Widgetized Section

Go to Admin » Appearance » Widgets » and move Gabfire Widget: Social into that MastheadOverlay zone

Freedom of information? Not at the CIA

By
March 14, 2006

The CIA has the worst record of any U.S. government agency for complying with the Freedom of Information Act, an independent archive that publishes declassified U.S. government documents said on Monday.

The National Security Archive at George Washington University named the spy agency as the 2006 recipient of its annual Rosemary Award, which recognizes the poorest performance within the federal government for responses to Freedom of Information Act requests from the public.

The CIA had no immediate comment.

The Freedom of Information Act, or FOIA, was enacted in 1966 to increase the amount of publicly available government information.

But the National Security Archive said the CIA has escalated its use of disputes and litigation to oppose FOIA requests over the past year.

The spy agency handles only 0.08 percent of all FOIA requests, a minuscule number compared with the Department of Veterans Affairs, which receives one-third to one-quarter of the 4 million requests filed each year.

But the archive said the CIA accounts for many of the government’s oldest FOIA requests, some of which have gone unanswered for well over a decade.

"The CIA’s oldest requests are so old they are eligible for drivers’ licenses in most states," said the archive, a research institute that routinely obtains documents through FOIA.

The archive’s Rosemary Award is named for former President Richard Nixon’s secretary, Rose Mary Woods, who told a grand jury in 1974 that she inadvertently erased key Watergate dialogue from secretly recorded White House audiotapes.

Last year’s Rosemary Award went to the U.S. Air Force after it apparently lost dozens of FOIA requests dating back 18 years.