April 6th Lecture


SIS welcomes Thomas S. Blanton, Executive Director of the National Security Archive at George Washington University, as the next speaker in the Policy, Ethics and Accountability Lecture Series on Thursday, April 6, 2006. Mr. Blanton, who filed his first Freedom of Information Act request in 1976, is a noted policy expert and advocate for opening up the “black vault” of government secrecy.  He will discuss headline-making news about government accountability and freedom of information, examining access to government records, challenges to that access, and how to hold the government accountable to its citizens. This lecture is open to the public and will take place at 4:30 pm at the Frick Fine Arts Auditorium.  The “Policy, Ethics and Accountability Lecture Series” is co-sponsored by the School of Information Sciences and the Johnson Institute for Responsible Government at the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs.  Visit www.johnsoninstitute-gspia.org/events for more details about the series.

Mr. Blanton has been with the Archive since 1986, becoming the Executive Director in 1992.  He has been recently featured on NPR, PBS, MSNBC, and numerous other media outlets discussing government policy on sensitive information, government wiretapping, and the U.S. Intelligence Community's Secret Historical Document Reclassification Program. The Archive won U.S. journalism's George Polk Award in April 2000 for "piercing self-serving veils of government secrecy, guiding journalists in search for the truth, and informing us all." The Los Angeles Times (16 January 2001) described the Archive as "the world's largest nongovernmental library of declassified documents."

Blanton filed his first Freedom of Information Act request in 1976 as a weekly newspaper reporter in Minnesota; and among many hundreds subsequently, he filed the FOIA request and subsequent lawsuit (with Public Citizen Litigation Group) that forced the release of Oliver North's Iran-contra diaries in 1990. His books include White House E-Mail: The Top Secret Computer Messages the Reagan-Bush White House Tried to Destroy, which The New York Times described as "a stream of insights into past American policy, spiced with depictions of White House officials in poses they would never adopt for a formal portrait." He co-authored The Chronology on the Iran-contra affair, and served as a contributing author to three editions of the ACLU's authoritative guide, Litigation Under the Federal Open Government Laws. His articles have appeared in The International Herald-Tribune, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Boston Globe, Slate, the Wilson Quarterly, and many other publications. He is a founding editorial board member of freedominfo.org, the virtual network of international freedom of information advocates among other professional activities.

The lecture by Thomas S. Blanton is the sixth in the Policy, Ethics and Accountability Lecture Series.