Tuesday, October 10, 2023

Removal Acts: I find documents officials want to keep hidden. Here’s how.

I find documents officials want to keep hidden. Here’s how

Washington Post:  As The Post’s FOIA director, I’ve helped expose government waste and wrongdoing, and published stories that led to new laws. This is the first installment of Revealing Records, a periodic column by Nate Jones about his work obtaining public records for The Post. 

Few things make a journalist happier than receiving a manila envelope full of internal government records. These days, a large email attachment is pretty good, too. I received my first envelope of documents as a college student in 2004. Using public records laws, I had requested information about a nuclear war scare from the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library. They sent them to me — and I was hooked. My first professional job was filing thousands more requests for historical records at the nonprofit National Security Archive. Today, as The Post’s first Freedom of Information Act director, I work to ensure that our entire newsroom receives as many of those envelopes and email attachments as possible. 

Those documents have helped us publish stories that haveexposed government waste and wrongdoing, and led to congressional hearings and new laws. Successful requests take strategy, creativity and a tenacity for overcoming bureaucratic resistance. Now, I’m writing a periodic column about how I do it. The federal Freedom of Information Act is one of a reporter’s most powerful tools. Commonly known as FOIA, this law requires federal agencies to release records to the public upon request — unless the records are exempt for privacy, national security or other reasons.

 Each state also has its own version of the federal law that applies to state and local governments. When agencies refuse to produce the records, the laws allow those making the requests to sue. Unfortunately, The Post has had to turn to the courts to force state and federal agencies to follow FOIA laws. As a newly barred attorney, I research the chances of succeeding in a lawsuit, then work with The Post’s legal counsel and outside lawyers to file a suit…”

A public apology from an idiot. Ever since the debate began I’ve predicted a thumping victory for the Voice. Just as 59 years ago I believed a rational world would unite to defeat Global warming. Wrong on both counts.

 Why is multilateralism in the tax sphere surviving when multilateralism is collapsing elsewhere?