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Note: Updated August 2, 2007.
Earlier this year, a senior career Justice Department official, Daniel J. Metcalfe,
resigned well short of normal retirement and went public with an exposé about the inner workings of his department. He had, he disclosed, been ordered by a political functionary to author and publish an op-ed piece in USA Today that robustly claimed that the Justice Department was complying with Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests. He did as he was ordered, he recounts. But the fact that he had been ordered to lie to the public infuriated him, he told National Journal.
And now, under the attorney general known to his boss by the mafia moniker “Fredo,” the Justice Department continues to flout the law, and to issue false public statements about it. Moreover, as the recent flap with Vice President Cheney over his refusal to comply with law governing national security classifications oversight by the National Archives demonstrates, Gonzales has personally intervened repeatedly to thwart enforcement of the law and to block any investigation of the misconduct. Gonzales also took no steps to block the reissuance of security clearance to Karl Rove, even after a criminal investigation headed by a special counsel, Patrick Fitzgerald, established that Rove had outed a covert CIA agent for political reasons and then lied about it to a grand jury.
Think Progress identifies two of the falsehoods pedaled by the Justice Department in its current report, which aims to evade Congressional oversight:
Claim #1: Agencies are making “significant progress” with FOIA. The DOJ reported that more than half of the agencies successfully met their milestones, “and that 90 percent made meaningful progress.” But the report’s graphics show that only 11 of 25 agencies met all their milestones, and three agencies did not meet a single target.
Claim #2: Agencies have decreased the number of unprocessed FOIA requests. “The report cites no data to support the claim. … The number of unprocessed requests among the 25 agencies highlighted actually increased 13 percent.” In fact, several agencies, such as Housing and Urban Development, State Department, and Homeland Security, piled on FOIA backlogs at faster rate than they received requests. “Three agencies — NASA, the CIA and Treasury — reported fewer requests but their backlogs still rose.”
More from Scott Horton:
Conversation — August 5, 2016, 12:08 pm
Sidney Blumenthal on the origins of the Republican Party, the fallout from Clinton’s emails, and his new biography of Abraham Lincoln
Conversation — March 30, 2016, 3:44 pm
Joseph Hickman discusses his new book, The Burn Pits, which tells the story of thousands of U.S. soldiers who, after returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, have developed rare cancers and respiratory diseases.
Years ago, I lived in Montana, a land of purple sunsets, clear streams, and snowflakes the size of silver dollars drifting through the cold air. There were no speed limits and you could legally drive drunk. My small apartment in Missoula had little privacy. In order to write, I rented an off-season fishing cabin on Rock Creek, a one-room place with a bed and a bureau. I lacked the budget for a desk. My idea was to remove a sliding door from a closet in my apartment and place it over a couple of hastily cobbled-together sawhorses.
Average number of bacteria living in a pound of U.S. mud:
Canadian doctors saved a baby from drowning in his own drool by using Botox on his salivary glands.
A black bear named Pedals, famous for walking upright on his hind legs through Rockaway Township, New Jersey, was reported killed by a hunter, and a hiker in California was attacked after he interrupted two bears mating. It was a “pretty good bear attack,” said the local police chief.
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"She never thanked me, never looked at me—melted away into the miserable night, in the strangest manner I ever saw. I have seen many strange things, but not one that has left a deeper impression on my memory than the dull impassive way in which that worn-out heap of misery took that piece of money, and was lost."