About

The goals of AltGov2 are to increase government transparency, keep an eye on the powerful through citizen oversight, and dig up important documents. I file hundreds of Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests, then post the documents I get. I also repost material the government pulls offline. I scan rare paper documents that have never appeared online, and I bring together scattered material that’s languishing in obscurity and/or is in inconvenient formats.

My work has been featured on the front page of the New York Times (twice), The Rachel Maddow Show (twice), Good Morning America, CBS Evening News, Los Angeles Times, Time, Politico, Motherboard, Quartz, Gizmodo, Daily Beast, ProPublica, David Cay Johnston’s DCReport, and elsewhere. Details magazine once called me “a happily maladjusted and radically tolerant Renaissance man,” and Utne Reader named me in its first list of “50 Visionaries Who Are Changing Your World.”

BTW I’m Russ Kick – a transparency activist and investigative archivist, as well as a writer and anthologist. I’ve written five books and edited 13 anthologies on a variety of topics. My innate distrust of authority — and a love of research — led me to start the original Memory Hole in 2002 to post important documents that I get through FOIA requests, library deep-dives, scouring online archives, etc. The latest incarnation of my website is AltGov2.


The things I’ve done that have gotten the most attention:

• In February 2017, the main federal agency in charge of protecting animals suddenly pulled down tens of thousands of inspection reports, warnings, and lab reports. Within days I had reposted over 5,000 of these documents. This led Rachel Maddow to say: “Russ Kick is good at saving stuff that the government wants hidden.”

• During the Iraq War in 2003, my FOIA request (and appeal) won the release of Pentagon-banned photos of flag-draped coffins of the war dead coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan. This led to worldwide front-page coverage, heavy rotation on the 24-hour news channels, the Project on Government Oversight’s Beyond the Headlines Award, and a statement from the Pentagon that the release had been “a mistake” and would never happen again. (Narrator voice: It did happen again.)

• I broke the news that ICE wants to destroy all documents about deaths and rapes of immigrants in its custody. This got picked up by the ACLU and went viral from there, causing widespread anger and opposition. As of this writing, the National Archives is the process of getting ICE to change (possibly withdraw?) its request.

• Similarly, I broke the news that the Interior Department was planning to destroy uncountable documents about oil and gas leases, mining, dams, wells, timber sales, marine conservation, fishing, endangered species, non-endangered species, critical habitats, land acquisition, and lots more. This led to a huge grassroots outcry that included more than 12,000 individual public comments to the National Archives.

• The process whereby the National Archives gives permission to government agencies to destroy documents has been hidden in the shadows for decades. I forced it into the open by requesting and posting every available agency proposal. After less than six months, the National Archives announced that it’s changing its ways and will make the process transparent and prominent. They credited the interest generated by my efforts as the reason.

• The FBI’s file on Martin Luther King, Jr. is over 16,000 pages long, yet the FBI posted only 226 pages to its Vault and pretends like that’s the whole thing. Under FOIA, I got the entire MLK file and made it available online.

• I posted nearly 200 photos showing the public, for the first time ever, the inside of Border Patrol’s filthy, freezing detention facilities for immigrants (Part 1 and Part 2). The American Immigration Council got these unsealed by a federal court but didn’t post them. The few news outlets that covered the story ran only a handful of the images. I independently obtained and posted every one of the almost 200 images.

• Trump and the Secret Service refuse to release a membership list of Trump’s private club, Mar-a-Lago (a/k/a “the winter White House”), so using open-source methods I assembled a list of 133 members.

• Through a public records request to the New York Attorney General, I received and posted 3,100 pages of internal documents from the Trump Foundation “charity.”

• I scooped the business press by revealing that right-wing billionaire Robert Mercer’s Renaissance Technologies had been under FBI investigation for almost two years. I also posted financial disclosures showing that Jared Kushner owned Israeli government bonds, the day before the Wall Street Journal reported it.

Another scoop: Trump’s pick for US Surgeon General owned stock in five tobacco companies when he was nominated. The Surgeon General. Owned. Tobacco stock. On top of that, he owned these stocks while he was the top public-health official of Indiana under Pence, which entailed being the head of the state’s Tobacco Prevention and Cessation Commission. (Allegedly, Dr. Adams divested himself of his tobacco stocks — which he never should have owned — within 90 days of winning Senate confirmation.)

• I rescued bits and pieces of Mike Flynn’s deleted business website, Flynn Intel Group.

• I was the first to scan any issue of the FBI’s long-running internal magazine, The Investigator. Specifically, the J. Edgar Hoover memorial issue.

• I removed the redactions from an embarrassing Justice Department report on diversity among its legal workforce, then posted it with the previously censored portions highlighted in yellow. This led to a front-page story in the New York Times.

• I was the first to post external audits of Google’s privacy program, which had been mandated by the Federal Trade Commission.

• I obtained and posted the full, uncut footage of President George W. Bush doing nothing in that Florida classroom during the 9/11 attacks. This was exactly one year before Michael Moore used it in Fahrenheit 9/11, claiming that his was the first public airing of the full footage. At that point, it had been viewed well over 100,000 times on the original Memory Hole.

• I scanned and posted asset-forfeiture manuals that the Justice Department ordered libraries to destroy, saying that they had been mistakenly released. Most libraries complied. (Over a decade later, the DOJ yanked an asset-forfeiture document off its website, so I reposted it.)

• I posted the entire release of the firefighter, EMT, and Port Authority radio dispatches on 9/11, which had appeared only in fragments online. I also was the first to post all recordings of emergency 911 calls placed from inside the WTC on 9/11. (Fifteen CDs’ worth of audio.)

