Give me Liberty, or better yet, give me my FBI or NSA File!

FBI SealToday is Independence Day, July 4, 2013.  The recent news of alleged automated digital information gathering by various United States Government Agencies has caused many to ask “What do they know and when did they know it?”

With that in mind, it seemed only fitting to take a step back in time to old days of the mysterious “FBI Files” of the Hoover and McCarthy era.  It is rumored that the FBI created files on almost everyone who was even the least bit subversive – you know, anyone exercising their Constitutional Rights such as the First Amendment – Freedom of Speech, Freedom of Religion, and Freedom of the Press – who might have had a difference of opinion with the current political climate.

Most certainly, the hysteria of the day about our potentially intrusive, “Big Brother” Government was that if you were protesting in the ‘60’s and ‘70’s you must have an FBI file, right?  I mean, the FBI’s file on Elvis is famous.  (See it here at: http://vault.fbi.gov/Elvis%20Presley%20 )  His swinging hips were sure to be the downfall of family values and corrupt teenage girls everywhere.  Obviously he was considered a threat to domestic tranquility worthy of Government investigation.

The question is, were YOU?

Are you on the radar of the U.S. Government to the point at which the FBI or NSA, or any number of other specialized Agencies might have performed an investigation in to your activities and “known associates?”  Do you have a photo of yourself and Jimmy Hoffa?  Perhaps you are the one carrying the banner at a protest rally?  Did you ever answer “yes” to the infamous question by Senator McCarthy, “Are you now or have you ever been a member of the Communist Party?”

To use a tag line from the National Enquirer, “Enquiring minds want to know!”

Fortunately, under the Freedom of Information Act, FOIA for short, you have the legal right to request that the FBI, NSA, and a number of other US Government Agencies perform a search and present you with a copy of your “File” – if one exists.  For certain types of information and files you need to file a Privacy Act request instead.

Some Agencies, such as the NSA are less forthcoming with the information that they may have collected on you because many of their records are exempt from FOIA and enjoy special legal protections.

You can also request files on the deceased with a few caveats.

To get your file, you can visit a privately run free service site, http://www.getmyfbifile.com that will help you create the form letter request to the FBI and other Agencies.

A more practical and perhaps fun use might be to request a file on a deceased relative.  Ever wonder why Grandpa who lived in some rural part of the country always had those clear jugs of liquid (moonshine?) and did not seem to have ever had a real job but always had lots of cash to buy you ice cream and candy?  Or, perhaps he was active in the Workman’s Circle or he did answer, “Yes” to Senator McCarthy’s question.  He just might have a file.  To get Grandpa’s file, you can visit a privately run free service site, http://www.getgrandpasfbifile.com that will help you create the form letter.

The Direct Links to U.S. Federal Government Agency FOIA Pages are below:

FBI – Federal Bureau of Investigation
http://www.fbi.gov/foia

NSA – National Security Agency
http://www.nsa.gov/public_info/foia/index.shtml

DSS – Defense Security Services
http://www.dss.mil/about_dss/contact_dss/foia.html

CIA – Central Intelligence Agency
http://www.foia.cia.gov

USMS – U.S. Marshalls Service
http://www.usmarshals.gov/foia/index.html

DIA – Defense Intelligence Agency
http://www.dia.mil/public-affairs/foia

USSS – United States Secret Service
http://www.secretservice.gov/foia.shtml

CID – Army Criminal Investigation Command
http://www.cid.army.mil/foia.html

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