Senate to vote on crucial transparency bill

Gavin writes, "The U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee is scheduled to vote Thursday on an important bill to strengthen the Freedom of Information Act, America's open records law."

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London council threatens freedom of information site for "leaking" info they say doesn't exist

A reader writes sez, "Can you leak a decision that has not yet been made? The local council at the London Borough of Enfield seem to think so, and sent a takedown notice to British Freedom of Information website WhatDoTheyKnow.com run by the non-profit mySociety."

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University of Michigan makes up a bunch of non-reasons why it doesn't have to do record retention

The University of Michigan campus newspaper, Michigan Daily, is investigating a campus scandal that resulted in the athletic director resigning and a football player being expelled for sexual misconduct, but the university has engaged in blatantly illegal destruction of records to stymie the investigation.

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When the FBI told MLK to kill himself (who are they targeting now?)


We've known for years that the FBI spied on Martin Luther King's personal life and sent him an anonymous letter in 1964 threatening to out him for his sexual indiscretions unless he killed himself in 34 days. Now we have an unredacted version of the notorious letter.

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DOJ helps local cops get around state limits on civil forfeiture


Many states have passed laws limiting how much of your stuff the police can steal when they accuse you of a crime, but the Department of Justice has the solution for local cops: they will "adopt" a local seizure, making it federal and exempting it from state-level corruption controls.

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Ferguson's no-fly zone created to ground news-choppers


Freedom of Information Act requests from the Associated Press reveal that St Louis police requested the no-fly zone to prevent the press from getting overhead footage of the crackdown on demonstrations, and that the FAA was complicit in crafting an illegal ban that allowed commercial aircraft to land at the airport while still grounding the news-birds.

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NSA conducts massive surveillance without ANY Congressional oversight


An ACLU Freedom of Information request reveals that the NSA considers Reagan's "Executive Order 12333" (previously) its "primary source" of spying authority -- and so it conducts this surveillance without reporting to Congress on it.

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OK Sheriff LARPs "Welcome to Nightvale"


Logan County, Oklahoma Sheriff Jim Bauman created an extensive set of secret files on the citizens in his jurisdiction, inadvertently recreating Welcome to Nightvale's running gag about the Sheriff's Secret Police -- but the ACLU isn't laughing, they're suing.

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Cops who use Stingray surveillance must sign company nondisclosure first

Michael from Muckrock sez, "Advanced cell phone tracking devices known as Stingrays allow police nationwide to home in on suspects and to log individuals present at a given location."

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Aaron Swartz's FBI and Secret Service files

A large and very up-to-date archive of Aaron's government files, extracted through Freedom of Information Act requests.

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Canadian gov't economists insist that stats on collapsing middle class mean just the opposite


Dave sez, "Last year, Employment and Social Development Canada put together a report suggesting that the Canadian middle class has seen wage stagnation and is experiencing record levels of debt; Finance Canada felt that this 'appears to conflict with the general message in Budget 2014 and previous internal briefings' so they made a new report -- that says the opposite, while looking at the same data."

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City of London Police reject FOIA request for their dealings with copyright lobbyists

They say they have so much correspondence with the industry, and are apparently so incompetent at searching their own records, that they can't fulfil the request without being unduly burdened, and thus they are not required to comply with the Freedom of Information request.

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#Ferguson cops claim they have no records of arrests of journalists


See Runa Sanvik's feature on this
Phil writes, "Runa Sandvik of Freedom of the Press Foundation is systematically documenting the arrests of journalists in Ferguson, Missouri made during protests of the August 9 officer-committed shooting death of Michael Brown."

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Here's all the stuff the Pentagon has sold to local law enforcement - cheap!


Michael from Muckrock writes, "Wondering how the St. Louis County Police ended up armed with surplus military gear, and what other departments have? A FOIA request at MuckRock has turned up every item given to local law enforcement under the Pentagon's 1022 program, the mechanism by which local law enforcement can apply for surplus or used military gear."

Every item distributed to local law enforcement by the Pentagon's 1033 program over two years [Muckrock]

(Thanks, Michael!)

UK government "dries out" its "water damaged" CIA torture files


The Foreign Office said it couldn't provide its files on secret CIA rendition of terrorism suspects for torture, because those files (and only those files) were "water-damaged."

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