As part of ongoing project to document every state’s public records law, MuckRock looked at the policies governing how long an agency has to respond to a records request. While most states have clear deadlines, 10 are worryingly vague. Five don’t have any timeline at all.
Back in 2013, MuckRock’s Mara Berg requested office apparel guidelines from several federal agencies, including the CIA. One by one, these agencies responded, and we even wrote about their respective acceptance of short pants, but true to form, the CIA kept delaying, and delaying, and delaying - until just last month, when the Agency finally released their long-awaited dress code, revealed that … they didn’t have a dress code.
We know many things about the 1981 triple murder of Fred Alvarez, Patricia Castro and Ralph Boger. We know that the bagman for the hit, Jimmy Hughes, confessed. We know that a 2010 trial was interrupted when charges were abruptly dropped and evidence lost. We know from witness statements that the murders appear to be connected to the corruption surrounding Wackenhut and the PROMIS affair. We know from FBI’s own records that the Bureau looked into the matter. And most recently, we know that the FBI has not only repeatedly refused to release those files, but apparently removed the request from their FOIA tracking system.
For years, an FBI FOIA request had to be 2,500 pages or more to be classified as large or complex. Now, without any announcement or update to the Bureau’s website, the number’s down to 51 pages.
Public records requests can often turn into frustrating back-and-forths between the requester and the almighty records custodian, and one defense mechanism is providing only some of the requested documents - but maybe just enough to make the requester go away.