Alex Goldman is a producer for On the Media. One time he got run over by a car.
DOJ Withdraws Freedom of Information Act Rule Change
Thursday, November 03, 2011 - 02:06 PM
Last week, we reported on a proposed change to the rules governing the Freedom of Information Act. The change would essentially allow the government to lie to requesters of information through FOIA by saying that it had no relevant documents, even when it did. Transparency advocates were up in arms about the proposed change, and ACLU policy council Michael German told Brooke this undermines the spirit in which the Freedom of Information Act was drafted:
The purpose of the Freedom of Information Act request is to give the public access to government information, so that public accountability can take place. And one of the key elements of the statute incorporates judicial review in government decisions about exemptions. People have a right to know what exemption is being applied so that they can challenge that in court and a judge can make an independent decision.
According to a press release just posted by the ACLU, the Department of Justice has withdrawn the proposed rule change:
The Department of Justice (DOJ) today withdrew a proposed regulation that would allow government agencies to respond to Freedom of Information Act requests with false denials that the documents sought actually exist, when, in fact, they do. Providing such false denials has apparently been a practice at DOJ for decades, which was most recently revealed in a FOIA lawsuit by the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California.