August 29, 2017

State Department FOIA Request Not In The Public Interest


 "Advance freedom for the benefit of the American people and the international community by helping to build and sustain a more democratic, secure, and prosperous world composed of well-governed states that respond to the needs of their people, reduce widespread poverty, and act responsibly within the international system."



The Department of Foreign Affairs, or Department of State, was established on July 21, 1789.  It was the very first Federal Agency signed into law by President George Washington under the new Constitution.  While its tasks have changed over the years, today its tasks are to protect US citizens living and traveling abroad, assist US businesses in the international marketplace, coordinate diplomatic activities between US agencies (local, state or federal) and overseas entities, and to keep the public informed about US foreign policy and relations and create a bridge between the public and the government.  It is also a vital link between the Department of Defense, Department of the Treasury, the Department of Commerce and consults with Congress regarding all of the above issues.  Read that mission statement again.

"Advance freedom for the benefit of the American people and the international community by helping to build and sustain a more democratic, secure, and prosperous world composed of well-governed states that respond to the needs of their people, reduce widespread poverty, and act responsibly within the international system."

That being said, I am completely miffed at the statement by FBI records management chief David M. Hardy in a recent Washington times article which states:


"You have not sufficiently demonstrated that the public's interest in disclosure outweighs personal privacy interests of the subject," and “It is incumbent upon the requester to provide documentation regarding the public’s interest in the operations and activities of the government before records can be processed pursuant to the FOIA,”


On what planet do the actions of the Secretary of State not immediately involve the public's interest?  It would seem to me that the entire position was created for the sole purpose of the public interest.

In any case the Lawyer and self professed Equal Opportunity Muckraker making the FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) request, Ty Clevenger, is seeking information that may point to perjury on the part of then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

"Mrs. Clinton bungled the handling of the emails and she and her lawyers misled congress initially in describing how the messages were belatedly processed for return to the government."

While I'm not as savvy as the pissed off Texan (once a Texan always a Texan) as to the legal merits of his claim, or the legality of the FBI's denial of FOIA request, one thing is clear as a concerned and interested member of the public; the US State Department has an absolutely dismal approval rating of FOIA requests.  According to the Center for Effective Government, the State Department's low processing rate (23%) is completely out of line with any other agency's performance.

I don't think that the Freedom of Information Act is being used as intended.  In the last decade, attempts to limit its effectiveness have been spearheaded by an executive order for retroactive classification after request, and the Dodd-Frank SEC reforms.  It seems that this open and honest government is hell bent on keeping information from the public that may be relevant about its leaders.  Its fairly hard to say what's in the public interest when the government is hiding information from the public interest.

Keep up the good fight Ty!

"There are plenty of reprobates in both parties who seek and hold public office. Equally repulsive are the blind idiots who think that people on their side of the aisle can do no wrong. Idiots such as these are a BIG part of what’s wrong with America. If you’re one of them, you need to sit down and shut up." -- Ty Clevenger

If you wish to sign the petition at Whitehouse dot gov, that link can be found here!

If you wish to explore Ty Clevenger's law blog and see what else he's been up to, that link can be found here!



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