Via LA Times:
At present, if the government doesn't want to admit the existence of a document it believes to be exempt from FOIA, it may advise the person making the request that it can neither confirm nor deny the document's existence. Under the proposed regulation, an agency that withholds a document "will respond to the request as if the excluded records did not exist."It's good to see the LA Times take this position, which it does with this nameless editorial but I find it interesting that this is the same newspaper that mocked those who demanded the release of a video just prior to the 2008 election that showed Barack Obama with Rashid Khalidi. Some of us had more than just a sneaky suspicion that Obama was going to be bad for the country. It's good to see the LA Times might be realizing it now.
This policy is outrageous. It provides a license for the government to lie to its own people and makes a mockery of FOIA. It also would mislead citizens who might file an appeal if they knew there was a possibility that the document they sought was in the possession of a government agency. Such an appeal would allow a court to determine whether the requested document was covered by an exemption in FOIA.
Even without the new rule, federal law enforcement agents have denied the existence of important documents. In a lawsuit involving surveillance of Muslim organizations in Southern California, the FBI was reprimanded by a federal judge. "The Government cannot, under any circumstance, affirmatively mislead the court," wrote Judge Cormac J. Carney. The FBI justified its misrepresentation by citing national security.
This strategy on the part of the administration may very well be tied to the increase in heat as a direct result of the Fast and Furious investigation. Let's hope it's an act of desperation that does more harm than good to these corrupt and wicked bureaucrats.
Read entire editorial.