Jun 16 2016

How the DHS practices “transparency”

realid-nonresponsive [A “complete” response from DHS to a FOIA request, with “no deletions”. Click image for larger version.]

A Freedom of Information Act request we made to the Department of Homeland Security hasn’t told us much about what we asked about, but has given us an object lesson in how the DHS practices “transparency”.

An August 2015 document posted on the DHS.gov website revealed that the DHS is systematically collecting data on how many people have been denied access to Federal facilities because they were unable or unwilling to show ID credentials deemed to “comply” with the REAL-ID Act:

Your agency should also have a process for recording the number of encounters of individuals presenting driver’s licenses from noncompliant states for purpose of accessing Federal facilities. This data should be sent monthly to DHS (OSIIS@hq.dhs.gov) for collection no later than the tenth day of each month. DHS will use this data to evaluate the impact of REAL ID enforcement on the public. See Appendix E for a sample report template.

In January of 2016, we submitted a FOIA request to the DHS to the DHS for these reports.  Five months later, after repeated follow-up inquiries, we finally received this mockery of a “response”. It was dated in May, but we didn’t receive it until June, because it was sent to a mis-typed email address and our repeated email and voicemail messages requesting information on the status of the request were ignored. Our request was submitted by email, so it’s not clear why the address on the response was retyped rather than being sent as a “reply” to our message.  But that’s the least of the problems with the DHS response to our request.

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