Oct 29 2010

DHS Privacy Office ordered TSA not to answer our FOIA request

Records posted online by the DHS in response to one of our FOIA requests confirm that, as we suspected, DHS headquarters has been illegally blocking release of documents we have requested, and to which we are entitled, under the Freedom of Information Act, in order to subject them to higher-level political review and an illegal requirement for higher-level political approval prior to any response.

In an email message (pp. 24-26 of this larger PDF) to the Chief FOIA Officers of all DHS component agencies on December 23, 2009, Catherine Papoi, DHS Deputy Chief FOIA Officer and Director of Departmental Disclosure and FOIA, included one of our requests for information about TSA policies in a list of requests to be reported to the DHS White House liaison and reviewed by the “DHS HQ Front Office” prior to any response or release of records, regardless of the deadlines for responses and release of responsive records set by FOIA.

According to this email message, underlined and in boldface for double emphasis, “It is very important that your office not send the response to the requester until I notify you that the response has been reviewed and is cleared to be sent to the requester.”

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