Rep. Issa Wants List Of Everyone Who's Filed FOIA Requests; Increasing Transparency Or Chilling Future Requests?

from the depends-on-how-you-look-at-it dept

Rep. Darrell Issa, the new head of the House Oversight Committee recently requested that all of the various federal agencies give him all sorts of data about everyone who's sent a Freedom of Information Act Request for the past five years. He claims that this is to review how the agencies respond to such requests, and hopefully make the process work even better. And, in fact, many transparency advocates are hopeful that this will lead to greater transparency, if the somewhat flawed FOIA process can be made better. However, others are viewing the whole exercise in a much more nefarious light, suggesting that Issa is creating chilling effects, by looking closely at who's filing such requests.

It seems like the latter response may be a bit of an overreaction. The government already has this information and is it really problematic for someone to compile all the info to see who's filing such requests? There obviously could be some serious concerns if there's any form of retaliation, but there's no indication of that happening (or being likely to happen). While it should be watched, if this process really is about getting the government to really be more open, then that sounds like a good idea.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 2nd, 2011 @ 4:18am

    We have a similar act here in the UK. The government has been moaning that journalists use the requests instead of doing their own research - asking for dates and information that is publicly available but the nature of the request means the government has to answer it.

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

  2. icon
    The eejit (profile), Feb 2nd, 2011 @ 5:02am

    The probglem isn't what is happening, but by whom. This Representative has openly come out and said that he will deadlock all government functions.

    So I'm skeptical, but if he does this and it works out better, then I'll give kudos. Until then, though....

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

  3. identicon
    bob, Feb 2nd, 2011 @ 5:03am


    I would trust Darrell Issa, much more that I would Nancy (Drain The Swamp) Pelosi or Barack (It Will Be Posted On The Internet For Five Days Before We Vote On It) Obama.

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

  4. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 2nd, 2011 @ 5:18am

    Re: FOIA's

    Following the 2010 elections, Issa sent a letter to "more than 150 trade associations, companies and think tanks," including "the oil industry, drug manufacturers and other trade groups and companies" asking them "to tell him which Obama administration regulations to target" in the upcoming Congress. Critics have charged that Issa was "embracing regulatory capture." Elijah Cummings, the ranking member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, said Issa's letters were tantamount to “inviting businesses to tell us what they want us to do as opposed to protecting the American people.”

    And you'd trust him? You're crazy.

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

  5. icon
    Vidiot (profile), Feb 2nd, 2011 @ 5:18am

    Irony: Issa as investigator

    Excellent longer piece in the New Yorker a few weeks ago on Issa, basically revealing to the rest of us what Californians (those who were paying attention) already knew about him. He's eluded prosecution on a number of occasions, but claims persecution; fully expect him to cash in on the debt he feels the world owes him, through this and other venial acts of imaginary revenge. Scary.

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

  6. icon
    rebrad (profile), Feb 2nd, 2011 @ 5:23am


    I think this is an overreaction. True there is already data but the data remains with the agency from which the FOIA was made. The priority of most government agencies is CYA (Cover Your Ass). The executive branch has shown that transparency is just a word but never a practice. Someone besides the executive branch has to set standards but without data all that results would be GIGO. Not compiling the data because of fear would only give the offending agencies more reason to avoid processing a FOIA.

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

  7. identicon
    darrad, Feb 2nd, 2011 @ 6:05am

    File Download Prompt

    When I open this page, I am prompted to download a file. The file name is xd_proxy.css.

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

  8. icon
    Berenerd (profile), Feb 2nd, 2011 @ 6:09am

    Re: Re: FOIA's

    bob must be from Fox news. He makes statements without backing them up.

    Just sayin...

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

  9. icon
    Chuck Norris' Enemy (deceased) (profile), Feb 2nd, 2011 @ 6:43am

    Re: File Download Prompt

    I think you should do it! =]

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

  10. icon
    The Infamous Joe (profile), Feb 2nd, 2011 @ 7:34am

    Re: File Download Prompt

    It's facebook related, judging by the noise on google. Update your browser, that seems to help. (This includes going to the newest version and/or switching from IE or Opera to a real browser.) :P

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

  11. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 2nd, 2011 @ 7:51am

    Re: FOIA's

    I hope you are kiddin. Issa is one of the worst pieces of garbage in congress. Just a terrible human being

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

  12. identicon
    FrozenInMass, Feb 2nd, 2011 @ 8:52am

    Mr. Issa

    is on-track to become the new Joe McCarthy. Oh wait ... I understand Mr. McCarthy's reputation is being "refurbished." Back to the future.

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

  13. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 2nd, 2011 @ 1:15pm

    Re: File Download Prompt

    It's Facebook showing exemplary coding expertise with your "private" data.

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

  14. icon
    DanVan (profile), Feb 4th, 2011 @ 8:04pm

    It is basically the GOP's way of scaring those who legitimately tried to get answers into companies that support Republicans

    I am sure numerous citizens will be outed and/or mocked for legitimate requests into heavily-funded GOP companies


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

Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Save me a cookie
  • Note: A CRLF will be replaced by a break tag (<br>), all other allowable HTML will remain intact
  • Allowed HTML Tags: <b> <i> <a> <em> <br> <strong> <blockquote> <hr> <tt>
Follow Techdirt
Insider Shop - Show Your Support!

Hide this ad »
Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Techdirt Insider Chat
Hide this ad »
Recent Stories
Hide this ad »


Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.