Fact Check: A Document Released In Response To A Freedom Of Information Request Is NOT Evidence Of CIA Censoring The Press

Fact Check

  • by: Alexis Tereszcuk
Fact Check: A Document Released In Response To A Freedom Of Information Request Is NOT Evidence Of CIA Censoring The Press Published 1978

Was a 1970s "news clipping on Israel" censored by the CIA and released in 2004 only through a Freedom of Information Act request, proving the CIA censors the press? No, that's not true: The "news clip" shown in the video was published in Penthouse magazine in February 1978 and has been publicly available since then. The Information Act request material, released in 2004, was internal correspondence within the CIA regarding the published 1978 article.

The claim appeared in a video (archived here) on Instagram on January 25, 2024. It opened with a person in the video saying:

Sometimes the CIA will actually have news articles retracted that they think is a threat for national security. And other times they'll actually release documents that they previously had retracted.
This news clipping on Israel was actually approved for release back in 2004.

This is what the post looked like on Instagram at the time of writing:

Screen Shot 2024-02-13 at 11.25.33 AM.png

(Source: Instagram screenshot taken on Tues Feb 13 15:37:17 2024 UTC)

The caption on the Instagram post read:

CIA's released news clippings on the 🇮🇱 Lobby.

#lobbyist #cia #lobbying #america

The video has the caption, "Released CIA News Clipping on Israel," which is false. The "news clipping" was not released in the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, it was an opinion piece written by then-U.S. Sen. James Abourezk of South Dakota (archived here) that was published in the February 1978 issue of Penthouse magazine. It can be seen in an archived link here. It was titled, "The Relentless Israeli Propaganda Machine." It was never censored or hidden by the CIA. What was published in the FOIA was an internal communication about the article.

In the video, before the copy of the article itself, a January 16, 1978, "transmittal slip" to OLC (presumably the Office of Legislative Counsel) is shown. The memo part reads:

Per our conversation today concerning Senator Abourezk's article in PENTHOUSE.

Here is a screenshot of the transmittal slip from the video:

Screen Shot 2024-02-13 at 11.37.02 AM.png

(Source: Instagram screenshot taken on Tues Feb 13 15:45:28 2024 UTC)

The article was fully published in the February 1978 issue of Penthouse magazine, and nothing in the 2004 FOIA material or the January 2024 Instagram post proves any attempt to censor or actual censorship by the CIA. The transmittal slip and the article are easily accessible on the CIA website (archived here). And here in pdf form (archived here) as this screenshot shows:

Screen Shot 2024-02-13 at 11.40.32 AM.png

(Source: CIA website screenshot taken on Tues Feb 13 15:48:11 2024 UTC)

Other Lead Stories fact checks about Israel can be found here and about the CIA can be found here.

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  Alexis Tereszcuk

Alexis Tereszcuk is a writer and fact checker at Lead Stories and an award-winning journalist who spent over a decade breaking hard news and celebrity scoop with RadarOnline and Us Weekly.

As the Entertainment Editor, she investigated Hollywood stories and conducted interviews with A-list celebrities and reality stars.  

Alexis’ crime reporting earned her spots as a contributor on the Nancy Grace show, CNN, Fox News and Entertainment Tonight, among others.

Read more about or contact Alexis Tereszcuk

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