09 January 2009

What do we talk about when we talk to the CIA?

For all its limitations, the Freedom of Information Act is one of the jewels of the American political system.

But I wouldn't want to be the person at the CIA charged with fielding FOIA submissions. The logs of recent requests (here, here, and doubtless many other places) make for amusing reading. Alongside serious demands for information, there are dozens of people asking for their own files, the obligatory questions about UFOs, the Kennedy assassination, and mind control, and requests for things that are already public and easily available (the CIA Factbook and the like). But that's just the tip of the iceberg. I pity the poor fellow who has to write responses to the requests summarized as:

"impact Visa card holders" (3 Jan. 2000) [recte visa holders?]

"assassination of President William McKinley or Leon Czolgosz" (12 Jan. 2000)

"clear worms" (19 Jan. 2000)

"information in connection with spontaneous human combustion" (29 Feb. 2000)

"'a copy of the U.S. and the Louisian [sic] State Constitution'" (16 Mar. 2000)

"Noah's Ark" (3 Apr. 2000)

"CIA reports from 1972 to the present" (3 May 2000)

"any data from any data file" (8 June 2000)

"research on sex pheromones" (23 Aug. 2000)

"'request a CIA agent to visit him and the complete mailing address of the CIA unit in San Diego, California'" (18 Sept. 2000)

"autographed photo of George J. Tenet" (17 Oct. 2000)

"pilots in pyjamas" (24 Oct. 2000)

"seeking location of biological father" (1 Oct. 2004)

"Agency's employment policy for ex-felons" (2 Mar. 2005)

"mind reading/control implants and who to contact if NSA intends to murder requester using such implants" (4 Mar. 2005)

"children's media showing CIA is looking to alter its public image to younger U.S. consumers under the age of 13" (29 Mar. 2005)

"all domestic individuals holding assets exceeding 10 million U.S. dollars" (11 Jan. 2006)

"James Bond" (7 Jul. 2006)

"www.nowthatsfuckedup.com" (5 Jan. 2007)

"how much money we receive back for all taxes" (26 Jan. 2007)

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