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DOJ Drops FOIA Rule To Permit Lying 151

Posted by samzenpus
from the I-cannot-tell-a-lie dept.
schwit1 writes "The Department of Justice has canceled a controversial revision to Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) rules that opponents said would have allowed federal agencies to lie about the existence of records. In a letter to Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley on Thursday, the DOJ wrote that the proposed rule 'falls short' of its commitment to transparency, and it 'will not include that provision when the Department issues final regulations.' The concern now is that the DOJ has been lying for some time and this rule was an attempt to provide cover for past denials concerning the existence of documents."
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DOJ Drops FOIA Rule To Permit Lying

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  • I'm most confident that we are getting to see what we want to see. Even if they give out info that seems injurious to the parties involved it only gives us an impression of FOIA that makes us feel good. Lot's more to see here folks, and we're not going to see it.

  • by MachDelta (704883) on Friday November 04, 2011 @12:33AM (#37944288)

    1. Make laws
    2. Ignore those laws, do whatever you want
    3. Make new laws to cover your lies
    4. ???
    5. Profit

    • by Mashiki (184564)

      Hope n' change baby! Even worse than the previous guy.

      • by RingDev (879105) on Friday November 04, 2011 @12:53AM (#37944390) Homepage Journal

        This practice was originally sanctioned un the Reagan administration. This rules change would have formalized the practice that was developed by the Feds under Reagan's AG. By removing the rule change (under the Obama administration) they are effectively barred from covering up the previous lies.

        So clearly, Obama is to blame....

        -Rick

        • by blindseer (891256)

          Of course Obama is to blame. Just because other Presidents have done the same just means all of them are to blame. Obama has the authority to end bad precedent set by his predecessors. By not doing so he shares in the blame.

          • that he is ending it, so your attempt at spreading the blame is a little silly.
            • Re: (Score:1, Offtopic)

              by blindseer (891256)

              Right, he's ending the policy now that he's had three years in office. I'd be impressed if he did this in his first 100 days, not when he's running for a second term and his polling numbers are under water.

              Still pretty sure there's plenty of blame to go around. This administration has not been very forthcoming when it comes to things like tax payers' money flushed down the toilet propping up "green" companies, where bailout money has been spent, how American made weapons are ending up in the hands of ille

              • Re:Except (Score:5, Interesting)

                by Third Position (1725934) on Friday November 04, 2011 @02:38AM (#37944820)

                \

                Still pretty sure there's plenty of blame to go around. This administration has not been very forthcoming when it comes to things like tax payers' money flushed down the toilet propping up "green" companies, where bailout money has been spent, how American made weapons are ending up in the hands of illegal alien murderers, and why there are so many illegal aliens in this country in the first place.

                As if the next administration will do any better? Surely you jest. I suspect that at this point we're in a death spiral. I'm not sure that at this point even an honest reformer could clean up the mess.

                • by shentino (1139071)

                  The only way to get into office is to make it past the corporate gatekeepers controlling the media.

              • by bberens (965711)
                I'm not claiming to like Obama at all.. but honestly if this sort of procedural stuff was at the forefront of his attention during his first 100 days that'd be great, because it would mean that we didn't have two wars and a collapsing economy. I doubt he was even aware of it during the first 100 days. People act like the POTUS is supposed to be omniscient wrt every nook and cranny of previous administration policies from day 1. Be happy, he's up for re-election and now we can FOIA all the stuff that happ
        • by Jawnn (445279)

          This practice was originally sanctioned un the Reagan administration. This rules change would have formalized the practice that was developed by the Feds under Reagan's AG. By removing the rule change (under the Obama administration) they are effectively barred from covering up the previous lies.

          So clearly, Obama is to blame....

          -Rick

          Much as I hate to say it, he is, and clearly so. He has continued most of the same "screw you, we're the government" bullshit that W started. And that was a lot of screw you-ing.

          • by i_b_don (1049110)

            Much as I agree with you, you must take things on a case by case basis. In many cases he's let us down. In this case he hasn't. So criticize him where it's warranted, but reward him with praise when it's also warranted.

            So good job Obama!

            Now... about the other 99 things that need improvement....

            d

      • by lennier1 (264730)

        While I agree that this administration is mostly the same corrupt crap, just with a different label, at least this guy didn't throw the nation into two wars which will force the country to remain involved for over a decade.

        • He's only one term in. Looks like you guys will be bombing Iran soon: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/nov/02/us-heading-war-iran-obama [guardian.co.uk]
          • by lennier1 (264730)

            I wouldn't be too sure about that. The last time the US sent troops into a war with a country that was a serious opponent was WW2.
            Since then there have been some proxy wars in-between, but never against a country that could actually take the fight back to them and do some serious damage.

