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I was so happy to see that the Memory Hole — which for a long time posted amazing FOIA’d and found government documents but which went dark in 2009 — is back to work. Russ Kick is doing yeoman’s work to shake loose and shine light on amazing documents. I often save copies in the Stanford Digital Repository and make them available via our library catalog. I hope others will do the same. Scroll to the bottom of the site to subscribe to weekly updates. Welcome back Russ and the Memory Hole!!
The Memory Hole 2 – run by Russ Kick – saves important documents from oblivion. Its predecessor, The Memory Hole (2002-2009), posted hundreds of documents, many of which will be reposted on the new site.
The Memory Hole 2 achieves its mission in several ways:
- Discovering what documents the US government has pulled offline, recovering them, and reposting them here. In this way, The Memory Hole 2 is the reverse of its namesake in George Orwells 1984, in which official documents that were no longer convenient for the powers-that-be were sent to a furnace through a hole in the wall.
- Digitizing and posting important documents that previously existed only on paper.
- Filing Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests for documents across the federal government (including Cabinet-level departments, regulatory agencies, intelligence agencies, and the military), then posting the results. I also sometimes file at the state and local levels, as well as with governments outside the US.
- Posting documents obtained by other researchers.
- Proactively mirroring important documents that seem in danger of being pulled offline.
- Posting documents that are available but are languishing in obscurity. This may include documents buried in huge search-only archives (not browsable), forgotten news reports, startling passages from books, court decisions, etc.
- Converting documents from inconvenient or cumbersome formats into convenient ones. This might include taking hundreds of one-page and two-page PDF files and merging them into a single document, or making a photo gallery out of images in scattered locations.
- I do some behind-the-scenes work by downloading gigabytes worth of documents from government websites that use dirty tricks to block automatic archiving and caching, As long as the documents stay on the official sites, I may not post them, but if they ever go missing, I have copies.
According to the Huffington Post, The NSA has deleted its own published fact sheets on Section 702 of FISA and Section 215 of PATRIOT Act. Luckily someone saved the document and we’ve attached it here for public perusal. This is exactly the reason why FDLP libraries need to be in place to preserve public domain govt publications, even the ones that are embarrassing or describe govt illegality. Govt publications in 1200 libraries are difficult to expunge from the public record.
A day after coming under fire from congressional critics, the National Security Agency is trying to flush a controversial surveillance “fact sheet” down the memory hole.
That fact sheet was supposed to explain how the NSA interprets and uses section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, the part of the law that underpins the agency’s PRISM data collection program. But after Sens. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Tom Udall (D-Colo.) asserted in a letter that the NSA’s explanation contained a “significant” inaccuracy, the agency pulled the FISA fact sheet from its website on Tuesday, delivering users instead a server error.
In a letter to the senators, Gen. Keith Alexander, director of the NSA, said he “agree(d)” that the fact sheet “could have more precisely described the requirements for collection.” He pointed them to the text of the law for further information on how the program works.
NSA spokeswoman Judith Emmel addressed the removal of the fact sheet in a statement. “Given the intense interest from the media, the public, and Congress, we believe the precision of the source document (the statute) is the best possible representation of applicable authorities,” she said.
According to the Associated Press (September 14, 2006), “the Federal Communications Commission ordered its staff to destroy all copies of a draft study that suggested greater concentration of media ownership would hurt local TV news coverage, a former lawyer at the agency says.”
This is despicable. The FCC under Michael Powell and now Kevin Martin has been trying to change the rules for media ownership for several years so that large media corporations could have monopolistic control over local TV/newspaper/radio markets. But, oops!, their own study, paid for at taxpayer expense, found that localism is beneficial to the public and that media concentration has detrimental effects on public access to news and information. Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif. is on the case and has said she will call for an investigation if answers are not forthcoming.