M. Alex Johnson – Journalist at Large

An analog journalist in a digital world

Posts Tagged ‘foia

U.S. reconsiders, now says it’s not really OK to lie to journalists

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Cross-posted from msnbc.com’s Open Channel investigative blog, where I also hang my hat:

The Justice Department has gotten the message from journalists, interest groups and government watchdogs and has decided to withdraw its proposal to allow federal agencies to lie to people seeking sensitive documents under the Freedom of Information Act.

Currently, if a requested document is so sensitive that it would be dangerous to acknowledge its very existence, the government is allowed to tell you that it can neither confirm nor deny whether there is such a document.

Last month, the Justice Department proposed a rule revision that would let government agencies tell requesters there is no such document — even if there is. According to the proposal, which was retrieved by the nonprofit investigative project ProPublica, agencies would be allowed to “respond to the request as if the excluded records did not exist.”

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Written by Alex

November 4, 2011 at 4:32 pm

DHS says don’t call us. Really.

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The Department of Homeland Security has a reputation among journalists and other government officials for being hard to get a straight answer from. For instance, there was its highly publicized refusal, in the face of repeated attempts by reporters and state and local governments, to say one way or the other whether local authorities could opt out of an immigration program called Secure Communities.

Now, Federal Times, a newspaper and website devoted to covering the workings of the federal government, reports that DHS won’t even give it the work phone numbers and email addresses of its public affairs officers — the people it pays to deal with the press and the public.

The reason? In a response to a Freedom of Information request for public numbers and addresses, DHS said revealing the information — which would simply allow citizens and journalists to reach spokesmen for the government at their government offices — would be an invasion of privacy. Federal Times said DHS cited the provision of FOI law that is supposed to protect medical records.

Tales of a DHS FOIA (Federal Times)

Written by Alex

September 30, 2011 at 9:10 am

Posted in Journalism

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