Freedom of Information Act request filed for President’s beer recipe

After President Obama publicly debuted the White House’s home-brewed honey ale — aptly named White House Honey Ale — at a campaign stop last month, reporters and home-brewers alike have begged for details on the recipe. After a campaign on the White House’s “We The People” petition website failed, a Reddit user decided to take a more direct approach. Pictured above is an excerpt from a request filed under the Freedom of Information Act, asking that the White House release the recipe to a home-brewer with non-commercial ambitions. Do you think it’ll work? (Photo via Reddit user imatexasda) source

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CIA Rejects Freedom of Information Act Request for Climate Data

Via Secrecy News:

When the Central Intelligence Agency established a Center on Climate Change and National Security in 2009, it drew fierce opposition from congressional Republicans who disputed the need for an intelligence initiative on this topic. But now there is a different, and possibly better, reason to doubt the value of the Center: It has adopted an extreme view of classification policy which holds that everything the Center does is a national security secret.

Last week, the CIA categorically denied (pdf) a request under the Freedom of Information Act for a copy of any Center studies or reports concerning the impacts of global warming.

“We completed a thorough search for records responsive to your request and located material that we determined is currently and properly classified and must be denied in its entirety…,” wrote CIA’s Susan Viscuso to requester Jeffrey Richelson, an intelligence historian affiliated with the National Security Archive.

With some effort, one can imagine records related to climate change that would be properly classified. Such records might, for example, include information that was derived from classified collection methods or sources that could be compromised by their disclosure. Or perhaps such records might present analysis reflecting imminent threats to national security that would be exacerbated rather than corrected by publicizing them.

But that’s not what CIA said. Rather, it said that all of the Center’s work is classified and there is not even a single study, or a single passage in a single study, that could be released without damage to national security. That’s a familiar song, and it became tiresome long ago.

Image: Global Temperature Trends via NOAA Environmental Visualization Laboratory.

Prominent Artist Reveals The FBI Has 7,000 Pages Of Info Related To Her

Prominent Artist Reveals The FBI Has 7,000 Pages Of Info Related To Her

Molly Crabapple is an artist and writer who just revealed on Twitter that the FBI has a file with 7,526 pages in it related to her. She filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for the documents but their release was delayed for no apparent reason.

The FBI now says it has 7526 pages related to me, and will start releasing them to my lawyers at a rate of 750 a month #FOIA

— Molly…

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anonymous asked:

When do you think they actually released Steve's name to the public? Surely not during the war (in the medal scene they're giving it to "Captain America" not Captain Rogers), but how long after until his name was declassified? How long after until all their names were declassified?

That’s a really good question, Anon!

I don’t know for sure when Steve’s name was released to the public, but in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, the announcement of his disappearance appears in a newspaper on March 5, 1945, with the headline, “ROGERS DISAPPEARS.” This tells us that his name, at least, was released to the public sometime between his receipt of the serum and the plane crash. (Best guess is that his name was revealed to the public during the media frenzy around USO tour, as he was probably billed by his real name in the propaganda films.) That doesn’t mean that information regarding his whereabouts or work between the USO tour and the plane crash was readily available, nor does it mean that the rest of the Howling Commandos were publicly known.

To answer those questions, we should look at the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), which was first signed into law on July 4, 1966, by President Johnson and has since been amended and expanded several times. We should also look at the classification and declassification processes of the United States.

The FOIA basically allows members of the public to request declassification of specific documents. However, the requester must be able to specify which documents they seek with reasonable certainty (you can’t try to request “any documents about X,” you have to be able to say “I’d like the documents about X from Y time period” or similar), and the government can still refuse to release them. It’s been used to request everything from documents on J. Edgar Hoover to the White House’s home-brewed beer recipe.

It’s almost guaranteed that the contributions of the Howling Commandos in the War were heavily classified (almost definitely Secret, and quite possibly Top Secret). It’s more difficult to say for certain when these things were declassified, though. (And much of it has certainly been declassified, because there wouldn’t be a Smithsonian exhibit featuring the Commandos without that happening.)

Agencies are required to declassify their documents after 25 years, unless they fall under one of the exemptions in the FOIA. Anything classified for 50 years or more must contain information on human intelligence sources, weapons of mass destruction, or have special permission. Anything older than 75 years must have special permission.

