Thomas S. Blanton

Thomas S. Blanton

Tom Blanton is director of the National Security Archive at George Washington University in Washington D.C., winner of the 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.”

Blanton served as the archive’s first director of planning and research beginning in 1986, became deputy director in 1989, and executive director in 1992, overseeing the archive’s more than 32,000 Freedom of Information Act requests.

He filed his first FOIA request in 1976 as a weekly newspaper reporter in Minnesota. Since then, he has filed hundreds more, including the FOIA request — and subsequent lawsuit (with Public Citizen) — 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 (1995), which The New York Times described as “a stream of insights into past American policy.” He co-authored The Chronology (1987) 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, and to the Brookings Institution study, Atomic Audit: The Costs and Consequences of U.S. Nuclear Weapons Since 1940 (1998).

Blanton’s 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, Foreign Policy, and many other publications. He received the American Library Association’s 1996 James Madison Award Honorary Citation for “defending the public’s right to know,” and the 2005 Emmy Award for outstanding news and documentary research.

Blanton is a founding editorial board member of, the virtual network of international freedom of information advocates, and the co-chair of, among many other professional activities.

Inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2006.