THE FREEDOM of Information Act (FOIA) is officially Section 552, Title 5, of the U.S. Code. It has been amended a few times through its history, but from the onset it has been the authority for any person in the United States to ask any government agency for information about virtually anything. If the government agency has the material, it must provide it to the requester at reasonable expense, either electronically or in hard copy. By 2002, requests numbered 2.4 million, of which 1.4 million were to the Veterans Administration alone.

On July 4, 1966, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the FOIA into law. Johnson had reservations and was within a day of letting it die by pocket veto, but he had to sign to ...

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