Category Archives: FOIA

CREW goes after DOJ on Delay case. Files FOIA request.

Those wonderful folks at CREW (Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington) have filed an FOIA request (Freedom of Information Act) with the jackholes at the DOJ demanding the doc’s to find out exactly why those fuckwits refused to prosecute one of the biggest, most corrupt former members of Congress…Tommy ‘hottub’ Delay. One would think Obama’s hue and cry about transparency would make this request a no-brainer. From CREW’s website:

Click here to read to read CREW’s FOIA request to the FBI.
Click here to read CREW’s FOIA request exhibits.
Click here to read to read CREW’s FOIA request letter to the Department of Justice (DOJ).
Click here to read to read CREW’s FOIA request for expedition to the DOJ.
Click here to read to read CREW’s FOIA request for expedition exhibits for the DOJ.

Why did disgraced former Congressman Tom DeLay (R-TX) never face federal prosecution? The public has a right to know, but the Department of Justice isn’t telling. Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) has filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the Department of Justice (DOJ) requesting all documents and communications related to the five year investigation into the former Texas lawmaker and his associates. Mr. DeLay is slated to face state charges in Texas later this month; as a result, CREW asked DOJ to expedite a response to the request.

“One of the most corrupt members to ever walk the halls of Congress will never have to answer for operating the House like a pay-to-play casino. The American people deserve to know what evidence the Department of Justice collected on Mr. DeLay and why that evidence was not sufficient to charge him,” said Melanie Sloan, CREW Executive Director. “The Department of Justice has not made prosecuting crooked government officials a top priority. The Public Integrity Section lacks the staff and resources necessary to prosecute even some of Washington’s demonstrably most unscrupulous leaders.  The Obama administration must ensure this section has resources it needs to do its job properly. After all, if Tom DeLay can get away with brazenly selling legislative assistance to Jack Abramoff, who knows what other scheming self-interested members of Congress might try?”

I don’t know about you folks, but I am friggin dying to know why Eric Holder and company refused to prosecute this corrupt bag of batshit.

AG Holder changes FOIA guidelines.

Thursday, Holder released new guidelines for complying with the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). His intent is to make government more accessible and transparent. From Jurist:

The new guidelines, designed to increase transparency in government, will rescind the Attorney General’s FOIA Memorandum of October 12, 2001, which stated that the Department of Justice would defend decisions to withhold records “unless they lack a sound legal basis or present an unwarranted risk of adverse impact on the ability of other agencies to protect other important records.” Instead, the Department of Justice will defend a denial of a FOIA request only if (1) the agency reasonably foresees that disclosure would harm an interest protected by one of the statutory exemptions, or (2) disclosure is prohibited by law.

This is a good thing for severals reasons and on many levels. In January, President Obama released a memo directing all department heads and agencies to lean towards transparency when dealing with FOIA requests. A section of his directive below:

All agencies should adopt a presumption in favor of disclosure, in order to renew their commitment to the principles embodied in FOIA, and to usher in a new era of open Government. The presumption of disclosure should be applied to all decisions involving FOIA.

The presumption of disclosure also means that agencies should take affirmative steps to make information public. They should not wait for specific requests from the public. All agencies should use modern technology to inform citizens about what is known and done by their Government. Disclosure should be timely.

I direct the Attorney General to issue new guidelines governing the FOIA to the heads of executive departments and agencies, reaffirming the commitment to accountability and transparency.

Good on ya President Obama…good on ya dude.

What’s Obama done in his first week? Well, lemme tell ya..

He hasn’t been sitting on his hands reading polls, he hasn’t been giving us empty speeches or downplaying the economic crisis either. In his first week, Obama has done the following, per Bill Moyers Journal:

In his first full day in office, President Barack Obama enacted two executive orders dealing with government openness and ethics. The NEW YORK TIMES suggested that, like many presidents before him, President Obama carefully chose these orders to send a message about his priorities as President.
In one of his first executive orders, President Obama revoked the use of executive privilige as a means for former presidents and their heirs to keep documents from becoming public. In a separate memorandum President Obama undid a post-9/11 directive from the Bush administration that had encouraged federal agencies to deny Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests. Additionally, President Obama signed a memorandum outlining his administration’s committment to open and transparent government.

Thankfully, Obama’s administration also ordered a shut down to any of Bush’s midnight regulations that haven’t been finalized yet.

Obama has also signed E.O’s that stop torture, close Gitmo, and will now allow the federal government to fund family planning clinics outside the U.S. that counsel on abortion.

It’s was a busy week for our Commander-in-Chief. And I welcome that with a smile on my face and a song in my heart.

The beginning of a new week and he is still making changes. Today, he signed an Executive Order reversing Bush’s fuckery on allowing states to set their own EPA standards. As a Cali native and current resident of one of the smoggiest shitholes in the state, that makes me very happy.

Bush tries to push through Justice Dept appointment..Senate says not so fast frat boy.

From AP via TruthOut:

A nine-second session gaveled in and out by Sen. Jim Webb, D-Va., prevented Bush from appointing as an assistant attorney general a nominee roundly rejected by majority Democrats. Without the pro forma session, the Senate would be technically adjourned, allowing the president to install officials without Senate confirmation .

The business of blocking Bush’s recess appointments was serious. It represents an institutional standoff between Congress and the president that could repeat itself during Congress’ vacations for the remainder of Bush’s presidency.

Way to go Webb! Warms the cockles of my little black heart don’t you know? The individual in question is Steven Bradbury, acting chief of the Justice Department’s Office of Legislative Counsel. Bush nominated Bradbury for the job and asked the Senate to remove the “acting” in his title. Seems Bradbury signed two secret memo’s in 2005 that allowed the CIA to use “harsh interrogation techniques” on those damn terrorists.

Another interesting part of this cat and mouse game is that a bill sent to a president automatically becomes law 10 days after he receives it, excluding Sundays of course, unless he vetoes it:

That could be the fate of two bills Congress passed last week. One growing out of the Virginia Tech massacre makes it harder for people with mental illness records to buy guns. The other makes it easier for journalists and others to obtain government documents through the Freedom of Information Act. The FOIA bill, for example, would become law on New Year’s Eve if not vetoed before then, according to Senate Judiciary Committee officials.

The gun bill is H.R. 2640. The Freedom of Information Act bill is S. 2488.

Artwork courtesy of The Worried Shrimp

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FOIA notations removed from Government websites

Seems the Assholes running our federal government have removed every trace of information regarding the Freedom of Information Act from government websites recently.

This should piss off everyone..and I mean everyone, regardless of party affiliation. It seems our current administration doesn’t want to provide information on how to use the Freedom of Information Act, also known as FOIA, and in fact is trying to keep citizens from accessing such information. From a RawStory article:

Sometime over the weekend, White House computer technicians removed from government Web sites any references to the Office of Administration or its previous compliance with Freedom of Information Act requests.

Where visitors once just found information about how to file public records requests or view annual reports on the Office of Administration’s FOIA compliance, the White House has appended the following admonition:

“The Office of Administration, whose sole function is to advise and assist the President, and which has no substantial independent authority, is not subject to FOIA and related authorities. However, these pages have been maintained due to the Presidential Records Act.”

Two other sites that previously listed the OA as subject to FOIA regulations have since been updated to reflect the opposite position, with similar stark denials of public accessibility at the top of each page.

George Orwell’s book has come alive once again, thanks to the Bush Administration. What we don’t know CAN hurt us.

Artwork by The Worried Shrimp