Given that the interview with Peggy from the Smithsonian exhibit took place in 1953, I think it’s reasonably safe to say that the Commandos’ names were released either during or just after the war. The specifics of their service, however, may not have been released until the 1990s, when the 50-year mark had passed. It’s also possible that some of their activities could still be classified, especially since they’ve not yet hit the 75-year mark (that will be in 2018) and since Steve is still alive and well.

Saturday Night News Dump: White Privilege edition
Exclusive: Snowden Tried to Tell NSA About Surveillance Concerns, Documents Reveal | VICE News
More than 800 pages of formerly classified NSA documents, including emails sent from the highest levels of government, give unprecedented insight into both Edward Snowden's final weeks at the agency and its response to his historic leaks.

On the morning of May 29, 2014, an overcast Thursday in Washington, DC, the general counsel of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI), Robert Litt, wrote an email to high-level officials at the National Security Agency and the White House.

The topic: what to do about Edward Snowden.

Snowden’s leaks had first come to light the previous June, when the Guardian’s Glenn Greenwald and the Washington Post’s Barton Gellman published stories based on highly classified documents provided to them by the former NSA contractor. Now Snowden, who had been demonized by the NSA and the Obama administration for the past year, was publicly claiming something that set off alarm bells at the agency: Before he leaked the documents, Snowden said, he had repeatedly attempted to raise his concerns inside the NSA about its surveillance of US citizens — and the agency had done nothing.

Some on the email thread, such as Rajesh De, the NSA’s general counsel, advocated for the public release of a Snowden email from April 2013 in which the former NSA contractor asked questions about the “interpretation of legal authorities” related to the agency’s surveillance programs. It was the only evidence the agency found that even came close to verifying Snowden’s assertions, and De believed it was weak enough to call Snowden’s credibility into question and put the NSA in the clear.

Litt disagreed. “I’m not sure that releasing the email will necessarily prove him a liar,” Litt wrote to Caitlin Hayden, then the White House National Security Council spokesperson, along with De and other officials. “It is, I could argue, technically true that [Snowden’s] email… ‘rais[ed] concerns about the NSA’s interpretation of its legal authorities.’ As I recall, the email essentially questions a document that Snowden interpreted as claiming that Executive Orders were on a par with statutes. While that is surely not raising the kind of questions that Snowden is trying to suggest he raised, neither does it seem to me that that email is a home run refutation.”

Within two hours, however, Litt reversed his position, and later that day, the email was released, accompanied by comment from NSA spokesperson Marci Green Miller: “The email did not raise allegations or concerns about wrongdoing or abuse.”

Five days later, another email was sent — this one addressed to NSA director Mike Rogers and copied to 31 other people and one listserv. In it, a senior NSA official apologized to Rogers for not providing him and others with all the details about Snowden’s communications with NSA officials regarding his concerns over surveillance.

The NSA, it seemed, had not told the public the whole story about Snowden’s contacts with oversight authorities before he became the most celebrated and vilified whistleblower in US history.

Hundreds of internal NSA documents, declassified and released to VICE News in response to our long-running Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit, reveal now for the first time that not only was the truth about the “single email” more complex and nuanced than the NSA disclosed to the public, but that Snowden had a face-to-face interaction with one of the people involved in responding to that email. The documents, made up of emails, talking points, and various records — many of them heavily redacted — contain insight into the NSA’s interaction with the media, new details about Snowden’s work, and an extraordinary behind-the-scenes look at the efforts by the NSA, the White House, and US Senator Dianne Feinstein to discredit Snowden.

The trove of more than 800 pages [pdf at the end of this story], along with several interviews conducted by VICE News, offer unprecedented insight into the NSA during this time of crisis within the agency. And they call into question aspects of the US government’s long-running narrative about Snowden’s time at the NSA.

* * *


This is an extremely long and detailed story.  I recommend you take the time to read through it.  They are liars and operating outside of any law with no one to hold them accountable.

366 Words. Poster 20x46"

The above list of 366 words can land you as a suspected terrorist if you use them in electronic communication. The United States Department of Homeland Security was forced to release these flagged words in 2011 after a Freedom of Information Act request from the Electronic Privacy Information Center. The list was released in an official DHS document entitled “Analyst’s Desktop Binder”.[1] The corresponding numbers are the approximate search result of each word using Google on the date of November 25, 2013.


