions didn’t end government concerns about Scientology infiltrators.
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.