            • I wouldn't be too sure about that. The last time the US sent troops into a war with a country that was a serious opponent was WW2.
              Please if you think the country that sent human wave attacks against Saddam, could count as a serious opponent to the US you are mistaken. Now that Obama has shown the future of US conflicts is drone and air attacks w/out ground troops, the US Air Force could strip the Iranians' air defenses in a week followed by 2-3 weeks of carpet bombing, and then just pull back and let the
              • by Chris Burke (6130)

                Now that Obama has shown the future of US conflicts is drone and air attacks w/out ground troops, the US Air Force could strip the Iranians' air defenses in a week followed by 2-3 weeks of carpet bombing, and then just pull back and let the people decide whom they want to lead them.

                The answer -- which everyone already knows -- would be the Iranian regime. Every time the U.S. or other Western powers act against Iran, it strengthens the regime's hold because the only thing they hate more than their government is interference by others'. Especially ours. Most of the protesters still believe in, and the opposition's leaders participated in, the Islamic Revolution that removed the U.S.-backed Shah.

                A bombing campaign initiated by the west would not dislodge the regime. Air power alone c

            • by Toonol (1057698)
              You think Iran is a serious opponent? We could destroy their armies and topple their government in two weeks, losing only a few thousand casualties, just like we did Iraq. The expensive and difficult part is rebuilding/occupying their country afterwards, if we choose to do so.
              • by lennier1 (264730)

                It's still a country with nuclear capability. They could do a lot of damage to allies in that region.
                Quite a difference from a group of camel fuckers with explosives, AKs and an overflowing supply of nutjobs.

          • by Chris Burke (6130)

            He's only one term in. Looks like you guys will be bombing Iran soon:

            Interesting conclusion for an article that says that while Israel is contemplating action against Iran, the U.S. is emphatically not, with experts on US-Iran relations, the White house, and even the Pentagon all saying it's a bad idea and not going to happen.

            Bush Jr. made a lot of noise about Iran and gave a lot more indication that he was actually considering action against Iran. Never happened. Because even he and his know-nothing neo-con buddies, the ones who thought Iraq was a great idea, knew what a

        • by Grishnakh (216268) on Friday November 04, 2011 @01:52AM (#37944658)

          He hasn't done much to get us out of the two wars that the last guy got us into. He claims he's pulling out of Iraq, but it's not true: how many "contractors" are going to stay, how many troops, etc.? It's not a real pull-out until everyone is gone. And what has he done to get us out of Afghanistan? Worse than nothing, he sent even more troops in there! We need to learn from history and do as the Soviets did: leave that country while you still can. It's impossible to set up a democracy there, and in fact it's not helping our cause to prop up a corrupt government.

          • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

            by Anonymous Coward

            At no point did he say he was pulling us out of afghanistan, he specifically campaigned on sending more troops there, because the war had been completely mismanaged and neglected by bush while he burned through our money fighting in Iraq. Obama was right then and he is right now.

            • by Grishnakh (216268)

              No, he's just like Bush, and both of them are wrong. There's nothing being accomplished in Afghanistan, except people getting killed and money being burned. The only sensible thing to do is pull out just like we did in Vietnam.

          • We need to learn from history and do as the Soviets did: leave that country while you still can.

            Because that worked out so well...

            • by Grishnakh (216268)

              What are you talking about? It DID work out well for the Soviets: before they pulled out, they were wasting resources and their soldiers were being killed left and right. After they pulled out, that all stopped. How is that not "working out well"? It would have been a lot better if they hadn't gone in there in the first place of course, but once you're in a bad state like that, pulling out is the only sensible thing to do.

              • What are you talking about?

                Soviet's pullout --> chaos in Afghanistan --> rise of Taliban --> subjugation of people --> alliance with AQ --> 1993 WTC bombing --> attempted Philippine Airline bombing --> 1998 embassy bombings --> Sep 11, 2001.

                Sure it worked well for the Soviets, for us and a lot of innocent people in other countries, not so much.

                • by Grishnakh (216268)

                  Why should the Soviets care about our problems? Why should they care about the subjugation of people in a foreign country? We've already proven over and over that taking over countries and trying to set up puppet governments does not do anything for the cause of improving the lives of people in those countries (look at Iran for example).

                  The Soviet pullout didn't cause the rise of the Taliban and chaos in Afghanistan anyway; it was the Soviet invasion that caused those things. The pullout was the only rat

    • ??? == Declare yourself King
    • It was a real easy answer,

      #4. Blame Bush

      Though you were being nice we have gotten worse than your list.

