Bonum Certa Men Certa

Requesting Information From People Whom We Fund

John F. Kennedy

Summary: How the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) helps unmask misconduct, for which people who hide behind the veil of secrecy are responsible

IN THE FOSS world there is belief in the value of sharing, which generally increases trust through collaboration and peer review. Open Data is said to be the recipe for advantage [1], not disadvantage, and more and more people now use FOIA to impose Open Data principles on their government [2]. The surge of FOIA requests has pushed the FBI into a corner [3,4]. It is struggling to deny or hide wrongdoing.

"The surge of FOIA requests has pushed the FBI into a corner."A FOIA should be trivial; in fact, it oughtn't be necessary in the first place. People who say they work in the public's interest should work publicly and transparently. The CIA, NSA, DHS, FBI etc. give the illusion of transparency and the illusion of compliance with FOIA requests. To them, FOIA is like light to a vampire. When it's done in larger volumes it becomes somewhat of a DDOS attack which the liars are unable to keep up with (some agency recently said it would take several years merely to prepare, i.e. redact, the document requested by a FOIA request).

Well, very recently, the assassination of John F. Kennedy reached a crucial anniversary and a lot of material got released to the public, not only bringing back memories [5] but also reinforcing people's opinion that he was assassinated by secret agencies [6-9]. The father of Kennedy's newphew thought the CIA was involved in this assassination [10] and most US citizens seem to think so too [11]. The secrecy only helps reinforce those opinions; but if the secrecy really does hide confirmatory evidence, then it's clear that secrecy is the real enemy. Kennedy wanted to crush this secrecy and at one point he said he wanted to "splinter the CIA in a thousand pieces and scatter it to the winds."

In the world of software, secrecy seems to be giving us noting but back doors and endless surveillance. Proprietary software (i.e. secret code) needs to become a thing of the past.

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. Open Data and Competitive Advantage
    Yesterday, the Deputy CTO of the US Office of Science and Technology Policy issued a press release highlighting the efforts (and success) of the Obama Administration in getting data compiled at public expense into the hands of the private sector for commercial repurposing. The release refers to a McKinsey & Company report that estimates that making such data publicly available “can generate more than $3 trillion a year in additional value in seven key domains of the global economy, including education, transportation, and electricity.”

    If you are American, the phrase “open data” may not have a familiar ring. If you’ve been following IT policy news in Europe, though, you’ll be aware that for the last year or so the EU in general, and some constituent countries in particular (notably, Great Britain), have been focusing not just on open standards and open source software, but on open data collected at any level of government as well. As in the U.S., such data can cover an almost infinite range of information, from demographics to geospatial to economic to integrations of all of the above – and more. Obviously, such data can have enormous value to the private sector, and especially so if it is made available in a form that can be efficiently utilized by private sector companies.

  2. Huge jump in FOIA requests to NSA

  3. Meet the Punk Rocker Who Can Liberate Your FBI File
    Ryan Shapiro has just wrapped up a talk at Boston's Suffolk University Law School, and as usual he's surrounded by a gaggle of admirers. The crowd€­, consisting of law students, academics, and activist types, is here for a panel discussion on the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act, a 2006 law targeting activists whose protest actions lead to a "loss of profits" for industry. Shapiro, a 37-year-old Ph.D. student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, contributed a slideshow of newspaper headlines, posters, and government documents from as far back as the 1800s depicting animal advocates as a threat to national security. Now audience members want to know more about his dissertation and the archives he's using. But many have a personal request: Would Shapiro help them discover what's in their FBI files?

  4. FBI Stops Responding To The Most Prolific FOIA Filer, Because He Might Actually Learn Something
    Mother Jones has an interesting profile of Ryan Shapiro, a punk rocker turned animal rights activist turned MIT PhD student, who is officially the "most prolific" filer of Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests from the FBI. At a high point, he was filing an average of two per day. In fact, he filed so many FOIA requests so successfully, that the FBI is now refusing to respond and is giving the courts a secret explanation which they won't share.


    Later in the article, Shapiro admits that as he got more and more responses, it certainly allowed him to fill in many blanks (and also point him to where to file other requests). This, it seems, is exactly what the FBI fears the most: Shapiro has outsmarted them. While, normally, FOIA responses are done in a manner to limit what information is shared and to never, ever suggest a slightly different query that might be useful, it appears Shapiro has more or less figured out a way around that, in part via bulk requests which lead down other paths of inquiry. No wonder the FBI has stopped responding. Shapiro just plays the game better than they do, and they're used to a world where the house always wins.

  5. Where I Was Then; Where we Are Today

  6. Kennedy killed by CIA conspiracy for acting weak with Cuba, claims Maduro

  7. CIA suppressed Kennedy facts, 'but there was no conspiracy'

  8. JFK Assassination: Just Who Was Lee Harvey Oswald?

  9. CIA lies start the era of doubt
    The CIA has concealed its connections with Lee Harvey Oswald and hence has provoked speculations on the agency’s possible involvement in a conspiracy against President Kennedy, states Anthony Summers, Pulitzer Prize Finalist, Irish journalist and writer. In his book "Not In Your Lifetime" Summers reveals the results of his own investigation of the assassination of JFK. The author shared his ideas and conclusions in an exclusive interview with "Voice of Russia".

  10. JFK nephew: My father thought CIA was involved
    Robert Kennedy Jnr has told ITV News that his father's first instinct after JFK was shot was to wonder whether the CIA was involved.

    Robert Kennedy Snr asked then CIA Director John McCone about it but was reassured that it wasn't the case.

    However Kennedy Snr - JFK's brother - always felt Lee Harvey Oswald didn't act alone.

  11. How Bobby Kennedy immediately suspected the CIA in his brother's death as the majority of Americans still believe the conspiracy theories

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