Report: WH Quietly Grants Itself Power to Censor FOIA Releases
1 July 2014 / 0 Comments
The Obama administration has quietly granted itself the power to censor or delay information “that could embarrass the White House” and to track who is seeking any such derogatory data, several federal Freedom of Information Act workers say.
The move came in an April 15, 2009, memo from White House Counsel Gregory Craig to all federal agencies, The Washington Times reported on Tuesday, and it surfaced about a year ago.
The newspaper quoted several administration employees who spoke only on condition of anonymity. Craig left the White House in 2010.
The memo barred federal agencies from releasing data under FOIA that contained “White House equities” — information, in essence, that involves or references communications with the White House — without first clearing it with presidential attorneys.
The action has never been required under the FOIA since the law was passed by Congress in 1966, the Times reports.
The White House is not a federal agency and is exempt under the FOIA, but legal experts told the Times that the administration generally should not become involved in any aspect of FOIA requests, including information reviews and document releases.
The memo has drastically slowed, if not stopped, the release of government documents to the public that would have been made available under prior presidential administrations, the FOIA employees told the Times.
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