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50 for 50 Day 37: National Security Archive

June 23, 2011

It’s my 50th Birthday Celebration, Day 37. Here is what is going on: because I feel so lucky and have pretty much everything I could ever need, I am asking people to get involved with charities, if they are so inspired, in lieu of any fabulous birthday presents you were planning on sending me (or not).

I am featuring a different charity every day for 50 days leading up to my 50th birthday to give you plenty of chances to get involved. I started on May 18. I wanted to give a voice to different good works around the globe. If you ARE inspired to take action, please leave me a comment and let me know that you did. This is all I want for my birthday – to spread some love and kindness. One thousand thanks.

Governments love secrecy. And those who don’t know their history are doomed to repeat it. Two truisms, one organization that deals with both.

The National Security Archive, despite its official-sounding name, is an independent organization located at George Washington University. From their website:
An independent non-governmental research institute and library located at The George Washington University, the Archive collects and publishes declassified documents obtained through the Freedom of Information Act. The Archive also serves as a repository of government records on a wide range of topics pertaining to the national security, foreign, intelligence, and economic policies of the United States. The Archive won the 1999 George Polk Award, one of U.S. journalism’s most prestigious prizes, for–in the words of the citation–“piercing the self-serving veils of government secrecy, guiding journalists in the search for the truth and informing us all.”

The Archive obtains its materials through a variety of methods, including the Freedom of Information act, Mandatory Declassification Review, presidential paper collections, congressional records, and court testimony. Archive staff members systematically track U.S. government agencies and federal records repositories for documents that either have never been released before, or that help to shed light on the decision-making process of the U.S. government and provide the historical context underlying those decisions.

As you can probably figure, this collection is important for journalists, researchers and academics who can draw from it to assist their work. For instance, they recently released background documents related to the release of the full Pentagon Papers that add context and depth to the papers themselves.

You can donate here. If you know a student who is interested in foreign affairs, they also have internships.

Previously featured organizations:
Books for Africa
Seed Savers Exchange
MAP International
The Fresh Air Fund
Electronic Frontier Foundation
Impact Personal Safety
Kristin Brooks Hope Center
Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund
Light Up the World Foundation
Planned Parenthood
Doctors Without Borders
Heifer International
Team Rubicon
The Carter Center
Bikes Not Bombs
Friends of Maddie
Surfrider Foundation
United Through Reading
Operation Shower
The Liz Logelin Foundation
American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals
Kids Vs Global Warming
Help a Mother Out
Direct Relief International
Accelerated Cure for Multiple Sclerosis
Women for Women
Epic Change
Amnesty International

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