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Delayed, denied, dismissed: How bureaucrats keep you in the dark

 
 
nimh
 
Reply Thu 8 Sep, 2016 10:10 am
Delayed, Denied, Dismissed: Failures on the FOIA Front

On the 50th anniversary of the Freedom of Information Act, ProPublica published a collection of stories by journalists about their "most frustrating public record failures". If that sounds boring, it really isn't. These are fascinating and appalling stories that raise any number of other governance issues about as well.

The stories painfully underscore how easy it is for the government, under current FOIA rules, to simply outwait the reporter. At some point - after months, or years - the journalist has to file his story, with or without docs; or the story is simply no longer relevant.

These stories also hint at just how much waste, overreach and misbehaviour is being successfully hidden this way. And they offer rare examples of issues that merit bipartisan criticism.

Sample quotes:

Quote:
Finally, in November 2014 — more than 3½ years after I filed my appeal — I received a final response: Denied. We are at war, I was told, and I am not entitled to the records. There was no explanation of how doctors would be put at risk by releasing their names. No sense of when or if this “war” would ever end — or whether the DOD could use it as an excuse forever.


Quote:
More than 40 projects were terminated before they even began. The agency was releasing so little information, the GAO said, that it was difficult to determine if the program had worked. "We are left with a program that spent $3 billion,” a GAO investigator told Politico last summer, “and we really don’t know what became of it.”


Quote:
In November 2013, a U.S. customs official refused to let Toronto resident Ellen Richardson board a flight to New York because she had been hospitalized for depression — and was therefore considered a mental health risk. A Canadian privacy commissioner investigated and found that Ontario police were routinely uploading suicide calls into a database that was accessed by the FBI and U.S. Customs and Border Patrol.
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roger
 
  1  
Reply Thu 8 Sep, 2016 04:09 pm
@nimh,
nimh wrote:



Quote:
In November 2013, a U.S. customs official refused to let Toronto resident Ellen Richardson board a flight to New York because she had been hospitalized for depression — and was therefore considered a mental health risk. A Canadian privacy commissioner investigated and found that Ontario police were routinely uploading suicide calls into a database that was accessed by the FBI and U.S. Customs and Border Patrol.



Hey, we could do that in America. Shouldn't be hard to track down everybody that called a suicide hotline and get them on a no fly or terrorist list. We could not only plump up the lists to show we're doing something, but imagine the looks on their faces as they're dragged off the plane. Also, because of diminishing interest, we could save a bundle on mental health care. Anyone nuts enough to look for help is too nuts to be flying, anyway.
cicerone imposter
 
  1  
Reply Thu 8 Sep, 2016 06:19 pm
@roger,
roger, I can't be "YOU" said that!
roger
 
  1  
Reply Thu 8 Sep, 2016 06:42 pm
@cicerone imposter,
Whaaat? You want a bunch of crazy people flying around in aeroplanes?
cicerone imposter
 
  1  
Reply Thu 8 Sep, 2016 07:19 pm
@roger,
Passengers are not allowed to carry anything that can be used as a weapon onto the airplane. I've thought about the rare instance when some guy becomes a danger to all the other passengers. I will be the first one to attack him.
Doctors are not allowed to share patient information with the police unless the patient has committed child abuse.
It's very difficult for doctors to determine who will be the one who becomes dangerous to the public. Wrongful charges can end up with a law suit.
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