Spring Cleaning at the FBI

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The FBI maintains a total of 300,000 cubic feet of historical documents and records, in compliance with the Freedom of Information and Privacy Acts.

But apparently, freedom of information is also subject to spring-cleaning.

Among the guidelines for determining documents worth hanging on to is the “fat file theory,” positing that heft is somehow correlated to importance.

Cases not categorized important enough for a permanent status are reevaluated at 25 years—their fates determined by the whims of internal FBI agents, not trained archivists.

As long as they’re trying to make space in cramped government buildings, maybe someone should let the FBI know that they can condense behemoth files down to merely 3 cubic feet of storage space, enough for the hard drives needed to store the data they’re deleting.

But, whoops, I guess that could mean easy public access to information.

—Joyce Tang

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This feels like the most important fundraising drive since I've been CEO of Mother Jones, with staggeringly high stakes and so much uncertainty. In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," I try to unpack the reality we all face and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support Mother Jones’ nonprofit journalism: We need to raise $400,000 to help cover the vital reporting projects we have planned, and right now is no time to pull back.

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