The FBI joins the online document dump party

a screenshot of The Vault homepage (click to enlarge)

By posting thousands of classified government documents online, Wikileaks aims to keep governments open. By posting records and HIV status information on porn stars, PornWikileaks says it wants to keep the adult industry open. Saudi Leaks posts documents to expose bureaucratic corruption.

Now the FBI has joined the document dump party.

Thursday the FBI released 350 pages worth of documents from its investigation of Notorious B.I.G.’s murder on its “electronic reading room,” The Vault.

The Vault is an online repository of documents related to FBI investigations of major disasters, celebrities and personnel that seems pretty similar to document leak sites appearing on the net.

The records are broken down into categories like popular culture, civil rights, unexplained phenomenon and counterterrorism and have case files on topics from Jimi Hendrix to Columbine to FBI Undercover Operations.

You can keyword search them or browse the categories, and at the very bottom of the document viewer there’s a link to download the file so you can have it forever.

The whole thing is really neat. Here’s a few things I learned in the last five minutes:

1. The UFO at Roswell was suspended by a balloon.

2. The FBI likes just collects newspaper clippings on the Aryan Nation but took super-detailed notes on Malcom X.

3. PETA sends some pretty mean hate mail:

“Every night I whisper a prayer that something despicable happens to you, something where you feel pain like you’ve never felt before or better yet a prayer that someone you love suffers such as they have never felt before such as you do to the pigs that you put through incredible pain…”

A lot of it isn’t new information. A lot of it is redacted. And I’m sure it’s not everything they have on the said topics, but it’s a nice gesture – although the ultra-skeptical journalist part of my brain is wondering if the FBI is just using pages out of a college basketball playbook: The best defense is a good offense.

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