Good FOIA News, For a Change

This may be old news to some of you, but it doesn’t seem to have gotten much if any coverage among the “usual suspects” in the blogosphere that cover Freedom of Information matters, and was news to me…

Apparently, the Federal Bureau of Investigation has repaired its long-crippled FOIA search process wherein the Bureau, essentially, decided where and how they were going to search for records, rather than the requester. This is potentially fantastic news, because it theoretically makes all the Field Office records available to requesters once more, something that has not been true for several years. (Recently, according to some well-respected experts, the – literally – only way to get records from a FBI Field Office was to file a lawsuit, and even then your chances were iffy.)

On the other hand, it suggests that everyone who has filed a FOIA request with the Bureau since, oh, 2002, let’s say, should file new requests for the same material. Sure, that’s a pain in the posterior, and it would cripple the FBI’s FOIA processing… but it’s hard to feel too much sympathy for them since they created the whole problem in the first place.

I can’t speak from personal experience about the new processing by the Bureau. I will say this, though: in the last month, they did accept and apparently begin processing a (very specific and “perfected”) request for a “non-investigative” document not in the “Central Records System”, which I consider pretty encouraging.

On the other hand, they also withheld entirely an unclassified document on domestic extremism, citing (b)(2) – material “related solely to internal personnel rules and practices”. Make of that what you will. 🙂

Oh, and if anyone is keeping track, their online FOIA request form still doesn’t work. Still!. Maybe next year…

Published in: Geekiness, General, Security | on May 18th, 2009| Comments Off on Good FOIA News, For a Change

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