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Subjects Matter: FBI Files

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From Abbie Hoffman to Malcolm X, Ol' Dirty Bastard to the Insane Clown Posse, FBI files read like a veritable Who's Who of the 20th Century. This project aims to sift through the hundreds of thousands of agency archival material we've managed to get released, so we can better understand why the Bureau had an eye on these people - and through that, better understand who they're keeping tabs on today.

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Iran-Contra, October Surprise and Reagan's Wrongs

A look into the wrongdoings of the Reagan administration and campaign, including the October Surprise, Debategate, MCA Records, the Inslaw and Wedtech scandals and the Iran-Contra scandal, which has been called Reagan's unchecked abuse of Presidential power.

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Inventorying the FBI

An project to take inventory of the FBI's files on different subjects in order to identify what the FBI has worked on and to help requesters know what files they can request.

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242 Articles

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Breitbart News’ FBI file details how site accidentally DDoS’d itself … but withholds over a thousand pages

On January 17, 2016, the alt-right news site Breitbart found itself under siege: A number of IP addresses were sending a large amount of traffic its way, straining its servers. Writing to the FBI two days later with the subject line “Request for assistance,” someone (identity redacted) shared the source of the IP addresses and asked that the FBI “explore the possibility that the identity of the criminal … be identified from this fingerprint.” It turns out, it was an inside job.

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Truman Capote’s publisher tried to get the FBI to vouch for writer’s “In Cold Blood” investigation

FBI files on publisher Bennett Cerf show the Random House co-founder trying to use his leverage with the Bureau to get them to vouch for author Truman Capote’s investigation into the 1959 Clutter murders, which would eventually become the seminal true crime novel In Cold Blood.

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FBI couldn’t get a clear picture on abstract artist Ellsworth Kelly

Ellsworth Kelly spent nearly all of his 92 years creating geometrically-concerned works of abstract and colorful art - a focus he tuned for some time as a Camouflage Technician for the U.S. Army during World War II. But when he applied to participate in the European Recovery Program - popularly known as the Marshall Plan - he generated 50-odd pages in the files of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, not for his military exploits but for concerns that an art school friendship might have been something more.

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The Enduring Octopus: What FOIA withholdings reveal about the PROMIS scandal Part 2

According to the Department of Justice, not only is some material on the PROMIS affair being withheld to protect wiretap information, the FBI’s material is also being withheld to protect the Intelligence Community’s sources and methods, except where it was lost or destroyed as so often happens with files relating to the PROMIS scandal. In addition, the DOJ also positively affirmed that as of earlier this year, the FBI had an open investigation relating to PROMIS while hinting that part of it remains “pending” even now.

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The Enduring Octopus: What FOIA withholdings reveal about the PROMIS scandal Part 1

Over two decades after Danny Casolaro died while investigating the PROMIS affair, a recent FOIA response from the National Archives confirms that it truly is “the scandal that wouldn’t die.” Where a previous release saw only 4% of the total redacted and nothing withheld in full, this release sees 23% of the pages redacted or withheld in full. The letter from the Archives’ suggests that the difference is due to the presence of wiretap information in the Casolaro investigation, a fact which has been previously undisclosed by the government.

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53 Requests

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2 Questions

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900 ISIS-related FBI inquiries
Are FOIA Appeals published in the Federal Register once they are rejected by the FBI/DOJ ?