IRS achieves a new milestone in FOIA denial: the password-protected Glomar

Agency heard you liked secrets, so it put its secrets in a secret so you can’t confirm nor deny when they’re neither confirming nor denying

Written by JPat Brown
Edited by Beryl Lipton

Two years ago, we wrote about the IRS giving us one of our most infamous FOIA responses - an encrypted CD full of entirely redacted documents. Now, just a couple days before Tax Day, the agency does it again, reaching new heights of frustration with our first password-protected Glomar rejection.

In response to a request for financial investigations into three Ukrainian nationals, the IRS responded with a .pdf. Trying to open the .pdf yielded this:

A separate email, cryptically reading “PW: IRSmuck34” provided the clues necessary to crack the case, which led to this:

Okay. A rejection for third-party records? That’s fine. That at least makes sense. The “neither confirm nor deny” shtick seems a bit much, considering that should really be reserved for national security, but hey, it’s what all the cool kids are doing. But doing all that, and then going the extra mile of encrypting it - making your secrets secret? Time to lay off the Tom Clancy before bed, IRS.


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