Freedom of Information Act Change Would Give Government License to Lie

October 25, 2011 -

A proposed rule change to the Freedom of Information Act would give federal agencies a special exemption when it comes to certain types of information requests. The change would allow agencies to tell citizens requesting certain law-enforcement or national security documents that records don’t exist – even when they do.

Under current rules of the FOIA, the government may withhold information and say that it can "neither confirm nor deny" the existence of such records. The new changes would give them a license to lie. The new proposal is part of a lengthy rule revision by the Department of Justice. Open-government groups object.

"We don’t believe the statute allows the government to lie to FOIA requesters,” Mike German, senior policy counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union told ProPublica. Obviously the group opposes the provision.

The ACLU, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington and OpenTheGovernment.org said that this change would “dramatically undermine government integrity by allowing a law designed to provide public access to government to be twisted."

Advocacy groups propose different language: something along the lines of "you have requested …records which, if they exist, would not be subject to the disclosure requirements of FOIA..."

Advocacy groups also say that the proposed rule change could undermine judicial proceedings.

In a recent case brought by the ACLU of Southern California, the FBI denied the existence of documents, but the court later found that documents did exist. The judge on the case, U.S. District Judge Cormac Carney wrote in his decision that the “Government cannot, under any circumstance, affirmatively mislead the Court.”

The DOJ draft FOIA rule was published in March, but it re-opened comment submissions in September at the request of advocacy groups. The new comment period ended on October 19. The DOJ had no comment on the story written by ProPublica.

Source: ProPublica

Image provided by Shutterstock. All rights reserved.


Comments

Re: Freedom of Information Act Change Would Give Government ...

Imagine if the government (the entity as well as individuals operating within it) had to operate on the idea of The Truth, The WHOLE Truth, And Nothing But The Truth.

Apparently, someone feels that if FOX News can affirm in a court of law that knowingly and intentionally lying to and deceiving its audience is protected by the First Amendment, then MAYBE the government or one of its agencies, can do so also and claim that the First Amendment protects IT.

Nightwng2000 NW2K Software http://www.facebook.com/nightwing2000 Nightwng2000 is now admin to the group "Parents For Education, Not Legislation" on MySpace as http://groups.myspace.com/pfenl

Re: Freedom of Information Act Change Would Give Government ...

It doesn't matter who's in charge, nothing changes (for the better).

Re: Freedom of Information Act Change Would Give Government ...

And I think to myself, "What a wonderful world..."

Re: Freedom of Information Act Change Would Give Government ...

Scary idea.. one branch of the government having permission to lie to another?

 
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MaskedPixelantehttp://uplay.ubi.com/#!/en-US/events/uplay-15-days You can win FREE GAMES FOR A YEAR! Unfortunately, they're Ubisoft games.12/18/2014 - 6:29pm
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NeenekoThat would make sense. Theaters probably can not afford the liability worry or a drop in ticket sales from worried people. Sony on the other hand can take a massive writeoff, and might even be able to bypass distribution contracts for greater profit.12/18/2014 - 10:03am
ConsterNeeneko: I thought they cancelled it because the major cinema franchises were too scared of terrorist attacks to show the film?12/18/2014 - 9:55am
Neeneko@Wonderkarp - there is still a lot of debate regarding if the movie was a motive or not. Unnamed officials say yes, the timeline says no.12/18/2014 - 9:10am
NeenekoSomething does not smell right though, Sony is no stranger to being hacked, so why cancel this film? For that matter, they are still not giving in to hacker's original demands as far as I know.12/18/2014 - 9:06am
PHX Corp@prh99 Not to mention the Dangerous Precedent that sony's hacking scandal just set http://mashable.com/2014/12/17/sony-hackers-precedent/12/18/2014 - 8:25am
Matthew WilsonI hope its released to netflix or amazon12/18/2014 - 12:11am
prh99Basically they've given every tin pot dictator and repressive regime a blue print how to conduct censorship abroad. The hecklers veto wins again. At least when it comes to Sony and the four major theater chains.12/17/2014 - 11:55pm
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