So, It’s Okay To Lie?

Well, apparently lying would be officially sanctioned if the Department of Justice has its way under proposed revisions to the Federal Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). Here’s a piece about it from ProPublica. Very simply, if the government received a request for certain law enforcement or national security documents, the rule would allow it to “respond to the request as if the excluded records did not exist.” Which means, the government can tell the requesting party that the records don’t exist. Which would be, you know, a lie. And this rule would not be limited to high level national security, we’re going to get blown up kind of documents. It would apply to pretty run of the mill criminal investigations. And the biggest problem with this, aside from the basic moral issue, is that it eliminates the court’s oversight function. Under FOIA, the government agency makes the first call on whether to produce the record or whether it’s exempt. But the party requesting it can ask a court to review that determination. But who is going to ask a court to review whether an exemption applies to a record that apparently doesn’t exist? Maybe that’s the point of this stupid proposal.