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When Nixon Met Elvis: Tales of FOIA Document Requests

Complete video at: Professing to be a "documents fetishist," Thomas S. Blanton, Director of the National Security Archive, reflects on his experiences requesting documents via the Freedom of Information Act. The most requested FOIA document? A photograph of Elvis and President Richard Nixon in the Oval Office. ----- A panel of experts discuss the complexities of investigative journalism from a reporter's perspective. They discuss the challenges of going in-depth on a story, and explore the new opportunities that online media presents. The journalists include: Susanne Rust (Knight Fellow), Tom Blanton (National Security Archive), David Barstow (New York Times), Ricardo Sandoval Palos (Center for Public Integrity), and Rebecca Peterson (60 Minutes). The panel is moderated by Lowell Bergman and IRP Fellow Ryan Gabrielson. - Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism homas S. Blanton is Director of the National Security Archive at George Washington University in Washington D.C. The Archive won U.S. journalism's George Polk Award in April 2000 for "piercing self-serving veils of government secrecy, guiding journalists in search for the truth, and informing us all." The Los Angeles Times (16 January 2001) described the Archive as "the world's largest nongovernmental library of declassified documents." Blanton served as the Archive's first Director of Planning & Research beginning in 1986, became Deputy Director in 1989, and Executive Director in 1992. He filed his first Freedom of Information Act request in 1976 as a weekly newspaper reporter in Minnesota; and among many hundreds subsequently, he filed the FOIA request and subsequent lawsuit (with Public Citizen Litigation Group) that forced the release of Oliver North's Iran-contra diaries in 1990. His books include White House E-Mail: The Top Secret Computer Messages the Reagan-Bush White House Tried to Destroy (New York: The New Press, 1995, 254 pp. + computer disk), which The New York Times described as "a stream of insights into past American policy, spiced with depictions of White House officials in poses they would never adopt for a formal portrait." He co-authored The Chronology (New York: Warner Books, 1987, 687 pp.) on the Iran-contra affair, and served as a contributing author to three editions of the ACLU's authoritative guide, Litigation Under the Federal Open Government Laws, and to the Brookings Institution study Atomic Audit: The Costs and Consequences of U.S. Nuclear Weapons Since 1940.
Length: 05:40


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