Homeland Security Giving Extra Political Scrutiny To 'Activist' Groups FOIA Requests, Singles Out EFF

from the freedom-deserves-extra-scrutiny dept

When President Obama first came into office, one of the things he pledged was greater transparency, including in responding to Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests. As we've seen with things like ACTA, where the USTR refused FOIA requests with a totally bogus claim of "national security," the administration has regularly failed to live up to that promise and at times appears to be even worse than previous administrations. Over the last year, reports have come out that FOIA requests from certain groups and reporters are being singled out for political review. That's not the way the FOIA process is supposed to work, but apparently Homeland Security has alerted various FOIA officials that requests from certain groups need to first be sent up the chain for political review, both potentially delaying the release of the information, and subjecting it to reviews and possible redactions that go beyond what the law establishes. As the EFF notes, it seems to be among the groups singled out for special scrutiny, and the letter outlining this policy highlights three specific EFF FOIA requests. So, apparently the plan is "transparency, except when it might hurt us politically."


Reader Comments (rss)

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  1.  
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    Chris Rhodes (profile), Nov 1st, 2010 @ 2:57pm

    Meet the new boss, same as the old boss (but more expensive!)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 1st, 2010 @ 3:05pm

    I really feel sorry for anyone that believed even a lick of what the democrats promised, they're all the same, same goals but different masters.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
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    mikej, Nov 1st, 2010 @ 3:07pm

    Re:

    Yep. Some things never change. I now miss the old eastern bloc. At least you knew exactly what to expect from them. oh wait, we do know what to expect here now. smh.....

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 1st, 2010 @ 3:07pm

    What is the point of having these procedures (FOIA requests) if they are constantly ignoring them or delaying them for an unreasonable length of time?

    Don't they realize that it is better to come clean (even if it hurts them politically), and just release that information before it ends up in Wikileaks or something similar (which it will), and causes a lot more damage (both direct and collateral)?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
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    westb3 (profile), Nov 1st, 2010 @ 3:32pm

    Re:

    This would require them to give up control (or perceived control at least from their POV) which is something almost anyone in that or other arenas is just unable to do. The entire basis of getting into a position of power is to be powerful, hoping that they will give away that power is fruitless.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 1st, 2010 @ 3:40pm

    The US government is so concerned with national security except when it comes to an armed invasion by Mexico like we have in the Southwest. Then they sue instead of protecting.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
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    MikeC (profile), Nov 1st, 2010 @ 3:57pm

    Change!!

    The only change the democrats were interested in was the name on the parking spots...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
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    jfgilbert (profile), Nov 1st, 2010 @ 3:59pm

    Amazing

    And the democrats are wondering why the enthusiasm that carried the presidential election is no longer there.
    On the other hand, the electorate looks like Charlie Brown, who believes that, this time, Lucy will not take away the football.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
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    No One in Particular, Nov 1st, 2010 @ 4:22pm

    Possible solution

    In following many of Mike's posts, a possible remedy to capricious bureaucrat injustices is available. It's called "Color-of-Law" http://definitions.uslegal.com/c/color-of-law/

    The premise is anyone depriving you of your rights under the U.S. Constitution is breaking the law (the constitution supersedes copyright, bogus national security, etc., etc.). Thus, officials/bureaucrats are PERSONALLY liable, along with their company/organization, to lawsuits and/or criminal charges.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
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    Anonymous Howard, Nov 1st, 2010 @ 4:46pm

    EFF are the good guys. What POSSIBLE justification could they have for this?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 1st, 2010 @ 4:59pm

    Somehow, these politicians have managed to invent opaque transparency. This anomaly is presumably in the process of collapsing reality as we speak. It's been nice knowing you all, however briefly.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
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    ChurchHatesTucker (profile), Nov 1st, 2010 @ 5:25pm

    I'll contribute to the EFF

    Just as soon as they start offering those cool cop-style windbreakers with EFF on the back again...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 1st, 2010 @ 5:33pm

    so why bother voting anymore

    i suppose the issue will come to a head when the majority of people dont vote and then can say to those sitting in congress

    YOU DO NOT REPRESENT the MAJORITY WILL OF THE PEOPLE

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14.  
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    Dohn Joe, Nov 1st, 2010 @ 10:32pm

    What a Joke

    The whole FOIA process is a joke. If it was effective then police would be "requesting" criminals for information about their activities, not investigating them!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15.  
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    Rekrul, Nov 1st, 2010 @ 11:07pm

    Re:

    EFF are the good guys. What POSSIBLE justification could they have for this?

    Any person or group who does anything the government does like, or that inconveniences the government is automatically considered the enemy. I thought everyone knew this...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16.  
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    mattarse (profile), Nov 2nd, 2010 @ 3:13am

    Re: so why bother voting anymore

    According to this we already have that for every mid term election, and have barely make it over 50% for the normal elections -

    http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0781453.html

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 2nd, 2010 @ 5:31am

    Homeland security is too concerned about the security of copy"right" holders to care about anything else. They need this backdoor so that they can go after more victimless criminals who pirate stuff and claim that they're doing something brave and constructive in order to protect the security of their corporate overlords and their profit margins. What, do you honestly believe that they're brave and competent enough to go after real criminals? ROFLOL.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18.  
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    Hephaestus (profile), Nov 2nd, 2010 @ 7:04am

    Re: Possible solution

    That is rather interesting. It brings to mind Obamacare and the banking bailout ... Are they personally responsible for the costs incured though?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 2nd, 2010 @ 8:16am

    The President has no influence at Homeland Security. All government agencies act independently. The intelligence agencies in particular are beholden to no one. Call it security.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 2nd, 2010 @ 10:03am

    Re: so why bother voting anymore

    I don't vote for elected positions, I don't trust or support the candidates and can't vote for them in good conscience, so I don't. What I do is vote on the propositions and so forth. I also think that sends a clearer message, these people pay attention and vote, but not for candidates because they are all crap.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21.  
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    RandomGuy (profile), Nov 2nd, 2010 @ 10:12pm

    Re:

    One man's freedom fighter is another man's terrorist.

    The NSA has their own ideas as to who the good guys and bad guys are.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22.  
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    mhenriday (profile), Nov 3rd, 2010 @ 9:58am

    FOIA is to a large degree a fraud -

    handling of cases is delayed, bogus reasons for refusing access to information are widely employeed by the authorities, and most significant of all, the political backgrounds of those who demand information according to the stipulations of the law are investigated. Is anybody particularly surprised ?... Henri

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23.  
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    Jason, Nov 3rd, 2010 @ 10:19am

    Open face chilling sandwich

    HOLY SHIT!!! Did you read the memo?

    I'm used to Mike making arguments ad absurdum (because it's important to think about the long term potentional for policies), and so I thought that's what this was.

    BUT NO, It basically says, "Report anything that we might not like along with all the identifying information on the requester. Thanks, your friendly Gestapo."

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  24.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 3rd, 2010 @ 10:20am

    Re: Open face chilling sandwich

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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