July 11th, 2012
Tools for investigative journalists: NARA keeps some JFK documents secret; CIA shows interest in spy pop culture
By Whitney Evans
Freedom of Information and government disclosure often conjure mental images of closed-door meetings and top-secret war documents. However, the government’s tight fist on some older, high-profile documents has piqued public interest.
Kennedy docs kept secret
The government is refusing to disclose some documents related to John F. Kennedy’s assassination, even though almost 50 years have gone by. National Archives and Records Administration houses many documents related to our government’s history.
When NARA posed a question on an open forum to see what it could do to boost transparency, JFK’s assassination came out on top, reports Salon.com. However, those documents remain hidden from public view. Currently 50,000 documents related to the Kennedy assassination are still classified. David Ferriero, National Archives Chief, said they will likely remain that way until at least 2017. Naturally, NARA’s refusal to release documents related to the Kennedy assassination has some people asking why. One reason behind the delay may be attributed to the sheer volume of information: Ferriero has been tasked with reducing the backlog of more than 400 million records older than 25 years.
Documents available on the the CIA website
Although there is much to lament about government’s lack of transparency, investigative journalists can utilize the information that is already available from government entities, such as these fun finds available at cia.gov.
- Spy-Fi Archives: A section of the website is dedicated to the Hollywood version of the CIA. “CIA meets TV-movies CIA” listsHollywood spy memorabilia in spy-fi creator Danny Biederman’s collection. Biederman, a spy movie junkie and expert, boasts the world’s largest collection of espionage movie collectibles. In addition to this, those interested can view Biederman’s biography.
- Special Collections: This section includes formerly top-secret information on events such as the Bay of Pigs, the end of the Cold War and the Berlin Wall.
- Includes top 25 search phrases and top 25 most-requested documents, (although it seems the website is in dire need of an update since the most recent results are from November 2011.)
Whitney is the summer Pulliam/Killgore intern with SPJ. She recently graduated from Brigham Young University after studying journalism. Connect with her via email – email@example.com – or on twitter – @whitevs7
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