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Lessons in FOIA Terrorism

Reported by Jason Leopold

The Freedom of Information Act is one of the most powerful tools available to journalists and the public. I’ll show you how to use it aggressively.

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I have a proven track record of prying loose secret government documents on the federal and state level. I’ll show you my findings.

This includes documents that have been designated as classified, through my aggressive use of the Freedom of Information Act.

forcefeeding

The restraint chair and force-feeding kit in the detainee hospital at Guantanamo, encountered during a recent trip. We were told this was set up this way for display purposes. It resembles an execution chamber.

Here’s what you get.

  • Regular updates about document requests I am filing with various government agencies and why the material is valuable and newsworthy.

  • Exclusive access to documents obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, along with an analysis of the material.

  • A Q&A with me and open government experts in BEACON discussion forums.

  • Tips on filing good state and federal FOIA requests.

  • Access to every story, by every writer on BEACON.

The U.S. government is highly secretive about its activities, often times invoking “national security” and “state secrets” to justify its refusal to discuss and release documents that would shed light on a wide-range of issues, such as counterterrorism, finance, civil liberties and foreign policy. Indeed, a 2013 analysis by the Associated Press, based on a study of 33 government agencies, concluded that the U.S. government, “more often than it ever has … cited legal exceptions to censor or withhold” material sought by the public and the media, claiming “the need to protect national security and internal deliberations.” But as Thomas Jefferson noted, “Whenever the people are well informed, they can be trusted with their own government” and “whenever things get so far wrong as to attract their notice, they may be relied on to set them to rights.”

The best way to keep the public informed is forcing federal and state governments to abide by its open government laws and providing citizens access to documents about its policies, programs and activities.

talking points

The official Guantanamo talking points “smart card,” which advises public affairs officials what they can and can’t say to the media.

Your funds help me uncover more hidden documents.

Funds raised will be used to pay for costs related to writing, filing fees and, when necessary, Freedom of Information Act lawsuits, which has increasingly become necessary to gain access to government documents.

beacon shirt

As thanks, my top-level backers will also get a “FOIA Terrorist” T-shirt in a size of their choice.

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Jason Leopold BIOGRAPHY

I am an investigative reporter covering Guantanamo, counterterrorism, national security, human rights, open government and civil liberties issues. I’ve been called a “FOIA Terrorist” by federal employees for my aggressive use of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), which included suing the FBI and Department of Defense and forcing those agencies to change their policies. In 2013, was a recipient of a crowd-funding grant from the Freedom of Press Foundation to support my FOIA work and reporting on Guantanamo. My work has been published in The Wall Street Journal, The Los Angeles, Times, CBS Marketwatch, Truthout, Al Jazeera English, Alternet and other domestic and international publications.

Currently, I am a contributor to Al Jazeera America and editor at large and co-founder of The Public Record. I’m the author of the national bestseller, News Junkie, a memoir, and an ebook, From Hopeful to Immigrant to FBI Informant: The Inside Story of the Other Abu Zubaidah.

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Stories about Lessons in FOIA Terrorism need to be told

Help Jason Leopold bring them to BEACON. With 50 backers, Jason Leopold can provide sustainable reporting on the topic you won't get anywhere else.

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