About That Transparency Thing…

Today’s Washington Free Beacon posted an article about the Department of Justice’s handling of Freedom of Information Act requests. The article points out that the Department of Justice has not challenged a single instance of a federal agency withholding records from Freedom of Information (FOIA) requesters since 2009.

The article reports:

The audit (a government-wide audit performed by the National Security Archive in December) prompted a letter to the justice Department from Issa and Cummings.

“Given OIP’s role in in implementing compliance with FOIA, the committee seeks information about a number of issues including what many term as outdated FOIA regulations, exorbitant and possibly illegal fee assessments, FOIA backlogs, the excessive use and abuse of exemptions, and dispute resolution services,” Issa and Cummings wrote in February.

The Justice Department did not respond to oversight’s letter for four months.

The National Security Archive sought the information through a FOIA request in March, but the Justice Department told the NSA the records were exempt from disclosure.

“The fact that this document was blocked from release using a b(5) exemption is a good example of why the DOJ isn’t meeting the president’s instruction on FOIA,” National Security Archive FOIA coordinator Nate Jones told the Free Beacon.

Issa and Cummings wrote to the department again on Monday, saying Justice’s failure to respond “extremely disappointing.”

The Washington Free Beacon has previously reported that the number of FOIA requests has greatly increased during the Obama Administration.

The article further reports:

An August 2012 Washington Post analysis found that early freedom of information progress by the Obama administration “stalled and, in the case of most departments, reversed in direction.”

The number of FOIA requests denied in full due to exemptions rose more than 10 percent last year, to 25,636 from 22,834 the previous year, according to the Post’s analysis.

This really does not sound like transparency to me.

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