AP IMPACT: A political filter for info requests


 

By TED BRIDIS (AP)

WASHINGTON — For at least a year, the Homeland Security Department detoured hundreds of requests for federal records to senior political advisers for highly unusual scrutiny, probing for information about the requesters and delaying disclosures deemed too politically sensitive, according to nearly 1,000 pages of internal e-mails obtained by The Associated Press.

The department abandoned the practice after AP investigated. Inspectors from the department’s Office of Inspector General quietly conducted interviews last week to determine whether political advisers acted improperly.

The Freedom of Information Act, the main tool forcing the government to be more open, is designed to be insulated from political considerations. Anyone who seeks information through the law is supposed to get it unless disclosure would hurt national security, violate personal privacy or expose confidential decision-making in certain areas.

But in July 2009, Homeland Security introduced a directive requiring a wide range of information to be vetted by political appointees for “awareness purposes,” no matter who requested it. The government on Wednesday estimated fewer than 500 requests underwent such political scrutiny; the Homeland Security Department received about 103,000 total requests for information last fiscal year.

Career employees were ordered to provide Secretary Janet Napolitano’s political staff with information about the people who asked for records — such as where they lived, whether they were private citizens or reporters — and about the organizations where they worked.

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About todaysawareness

The site, “beawaretoday”, is a unique prospective, as if looking down from 30,000 feet at the world of Local, National, and Foreign Affairs. Most people go through each day only seeing what is immediately affecting them and most only have a vision for dealing with their issues of only about 5 to 7 days. With, “beawaretoday”, we look at what is happening around the World and what I call the Domino Effect, to project problems that are forthcoming so that people can plan ahead to deal with them vs. dealing the alternative. I created the blog, “beawaretoday” so that I could share a forum to discuss, Current, Domestic and Foreign Affairs that affect us all through the Domino effect. I encourage you to join the Discussions or at least enjoy reading the content. Thank you, Tom Campbell
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