Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA) research tools

Now seems as appropriate a time as any to mention that Middlebury and MIIS students, faculty, and staff have access to the Digital National Security Archive, a database containing over 500,000 pages of declassified documents gathered through the U.S. Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). This resource contains policy documents such as presidential memos, meeting notes, briefing papers, White House communications, email, letters, and other secret material detailing U.S.foreign and military policy since 1945. Coverage includes such topics as Koreas, Vietnam, Afghanistan, Cuba, nuclear proliferation, among many others.

A similar, open-access (i.e. non-subscription, open to everyone) resource called The National Security Archive, housed at George Washington University.  Founded in 1985 by journalists and scholars in an effort to check rising government secrecy, the Archive serves multiple roles: an investigative journalism center, a research institute on international affairs, a library and archive of declassified U.S. documents, the leading non-profit user of the U.S. Freedom of Information Act, public interest law firm defending and expanding public access to government information, global advocate of open government, and indexer and publisher of former secrets.

Other fascinating FOIA resources include:

  • FBI Records: The Vault with over 6,700 documents and other media covering topics ranging from investigations into anti-war protesters, civil rights issues, pop culture figures, “unexplained phenomenon,” and organized crime.
  • Governmentattic.org features “fascinating historical documents, reports on items in the news, oddities and fun stuff and government bloopers, they’re all here”

Finally, to learn how to submit a FOIA request, please see this tutorial from FOIA.gov.

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