The FBI has quietly, inexplicably deleted some of its files from its FOIA Vault through the years. I figured out which ones went missing, then reposted all of them. There are 37.

• I successfully crowdfunded the release of several large FBI files, including the 35,500-page file ($1,060) on Bernie Madoff’s epic scam. (Still waiting on the FBI to start sending those files on a rolling basis.)


And the list goes on:

• Previously unreleased ICE presentations on drug-smuggling tunnels under the US-Mexico border.

• A consolidated collection of 380,000 pages (22.4 gigabytes) of internal emails and other Michigan state documents about the poisoning of Flint’s water.

• 8,000 unreleased public comments received by Trump’s Opioid Commission.

• A running gallery of deleted political tweets and deleted Trump-related material.

• 400 previously unseen internal forms used by the NSA and 50+ from the FBI.

• The previously unseen form letter that ICE sends to families whose loved ones die in custody.

• The constitutions of 440 Native American tribes. (These documents had been scattered far and wide, and the vast majority had never appeared online.)

• The DEA’s deleted newsletter for drug warriors, Microgram Bulletin.

• A previously unreleased Department of Justice report on its data-mining activities. Federal law requires agencies to publicly post these reports, but the Justice Dept, as it often does, simply ignores federal laws that it doesn’t like.

• FBI files on Whole Foods, Google, the International Olympic Committee, Edward Teller, Edward Said, and for the first time ever, the complete file on George Harrison.

• 27 issues of the notorious CounterSpy magazine, which exposed the secrets of the CIA from 1973 to 1984, until the Agency destroyed it.

• The first posting of the FBI’s voluminous files on the Attica prison uprising and the Greensboro massacre.

• 22 photos of Donald Trump and Bill Clinton from 2000. (Politico got these released but chose to post only 8 of them. I posted all 22.)

• Dozens of on-the-ground photos of the 1979 takeover of the American embassy in Tehran. These photos had previously not been seen outside of Iran.

• The first-ever look at the FBI’s internal (intranet) website, BUNET, including the FBI TV streaming video service.

• Details of misconduct by Justice Department lawyers, including Assistant US Attorneys.

• Deleted recordings of the tribunal proceedings for 14 “high-value detainees” at Guantanamo.

• Around 25 extremely rare photos from inside NORAD’s Cheyenne Mountain command complex, plus 22 previously unreleased internal histories of NORAD and USAF Air Defense Command.

• The first freely available posting of Alan Turing’s famous “Mathematical Theory of ENIGMA Machine” (a/k/a “Prof’s book”), scanned directly, clearly, and in color from an original copy by the UK National Archives (unlike the almost illegible version that the NSA released.)

• 10 deleted issues of the newsletter of the CIA’s Center for the Study of Intelligence.

• A collection of rare polygraph documents from the CIA, FBI, and Defense Department, assembled by postdoc researcher Vera Wilde. (Also: Videos of Wilde’s interviews with polygraph experts and insiders.)

• 12,000+ pages of deleted documents from the USDA’s investigation of the mysterious GMO contamination of a wheat field in Oregon.

• The first-ever photos of the wooden “prisoner boxes” used by the military in Iraq.

• An undisclosed Energy Dept report about a hacker who compromised computers at Sandia, Oak Ridge, Ames, and Brookhaven.

• Lots of previously unposted documents on the US biological and chemical warfare program. (Examples here, here, and here.) Also: “nonlethal” weapons here and here, and the Army’s LSD experiments.

• Inflammatory posts that anti-abortion extremist Charmaine Yoest deleted from her website after Trump gave her a high-level post in the Dept of Health and Human Services. (Among other things, she oversees all of HHS’s public communications and its FOIA program.)

• Deleted video of Guantanamo Commanding Officer Peter J. Clarke saying that presidential orders to torture detainees would not be obeyed.

• 1,200 pages of previously unavailable reports from the State Department’s “Future of Iraq” project.

• The hopelessly rare Kerry hearing transcripts on governments’ complicity in the global drug trade.

• An archive of all court documents from the three related lawsuits in which a woman accused Donald Trump and Jeffrey Epstein of raping her when she was thirteen.

• Internal police emails from the cops who busted Stormy Daniels on bogus charges.

• The previously unreleased book-length report The Origins of the National Security Agency, 1940-1952.

• The IRS and Justice Dept internal manual “Investigation and Prosecution of Illegal Money Laundering: A Guide to the Bank Secrecy Act.”

• 77 documents on the “Secure Communities” program that ICE scrubbed from its website.

• NASA’s previously unseen internal counterintelligence newsletter.

• Unreleased FBI maps of the Columbine massacre.

• A “For Official Use Only” presentation that details the little-known Pegasus network, which the 5 Eyes nations use to share classified military info.

• The deleted “Operations Manual” for the Government Accountability Office.

• The FBI’s deleted report “The Varieties of Homicide.”

• The completely unredacted audit manual used by the Intelligence Community’s Inspector General, which I got through FOIA.

• A quarter of a million complaints against Chicago Police, 1967-2014.

• The rare, contentious Alabama publication “Individuals Active in Civil Disturbances” from the early 1960s.

• A suppressed list of 20 accidents involving nuclear weapons in the UK.

• For laughs, I scanned the DEA’s horrifyingly bad anti-drug coloring book.

And there’s more. So much more. Just have a look around the original Memory Hole, version 1.5, The Memory Hole 2, and here on AltGov2.

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