This week is Sunshine Week 2016, a national initiative to promote a dialogue about the importance of open government and freedom of information. Additionally, this year also marks the 50th anniversary of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).

On September 13, 1976, President Ford signed S.5, the Government in the Sunshine Act. This act required multiheaded agencies, including independent regulatory agencies, to hold meetings open to the public unless any of 10 specific reasons for holding closed meetings is present. It also amended FOIA to narrow agencies’ authority to withhold information from the public.

“In a democracy the public has a right to know, not only what its government decides, but why and by what process,” President Ford said at the bill’s signing ceremony. “Today, many citizens feel that their government is too remote; that it is not responsive to their needs. This legislation should go a long way in reaffirming that government exists for the people, not apart from the people.”

Present for the signing ceremony in the Rose Garden were Congressman Jack Brooks, Senator William V. Roth, Senator Lawton Chiles (the bill’s sponsor), Congressman Dante B. Fascell, Senator Charles H. Percy, Senator Abraham Ribicoff, Congressman Peter W. Rodino, Congressman Walter Flowers, Congressman George E. Danielson, Congressman Carlos J. Moorhead, Senator James B. Allen, Congressman Frank Horton, and Congressman John N. Erlenborn.

To learn more about Sunshine Week, see

For more on the Government in the Sunshine Act, see the legislation’s case file folder one and folder two.

Image: President Gerald Ford and Several Members of Congress at the Signing Ceremony for S.5, the Government in the Sunshine Act, in the White House Rose Garden, 9/13/1976
Happy Birthday, FOIA: The Myths and an Unlikely Hero Behind the Origin of the Freedom of Information Act

July 4 marks the 46th birthday of the Freedom of Information Act. President Lyndon Johnson signed the historic law on July 4, 1966, at his ranch in Texas. FOIA has become a cornerstone of American democracy, making it possible for Americans to find out what their government is doing and to hold it accountable for its actions.


The origins of FOIA, however, are surrounded by myths and forgotten (and, in one case, surprising) heroes.


The real – and regrettably forgotten – hero of FOIA was Rep. John E. Moss, a liberal California Democrat who served in the House for 13 terms, from 1953 to 1979. He was never defeated in any election.

Moss’s campaign for open government began on November 7, 1955, when he conducted public hearings on government secrecy. If July 4 is the birthday of FOIA, November 7 is certainly its moment of conception. Interestingly, a Cold War issue stimulated his concern about secrecy. In 1953, he asked the Civil Service Commission for information about the reported 2,800 people that lost their jobs because of the Federal Loyalty Program. The commission denied him that information. Intrigued, Moss asked the House to create the Special Subcommittee on Government Information, which it did in 1955, selecting him as its chair.  

Moss quickly found that the habit of secrecy had grown unchecked in federal agencies. The Civil Service Commission told him it had “inherent power” to withhold information.  Even the Migratory Bird Conservation Commission kept some of its reports secret. And in 1957 the Pentagon’s general counsel interrupted a Moss hearing three times with tirades against challenges to secrecy. 

Moss’s persistent badgering of presidents and federal agencies finally bore fruit in 1966 with FOIA. Forgotten by all but a few Americans, Moss is today honored by the John E. Moss Foundation and the John E. Moss Federal Building in Sacramento, California. He is a true American hero who deserves more public recognition for his great contribution to the democratic process.

AT&T Case Asks U.S. Supreme Court to Assign Privacy Rights to Corporations

A business privacy case that comes before the U.S. Supreme Court today may rekindle a debate among the justices over whether corporations are like people, even to the point of suffering embarrassment.

The case, set to be argued in Washington, pits the Obama administration against AT&T Inc. over the release of documents stemming from a government investigation of the company. The question is whether corporations can invoke a Freedom of Information Act provision that protects against invasions of “personal privacy.”

As with a corporate campaign spending case the court resolved a year ago, the answer may reflect the justices’ differing views about the nature of corporations. In siding with AT&T, a lower court said companies can be embarrassed and stigmatized just like human beings – a contention the Obama administration scoffed at.

“A corporation itself can no more be embarrassed, harassed or stigmatized than a stone,” acting U.S. Solicitor General Neal Katyal, President Barack Obama’s top Supreme Court lawyer, argued in papers filed with the court. [emphasis mine. read more]

EDIT: I feel the need to add the following… on top of President Hu’s visit to the U.S., I believe this should be the biggest news story of the day.