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Submission + - Documents: In the early 80s, CIA showed little interest in "supercomputer" craze (

v3rgEz writes: In 1983, cybermania would grip the nation: The movie WarGames is released over the summer, becoming a blockbuster hit for the time and intriguing President Ronald Reagan enough to summon his closest advisors to help study emerging cyberthreats and ultimately pass the first directive on cybersecurity. But according to declassified documents, made fully public thanks to MuckRock’s lawsuit, one intelligence agency made a hard pass on the computer craze.

Submission + - Albert Einstein, as described by CIA psychics (

v3rgEz writes: In 1988, as part of the CIA's ongoing research into weaponized ESP, CIA psychics were tasked with identifying a photo of a famous individual inside of an opaque folder. That individual was Albert Einstein. The individual the psychics came up with was off, but not that far off: A moody hippie pharmacist named Alfer Aferman. Read the documents, released under FOIA, at MuckRock.

Submission + - Were police snooping on protesters' cellphones? Most departments won't say (

v3rgEz writes: Attend any of the protests over inauguration weekend? Wondering if your phone was surveilled doing so? Unfortunately, with law enforcement’s continued silence about cell site simulators use, it’s almost impossible to know. MuckRock has surveyed almost 200 local and state police departments to get details on policies regarding the use of StingRays, which can track calls, user location, and even read text messages — all without a warrant. Here's what various police departments did — and didn't — release.

Submission + - After MuckRock FOIA suit, CIA puts declassified database online (

v3rgEz writes: For the first time ever, the CIA has posted its database of declassified documents online for anyone to view. The publication of the approximately 12 million pages of historical documents was in response to a lawsuit by FOIA site MuckRock, which had won a court order for the documents to be put on the Internet. Previously, the documents had been technically public, but only accessible to those willing to drive to a few federal facilities, where usage was closely monitored via CCTV. You can search the database here.

Submission + - MuckRock launching volley of FOIA requests at Trump administration

v3rgEz writes: For seven years, MuckRock has helped journalists, activists, and every day people extract information from the government using public records laws. Now we're doing to the same for the Trump administration, and want to get as many people who care about transparency involved as possible.

We've launched a dedicated page collecting and discussing FOIA requests about the incoming Trump administration, and are experimenting with a new Slack channel to help folks workshop their requests and disseminate documents that come back.

Submission + - The other Russian cyberattack that never happened (

v3rgEz writes: Earlier this week, the Washington Post made headlines of its own for reporting that “intelligence sources” were saying Russia had hacked into the U.S. power grid, which is a thing that did not happen. In fact, this wasn't even the first time it hadn't happened — just five years ago, a Senate report tore into Homeland Security for making the same claims with even less evidence. Will legislators ever learn?

Submission + - Trump's Treasury pick appears to be part of a federal investigation (

v3rgEz writes: Trump's transition strategy of picking some of the shadiest people on earth is still going strong. The latest: According to the FBI, his Treasury pick Steven Mnuchin is involved with an "ongoing investigation", as reported by Mike Best over at the FOIA site MuckRock. Best requested Mnuchin's FBI files, but the request was rejected under the grounds of an open investigation, likely related to Mnuchin's superbly-timed exit from Relativity Media — right before it cratered.

Submission + - A century of surveillance: an interactive timeline of FBI investigations (

v3rgEz writes: The FOIA hounds at MuckRock recently published its 100th look into historical FBI files, and to celebrate they've also compiled a timeline of the FBI's history, tracing the rise and fall of J. Edgar Hoover as well as some of the Bureau's more questionable investigations into famous figures ranging from Steve Jobs to Hannah Arendt. Read the timeline, or browse through all of MuckRock's FBI FOIA work.

Submission + - Hoover feared cabal of liberal economists with CIA ties would hijack economy (

v3rgEz writes: In response to a FOIA request to the FBI, a new letter from J. Edgar Hoover has come to light in which the long-time director of the FBI details his quest to root out "underground economists" infiltrating the United States government in order to dominate U.S. economic policy. While Hoover was able to gather a list of names of supposed sleeper economists, including many alumni of the Mutual Security Agency or the Ford Foundation, he wasn't ultimately able to stop them from obtaining the government positions they vied for.

Submission + - FOIA confirms existence of real-life X-Files that FBI previously denied existed (

v3rgEz writes: A Freedom of Information Act request for FBI files on a figure at the center of dozens of 20th century conspiracy theories reveals a rare glimpse into the Bureau's real-life "X-Files" — which the agency had long maintained don't exist. And while there's no evidence yet of Mulder or Scully, the files do include a story of flying saucers and secret assassins stranger than anything on the show.

Submission + - Virginia spent over half a million on cell surveillance that mostly doesn't work (

v3rgEz writes: In 2014, the Virginia State Police spent $585,265 on a specially modified Suburban outfitted with the latest and greatest in cell phone surveillance: The DRT 1183C, affectionately known as the DRTbox. But according to logs uncovered by public records website MuckRock, the pricey ride was only used 12 times — and only worked 7 of those times. Read the full DRTbox documents at MuckRock.

Submission + - A FOIA guide the Trump Presidential Transition (

v3rgEz writes: With Donald Trump now President Elect of the United States, the time to demand transparency is now. The FOIA non-profit MuckRock put together a guide on what you can FOIA from the Trump administration — even before he takes office. In fact, users of the site have already filed dozens of requests about Trump which you can browse now.

Submission + - A Hall of Fame for the more dubious cases the FBI's investigated over the years (

v3rgEz writes: As the election has been thrown into disarray thanks to the FBI releasing that it is reopening its investigation into Hillary Clinton-adjacent emails, it's logical to wonder just exactly what an open investigation by the FBI means, in terms of how serious to take it. The answer: The bar can be pretty low. Like the time the FBI spent years investigating a fictional anti-goth cult.

The FOIA filers at MuckRock looked at some of the more dubious cases the Bureau's top men have cracked over the years.

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