National security, policy making and ketchup packets
July 14th, 2014
05:00 PM ET
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On America’s 190th birthday in 1966, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the “Freedom of Information Act,” a law he described as crucial to the democratic principles of our country.

And FOIA, as it now known, has since become a cornerstone of government openness and individual rights, and was most recently renewed in 2014.

The idea is simple: provide American citizens with information and space to complain regarding the country’s most pressing issues: national security, policy making and ketchup packets.

Yes, ketchup packets.

A report from the collaborative investigative news site MuckRock has recently exposed just how some Americans are using FOIA: to complain to the CIA about its own employee cafeterias.

“Last week and then again this week I have talked to numerous café employees to inform them that the Pepsi coming out of the regular Pepsi spout is Diet Pepsi,” one report said. “Why has this problem not been fixed?”

Yet, shockingly, this complainer is not alone.

For one CIA employee, the Russian food day was clearly unacceptable.

“Please realize that many of us have really traveled to these countries and when you provide food like you did today, it causes me to not support this kind of cuisine in the future. I feel that for example Beef Stroganoff is more American than Russian.”


The report includes FOIA submissions regarding inadequate breakfast kielbasa, a request to bring back individual ketchup packets and a complaint regarding a faulty breakfast cereal to almond ratio.

“Why doesn’t the (fast food) facility here offer the 'dollar menu' as the outside facilities? Why can’t there be nicer food handlers? Attitude every day.”

However, not all the food-centric FOIA submissions were negative.

Some individuals took to the CIA to compliment especially exceptional eats. Here’s a peppy, but equally misguided submission: “Hi – the pre-made salads in the cafeterias are very good, but this new one, Soutwestern [sic] Chicken Caesar chop salad was EXCELLENT. thanks!”

Certainly, this is the freedom of information that President Johnson had in mind.

“I signed this measure with a deep sense of pride that the United States is an open society in which the people's right to know is cherished and guarded,” he said at the time.

Rights, liberty, and dollar menu for all.

The fare up there: Air Force One

soundoff (2 Responses)
  1. Arturo Féliz-Camilo

    Reblogged this on Mr. Feliz's Blog (Teacher Arturo).

    July 15, 2014 at 8:49 pm |
  2. Reticuli

    The employees are actually using the FOIA to complain about the cafeteria? This is fairly distressing considering what happened to Jeffrey Scudder and the moving of all the Historic Collections division over to the rigid FOIA office.

    July 15, 2014 at 9:13 am |
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