Four pieces of paper

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An interesting Freedom of Information request. From Patrick Richardson at Pajamas Media:
Freedom of Information? Fifteen Months Waiting for Four Blank Pages
Back in December 2009, my colleague and � I flatter myself � friend Richard Pollock, PJM Washington bureau chief, submitted a Freedom of Information Act request to the Air Force asking for some fairly routine information.

It was just after the United Nations Climate Change Conference 2009 in Copenhagen. He wanted to know who was on the Air Force flights to Copenhagen � including Air Force One. And he wanted to know how much taxpayer money was spent flying these people back and forth, how much baggage, etc.

There was a bit more to it than that, of course, but it was still pretty innocuous stuff. The volume of fuel used in the flights and how much the baggage weighed, as well as who was on all the flights, is information kept by the Air Force as a matter of course. This request should have taken about 20 minutes with a file cabinet to fill. Additionally, while this information would be classified (also as a matter of course), none of it was national security information. We all know the president went to Copenhagen and came back empty-handed.

Fast forward 15 months.

Richard finally got a response � four blank pages.

Well, not completely blank. They had departure and arrival times for four airplanes, but everything else was redacted and referred to the Secret Service.

This was the culmination of 15 months of slapstick back-and-forth which would have done credit to a Buster Keaton movie.
Patrick goes on to describe his communications with the various officials and concludes with this:
At this point, I�m just as curious who was on those flights as Richard is. There�s no national security reason to prevent the release of that information. My guess? This was a nice little European vacation for friends and family members of the government officials who went, and the administration would like to avoid the embarrassment of the American public finding out we had a bunch of bureaucrats taking a multi-million dollar vacation on the taxpayer dime.

But without the names, there�s no way to know for sure.

I also know that for an administration which two years ago promised to be the most open and transparent administration in history, this is standard operating procedure. Indeed the Associated Press found the Obama administration has the worst FOIA response record of any presidency.

There�s no reason not to release the information Richard asked for unless you have something to hide, and certainly no reason to kick a routine request from a reporter all the way up to the secretary of Defense unless it�s something you really don�t want a reporter to know.
Mmmm That would be my guess too...

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This page contains a single entry by DaveH published on April 8, 2011 1:31 PM.

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