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Guerrilla FOIAfare: How to use exemption codes to find the most interesting documents hidden in the CIA archives

Guerrilla FOIAfare: How to use exemption codes to find the most interesting documents hidden in the CIA archives

As many researchers have learned over the years, government agencies in general and the Central Intelligence Agency in particular often apply exemptions very broadly, and at times, bordering on the ridiculous. Exemption codes, on the other hand, can still be useful to researchers, journalists, and curious citizens; by searching for these codes, clever researchers can find documents that discuss war plans, cryptography, WMDs, and diplomatically damaging information.

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CIA wishes you a safe and happy █████ season

CIA wishes you a safe and happy █████ season

Thanks to the plenty of duplicates that can end up in the Central Intelligence Agency’s CREST archive, a cryptic version of the Agency’s December 20th, 1985 greetings to its worldwide employees is actually available in nearly-full format and available for reuse in your holiday-themed office-wide newsletter.

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We need to talk about █████: JFK records and how arbitrary classification hurts democracy

We need to talk about █████: JFK records and how arbitrary classification hurts democracy

The underwhelming nature of the so-called “final release” of records related to the JFK assassination provides an excellent opportunity to talk about our culture’s curious acceptance of “classified” history.

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Che Guevara records in CIA's archives are still heavily redacted 50 years later

Che Guevara records in CIA’s archives are still heavily redacted 50 years later

A half a century after the death of longtime Central Intelligence Agency communist target Che Guevara, gaps in the Agency’s holdings remain restricted.

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CIA’s 60 year war with the Government Accountability Office: the new millennium Part 2

CIA’s 60 year war with the Government Accountability Office: the new millennium Part 2

As a result of the failure by the Senate Intelligence Committee to restore the GAO’s authority to audit or review the Central Intelligence Agency, by the next year that immunity had spread to the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, which had assumed some of the Agency’s responsibilities in coordinating the Intelligence Community. Like CIA, the ODNI cited a legally dubious position in a 1988 letter from the DOJ Office of Legal Counsel stating that the GAO had no authority to look at anything relating to “intelligence activities.” Also like CIA, the ODNI used a such a broad definition of intelligence activities so that “by definition” they were categorically exempt.

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