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Senator Duckworth Requests Inspector General Investigate the National Archives and Records Administration’s Alteration of a Photo Criticizing Donald Trump | U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth of Illinois

January 22, 2020

[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – Today, U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) called on the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) Inspector General James Springs to investigate NARA’s decision to alter a photographic image critical of President Donald Trump that is featured in the agency’s public exhibition, “Rightfully Hers: American Women and the Vote.” NARA publicly acknowledged that its alteration of the photograph was wrong and pledged to review exhibit policies and procedures to prevent future mistakes.

“Conducting an independent investigation will advance the NARA OIG mission to prevent waste, fraud, abuse and mismanagement, while bringing particularly serious problems, abuses or deficiencies to the immediate attention of Congress,” wrote Senator Duckworth. “A NARA OIG investigation is necessary to inform the public and Congress about precisely why this alteration was made and to determine whether the censorship was an isolated incident or part of a broader pattern by NARA under the Trump administration to alter records for politically-motivated or propaganda purposes.”

A full copy of the letter is available below and online here.

January 22, 2020

VIA ELECTRONIC DELIVERY

Mr. James Springs

Inspector General

Office of the Inspector General

National Archives and Records Administration (NARA)

8601 Adelphi Road, Room 1300
College Park, MD 20740-6001

Dear Inspector General Springs:

I am writing to request that the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) Office of Inspector General (OIG) launch a comprehensive independent investigation into NARA’s disturbing decision to alter a photographic Getty image NARA featured in the agency’s public exhibition, “Rightfully Hers: American Women and the Vote.”

Conducting an independent investigation will advance the NARA OIG mission to prevent waste, fraud, abuse and mismanagement, while bringing particularly serious problems, abuses or deficiencies to the immediate attention of Congress. A NARA OIG investigation is necessary to inform the public and Congress about precisely why this alteration was made and to determine whether the censorship was an isolated incident or part of a broader pattern by NARA under the Trump administration to alter records for politically-motivated or propaganda purposes. The NARA OIG investigation should also produce recommendations that include corrective actions to guard against future editorial abuse by NARA.

NARA publicly acknowledged that its manipulation of the photograph to censor material critical of the President of the United States was wrong. NARA deserves credit for promptly apologizing for its error and committing to preventing future mistakes. However, given the significance of NARA’s violation of professional standards and the high risk of losing public trust, it is vital that an independent investigative entity – NARA OIG – conduct a thorough investigation into this act of censorship. Thank you in advance for your consideration of my urgent request.

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All Information was gathered from publicly available US Government releases. "§105. Subject matter of copyright: United States Government works Copyright protection under this title is not available for any work of the United States Government, but the United States Government is not precluded from receiving and holding copyrights transferred to it by assignment, bequest, or otherwise. ( Pub. L. 94–553, title I, §101, Oct. 19, 1976, 90 Stat. 2546 .)" http://uscode.house.gov/view.xhtml?req=(title:17%20section:105%20edition:prelim)