Science & Technology

50,000 FOIA Requests You'll Never Be Able to Make From the FBI



The indefatigable folks at MuckRock, a site dedicated to making freedom of information requests, has some bad news: A huge number of documents were permanently destroyed by flooding of the FBI building in Washington, DC last year.

"Last week, the FBI got back with their initial response, and it's disturbing, to say the least," explains MuckRock, which published their findings on Monday:

There's over five hundred pages, each listing fifty plus damaged/destroyed documents. And again, this is the initial response.

At MuckRock, we believe that digitization is an important component of promoting transparency, both in ensuring dissemination of information, and guaranteeing the long term survival of documents. Incidents like this—and the staggering loss to both history and accountability they incur—are regrettable examples of why. 

There were so many documents, it took almost an entire year to put the request together.

This flood took place last April. It's not the first time water damage has ruined FBI documents. When Hurricane Sandy hit New York, the FBI experienced what Salon described as a "huge and still unquantifiable loss of records" that "between 8,000 and 9,000 cardboard boxes, each capable of storing hundreds of documents from investigations and cases spanning at least two decades" were lost. 

You can click here for the 500ish page list, but it's not exactly light reading.