People who asked for records under the Freedom of Information Act received censored files or nothing in 77 percent of requests, setting a record.
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Obama administration set a record for the number of times its federal employees told disappointed citizens, journalists and others that despite searching they couldn’t find a single page requested under the Freedom of Information Act, according to a new Associated Press analysis of government data.
“It’s incredibly unfortunate when someone waits months, or perhaps years, to get a response to their request – only to be told that the agency can’t find anything.”
— Adam Marshall, an attorney with the Washington-based Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press.
In more than one in six cases, or 129,825 times, government searchers said they came up empty-handed last year. Such cases contributed to an alarming measurement: People who asked for records under the law received censored files or nothing in 77 percent of requests, also a record. In the first full year after President Barack Obama’s election, that figure was only 65 percent of cases.
“It seems like they’re doing the minimal amount of work they need to do. I just don’t believe them. I really question the integrity of their search.”
— Jason Leopold, an investigative reporter at Vice News and a leading expert on the records law
White House spokesman Josh Earnest said Friday he was not familiar with the figures showing how routinely the government said it can’t find any records, although the Justice Department also highlighted them in its own performance report. Earnest said federal employees work diligently on such requests, and renewed his earlier complaint that the U.S. records law has never applied to Congress since it was signed into law 50 years ago by President Lyndon Johnson, a Democrat.
“Congress writes the rules and they write themselves out of being accountable,” Earnest said. He urged reporters “to continue the pressure that you have applied to Congress to encourage them to subject themselves to the same kinds of transparency rules that they insist other government agencies follow.”
The new data represents the final figures on the subject that will be released during Obama’s presidency. Obama has said his administration is the most transparent ever.
The FBI couldn’t find any records in 39 percent of cases, or 5,168 times. The Environmental Protection Agency regional office that oversees New York and New Jersey couldn’t find anything 58 percent of the time. U.S. Customs and Border Protection couldn’t find anything in 34 percent of cases.
“It’s incredibly unfortunate when someone waits months, or perhaps years, to get a response to their request – only to be told that the agency can’t find anything,” said Adam Marshall, an attorney with the Washington-based Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press.
It was impossible to know whether more requests last year involved non-existent files or whether federal workers were searching less than diligently before giving up to consider a case closed. The administration said it completed a record 769,903 requests, a 19 percent increase over the previous year despite hiring only 283 new full-time workers on the issue, or about 7 percent. The number of times the government said it couldn’t find records increased 35 percent over the same period.
“It seems like they’re doing the minimal amount of work they need to do,” said Jason Leopold, an investigative reporter at Vice News and a leading expert on the records law. “I just don’t believe them. I really question the integrity of their search.”
In some high-profile instances, usually after news organizations filed expensive federal lawsuits, the Obama administration found tens of thousands of pages after it previously said it couldn’t find any. The website Gawker sued the State Department last year after it said it couldn’t find any emails that Philippe Reines, an aide to Hillary Clinton and former deputy assistant secretary of state, had sent to journalists. After the lawsuit, the agency said it found 90,000 documents about correspondence between Reines and reporters. In one email, Reines wrote to a reporter, “I want to avoid FOIA,” although Reines’ lawyer later said he was joking. Read the rest of this entry »
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Grassley is calling for a zero-tolerance policy on soliciting prostitutes.
Congress is finally using protection after several embarrassing stories about very sexually active federal law enforcement agencies.
“The majority of federal law enforcement agents serve our nation honorably and bravely. However, in recent years there have been some episodes of agents gone wild, which raise serious concerns about the culture at federal law enforcement agencies, most notably at the Secret Service and Drug Enforcement Administration.”
— House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte
The Department of Justice issued a memo Friday to all justice department employees telling them not to solicit prostitutes even if they are in a country where it is legal, but Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley is saying it isn’t enough.
Grassley is calling for a zero-tolerance policy on soliciting prostitutes.
“There is no place in the federal government for employees who purchase sex,” Grassley said in a statement Monday. “This memo itself says that such activity ‘creates a greater demand for human trafficking,’ but fails to impose a sufficiently serious policy that would deter employees from engaging in this practice. The memo is a good first step, but more needs to be done.”
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte will hold a hearing Wednesday entitled “Analyzing Misconduct in Federal Law Enforcement” to get to the bottom of all the problems surrounding the Justice Department, particularly it’s employees high libido. Read the rest of this entry »
Susan Crabtree reports: Drug Enforcement Administration agents in Colombia who allegedly engaged in “sex parties” with prostitutes hired by local drug cartels also arranged for paid sex for at least two Secret Service agents traveling to the country to protect President Obama in 2012.
