UK government running ‘Orwellian’ unit to block release of ‘sensitive’ information

23 November 2020 — Open Democracy

Exclusive: Secretive Cabinet Office ‘Clearing House’ for Freedom of Information requests also accused of “blacklisting” journalists; openDemocracy launching a legal bid for transparency

Peter Geoghegan Jenna Corderoy Lucas Amin

Michael Gove’s Cabinet Office “blacklisting” journalists “is a grave threat to our values and transparency in our democracy” | Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire/PA Images

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New UK laws could criminalise journalism

30 May 2020 — Declassified UK

By Richard Norton-Taylor

The British government is pushing ahead with “espionage legislation” that could criminalise the release of public information and impose even stricter controls on the UK media as part of an “epidemic of secrecy”.

British journalists and their sources are facing an unprecedented assault on freedom of speech, including the prospect of criminal prosecution. Threats aimed at whistleblowers and journalists were evident before the coronavirus crisis struck, but went largely unnoticed.
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New laws to criminalise public interest information

2 June 2020 — True Publica

New laws to criminalise public interest information

By TruePublica Editor: A new Declassified report published only a few days ago goes to show the situation we find our selves in right now. In the midst of a crisis, while the commentariat are lobbing rocks at each other over the endless scandals and the media are focused on the pandemic – the government continues to act as if democracy doesn’t really exist.

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National Security Archive Joins Media Groups Versus Unlimited Gag Orders

3 May 2019 — National Security Archive

Amicus Brief Argues for Court Review, Time Limits on Secrecy of National Security Letters

Washington D.C., May 3, 2019 – The National Security Archive, along with 15 other media organizations, filed a “friend of the court” brief on April 29 challenging the FBI’s authority to issue national security letters (NSLs) without any judicial oversight and under indefinite gag orders. The letters demand business records from a wide array of organizations for national security investigations, and their accompanying gag orders prohibit the recipient from speaking with anyone about the NSL, often permanently.

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Metropolitan Police try to block Freedom of Information requests over Grenfell Tower By Simon Whelan

11 November 2017 — WSWS

London Metropolitan Police have advised the Kensington and Chelsea Council (KCC) to prevent the release of correspondence that could provide damaging information on the failure to prevent a serious fire at Grenfell Tower.

Police officers are monitoring and vetting Freedom of Information requests regarding what the council knew of fire risks to Grenfell Tower, and when, after serious warnings made by the Fire Brigade Union (FBU).

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Take action to save Freedom of Information today

20 November 2015 — Liberty

Take action to save Freedom of Information today

This evening at 11.45pm, the Commission on Freedom of Information closes its call for evidence.

This is not unusual in itself – the Government often goes through stages of evidence-gathering ahead of policy or law change.

However in this case, the Commission is both unnecessary and dangerously stacked.

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FOIA Sourcing: Cuban Intervention in Angola By Lauren Harper

2 November 2013 — Unredacted

Lobito Lighthouse 1995. Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

In November 1975 while Angola was battling for independence and internal and external forces were competing for primacy, Cuban forces militarily intervened in support of the leftist MPLA movement and against US-supported movements.“By the end of 1975 the Cuban military in Angola numbered more than 25,000 troops. Following the retreat of Zaire and South Africa, Cuban forces remained in Angola to support the MPLA government against UNITA in the continuing Angolan Civil War.” Continue reading

FRINFORMSUM 8/9/2013: NSA Revelations Might Play a Part in Upcoming German Elections, NSC Records Still Not Subject to the FOIA, and More By Lauren Harper

9 August, 2013 — Unredacted

International fallout from Edward Snowden’s revelations of NSA surveillance methods continues this week, and might play a role in Germany’s upcoming elections. The German newspaper Der Spiegel reports that the NSA leaks demonstrate that German intelligence “sends massive amounts of intercepted data to the NSA,” and that “center-left Social Democrats have made the Snowden revelations an issue in Germany’s upcoming parliamentary election.” Continue reading

How to Send a Good FOIA Request to the Department of State By Laura S. Kauer

11 July 2013 — Unredacted

The Department of State’s launch of its new Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) online request platform and terrific, comprehensive, 80,000-document online FOIA reading room, makes it a fitting time to review how to craft a good FOIA request to the Department of State (or any agency, actually).  Continue reading

“The Shell Game” and the Osama bin Laden Documents By Lauren Harper

8 July, 2013 — Unredacted 

A before and after shot of the Abbottabad Compound, site of the Navy SEAL raid on Osama bin Laden. Adm. McRaven seems to be trying to erase the US records of the raid the same way Pakistan tried to erase the compound itself.

What could possibly compel the government to go out of its way to hide the official record on the most important raid in history? It’s hard to fathom, but a recent Associated Press article by Richard Larner shows that the Pentagon is doing just that by sending all its records on the Osama bin Laden raid to the CIA, effectively sealing them into the “FOIA black hole” of government secrecy, and it has Archive Director Tom Blanton wondering if we have a “shell game in place of open government.”

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