Has Duhbya Jr destroyed FOIA?

Yes he has.

I disagree. Number one, it’s John Ashcroft who has spoken out against liberal disclosure of information under the FOIA, not G.W. Bush. Number two, most of the FOIA officers in the various departments are career beaureaucrats who were never terribly motivated to do the best they could for the petitioner. So, nothing has really changed. I file FOIAs on a regular basis and it continues to be a very hit and miss sort of thing, you might get what you want quickly, you might be forced to jump through hoops while Department of the Navy clerks clap in glee, but it’s been like this since at least the Clinton years. G.W. Bush and his administration haven’t changed much here.


Interesting that GWB says he doesn’t email anymore because that material could be FOIA’d…

Last time I checked, John Ashcroft works for Dubya. Since the President is at the top of the Executive Branch, he has ultimate responsibility/authority for all decisions and actions.



Minor nitpick:

Dubya Jr?

As far as I know Dubya=George W. Bush, current President of the USA.

I guess Dubya Jr. would be his son…except that thought he had only 2 daughters…neither of which are probably destroying the FOIA…

Why don’t we ask him?

It always annoyed me when people typed Klinton or Algore. Why is it some people can’t rise above some petty behavior when it comes to politicians they dislike?


Seriously, I do have something to say about the FOIA process, because I’ve seen it at work firsthand.

One of the favored, most effective ways to delay federal recognition of American Indian tribes is to slap a FOIA request on the tribe’s petition. The Branch of Acknowledgment and Research (part of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, which is part of the Department of Interior) has no FOIA officer, and virtually no office staff.

You want to feel sorry for a bureaucrat? Here’s a sob story for you. When a FOIA request for a petitioner’s documents comes in to BAR, Lee Fleming, the head of the damned department, has to go through every single one of thousands of pages of documents and redact personal and financial information from them, not missing anything, under penalty of federal law. Other professional staff members–historians, anthropologists, lawyers–get to join in on the fun. Then the documents are often reviewed by the petitioner or their representatives, which requires a meeting and a costly visit to DC. I’m pretty sure Lee was doing the copying himself for awhile, too. Then, months down the line (because there he is facing hundreds of FOIA requests) the documents are sent.

Lee is a shit-hot genealogist and a great guy too, but he spends a huge proportion of his time on this bullshit instead. Every year the poor bastard has to go sit in front of Congress and listen to them feed him crap for not getting anything done. Why? Because we, the people want to save money by not hiring a few more gophers for his department. Your tax dollars at work.

FOIA requests are costly, both in terms of time and money. That’s no damned excuse. Those are MY documents out there, and yours, too. But if we want them in a timely fashion, we must be willing to pay for them. When we don’t want to do that, slithering politicians get to use the lack of manpower as an excuse for denial and delay.

In the current mobilization to support and/or strengthen the NYS Assembly law proposed by Luster, which would narrowly specify the circumstances under which a person could be electroshocked against their will (yeah, they do that), the FOIA-based requests were honored, as a result of which we have the policy and procedures manual for ECT (electroconvulsive therapy, aka electroshock) for various psychiatric facilities in our possession, and we have scanned them and OCR’d them and put them up on our web site. (sorry, no link, our site is not public yet).

I think the law is a good one, and it seems that it is still in effect.

I don’t like the things I’ve heard attributed to GWB on the subject, though.

Well I’m convinced. How can you argue with such an eloquent, well-researched post.