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Talk about a misstep. The U.S. Navy accidentally sent out a memo that spells out various ways to duck and dodge Freedom of Information Act requests to a local NBC News reporter.Politico reported that Scott MacFarlane, an NBC 4 reporter who works in Washington, D.C., had asked the Navy for certain documents. But he never expected as part of his FOIA request to receive an internal Navy note that details how to dismiss his request as a “fishing expedition.”Mr. MacFarlane had sought information related to the Navy Yard shooting in September and had asked that all fees beyond $15 be waived, Politico reported.The surprise Navy memo said to negotiate with Mr. MacFarlane over his request and characterize it as a waste of time. It also said, Politico reported, to speak about the cost of fulfilling the request as a means of pressuring Mr. MacFarlane to “narrow the scope” of his FOIA. The memo specifically states: “Again, ‘fishing expedition.’ Just because they are media doesn’t mean the memos shed light on specific government activities.”The U.S. Navy apologized for the memo.In a tweet, the Navy said: “#USNavy regrets the content of an internal email sent to @nbcwashington cc @politico @Gawker.”
U.S. Navy officials have issued an apology for their response to a News4 reporter’s request for materials related to the September 2013 Navy Yard shooting rampage.In an email to News4's I-Team reporter Scott MacFarlane, Navy administrator Steve Muck asked MacFarlane to “accept [his] apologies” for an internal memo sent to MacFarlane by a Navy Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) officer. DOC: Navy's Internal Email Sent to News4In the memo, a Navy FOIA officer details a strategy to reject and stymie MacFarlane’s request for emails, photos and memoranda related to the Navy Yard shooting, in which 12 people died.Another Navy official acknowledges the memo was sent to MacFarlane by mistake.In the memo, Navy FOIA official Robin Patterson refers to the reporter’s request for Navy Yard materials as a "fishing expedition."Patterson recommends several methods for FOIA staff to deflect MacFarlane’s request, including "negotiating with requester" to limit his search for photos.In the memo, Patterson also suggests FOIA staff encourage MacFarlane to "narrow" his request for official Navy memoranda, by convincing the reporter his search would be "costly."She also writes, "Just because they are media doesn't mean that the memos would shed light on specific government activities."Patterson advises colleagues she is working on a separate response for MacFarlane’s request for Navy officials' emails from Sept. 16, 2013. "This one is specific enough that we may be able to deny," Patterson writes.
is anyone really surprised that the government stonewalled?