Back in 2016, we wrote about how Shawn Musgrave’s FOIA request to the State Department about how long it takes to process FOIA requests was stuck in the department’s infamous bureaucratic limbo. We are happy to report that earlier this year, over four years later than the original estimated completion date, Musgrave had finally been given the fruit of his labors: Two whole pages, released in full.
While Brazilian presidential front-runner Jair Bolsonaro’s overt embrace of authoritarianism may seem aberrant to many foreign observers, it differs only in degree from decades of United States influence in Latin America. Declassified Central Intelligence Agency and State Department records from the midst of the Brazilian military dictatorship reveal an official US policy of support for the very brutality Bolsonaro intends to revive.
The CIA and the State Department conspired to exploit a bureaucratic loophole to keep records hidden
In 1955, the Central Intelligence Agency’s Psychological and Paramilitary Operations Staff made some inquiries through their point of contact at the State Department about the storage and accessibility of records concerning CIA operations. When they didn’t receive the answer they wanted, an informal suggestion led to a formal policy to circumvent those requirements by manipulating technicalities and appearances, and in some cases ignoring the records even existed.
Beginning in the early ’50s, the Federal Bureau of Investigation began keeping what would become an extensive file on the singer and civil rights activist Josephine Baker, tracking with great interest her comments in the international press critical of racial discrimination in the U.S. Though the Bureau never formally opened an investigation into Baker, it fielded several requests from the Immigration and Naturalization Service to collect derogatory information that would help make the case for denying her a visa and barring her entry to the country.
Austin Evers is the executive director of American Oversight, an independent watchdog that uses litigation to access documents the public is rightfully entitled to under FOIA protections. After serving as senior counsel to the State Department for transparency-related matters under the Obama Administration, Evers founded American Oversight in response to the election of President Donald Trump. Evers shared his experience in FOIA litigation and offered advice to requesters in an interview with MuckRock.
Beryl Lipton sent this request to the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction of the United States of America
|No response from State Department in two years|