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The CIA’s six most dangerous FOIA topics

In a 1978 memo urging the curbing of the newly-empowered Freedom of Information Act, the CIA compiled a list of six FOIA request topics considered to be the most potentially dangerous to the Agency’s reputation.

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The strange death, and even stranger life of “Cocaine Cowboy” Andrew Carter Thornton II

Andrew Carter Thornton II (ACT II) is a name unknown to most except as a piece of historical trivia - the man who fell from the sky in 1985 with millions of dollars of cocaine strapped to his body. To a few others, he’s one of the men tied to a drug operation that was fueling and fueled by government corruption, whose roots were traced as far as the Kentucky Governor’s mansion. But reality, revealed through his FBI file, is even stranger, tracing the corruption surrounding ACT II all the way back to the CIA.

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IRS achieves a new milestone in FOIA denial: the password-protected Glomar

Two years ago, we wrote about the IRS giving us one of our most infamous FOIA responses - an encrypted CD full of entirely redacted documents. Now, just a couple days before Tax Day, the agency does it again, reaching new heights of frustration with our first password-protected Glomar rejection.

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The Centers for Disease Control’s missing biolabs

When Bradley Campbell asked the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) for a list of all their labs operating at the highest biosafety level - and therefore dealing with the deadliest pathogens - the CDC rejected the request on national security grounds, claiming thy could “neither confirm nor deny” that information. When Campbell pushed back, their response was somewhat troubling: they didn’t have the list.

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Maine State Police “can neither confirm nor deny” use of cellphone surveillance

When we filed requests with police departments across the country for their use of cell site simulators, we expected some pushback. Nonetheless, we were taken aback when Maine State Police made it into a matter of national security.

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