CBS News: 'Most open and transparent administration in history' returns blank pages as answer to "Fast & Furious" FOIA request
by Chad D. Baus
CBS News, which for more than a year has been investigating the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms' "Fast and Furious" operation and related cases that also employed the controversial tactic of "gunwalking," reported recently that after repeated refusals by Justice Department officials to grant interviews, the news agency has finally received a "partial response" to a Freedom of Information Act request made more than a year ago.
From the article:
[The request] asked for communications involving "Project Gunrunner," the umbrella program for Fast and Furious, from 2010 through April 2011. Specifically, it sought any communications to which any of the following top Justice officials were a party: Attorney General Eric Holder; Lanny Breuer, Assistant Attorney General for the Criminal Division; Kevin Carwile, chief of the Capital Case Unit; and Deputy Assistant Attorney Generals Bruce Schwarz and Kenneth Blanco.
The response includes mostly-blank pages.
The article goes on to say that FOIA was originally intended to expedite the release of public materials to the public and media. However, in practice, FOIA requests are often not even marginally effective at obtaining documents for news reporting. To be most effective and helpful, the requests would often need to be filled in a matter of days or at least weeks.
According to the article, few requests submitted to the Obama administration filed by this reporter are answered within a year. And when and if documents are ever produced, they are often heavily redacted and the timeliness of the information relative to the public interest has long since subsided.
The report also notes that the FBI has also denied CBS News all information requested regarding the death of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry. Two Fast and Furious weapons were found at his murder scene in December 2010. The FBI stated that the information was withheld because the murder investigation is ongoing. That investigation has now entered its second year.
Both the FBI and ATF have denied appeals by CBS News.
Chad D. Baus is the Buckeye Firearms Association Vice Chairman.