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The FBI maintains a total of 300,000 cubic feet of historical documents and records, in compliance with the Freedom of Information and Privacy Acts.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

is the first thing despots go after. An unwavering commitment to it is probably what draws you to Mother Jones' journalism. And as we're seeing in the US and the world around, authoritarians seek to poison the discourse and the way we relate to each other because they can't stand people coming together around a shared sense of the truth—it's a huge threat to them.

Which is also a pretty great way to describe Mother Jones' mission: People coming together around the truth to hold power accountable.

And right now, we need to raise about $400,000 from our online readers over the next two months to hit our annual goal and make good on that mission. Read more about the information war we find ourselves in and how people-powered, independent reporting can and must rise to the challenge—and please support our team's truth-telling journalism with a donation if you can right now.

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