APRIL 09, 2013
The U.S. government, under both Democratic and Republican administrations, is renowned for violating federal transparency laws and blowing off or unscrupulously delaying records requests, but this is a bit much.
Judicial Watch recently got an official rejection letter involving a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request that dates back to 2002! It almost seems like a joke, but it’s not. As part of a broad investigation into the 9/11 terrorist attacks, JW submitted FOIA requests to the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) and the National Security Agency (NSA) in September 2002.
It’s quite common for federal agencies as well as the White House to flip the finger at FOIA requests that could expose wrongdoing or shed a negative light. In fact, JW often must file lawsuits to get “public” records that should not require litigation to obtain. In this particular case, it took the DIA and NSA a whopping 11 years to determine that the information falls under the “release authority” of a different agency—the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS).
This means that the NCIS must now take the time to consider the records request, which requires a “classification review,” according to the 11-year-old response JW got recently from the Navy. “Your request has been placed in our complex queue. At this time we are unable to provide you an approximate completion date.” Reading between the lines, this means that no one should hold their breath since there appears to be no intention of furnishing the records.
At least the Navy’s letter, laughable as it is, offers an apology for taking 11 years to respond. “We apologize for the delay in processing your request.” Again, it’s not uncommon to get the run-around during the FOIA process and lawsuits are par for the course, but this shatters all records. Perhaps this one should be framed.
These types of obstacles don’t stop JW from rooting out government corruption, however. When it comes to 9/11 JW has been a leader in exposing much of what the mainstream media has failed to report. Earlier this year, for instance, JW obtained documents from the State Department indicating that the FBI knew days after the 9/11 attacks that Anwar al-Aulaqi, assassinated by a U.S. drone in Yemen in 2011, had purchased airplane tickets for three of the terrorist hijackers.
This is relevant because al-Aulaqi, who was born in the U.S., was detained and released by authorities at least twice and had been invited to dine at the Pentagon. Yet the feds knew he had purchased airline tickets for the following 9/11 hijackers: Mohammed Atta, America West Airlines, 08/13/2001, for a flight from Washington, DC, to Las Vegas, Nevada, to Miami, Florida; S. Suqami, Southwest Airlines, 07/10/2001, for a flight from Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, to Orlando, Florida; Al-Sheri, National Airlines, 08/01/2001, for a flight from San Francisco, California, to Las Vegas, Nevada, to Miami, Florida.
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