Lately I’ve been interested in freedom of information and government secrecy issues.  One of the most powerful ways for a government to control its grip on power is to control the flow of information and block access to its records.  Groups like the National Security Archives tirelessly use the Freedom of Information Act to gain access to government records.  But some lone citizens are taking matters into their own hands without using Freedom of Information (FOIA) requests. 

Take this 68-year-old rebel who posts sensitive government records to his website, Cryptome:

“John Young certainly doesn’t come off like an Internet renegade.

At 68, the native Texan is decades older than most hackers. He is a respectable architect, having done work for Columbia University, the Austrian Consulate and St. Cecilia’s Roman Catholic Church, all in Manhattan. He resides in a stately apartment building on the Upper West Side, complete with doorman.

But John Young is all about making mischief – enough to irk more than one foreign government and to prompt a visit from the FBI.

On his Web site,, Young posts secret documents – including the names of spies – along with revealing photos of potential terrorist targets: military installations, for example, or President Bush’s Texas ranch or the innards of the George Washington Bridge.

“We’ll put up anything that comes our way,” he says. “We’re completely irresponsible.”Driving Young’s online hobby is a deep-rooted hostility toward official secrets and an equally deep skepticism about government security measures, from intelligence agencies to police barricades. The secrets and the security are not really about protecting the public, he asserts; they are about wielding power over people.”

Read on…(sorry, but you’ll have to login)

Unlikely thorn in government’s side