NSA says it will take four years to answer questions about its kids' coloring book

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The NSA's Crypto Cat and her friends are a set of trademark-registered kids' characters who have appeared for more than a decade in promotional materials like coloring books that the NSA uses it to encourage kids to grow up to be spies. Read the rest

UK government spent a fortune fighting to keep the number 13 a secret

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The BBC's Social Affairs Correspondent, Michael Buchanan, wanted to know how often the UK government's new "red tape-busting cabinet panel, the Reducing Regulation Committee" was meeting, because he thought that it was probably "all froth and no action." Read the rest

Recreating the CIA's "top secret" abstract painting collection

Artist Johanna Barron shows portions of her 2015 work of the Melzac Collection held by the CIA

In the 1980s, "controversial Republican art collector" Vincent Melzac donated 29 abstract paintings from the Washington Color School to the CIA, which now hang on the Agency's walls, but when asked for details about them, the CIA goes mum, claiming that the paintings are top secret. Read the rest

UK Home Secretary rejects request for her browsing history as "vexatious"

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UK Home Secretary Theresa May has introduced the Snoopers Charter, through which your ISP will be required to retain a record of everything you do on the Internet and make it available to government and police without meaningful checks and balances or privacy protection. Read the rest

UK police rely heavily on cyberweapons but won't answer any questions about them

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The UK police and security services have frequently touted the necessity of "equipment interference" techniques -- cyberweapons used to infect suspects' computers -- in their investigations, but they have refused to release any information about their use in response to 40 Freedom of Information requests from Motherboard. Read the rest

LAPD investigated 1356 complaints of racial profiling, decided they were all without merit

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The LAPD received 1,356 complaints of "biased policing" (AKA racial profiling) from 2012-2014, but after investigating them, the investigating officials decided that their co-workers had done nothing wrong -- ever. Read the rest

In the data, Chicago's crooked cops are so obvious they practically glow

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As Chicago's mayor/kingmaker/kingpin Rahm Emanuel grins at the chorus demanding his resignation for his role in covering up video showing that Chicago PD officers shot a man 16 times, lied about it, and confiscated and destroyed all the evidence they could find, the Five Thirty-Eight blog looks at the data on Chicago's dirtiest cops. Read the rest

When the INS tried to deport John Lennon, the FBI pitched in to help

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Michael from Muckrock writes, "While patiently noting that their anonymous tipsters thought Lennon was not a 'true revolutionist' because he used drugs, the FBI worked with INS over several years to bolster a case to deport the Beatles' musical genius." Read the rest

How the DHS is stalling the release of the Aaron Swartz files

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Lisa Rein writes, "When Jacob Appelbaum called for transparency in Aaron Swartz's FOIA case, he was talking about Kevin Poulsen's ongoing case against the Department of Homeland Security, a case that MIT managed to intervene in." Read the rest

J Edgar Hoover was angry that the Boy Scouts didn't thank him effusively enough

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Michael from Muckrock writes, "From Boy Scouts to movie stars, no one was safe from J. Edgar Hoover's all-watching surveillance apparatus at the FBI -- or his sharp tongue. MuckRock has put together a collection of his most biting insults to serve up at Thanksgiving, in case you need to put any of the in-laws on notice." Read the rest

J Edgar Hoover loved Efrem Zimbalist's "FBI"

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Michael from Muckrock writes, "While J. Edgar Hoover wasn't a big fan of much media in the 60s -- he worked to rewrite one of Hitchcock's scripts and made Walt Disney re-work Tomorrowland -- there was one show that struck a chord: ABC's The FBI." Read the rest

Ol' Dirty Bastard's FBI files

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Michael from Muckrock writes, "Mr. Russell Jones. Maybe the name doesn't ring any bells for you. On February 3, 1999, when the Federal Bureau of Investigation first ran their records on him, there were over a thousand people that made that match. In New York, there were 196. Another 164 of them turned up as living nearby in New Jersey. Perhaps you'd recognize him by another name. After all, there was only one Ol' Dirty Bastard. Today, on the 12th anniversary of his death, MuckRock takes a look at his voluminous files with the FBI. Read the rest

The DoJ won't let anyone in the Executive Branch read the CIA Torture Report

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The Senate's 6,700 page, $40M report on the CIA's participation in torture has apparently never been read by a single member of the Executive Branch of the US Government, because the Department of Justice has ordered them all to stay away from it. Read the rest

The CIA writes like Lovecraft, Bureau of Prisons is like Stephen King, & NSA is like...

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Michael from Muckrock writes, "When MuckRock stumbled on I Write Like - a service that lets you see which famous author a given piece of writing resembles - they immediately knew what it was destined for: Helping shed light on on the literary influences of the mysterious FOIA offices they deal with on a daily basis. Fittingly, some offices echo HP Lovecraft's dark horror, while others are more Dan Brown. But you'll never guess which agency seems to take a cue from Cory Doctorow ..." Read the rest

A Freedom of Information request for UK Home Secretary Theresa May's metadata

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When UK Home Secretary Theresa May introduced the new, sweeping UK spying bill this week, she reiterated her claim that metadata is like an "itemised phone bill" and does not contain anything harmful. Read the rest

Christ, what an asshole.

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Chris Grayling, UK Tory MP and leader of the House of Commons: The Freedom of Information act isn't for journalism, it's for "those who want to understand why and how government is taking decisions." If you want to hold your government accountable, you, personally, should do it, without any help from the press. It will make Britain great again. Read the rest

J Edgar Hoover fought to write ex-FBI agents out of Hitchcock's scripts

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Michael from Muckrock writes, "Like almost everyone else in the J. Edgar Hoover era, Alfred Hitchcock managed to catch the attention of the FBI, leading to a 16-page file. Did it investigate the rumored murders the Master of Suspense committed? Secretive ties to foreign states? Nope, mostly just the fact that, in one episode of Hitchcock Presents, a bad guy was briefly referenced to be a 'former FBI agent,' a plot point that the Bureau worked surprisingly hard to change ... perhaps worth of a Hitchcock treatment all its own. Read on for the full story." Read the rest

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