Jeffrey Richelson, FOIA Legend and National Security Expert, Dies at 67

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Jeffrey T. Richelson wrote over a dozen books about national security, nuclear weapons, and agencies like the CIA and KGB—books that were often the product of incredible new revelations obtained through Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests. Richelson, a legend to FOIA advocates and anyone else with an interest in national security, died this past weekend at the age of 67.

Richelson died of cancer at his home in Los Angeles on November 11th, according to a report from the National Security Archive. Richelson was a senior fellow at the Archive since the 1990s and contributed countless articles that furthered the public’s knowledge about everything from American espionage to space travel.


While Richelson wasn’t a household name, his research would smash into the mainstream in 2013 when his FOIA requests about UFOs led to the declassification of CIA documents about Area 51. That research expanded knowledge about the secretive machinations behind the U-2 and Area 51, along with top secret aircraft testing in Nevada.

I spoke with Richelson earlier this year about a film that I obtained through my own FOIA request to the National Nuclear Security Administration. Richelson’s book Defusing Armageddon is a fascinating glimpse into the world of secretive nuclear detectives who are dispatched by the US government whenever a nuclear threat is posed within America’s borders. If you’ve never read any of Richelson’s work I can’t recommend Defusing Armageddon highly enough.


Richelson’s other books are widely available on Amazon and each offer a special behind-the-scenes look into the national security establishment. His insights and dogged pursuit of secret government documents through FOIA will be missed.

You can read more about Richelson over at the National Security Archive. RIP Jeffery Richelson.