CNET: Judge orders DOJ to determine intent of Trump’s tweets ‘declassifying’ Russia docs. “A federal judge wants to know more about what President Donald Trump meant when he tweeted that he’d ‘fully authorized the total declassification’ of documents related to the probe into Russia’s meddling in the 2016 US elections, according to media reports.”
Ukraine Independent Information Agency (UNIAN): Ukraine declassifies Soviet KGB archives on Chornobyl disaster. “A total of 229 declassified documents, most of which are being published for the first time, cover the period from the early 1970s to November 1986, that is, until the commissioning of the Shelter (Sarcophagus) following the blast, the SBU press service reports. Archival files show that more accidents took place at the Chornobyl NPP prior to the catastrophic disaster of 1986, although authorities managed to completely hush them down.” It appears that the documents are freely available to read, but of course they are in Ukrainian.
Texarkana Gazette: FBI releases Phantom Killer archive | More than 1,100 pages available via internet. “The FBI on Thursday published an extensive archive of documents — some perhaps never before available — from the investigation of Texarkana’s infamous Phantom Killer murders of 1946.” It’s not clear if any of the information is new, but it’s been released all together in one big chunk.
National Declassification Center Blog: New Records Released – 2020 First Quarter Release List. “On January 3, 2020, the NDC released a listing of 206 entries that completed declassification processing between October 1, 2019 and December 31, 2019. These records are now available for researcher requests. This release consists of textual and special media records from military and civilian agencies as well as the Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum.” Note that these have not been digitized, just declassified.
Foreign Affairs: Trapped in the Archives. “Did the United States have a hand in assassinating Congolese and Dominican leaders in 1961? What did President Richard Nixon’s White House know about a successful plot to kill the head of the Chilean army in 1970? After the Cold War ended, did top U.S. military commanders retain the authority to strike back if a surprise nuclear attack put the president out of commission? The answers to these and other historical mysteries are likely knowable—but they are locked in presidential libraries and government archives and inaccessible to researchers. The reason: the U.S. government’s system for declassifying and processing historical records has reached a state of crisis.” A really important read. Please do not miss this one.
Chicago Sun-Times: The FBI Files . “The Chicago Sun-Times has compiled FBI records on people and groups with ties to, or of particular interest to, the Chicago region and Illinois. They can be viewed through this portal, with new ones to be added regularly. Beside shining a light on historical events and people and giving a glimpse of how law enforcement operates, some of the files, as you’ll see, are just plain entertaining.”
MakeUseOf: 5 Freedom of Information Sites Full of Declassified Documents and Secrets. “Leaks from whistle-blowers and informants often lead to damaging exposes like with WikiLeaks. But more and more hidden information is surfacing through common people and activists. The trailblazers leverage the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) in the USA and its equivalents in other countries. These portals show how they are forcing changes and making an impact, and even gives you the power and guidelines to dig out data yourself.”
CNET: The FBI looked into Bigfoot legend, and you can read the documents. “On Wednesday, the FBI Records Vault Twitter account brought our attention to an intriguing set of documents involving the agency’s role in a Bigfoot investigation in 1976 and 1977. The collection spans 22 pages of correspondence and newspaper clippings starting with a letter the FBI sent in response to Peter Byrne, director of The Bigfoot Information Center in Oregon. “
Motherboard: Researchers Are Liberating Thousands of Pages of Forgotten Hacking History From the Government. “In 1989, just a few months after the web became a reality, a computer worm infected thousands of computers across the world, including those of NASA. The worm showed a message on the screens of the infected computers: ‘Your System Has Been Officially WANKed.’ Late last month—30 years after the ‘WANK worm’ struck NASA—the agency released an internal report that the agency wrote at the time, thanks to a journalist and a security researcher who have embarked on a project to use the Freedom of Information Act to get documents on historical hacking incidents.”
National Archives: Declassified Records Shed Light on Argentine History. “The largest government-to-government declassification release in United States history, the latest release represents the final stage of an effort by the U.S. Government to search, identify, review for public access, and provide records that shed light on human-rights abuses in Argentina between 1975 and 1984, committed during the military dictatorship of that nation (1976–1983).”
Ars Technica: Declassified photos from U2 planes are helping archaeologists unlock the past. “During the 1950s and 1960s, US spy planes made regular flights across Europe, Central Asia, and the Middle East, photographing the terrain to track military targets. A chunk of the Middle Eastern photographs were declassified in 1997, and now those airborne images are helping archaeologists track changing features in the landscape that in many cases are no longer visible today, according to a new paper published in Advances in Archaeological Practice.”
Alt Gov 2: FBI File: Saddam Hussein. “Above you’ll find 1,581 pages of Saddam Hussein’s FBI file. This material has been released in the past but has never been online until now. Another 1,000+ pages of pre-processed material are on their way and will be posted to this page when they arrive.”
CIA: Sixth Installment Available of “The Daily Summary: Informing President Truman”. “The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) today released the last of six sets of declassified daily intelligence reports President Harry Truman received from CIA and its predecessor organization, the Central Intelligence Group. Known then as the Daily Summary, the product continues now as the President’s Daily Brief.”
New York Times: Clinton Envy, Mandela and a Horse: Glimpses From the U.K. Archives. “Every year, the British public gains access to declassified cables and sensitive memos from the top tiers of the government: glimpses of diplomatic outposts around the world, ministers’ thoughts scribbled in margins, and disputes between famous leaders, released by the country’s National Archives. And sometimes, the public gets to see notes about a horse.”
Quartz: The FBI needs to burn 53 tons of classified material. “The FBI announced its files were going digital in 2012. Nevertheless, the bureau will need to destroy an estimated 53 tons of ‘classified and sensitive’ material in the coming year to ensure the FBI’s secrets stay secret. A government contracting document issued late last month by the FBI’s Information Management Division describes exactly how this will happen.”