The Justice Department inspector general uncovered the DEA’s sex parties after allegations arose about misconduct by the Secret Service and DEA agents in the 2012 prostitution scandal in Colombia. The IG on Thursday released a 97-page report detailing the allegations, including an explosive charge that local drug cartels funded the “sex parties.”
“Many of the contacts deleted had telephone numbers that the OIG was able to link to sexual services websites in Colombia.”
While the allegations about the DEA facilitating paid sex for Secret Service agents in Colombia is not new, the Washington Examiner obtained detailed information through a Freedom of Information Act request last fall about how three DEA agents stationed in Cartagena allegedly made the arrangements.
According to a DOJ Office of Inspector General report of the investigation, on the night of April 13, 2012, three DEA agents stationed in Cartagena, Colombia, had dinner with at least two Secret Service agents at a local restaurant and invited them back to one of the agent’s government-furnished apartments for drinks afterward.
“The pair retreated to a spare bedroom where the woman performed oral sex during the massage, according to the report. The OIG determined that after the encounter took place, one of the DEA agents provided the woman a ‘wad’ of pesos in exchange for $50 in U.S. currency, which one of the agents provided the woman for her services.”
The OIG report is redacted to exclude the names of the DEA and Secret Service agents involved.
During the dinner, at least one agent was on his cell phone texting or emailing women, and two women joined the group after the meal.
Back at the apartment, one of the women offered an agent a massage, and one DEA agent interceded and negotiated a price of 150,000 Colombian pesos or $75 U.S. dollars for the massage.
According to one Secret Service agent‘s account in the report, before the pair retreated to a spare bedroom, one of the DEA agents allegedly offered the Secret Service agent two condoms “in case you need them.”
The DEA agent who rented the apartment denied providing the condoms.
“When confronted with that information, the two Secret Service agents admitted to paying for and receiving ‘erotic massages’ that included oral sex.”
The Secret Service agent in question denied being interested in sex at first and said he shoved the condoms into his pocket because he didn’t want to refuse them.
The pair retreated to a spare bedroom where the woman performed oral sex during the massage, according to the report. The OIG determined that after the encounter took place, one of the DEA agents provided the woman a “wad” of pesos in exchange for $50 in U.S. currency, which one of the agents provided the woman for her services. Read the rest of this entry »
AND YOU WEREN’T INVITED: DEA Agents Allegedly Participated in Wild ‘Sex Parties’ Funded by Drug Cartels, Report FindsPosted: March 26, 2015
DEA agents allegedly participated in “sex parties” funded by drug cartels, report finds. Read more…
Looking back I’m amazed we all seemed so surprised. Over the last decade, pretty much every arm of American authority invoked “homeland security” as an excuse to acquire boatloads of new technology, and used it to help expand their power and authority to unprecedented levels. There is nothing at all exceptional about the NSA’s massive overreach. It was only keeping up with the Joneses — FBI, DEA, Border Patrol, police forces everywhere — who have all been busy doing exactly the same thing.
The impoverished city of Oakland is spending more than $10 million on a “Domain Awareness Center” surveillance hub for its cops, and cameras that track every license plate they see. Baltimore and NYC track license plates, too. Meanwhile,according to the LA Times, “Unmanned aircraft from an Air Force base in North Dakota help local police with surveillance,” and Motherboard reports: The Border Patrol’s fleet of Predator drones were loaned out 248 times in 2012, to “unnamed sheriff’s departments, the Department of Defense, the DEA, the Texas Rangers, and even the Bureaus of Land Management and Indian Affairs.”
ALICIA A. CALDWELL reports: The Obama administration is blocking a federal law enforcement agent from publishing a book about the failed “Fast and Furious” gun-smuggling sting operation because of concerns that the book would negatively affect morale, the American Civil Liberties Union said Monday.
The ACLU charged that the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives is worried that the book proposed by an ATF agent would hurt relationships with other U.S. law enforcement agencies.
In a six-page letter to ATF Deputy Director Thomas Brandon, the ACLU said the bureau’s decision to block the book proposed by Special Agent John Dodson was a violation of his First Amendment rights. The ACLU described Dodson as a whistle-blower.
According to the letter, the ATF denied Dodson’s request to try to publish a book about his version of the Fast and Furious scandal because the bureau predicted it would have “a negative impact on morale in the Phoenix (Field Division) and would have a detrimental” impact on ATF relationships with the FBI and the Drug Enforcement Administration.
The ATF didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. Read the rest of this entry »