ICE Rejects FOIA Request Over Drones Because ICE Has Determined It's Not 'Newsworthy'
from the i-sense-a-conflict dept
Immigrations and Customs Enforcement, ICE, has a bit of a reputation around these parts. When it’s not dealing with serious morale problems internally, it’s censoring websites on no legal basis, holding questionable panty raids and grabbing people out of movies because the MPAA doesn’t like their choice in eyewear. ICE also has a history of issuing really questionable FOIA denials (for what it’s worth, ICE still won’t respond to that FOIA request, many months later…).
Shawn Musgrave, over at Muckrock, recently sought some ICE documents via a FOIA request, specifically looking at “Operation Safeguard,” a two-week program that ICE ran using Predator drones to police the US-Mexico border back in 2003. Musgrave sought ICE documents about Operation Safeguard, but ICE said that Musgrave didn’t qualify as a journalist, thus limiting the power of his request (and allowing ICE to ask for more money to complete the request). Musgrave pointed to many of his published stories, but in response was told his request was still being rejected because the information is not about “current events or that would be of current interest to the public.”
ICE also claimed that there was enough info out there already about Operation Safeguard, so no need to release any more:
Having conducted my own online search ahead of submitting the FOIA request, I know foremost that studies from the Congressional Research Service refer to Operation Safeguard primarily in footnotes. Such CRS reports are conveniently posted on the Federation of American Scientists website.
What?s more, Senator Cantwell pressed for drones along the northern border in 2006 by vaguely citing Operation Safeguard?s findings.
But the Center for International Policy came to the most critical finding of all in surveying domestic drones in April 2013: ?Unfortunately, Congress never reviewed the results of Operation Safeguard pilot project.?
Such a bounty is enviable, but is no substitute for the documents themselves. And while ICE may not see much news value in the origins of a program currently under intense scrutiny, someone somewhere just might.
It really does seem like operations like ICE really are just looking for excuses to reject FOIA requests these days…