Records request takes 3+ years?!

Mark Schleifstein of The Times-Picayune writes of his three-plus year stuggle to get Federal Emergency Management Agency records related to Katrina — records that should be available to the public.

He’s still waiting.

Schleifstein is seeking records about the types and amounts of help people in the affected areas needed after Katrina. His tale of bureaucracy woe would be funny if it weren’t so sad.

It is clear that federal government officials have been hoping he will go away.  When he gets a response, he is asked if he still wants the records. Of course he does!

This isn’t surprising, given former Attorney General John Ashcroft’s memo that in essence encourages non-compliance with the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).

But let’s hope this changes. After all, President Obama has already made compliance with FOIA a priority and issued a memo Jan. 21 that states

The Freedom of Information Act should be administered with a clear presumption: In the face of doubt, openness prevails. The Government should not keep information confidential merely because public officials might be embarrassed by disclosure, because errors and failures might be revealed, or because of speculative or abstract fears.

See the full Obama memo here.


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