"Russ Kick is good at saving stuff that the government wants hidden."
                                                                                                           --Rachel Maddow
[video link]

 

The Memory Hole 2 - run by writer and anthologist 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. Some of the highlights:

* Most famously, obtaining and posting Pentagon-banned photos of flag-draped coffins of the fallen coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan. This led to worlwide front-page coverage, heavy rotation on the 24-hour news channels, and a statement from the Pentagon that the release had been "a mistake" and would never happen again.

* Removing the redactions from an embarrassing Justice Department report on diversity among its legal workforce, then posting it with the previously censored portions highlighted in yellow. This led to a front-page story in the New York Times.

* Obtaining and posting the full, uncut footage of President George W. Bush in that Florida classroom during the 9/11 attacks. We posted it for the first time, exactly one year before Michael Moore used it in Fahrenheit 9/11, claiming that his was the first public airing of the full footage. At that point, it had been viewed well over 100,000 times on The Memory Hole.

* Scanning and posting asset-forfeiture manuals that the Justice Department ordered libraries to destroy, saying they had been mistakenly released. Most libraries complied.

* The entire release of the 9/11 firefighter, EMT, and Port Authority radio dispatches, which had appeared only in fragments online.

* The FBI's entire file on Martin Luther King, Jr. (all 16,000+ pages of it).

* The hopelessly rare Kerry hearing transcripts on government cooperation in the global drug trade.

* All the images from Tommy Chong's "Chong Glass" website, which was pulled down by the Drug Enforcement Administration after they arrested him for selling drug paraphernalia.

* Lots of previously unposted documents on the US biological and chemical warfare program.

* 1,200 pages of previously unavailable reports from the State Department's "Future of Iraq" project.

* Deleted websites of the notorious Information Awareness Office, the Air Intelligence Agency, and the Justice Department's Office of Overseas Prosecutorial Development, Assistance and Training, as well as deleted portions of the websites of the Department of Education, the Texas Department of Corrections, and the FDA.

* The Occupational Safety and Health Administration's Lost Workday Injury and Illness Database, which identified tens of thousands of companies by name. OSHA fought in court for two years to keep this database secret.

* Dozens of on-the-ground photos of the 1979 takeover of the American embassy in Iran. These photos had previously not been seen outside of Iran.

* Dozens of previously unseen internal forms used by the NSA and the IRS.

* Unreleased FBI maps of the Columbine massacre.

* Sensitive documents from tobacco, pharmaceutical, and chemical corporations.

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 Orwell's 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.