Due to the egregiously blatant nature of that decision, what happened with the FOIA requests by Judicial Watch is not all that surprising.
Judicial Watch filed its original FOIA request on May 29, 2009. The Justice Department acknowledged receiving the request on June 18, 2009, but then referred the request to the Office of Information Policy (OIP) and the Civil Rights Division. On January 15, 2010, the OIP notified Judicial Watch that it would be responding to the request on behalf of the Offices of the Attorney General, the Deputy Attorney General, Associate Attorney General, Public Affairs, Legislative Affairs, Legal Policy, and Intergovernmental and Public Liaison.Welcome to the Eric Holder led Justice Department. First, 135 pages found to be responsive but the decision was made to withhold them. Then, there were none responsive at all. That was followed by the location of "numerous" documents that were responsive but that most of them should be held. Then, lastly, the decision was made that none were responsive. That old saying, "Tell the truth because it's the easiest thing to remember" comes to mind.
On January 15, the OIP also indicated that the Office of the Associate Attorney General found 135 pages of records responsive to Judicial Watch’s request, but that all records would be withheld in full. On January 26, the OIP advised Judicial Watch that the Office of Public Affairs and Office of Legal Policy completed their searches and found no responsive documents. On February 10, the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division indicated that after an extensive search it had located “numerous responsive records” but determined that “access to the majority of the records” should be denied. On March 26, the OIP indicated that the Office of Legislative Affairs and the Office of Intergovernmental and Public Liaison completed searches and found no documents.
This lawsuit filed by Judicial Watch coupled with an investigation into the Black Panther case by the U.S. Commission on Civil RIghts has definitely brought to bear, significant pressure on the DOJ. One attorney there has already resigned because he was not cooperating with the Commission's probe or FOIA requests. The attorney was obviously being directed by someone not to cooperate but was incurring great personal expense because the DOJ was not declaring Executive Privilege for withholding the documents so the attorney had no reason to withhold them - that is, no overt reason. It would seem to indicate that the practice of throwing people under the bus is not reserved solely for the president. More on the resigning attorney HERE.
Michelle Malkin has a great take on all this in the context of what's going on with Jobsgate - the scandal involving the White House and Joe Sestak. The stonewalling there is not at all dissimilar from that witnessed in the Black Panther case. Unlike the Sestak case however, public outrage at the stonewalling hasn't risen to the level requiring Obama to respond; Obama announced at yesterday's news conference that an official statement on Sestak would be released "shortly".
As this Black Panther case continues to take a similar path to Jobsgate - a slowly percolating scandal that could explode - look for it to one day get a similar level of attention. The probes by the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights along with Judicial Watch's lawsuit, along with the ongoing repercussions like the resignations of attorneys, could blow this open as well.
Read the complaint HERE.
h/t to Michelle Malkin