#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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Freedom of info funnies: CIA cafeteria complaints

Michael from Muckrock writes, "It's not easy being a spy: MuckRock's cooked up two batches of complaints about the CIA's cafeteria service, everything from Pepsi and Diet Pepsi being swapped to offensively inauthentic Russian food. The carrots, however, are 'amazingly great' if you're ever in the area."

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FBI photo-redaction is surprisingly artistic


When you use the Freedom of Information Act to prise loose a document from the FBI, they are prone to liberal redactions; the results are surprisingly artistic, especially when it comes to photos and other graphics.

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Elements of Spook Style

The terrible writing and design of spook memos and Powerpoint slides have come to the fore since June 2013. However, that doesn't mean that there's not some pretty good style guides available for America's brave spooks. USA USA USA.

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Illinois State Cops blew $250K on "terrorist-catching" Stingray surveillance gadgets


Michael says, "New documents released on MuckRock show the Illinois State Police crying "Terrorist" in order to get funding and approval for a $250,000 Stingray cell snooping system, even though, as Mike Masnick at Techdirt notes, the technology is being used to fight regular crime. The terms of service on the device actually prevent officers from seeking a warrant to use it. MuckRock currently has a crowdfunding campaign to fund similar requests across the country."

FBI's 83-page glossary of leetspeak

Muckrock filed a FOI request for the FBI's list of Twitter slang and "leetspeak" and got back an insane, 83-page glossary of terms that the Feebs use to spy on the kids (think "AYFKMWTS") (via Sean Bonner)

FOIA Machine party in San Francisco

Alan sez, "The Center for Investigative Reporting's 'FOIA Machine' is hosting an Open Beta launch event Wednesday, June 25 at Mother Jones's San Francisco office. This was one of the stretch goals from their successful Kickstarter but the event is open to anyone who pre-registers. There will also be a livestreamed roundtable discussion centered on investigative journalism." Cory 1

Crowdfunding mass FOIA requests on police use of "Stingray" warrantless spying devices

Michael from Muckrock sez, "After scouring American police departments (via public records requests) for drone usage, MuckRock is setting its sights a little lower with a crowdfunding campaign hoping to fund thousands of public records request on how local agencies are using fake cell phone towers, warrantless wiretaps, and other techniques to get your cell phone to phone home."

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How to request your US Border file (and what you're likely to get)


Ars Technica's Cyrus Farivar filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the United States Customs and Border Protection agency for his own travel records, including the notoriously comprehensive "Passenger Name Record" -- what he got was '72 pages of shit,' a redacted jumble of arbitrarily collected and retained nonsense. He didn't get his PNR. If you want to give it a try, he's signposted the procedure.

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Report: US pursuing active criminal case against Wikileaks' Assange

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange is the target of “a multi-subject investigation" by the FBI, US court documents obtained under a Freedom of Information Act request reveal.

What are the stupid vanity-plate rules in your state?

Michael from Muckrock writes, "STFU: That's one of the license plates Virginia won't let its citizens register. In fact, a MuckRock user recently obtained a list of over 500 pages of rejected license plate suggestions, and now the site wants to take the look national, and is asking for users to sponsor-a-state (covering cost of stamps, etc) or just suggest the right place to file with."

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Appeals court orders Obama administration to disclose the legal theory for assassination of Americans

The Obama administration has lost a high-stakes lawsuit brought against it by the New York Times and the ACLU over its refusal to divulge the legal basis for its extrajudicial assassination program against US citizens. The Obama administration declared that it had the right to assassinate Americans overseas, far from the field of battle, on the basis of a secret legal theory. When it refused to divulge that theory in response to Freedom of Information Act requests, the Times and the ACLU sued. The Second Circuit Court of Appeals has found in the Times's and ACLU's favor.

The Obama administration had insisted that the legal memo in question was protected as a national security secret. However, the court found that because the administration had made statements about the memo, assuring the public that the assassinations were legal, it had waived its right to keep the memo a secret. There's no work on whether the administration will appeal to the Supreme Court.

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Army comes clean about its recruitment AI, accidentally discloses info about pedophile- and terrorist-catching chatbots that roam the net

Dave from the Electronic Frontier Foundation writes, "Not too long ago, Boing Boing covered EFF's (at the time) unsuccessful attempt to retreive records about Sgt. Star (the Army's recruiter-bot) using the Freedom of Information Act. We've now received the files and compiled our research: It turns out Sgt. Star isn't the only government chatbot -- the FBI and CIA had them first.

The information about the terrorist/child-abuser bots only came to light because the spy agencies failed to fully redact their responses (the type was legible through the black strikeouts).

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