Friday FOIA Lack-of-Fun

A reader recently sent me a copy of what must be one of the most ridiculous FOIA denials I’ve ever seen, which is saying something. What’s perhaps most surprising is that it’s not from one of “the usual suspects” for bad FOIA-processing performance, but from the State Department:

Quoting from the email I got:

…I forgot about [the request] until a week ago, when this one-page letter arrived in the post. Reading it, I became really excited at the idea that Foggy Bottom had made Diplopedia public, as the letter suggests.

I know, how cool would that be? Well, don’t get too excited:

Unfortunately, I couldn’t get the site to load, and eventually figured out the URL didn’t exist, at least to the public…

To make a long story short, the State Department closed his FOIA request because the records he’d asked for were “public” – on their private intranet, which is an unusual definition of “public”, I must say.

But it gets better:

I called the FOIPA helpline and explained the situation to a nice lady who eventually admitted that the request had, yes, been closed in error. She took my information down, and promised to create a new request in their system. According to her, once a request is “closed”, it can’t be reopened, so I get a new request number and go to the back of the queue.

Yes, that’s apparently right – he waits seven months, the State Department screws up (“accidentally” or otherwise, you be the judge), and when he points out their error, he gets sent to the back of the “first-in, first-out” line to wait another seven months. How’s that whole treat-FOIA-requesters-like-valued-customers thing working out, eh?

I thought I’d seen it all, but that’s a new tactic, at least to me. Anyone at State reading this and want to help a brotha out? Leak some Diplopedia pages (anonymously, natch) via email or IM to “nemo” ‘at’ “the obvious domain name” ‘dot com’, and I’ll see that they get to the correct party.

Published in: 'D' for 'Dumb', Geekiness, General | on February 13th, 2009| Comments Off on Friday FOIA Lack-of-Fun

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