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How to File a FOIA Request

The National Security Archive's 122-page FOIA Manual, Effective FOIA Requesting for Everyone
Making the FOIA Work for You
Follow a Request Through the FOIA Process (pdf)
FOIA Audits
Noteworthy News Stories Made Possible by FOIA Documents
Legislative History of FOIA
Declassification, Reclassification, and Redeclassification (PowerPoint - 14 MB)
Secrecy and Declassification in Foreign Policy Records
(PowerPoint - 15 MB)
The World's Right to Know: The Global Phenomenon of Freedom of Information
(PowerPoint - 26.8 MB)


The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)
The U.S. Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) is a law ensuring public access to U.S. government records. FOIA carries a presumption of disclosure; the burden is on the government - not the public - to substantiate why information may not be released. Upon written request, agencies of the United States government are required to disclose those records, unless they can be lawfully withheld from disclosure under one of nine specific exemptions in the FOIA. This right of access is ultimately enforceable in federal court.

Text of the FOIA

What's New

October 11, 2013
The Cat's out of the Bag, So Declassify it Already

October 7, 2013
The Must Read 2013 Secrecy Report is Out.

September 27, 2013
Happy International Right to Know Day (Tomorrow)! The Archive Celebrates with a Look Back at this Year's Transparency Highs and Lows

September 25, 2013
FOIA Request Filed for National Security Agency Watch List that Included "Threats" MLK, Muhammad Ali, and Senator Church

September 4, 2013
Want to Know Who the US is at War With? Too Bad, Says Pentagon.

August 30, 2013
National Archives Quietly Pulls School of the Americas Human Rights Evidence Citing Possible "Terrorist Activity"

July 11, 2013
How to Send a Good FOIA Request to the Department of State

July 8, 2013
"The Shell Game" and the Osama bin Laden Documents

June 13, 2013
Unredacted Statements by Richard Nixon Raise Questions About Declassification Process

June 3, 2013
Four Months Later: Still No Answers for Outdated Agency FOIA Regulations Letter

April 12, 2013
When Wikileaks "Scoops" NARA on Their Own Publicly Available Documents, It's Time for Agencies to Fully Embrace Effectively Digitizing All-Things FOIA

April 8, 2013 
Chiquita Sues to Block Release of Files on Colombia Terrorist Payments

April 3, 2013 
Freedom of Information Follies: FOIA Reviewers Declassify Same Rwanda Document Four Times, Creating New Secrets Each Time

April 2, 2013 
D.C. Circuit Rejects Justice Department "Maneuver"

March 22, 2013
Congress Makes a Law and the Pentagon Redacts It

March 20, 2013
No One Ensuring Agencies Are Complying with FOIA

March 15, 2013 
Justice Department Repeats as Rosemary Award Winner For Worst Open Government Performance in 2012 

March 13, 2013 
Freedom of Information Regulations: Still Outdated, Still Undermining Openness

March 13, 2013
Archive Director Tom Blanton Testifies before Senate Judiciary Committee, Rebuts DOJ's FOIA "Pinocchios"

March 8, 2013
2013 Sunshine Week Round-Up

February 6, 2013
Congress Seeks Explanation from DOJ on Outdated Agency FOIA Regulations

January 29, 2013
National Security Archive Files Appeal Explaining Why CIA is Dead Wrong to Claim The "Predecisional" Exemption for Its History of the 1961 Bay of Pigs Invasion.

January 29, 2013
Following Through On FOIA: Progress And Pitfalls

December 17, 2012
U.S. Court of Appeals Rejects CIA's Motion to Squash Lawsuit on Bay of Pigs History

December 6, 2012
Old Regs May Not Necessarily Be Bad Regs, But Can Be A Red Flag

December 4, 2012
Outdated Agency Regs Undermine Freedom of Information

December 4, 2012
Finding Agency FOIA Regulations a Shockingly Difficult Task

November 6, 2012
FOIA for Profit

November 11, 2012
Democracy in the Digital Age

September 12, 2012
2012 Secrecy Report: Indicators of Secrecy in the Federal Government

August 15, 2012
New DOJ FOIA Report an Exercise in "Grade Inflation;" Rewards Some FOIA Denials as "Achieving Efficiencies."

July 4, 2012
Happy 46th Birthday, Freedom of Information!

June 29, 2012
The Department of State Accuses the National Security Archive of "Dredging up the Past;" Won't Declassify the Accusation.

June 6, 2012
The CIA's "Temporarily Unavailable" Records Schedules (Re-)Disclosed

May 29, 2012
CIA Stops Charging Declassification Fees …For Now. White House and Congressional Intervention Still Needed.

May 10, 2012

April 19, 2012
Central Intelligence Agency Digs In, Refuses to Repeal Damaging Mandatory Declassification Review Regulations. Department of Justice Defends. White House, Congress Silent.

March 29, 2012
Department of Justice Not Qualified to Be FOIA Ombudsman.

March 15, 2012
DOJ OIP Director Pustay testifies that "people misinterpreted," "misconstrued," "didn't necessarily understand," FOIA regulations allowing DOJ to lie to requesters. Issa report gives DOJ a "D" on FOIA.

March 12, 2012
Holder Responds to Rosemary Award

March 6, 2012
Attorney General Eric Holder Refuses to Mention "Targeted Killing" of al-Awlaki to Preserve Right to Glomar FOIA Requests

February 29, 2012
FOIA Statistics Shows the DOJ's "94.5% Release Rate" is a -Ahem- "Stretch."

