Aug 18 2010

DHS scrambles to cover up FOIA scandal

Within weeks after documents released by the DHS to the Associated Press revealed that FOIA (“Freedom Of Information Act”) requests had been systematically referred for “political review” at higher levels of the executive branch of the government, and responses illegally delayed while those reviews were pending, the DHS published new rules in the Federal Register today purporting to exempt itself from any obligation to disclose records of the processing of FOIA or Privacy Act requests, or any accounting of disclosures of those requests to other agencies or departments (such as White House political commissars).

Presumably, the new Privacy Act exemption rules promulgated today by DHS are intended to keep us, or anyone else, from finding out which FOIA requests were interfered with or vetted, by whom, or for what political reasons.  It’s a shameful attempt at a cover-up, and we hope that these new exemption rules will be overturned as lacking any statutory basis.

Fortunately, even if they are upheld, the rules published today won’t apply to requests that have already been made, including the request we made a few weeks ago, as soon as we learned of the confirmation of political interference with FOIA requests, for all records related to the processing of our previous FOIA requests and appeals.

We strongly suspect that our requests were among those interfered with, and that our request for an accounting of what had happened to them was part of what prompted the DHS to issue today’s new rules to preclude any more such requests from others.   Having gotten confirmation that our request was received by DHS before the new rules were promulgated, we intend to pursue it diligently.

9 thoughts on “DHS scrambles to cover up FOIA scandal

  1. I’m sure the mainstream media is talking about this nonstop.
    (I know I know, you could say that about any story that portrays our lovely rulers as anything but lovely.)
    I wouldn’t be too surprised if this actually compels them to revise the FOIA altogether. A nip here, a tuck there, trim out all that nasty business about revealing information and accountability.
    Something about foreign intelligence agencies making requests via citizens or something similar. We might just have to repeal the FOIA until someone can draft a new version.
    Give it a few weeks, and it’ll be the ‘thing to fear of the hour’ for a day or two. “Terrible intel leaks via FOIA, somehow.”

    PS: =P
    PPS: Good Luck

  2. FOIA = Freedom of Information Act.

    It’s a law which requires government agencies to turn over documents in their control that aren’t classified or exempt for other reasons when those documents are demanded by some citizen following the provisions of the law.

    In short, it gives people a way to force government agencies to be a bit more transparent and is probably one of the best laws we have on the books right now for keeping politicians accountable.

  3. Pingback: Papers, Please! » Blog Archive » DHS Privacy Office ordered TSA not to answer our FOIA request

  4. Pingback: Papers, Please! » Blog Archive » European Commission wants to immunize DHS collaborators in travel surveillance and control

  5. Pingback: Papers, Please! » Blog Archive » How the TSA treats FOIA requesters it doesn’t like

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