DoJ says records re missing WH e-mails are not subject to public disclosure via FOIA

In connection with a lawsuit brought by Citizens for Ethics and Responsibility in Washington. Story here.

Is the DoJ right? Is the Office of Administration subject to the FOIA or not?

Here’s the Wiki article on the “Bush White House e-mail controversy.”

No, it’s not.

There were cries of outrage around here (perhaps even from you, BG) when the office the Vice President tried to say it wasn’t part of the Executive Branch.

I was one of the cries too. It was ridiculous.

Now comes a claim similar in method and scope - that the White House Office of Administration is not part of the White House. That’s an equally ridiculous claim.

Yet, for some reason, BG, your posting is phrased in a way that makes me suspect you’d like to find some reason for supporting it.

At the risk of making a personal attack, I believe that your standards and methods of analysis are highly dependant on who benefits, or who is injured, by the result.

In any event, yes, the White House Office of Administration is part of the White House and therefore has the smae limitations that apply to other WH FOIA requests.

The only obvious counterargument I see to that, as stated, is that the OoA (as noted in the linked article) apparently does process FOIA requests – arguably as a matter of policy, not as required by law.

But, the exceptions section of [url=]FOIA states:

There’s nothing specifically exempting White House records or communications.

And, further down:

So, where is the DoJ getting its argument that FOIA does not apply to the White House? The author the article states, “Most of the White House is not subject to the Freedom of Information Act,” but no legal authority is mentioned.

Gotta wonder about the timing here. Why didn’t they bring this up before? First, they tell us we can’t see them because they’ve gone to the place the candle flame goes when you blow it out. Darn shame about that, tough luck, gee whiz. Love to comply, but can’t, curse the luck, you know how it is with computers…

Now, the song has changed. You can’t see them anyway, even if we had them, which we don’t.

Rather odd. Are they afraid that our computer geeks are better than theirs?

Here’s the White House’s FOIA page:

http://www.whitehouse.gov/government/eop-foia.html

As for the legal argument, here’s testimony to the House from 2000, as to why the FOIA doesn’t apply to certain parts of the EOP. (Actually, the testimony deals with the application of Privacy Act, but it does so by way of proving that the FOIA doesn’t apply.)

http://www.usdoj.gov/olc/privacyact2.htm

Basically, the testimony is that the FOIA applies to “agencies”, and those parts of the White House whose only function is to advise the President, aren’t considered agencies under the definition. He also sites a lot of legal precedent…Armstrong v. EOP, Meyer v Bush, Rushforth v Council of Economic Advisors, and so on.

The White House is enamored of that most sophomoric of rhetorical devices: “Let’s define your terms”.

Or, put another way, it depends what your definition of ‘is’ is.

That page specifically lists the Office of Administration as a WH office that is subject to FOIA.

I know it does.

So they actually seem to be saying, “The Office of Administration is subject to FOIA, except when we don’t want it to be.”

No, they *actually * seem to be saying “Fuck you”.

No, they are saying both.

Where’s that article Cecil did on starting one’s own country. . . .

Well, since we’re all claiming this and that, I claim the federal income tax doesn’t apply to me. I’m a mini-decider.