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Thread: U.S. Navy mistakenly sends how-to memo on dodging FOIA requests

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    U.S. Navy mistakenly sends how-to memo on dodging FOIA requests

    "Politico reported that Scott MacFarlane, an NBC 4 reporter who works in Washington, D.C., had asked the Navy for certain documents. But he never expected as part of his FOIA request to receive an internal Navy note that details how to dismiss his request as a “fishing expedition.” [ ... ] The surprise Navy memo said to negotiate with Mr. MacFarlane over his request and characterize it as a waste of time. It also said, Politico reported, to speak about the cost of fulfilling the request as a means of pressuring Mr. MacFarlane to “narrow the scope” of his FOIA. The memo specifically states: “Again, ‘fishing expedition.’ Just because they are media doesn’t mean the memos shed light on specific government activities.”

    http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/...-dodging-foia/

    one point, the memo states that obtaining the documents may be costly, which might encourage MacFarlane to "narrow the scope" of his request. "Again, another 'fishing expedition,'" the memo states. "[J]ust because they are media doesn't mean the memos shed light on specific government activities." Officials in the Navy's FOIA office told us at first that the memo was sent as an "administrative error," then later said they could not comment on the veracity of the document.

    http://www.politico.com/blogs/media/...2.html?ml=po_r
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    Regular Member FreeInAZ's Avatar
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    They were simply stupid enough to send out in a memo what other agencies from cities halls to the top of the government have been doing for decades effectively - purposely avoiding freedom of information requests. The Onus is on the requestor - to prove misconduct... just another stacked card in a rigged system.
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    It also said, Politico reported, to speak about the cost of fulfilling the request as a means of pressuring Mr. MacFarlane to “narrow the scope” of his FOIA.

    Read more: http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/...#ixzz2pqBZMHt8
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    I see this all the time ... attached is one from a FOIA request from our Freedom of Information Commission ... trying to unilaterally modify my FOIA request... I asked for the records (emails of the commissioners of the agency +other agency members' emails) specifically in my request from several months ago as well as others; I am still waiting for records requested ... and they are all electronic records of emails ~ easily obtained.

    I get a lot of "we don't know what you are looking for" responses. I just answer that I am seeking records that your agency has in respect to what the request actually specifies and if they have an issue understanding what a "record" is then they should consult the definition section of our FOIA Act. Never tell them exactly what you are looking for ~ they'll just say "we searched and found nothing" ... if looking for emails in respect to a specific subject matter, I ask for all emails for a date range of specific people (maybe listing everyone in the agency) that would cover such a subject matter; since they have no idea what I am looking for then I usually get the records desired plus other interesting records ~ some I have discovered would blow your mind.
    Last edited by davidmcbeth; 01-08-2014 at 03:45 PM.

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    After submitting hundreds of public records requests in multiple cities I am utterly convinced that the cities train their staffs how to avoid, delay and obstruct all production of information.

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    Regular Member sudden valley gunner's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by onus View Post
    After submitting hundreds of public records requests in multiple cities I am utterly convinced that the cities train their staffs how to avoid, delay and obstruct all production of information.

    Well of course. I have had the same experience on a local level. Otherwise their crime rate would even be higher than what the public happens to find out.
    I am not anti Cop I am just pro Citizen.

    U.S. v. Minker, 350 US 179, at page 187
    "Because of what appears to be a lawful command on the surface, many citizens, because
    of their respect for what only appears to be a law, are cunningly coerced into waiving their
    rights, due to ignorance." (Paraphrased)

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    In my brief tenure as town supervisor, it was conventional wisdom, repeated regularly by our professional town clerk, to never use e-mail, that our personal computers could be subpoenaed to recover FOIA damning evidence.

    Even now, look at how many bureaucracies, commercial and public, insist on telephone conversations only.
    Last edited by Nightmare; 01-12-2014 at 08:35 AM.
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    Accomplished Advocate color of law's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by FreeInAZ View Post
    They were simply stupid enough to send out in a memo what other agencies from cities halls to the top of the government have been doing for decades effectively - purposely avoiding freedom of information requests. The Onus is on the requestor - to prove misconduct... just another stacked card in a rigged system.
    How sure are you that the person was stupid to send out the memo? Did you ever think just maybe the person on the inside wants the truth out just like you. Not all employees of the government are corrupt.
    There is an art to constructing FOIA requests. You don't always directly ask for what you want. A benign request for general documents around the subject matter you really want, but does not ask for the documents you really want will usually reference what you are really wanting. Now the next request will ask for what you want referencing the information contained the first request.

    I have done hundreds of requests. I have 99% have always got what I wanted. And yes, I have gotten lots of documents they never wanted me to get.
    Last edited by color of law; 01-12-2014 at 11:11 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Nightmare View Post
    In my brief tenure as town supervisor, it was conventional wisdom, repeated regularly by our professional town clerk, to never use e-mail, that our personal computers could be subpoenaed to recover FOIA damning evidence.

    Even now, look at how many bureaucracies, commercial and public, insist on telephone conversations only.
    The gov of NJ should have hired you as a consultant ...

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