The U.S.-based blog Free Government Information
was launched a few years ago by a group of academic librarians who wanted to raise public awareness of the importance of better access to all forms of government information.
They occasionally have guest bloggers and this month's guest will be a real treat for history buffs, archive geeks, hard core freedom of information fans and investigative reporter types: Malcolm Byrne from the National Security Archive
, a non-governmental organization based at George Washington University that specializes in declassified documents.
His first post is about the Archive's work on the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis
"For anyone who loves anniversaries, this month is a biggie. Fifty years ago the world survived one of the seminal events of the nuclear age -- the Cuban missile crisis. I mention it because almost from the very start, the National Security Archive’s been an active promoter of studying the crisis (we’ll have a series of postings of the latest findings on our site in the coming weeks), and it makes for a good case study of what our organization’s mission is and how we go about our work (...)"
"The Cuban missile crisis project in many ways became a model for our other historical documentation projects at the National Security Archive, including studies of U.S. policy toward the Vietnam War, the Soviet Union and the superpower rivalry, a series of crises in Eastern Europe during the Cold War, and more. Most of the basic stories of these projects are available on our site and, as mentioned, the underlying documentation we and our partners and colleagues around the world have collected is also available here in Washington, D.C."
The National Security Archive was founded in 1985 by journalists and scholars and it combines the activities of an investigative journalism centre, a research institute on international affairs, and a library with a massive collection of declassified U.S. documents.
It has launched access to information lawsuits against the U.S. government, many of which have been successful, forcing the declassification of documents such as the Kennedy-Khrushchev letters during the Cuban Missile Crisis, previously censored photographs of flag-draped coffins of U.S. casualties from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan being unloaded at night at airforce bases, and documents that led to the conviction of a ranking military officer on human rights abuse charges in Guatemala.
Staff members and fellows have written over 60 books, many of which have won prizes including the Pulitzer Prize and the U.S. National Book Award.
Its website hosts more than one million pages of previously censored or secret government documents and constitutes one of the largest and most complete online archives of contemporary history.
It is based at George Washington University's Gelman Library. It receives no funding from government sources.
[Cross-posted to Slaw.ca
Labels: access to information, government_USA, secrecy