FOIA is both a vital tool for the public to gain access to government records, and a frustrating process that reveals infuriating facts and sometimes even more infuriating government employees - as well as super helpful public servants who replenish your faith in humanity just enough to keep you filing FOIAs another day.
Here’s the best and worst of some of MuckRock’s recent interactions with the keepers of public information.
Congresswoman Bella Abzug infamously had issues with trusting CIA when it came to their handling evidence of illegal and improper Agency activities. Internal memos shows those fears were well-founded - while the Congresswoman fought to prevent the destruction of records of CIA wrongdoing, the Agency rushed to begin destroying everything they could.
A decade after Congresswoman Abzug had struggled with CIA Director George Bush over the destruction of evidence of CIA wrongdoing, the Agency’s Office of the Inspector General ignored the moratorium on destruction of relevant materials and destroyed several memos from the Iran-Contra investigation. When this was raised with the Agency’s Acting Director, it was played off as no big deal and the employees were praised for responding “remarkably well” to the investigation.
During his Presidency, Jimmy Carter made a number of moves to nudge the federal government towards environmental friendly practices. One of these was a request that all executive agencies and departments begin recycling paper in accordance with EPA guidelines. For the CIA, and presumably other intelligence agencies, this posed some unexpected problems - as well as a valuable opportunity.
As CIA Director, George Bush waffled on promise to not destroy records of Agency’s illegal activities
Declassified records recently unearthed in CREST show the CIA waffled on a promise to obey the law in not destroying records of Agency’s illegal activities and wrongdoing.