Dangerous Overreach: Sharyl Attkisson Says Feds Have Intentionally ‘Perverted’ the FOIA Process

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Sharyl Attkisson

This is serious and people need to pay attention. FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) helps safeguard our liberties and protect us from an overreaching government. This is a non-partisan issue.

Tuesday at the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform hearing on the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) investigative journalist Sharyl Attkisson (photo above) testified that the federal government has so “perverted” the FOIA process by “ridiculously overused” exemptions and stall tactics they have created a system to intentionally “obfuscate, obstruct and delay” the release of public information.

In March of this year, the Obama administration removed the White House from FOIA requests. Also in March, a note on a FOIA request that wasn’t blacked out said, “We (agency workers) live in constant fear of upsetting the WH [White House].”

The agencies have a history of perverting the process in favor of leftists. In 2013, the federal government granted waivers on FOIA requests for greenies but not conservatives. Green groups received information for free 92% of the time while equivalent Conservative groups are not granted fee waivers 93% of the time.

This has been going on for years but the problem worsened in 2009 with a simple presidential memorandum.

The White House memo of April 15, 2009, cited White House Equities – Presidential Privilege – to give itself the power to censor any FOIA requests that might contain “White House equities” — essentially any information involving or referencing communications with the White House — without first clearing it with presidential attorneys. Anything embarrassing is certainly included.

The vagueness of “White House equities” allows them to frighten agencies into releasing nothing and passing everything imaginable by them for approval like they do in Third World countries.

It assumed the power unto itself without benefit of legislation and it has successfully delayed or blocked information to media, Congress, and any interested party.

It has resulted in slowing or blocking any information coming from all Federal agencies, giving the Executive Branch full control.

Nowhere in the FOIA does it say the White House has a role.

The memo innocuously claims to be reminder but it is a Fiat, not a reminder.

Greg Pruitt, The CEO of the Associated Press, wrote an editorial for his Sunshine Week column that details egregious violations of The Freedom of Information Act.

“Despite head-pounding frustrations in using them, the Freedom of Information Act and state open records laws are powerful reporting tools. But it’s important to remember that they don’t exist just for journalists. They are there for everyone,” Pruitt reminds us.

It’s so much worse than even that.

The rule allows the White House to track in real time who is asking for derogatory information about the Obama administration, agency employees told The Washington Times. Congressman Darrel Issa has said the White House is keeping a Nixonian list of these requesters.

Anything that could embarrass the administration is interpreted by agencies as requiring extra review.

By injecting itself into FOIA requests, it enables the White House to obstruct justice in congressional investigations. It also gives the White House the opportunity to propagandize and politicize issues and situations without facts being made available to the public.

It gives the White House incredible power.

State and local governments are also guilty of subverting the process.

Americans don’t much seem to care and willingly relinquish their freedoms these days, dismissing everything as hyperbole or conspiracy theories. They’re more concerned about Bruce Jenner adding and removing body parts because he thinks he’s a woman.

Chaffetz told the Justice Department FOIA officer, “You live in la-la land.” They just lie.

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