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DOJ Proposes Lying to American Public … Then Backs Off (Updated)

The Justice Department wants the ability to lie about documents requested via the Freedom of Information Act.

by
Patrick Richardson

Bio

November 4, 2011 - 12:00 am
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This is, of course, nothing new for an administration which has taken nearly two years to generate four blank pages on a routine FOIA request asking for highly routine information.

Farrell was perhaps more blunt:

The most transparent administration in history is going out of the way to be opaque. It’s Orwellian, it’s circular double talk. The law that exists is more than adequate (to preserve secrecy when needed.) They don’t have the guts to do this legislatively so they do it by regulation.

From Farrell’s point of view — and mine — this is deadly dangerous stuff from the standpoint of the health of the republic, coming as it does while Obama is signing yet more executive orders:

“It’s an incremental slide down the slope. It’s a corrosion of the public’s trust,” he said. “If the government is giving itself permission to affirmatively lie to you, how can you ever have accountability?”

There is some hope this egregious policy will not become a federal regulation with the force of law. Even the ACLU — not the most conservative of organizations, nor exactly enemies of the current administration — is howling bloody murder. According to Fox, there was so much pushback after the original public comment period that the proposed regulation was reopened for public comment a second time.

With supreme irony that is apparently lost on them, the DOJ is claiming their move to destroy transparency … has been open and transparent:

Melanie Ann Pustay, director of the Justice Department’s Office of Information Policy, said the entire consideration process for the proposal “has been open and transparent.”

She also notes that sensitive information requires special consideration.

“To ensure that the integrity of the exclusion is maintained, agencies must ensure that their responses do not reveal the existence of excluded records,” Pustay said.

Of course, that’s what the aforementioned Glomar response is for. Also left aside is who gets to decide what an excluded record is. Given this administration’s history of excluding even the most innocuous records on the flimsiest of pretexts, it would seem imprudent at best to give them more ability to do so.

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Patrick Richardson has been a journalist for almost 15 years and an inveterate geek all his life. He blogs regularly at www.otherwheregazette.com, which aims to be like another SF magazine, just not so serious.
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