      1) Have Secret Laws.
      2) Have Secret Courts
      3) Use intimidation and threat of force to keep them
      4) Blame Bush
      5) Stay in Power, I mean profit

  • No Problem! (Score:5, Funny)

    by Greyfox (87712) on Friday November 04, 2011 @12:40AM (#37944320) Homepage Journal
    Now that they're not lying anymore, ask them if they were lying before! Problem solved!
    • Better yet, ask them to release all documentation on items they've previously lied about on any FOIA request. Then, get out a really big checkbook for the massive amount of paperwork you may or may not receive.

    • by L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) on Friday November 04, 2011 @06:11AM (#37945594)
      What? No! They've already passed the bill, are lying about having passed the bill, and lying in the statement about not including this provision to enable lying in the bill they're lying about having passed!

      </TinFoilHat>
  • by Tastecicles (1153671) on Friday November 04, 2011 @12:42AM (#37944332)

    ...is to ask a question to which you already know the answer, and have documentary evidence of that answer.

    Because then, if the public authority denies any knowledge, you can publicly enlighten them. Same as if/when you catch them in a barefaced lie.

    I've done it a number of times. It's amazing what they'll come out with when you pull them in public for an outright violation of public trust.

    • by Tastecicles (1153671) on Friday November 04, 2011 @12:52AM (#37944382)

      Classic example of this: I ask the Ministry of Justice on how many occasions a family court judge (any family court judge, it doesn't matter specifics) out of a total 26,000 public law cases a year in the UK used Bench Memoranda (summaries of cases or even draft judgments written by their clerks or one or other of the solicitors) instead of drawing their own conclusions in deciding the disposition of each case; they said, categorically, none.

      Disclaimer: I was an Advocate in Family Law.

      I politely informed the Ministry that I had not only witnessed but had documentary evidence of no less than sixty cases out of seventy four in which I had been involved where the Judge had used Bench Memoranda - word for word to the drafts in most cases - and reiterated the question.

      Their revised reply: "We do not know how many Judges use Bench Memoranda nor do we know how often if at all, they practise this. It is not a practise endorsed or encouraged by the Ministry."

    • Had to post to undo my accidental mod down. Meant to mod you up.

    • by blindseer (891256) <blindseer AT earthlink DOT net> on Friday November 04, 2011 @01:18AM (#37944508)

      Exactly. I believe this is precisely what is happening right now with the "Operation Fast and Furious" scandal. It seems that the House Oversight Committee has the nasty habit of asking the right questions of the right people and knowing precisely what documents to look for. They already know the answers, most of them anyway, since there have been numerous agents within BATFE and Border Patrol that have come forward and fed them information on the gun walking operation.

      It seems that numerous people in Congress are giving the DOJ just enough rope to hang themselves. The DOJ is really getting beat up over this. It seems that people in State and Homeland Security were involved as well. The DOJ coming up with this rule to allow them to keep documents secret seems to be an attempt to contain the damage.

      I just have to wonder, do they really think they they have the authority to deny these documents to Congress? Can they "lie" to the House Oversight Committee about the existence of documents? I would imagine that they can keep certain information from the public but they cannot keep the documents from Congress for long. These departments exist because of an act of Congress, if they get too far out of line then Congress can make them disappear. I believe that DOJ was reminded of this at some point since they backed off on this suicidal policy change.

      • by Tastecicles (1153671) on Friday November 04, 2011 @01:28AM (#37944550)

        FOIA, used in the right way, is a fantastic way to embarrass public authorities into telling the truth. When you already have the information (they don't know that - yet) and you ask them what you already know, they should be aware that a certain percentage of the questions they get asked are already answered; their credibility hence qualification to govern depends entirely upon their answer. Since such enquiries are covered under a Statutory Instrument, their responses are also covered under the same SI. Ergo, if they lie and they caught in it on a public forum [whatdotheyknow.com] then that is all the proof needed to legally disqualify them from their positions.

        Gentlemen, call your lawyers.

    • by MobyDisk (75490)

      The problem is this: what recourse is there when they lie? You have 5 people replying to your post with examples of doing exactly what you suggest. That's great! But none of them end with any officials being indicted, resigning, or really any change. What you propose is good, but we need to take the next step. Senators who lie should be impeached. Officials who lie should be fired, and potentially sued.

