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28 pages of 9/11 Report finally declassified

The U.S. Congress on Friday released the previously classified 28 pages of the 9/11 Commission Report on potential Saudi government ties to the 2001 terrorist attack. The pages were posted (pdf) on the House Intelligence Committee’s website. Hopefully, GPO will add these 28 pages to the original 9/11 report that they host on FDsys (officially titled “Joint inquiry into intelligence community activities before and after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 : report of the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and U.S. House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence together with additional views.”)

It details contacts between Saudi officials and some of the Sept. 11 hijackers, checks from Saudi royals to operatives in contact with the hijackers and the discovery of a telephone number in a Qaeda militant’s phone book that was traced to a corporation managing an Aspen, Colo., home of Prince Bandar bin Sultan, then the Saudi ambassador to Washington.

The document, 28 pages of a congressional inquiry into the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, is also an unflattering portrayal of the kingdom’s efforts to thwart American attempts to combat Al Qaeda in the years before the attacks.

But it is also a frustrating time capsule, completed in late 2002 and kept secret for nearly 14 years out of concern that it might fray diplomatic relations between the United States and Saudi Arabia. Subsequent investigations into the terror attacks pursued the leads described in the document and found that many had no basis in fact. But the mythology surrounding the document grew with each year it remained classified.

via In 9/11 Document, View of a Saudi Effort to Thwart U.S. Action on Al Qaeda – The New York Times.

Bot to tweet Chilcot Report 140 characters at a time

Finally, after 7 years of investigation, the British government has released the Chilcot Report, the UK’s official inquiry into its participation in the Iraq War (coverage at the Guardian, NY Times, and the Intercept). We’ve purchased a copy, and are also in the process of storing a digital copy in the Stanford Digital Repository.

Now there’s word that the 12 volumes and 2.6 million words will be tweeted by the Chilcot Bot 140 characters at a time. I’m not sure how exactly 140 characters every 4.5 minutes is “more digestible,” but it does bring about an interesting thought experiment: how does one collect a document published as a year’s worth of tweets?!

The Chilcot report is long—2.6 million words long. It takes the form of 12 hefty volumes that occupy a table measuring several meters in length, in print form. 

Now, you can savor the document, which took 7 years to produce and find that the United Kingdom joined the invasion of Iraq under dubious circumstances, in tweet-sized bursts.

The bot issues a new tweet every 4.5 minutes or so, according to a calculation by Motherboard. It was created by BuzzFeed to reproduce the text in a more “digestible” form, according to Chris Applegate, a U.K.-based developer who worked on it.

via This Bot Will Spend the Next Year Tweeting the Chilcot Report – Nextgov.com.

NARA releases a coloring book of weird and wonderful patents


The National Archives (NARA) has just put out a coloring book of patents from their archives. And they’re pretty awesome! I would totally buy the public transit hammock! It’s a reminder that most patents are either contraptions for supremely lazy people (the saluting device!) or for inventions of the unnecessary (eye protectors for chickens?!). Check them out and post your creations on twitter using the hashtag #ColorOurCollections and tagging @usnatarchives.

In celebration of the New York Academy of Medicine’s #ColorOurCollections campaign this week, many museums, libraries, and archives hopped on the adult coloring bandwagon and created coloring books to share on Twitter. We’ve been participating by posting various images throughout the week for people to color, from Rosie the Riveter to the Faulkner murals.

Now we have a coloring book as well! We’ve chosen some of our favorite patents from our holdings for you to color

via #ColorOurCollections | AOTUS.

Peek at Space Pix

Software Engineering Patrik Göthe has a nice little project called PeekSpace in which he curates free·to·use space photography — much of it from NASA. As he says, there are plenty of free images of space on the web, but they are scattered in “an unaccessible sea of quantity and flash-slide shows.” So, Patrick has gone through thousands of images and picked out the best ones, so you don’t have to!

There are two things of interest here to government information professionals (apart from the obvious coolness of PeekSpace!). First, Patrick is doing what libraries have always done: selected out of a plethora of stuff just the stuff that his community (users of free space imagery!) want and organized it so that it is easy to find and use. These days, the popular buzzword is that he “curates” this collection.

Second, he does not just point to NASA; he gets copies and serves them from his own web server. Clearly, he understands the drawbacks of pointing instead of collecting.

Later this week (April 23, 2015 2:00 pm until April 23, 2015 3:00 pm [EDT]) there is a webinar on Creating Online Federal Depository Collections: Case Studies [update: recording of the webinar now available here]. I will be interested to hear if there are any FDLP libraries that are actually building digital collections or if “online federal depository collections” are just pointers to digital objects that can change, move, or disappear over time. This model of a “collection” of pointers is from the early days of the web — it was pioneered by Yahoo in 1994! Even Yahoo finally retired its “directory.” I hope FDLP libraries will start building real 21st century digital collections that they select, acquire, organize, and preserve and for which they guarantee long-term free access and provide their own digital services. Now that would be an actual Library!

Official New FCC Net Neutrality Rules Published

Document of the day:

  • Protecting and Promoting the Open Internet; Final Rule Federal Register Vol. 80 Monday, No. 70 (April 13, 2015) Part II, Federal Communications Commission, 47 CFR Parts 1, 8, and 20. [Official PDF version at FDsys.]
    SUMMARY: In this document, the Federal Communications Commission (Commission) establishes rules to protect and promote the open Internet. Specifically, the Open Internet Order adopts bright-line rules that prohibit blocking, throttling, and paid prioritization; a rule preventing broadband providers from unreasonably interfering or disadvantaging consumers or edge providers from reaching one another on the Internet; and provides for enhanced transparency into network management practices, network performance, and commercial terms of broadband Internet access service. These rules apply to both fixed and mobile broadband Internet access services. The Order reclassifies broadband Internet access service as a telecommunications service subject to Title II of the Communications Act. Finally, the Order forbears from the majority of Title II provisions, leaving in place a framework that will support regulatory action while simultaneously encouraging broadband investment, innovation, and deployment.

Other links:
80 FR 19737 – Protecting and Promoting the Open Internet (FDsys Record with links)
Text version at FDsys.
Protecting and Promoting the Open Internet Final Rule by the Federal Communications Commission on 04/13/2015 (HTML version at FederalRegister.gov).