February 23, 2012
Thirty-Six Groups Sign on to Help Fight the CIA's Covert Attack on Declassification Review. And What's Next??

February 21, 2012
National Security Archive Files a FOIA Request to Find Out Why the CIA is Attempting to Price Out Declassification Reviews

February 17 2012
The Department of Defense Needs Only One Paragraph to Illustrate Why the Declassification System is Broken

February 14, 2012
Justice Department Wins Rosemary Award for Worst OpenGovernment Performance in2011

February 10, 2012
The CIA's Covert Operation Against Declassification Review and Obama's Open Government

February 3, 2012
CIA Claims Release of its History of the Bay of Pigs Debacle Would "Confuse the Public."

February 1, 2012
"Declassification-As-Usual" Mindset Responsible for theNational Declassification Center's LanguidPace

November 14
2011 The Department of Justice's Quest to Weaken FOIA Still Going Strong

November 2, 2011
Senator Grassley Demands Answers from the Justice Department for Claiming that it can Lie to FOIA Requesters

October 25, 2011
Why Agencies Should Not be Allowed to Lie About FOIA Requests

October 1, 2011
John Moss's Decade-Long Fight For FOIA, as Chronicled in "People's Warrior" by Michael Lemov

September 22, 2011
2011 Secrecy Report: A Broad Survey ofTransparency

August 25, 2011
DOD Changes its FOIA Policy on bin Laden Documents

July 28, 2011
DoJ Report on FOIA – Positive, but Incomplete Development for Open Government

July 4, 2011
Eight Federal Agencies have FOIA Requests a Decade Old According to Knight Open Government Survey

June 3, 2011
The FY 2010 ISOO Classification Report to the President. SomeBad News and Some GoodNews.

May 19, 2011
PIDB Proposal: "Three Ideas for Transformation: Classification Tax, Equity Reform, and Sunshine Dates"

May 4, 2011
Will Osama bin Laden's Death Photos be Released Under FOIA? Probably Not.

April 20, 2011
CIA Releases 1917 Invisible Ink Recipe Due to MDR Request, Not Kindness of Heart

March 24, 2011
The New FOIA.gov – Making Spreadsheets Sexy

March 23, 2011
The Rubber Hasn't Met the Road. Response to the Department of Transportation's Letter to the Washington Post.

March 18, 2011
Cheat Sheet for Discretionary FOIA Releases

March 16, 2011
FOIA Audit: Department of the Interior and the Blocked FOIA Blog

March 15, 2011
DOJ claims they responded to FOIA Audit, "but not in time to be included in thereport."

March 14, 2011
FOIA Audit: Report From the Trenches

March 14, 2011
Glass Half Full: 2011 Knight Open Government Survey Finds Freedom of Information Change, But Many Federal Agencies Lag in Fulfilling President Obama's Day One Openness Pledge

March 7, 2011
Quick Look: Milner v. Department of Navy Ruling

March 1, 2011
Supreme Court Rules that Corporations DO NOT Have Exemption 7(C) FOIA Privacy Rights

December 17, 2010
The National Security Archive is Named in a wikileaksCable!

December 14, 2010
Can Government Employees Read the Pentagon Papers?

November 4, 2010
Obama Issues Executive Order Improving "Controlled Unclassified Information"

October 21, 2010
Why is ICE Reviewing and Redacting Documents Already inthe Public Domain?

March 15, 2010
Sunshine and Shadows: The Clear Obama Message for Freedom of Information Meets Mixed Results

January 22, 2010
Government Departments Each Post Three High Value Data

January 7, 2010
The Glomar Response

December 30, 2009
Obama Executive Order on Classification: ReflectsPublic's Comments, Makes a Commitment to Declassify Hundreds of Millions ofPages of Historical Materials, Sets the Stage for Reduction inOverclassification

December 16, 2009
Answers to Questions We Have Been Asked about the E-mail Lawsuit

December 14, 2009
White House E-mail Lawsuit Settled

December 8, 2009
Round-Up of Commentary on Open Government Directive

December 8, 2009
Obama Administration on Open Government: More than Rhetoric?

November 16, 2009
President Obama Recognizes the Basic Human Right to Access to Information

October 30, 2009
FOIA Impact: Why Pictures of Dover Transfer CeremoniesMatter

October 28, 2009
White House Open Government Directive to be Released This Fall

October 26, 2009
Congress Wants It Both Ways on FOIA

April 17, 2008
Ruling on Preservation of White House E-Mails Awaited
New Law Proposed to Address Destruction of Electronic Records

April 24, 2008
Court Sets Deadline for White House Answers on Missing E-mail
Magistrate Judge Cites "Lack of Precision" in White House Statements

May 6, 2008
House Backups are Incomplete, May Not Contain Some Missing E-mails

Court Filing Says White House Cannot Identify Hard Drives in Use When E-mails Were Lost

March 20, 2008
FOI in Practice: Analysis of the Mexican FOI System
Archive publishes first comprehensive analysis of the Mexican freedom of information law

March 19, 2008
Treasury Wins 2008 "Rosemary Award" as Worst FOIA Agency

National Security Archive Annual Award Cites Shredded Letters, Decade-Long Delays, and Sub-Prime Performance

March 18, 2008
Court orders White House to show cause why it should not create forensic copies of all electronic media
Seeks means to protect missing e-mails in response to Archive lawsuit

March 16, 2008
Mixed Signals, Mixed Results

The Knight Open Government Survey
How President Bush's Executive Order on FOIA Failed to Deliver


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