Thursday, March 31, 2011

More Little Reported News - DHS Withholds FOIA Requests

Darrell Issa, the self-described "cop on the beat" has been holding hearings on Democrat stonewalling at the Department of Homeland Security over Freedom of Information Act requests. It has been previously reported by the AP (via HotAir) that DHS has appeared to take a political stance on FOIA requests. Now Issa's Government Oversight Committee is taking on the challenge.
Republicans in Congress objected Thursday to the Homeland Security Department's now-rescinded practice of requiring secretive reviews by political advisers of hundreds of requests for government files under the Freedom of Information Act. The chairman of a House oversight committee said the process "reeks of a Nixonian enemies list" and was unacceptable.
And this from the AP:
The Homeland Security Department official in charge of submitting sensitive government files to political advisers for secretive reviews before they could be released to citizens, journalists and watchdog groups complained in emails that the unusual scrutiny was "crazy" and hoped someone outside the Obama administration would discover the practice, The Associated Press has learned.
. . .
But at the Homeland Security Department, since July 2009, career employees were ordered to provide political staffers with information about the people who asked for records — such as where they lived and whether they were private citizens or reporters — and about the organizations where they worked. If a member of Congress sought such documents, employees were told to specify Democrat or Republican. No one in government was allowed to discuss the political reviews with anyone whose information request was affected by them.

This is such an egregious abuse of the law that it deserves investigation, even if the shame of public exposure has cause the practice to halt. Further, there appears to be some retaliation as the Deputy Chief FOIA officer at DHS, Catherine Papoi, has been moved out of her office and replaced by her new boss. But rest assured, sports fans, this was not retaliation.
"The government should not keep information confidential merely because public officials might be embarrassed by disclosure, because errors and failures might be revealed or because of speculative or abstract fears," Obama said shortly after he took office.
Ya think?

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