      This is similar to when big corporations push frivolous lawsuits against smaller competitors. Even

      • It's... tricky. Depending on who it is and what position they hold, I've managed to make a few people fall from varying heights. Social workers dismissed. Judges recused. Police officers of three or four decades fired and losing their pensions... I'm an evil bastard when I want to be, but never to anyone who doesn't thoroughly deserve it. And never without a. a plan and b. a plan b (usually involving a convoluted escape route).

        • by MobyDisk (75490)

          There must be some interesting stories behind that. But I think my point is that the legal system needs to offer recourse here. It sounds like you have more devious approaches, which would be good to know but aren't going to work to correct the system as a whole.

  • by ohnocitizen (1951674) on Friday November 04, 2011 @01:02AM (#37944438)
    If they are suspected of having lied in the past, and having issued the lying provision to provide cover for past lies, how can we trust their commitment to not seek approval for lying is truthful? (Debating this question would make a fantastic drinking game).
    • If they are suspected of having lied in the past, and having issued the lying provision to provide cover for past lies, how can we trust their commitment to not seek approval for lying is truthful? (Debating this question would make a fantastic drinking game).

      The only hard and fast rule you can trust almost all the time for anyone who lies for a living...if their lips are moving...they have to be lying.

    • by Tastecicles (1153671) on Friday November 04, 2011 @01:21AM (#37944528)

      reminds me of a scene in Labyrinth [imdb.com]. I don't have the exact quote to hand, but it basically goes:

      There are two doors. Each guarded by one guard. Both will tell you which door goes where (one to where you want to go, the other to certain doom), but there's a catch. You can only ask one of them, and one always tells the truth while the other always lies. So you ask one of them "If I had asked the other guard which door was the correct door, which door would he have pointed to?", and whichever door he points to, you take the other one. It's a twisted logic, but there you go.

      • by Sasayaki (1096761)

        So the moral of this story is... no matter what anyone in the DOJ says, they are lying and the opposite to what they say is true? Sounds about right to me.

      • Re: (Score:1, Offtopic)

        by Jaxoreth (208176)

        There are two doors. Each guarded by one guard. Both will tell you which door goes where (one to where you want to go, the other to certain doom), but there's a catch. You can only ask one of them, and one always tells the truth while the other always lies. So you ask one of them "If I had asked the other guard which door was the correct door, which door would he have pointed to?", and whichever door he points to, you take the other one. It's a twisted logic, but there you go.

        The double negation is superfluous. You need merely ask, "What answer would you give to the question 'Which door is the correct one?'?", and you'll get the correct answer regardless of which guard you asked. The lying guard would lie about his lie, canceling it out.

        • Re: (Score:2, Offtopic)

          by Tastecicles (1153671)

          um.... nope. If you asked the liar that one he will point you to the wrong door, and you pick the other one. If you ask the truthsayer and he points to teh correct door and you pick the other one... you're dead. You're playing the odds there.

          It's in the wording.

          By asking the question in the form I gave, the response from the liar would be to point to the death door, since he is indicating not his answer but the answer the other guard would have given and lying about it. The truthsayer would also point to th

          • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

            by Anonymous Coward

            Jaxoreth's solution is also correct.

            The untruthful guard would answer the question 'which door is the correct one?' with the wrong door. If you ask him what his answer to that question would be, he will lie about it, i.e. indicate the correct door. (There's one negation coming from the question and one negation coming from the question within the question.)

            The truthful guard will trivially indicate the correct door in response to the indirected question.

      • by Zak3056 (69287) on Friday November 04, 2011 @11:32AM (#37948176) Journal

        There are two doors. Each guarded by one guard. Both will tell you which door goes where (one to where you want to go, the other to certain doom), but there's a catch. You can only ask one of them, and one always tells the truth while the other always lies. So you ask one of them "If I had asked the other guard which door was the correct door, which door would he have pointed to?", and whichever door he points to, you take the other one. It's a twisted logic, but there you go.

        This is my favorite solution to the problem [giantitp.com].

  • The whole thing from top to bottom is one big Cluster F*ck.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by hedwards (940851)

      That's the natural consequence of huge blocks of voters voting for politicians that overtly state that as their goal. The GOP's prime objective last session was to prevent anything from happening, and they didn't even bother lying about it.

      • by Thing 1 (178996)
        "Vote gridlock", has a nice ring to it.
      • As long as we keep the discussion in us and them terms, we will all continue to get screwed. Its not a left or right problem, it is a system which has been corrupted. It is a system where the monolithic corporations write the bills which are passed by both the left and the right. As long as we continue to point a finger over there it will just keep coming. I fear it is too late. This round ends hate Obama, next round ends hate Romney. Lather, rinse, repeat. I think the Fed, the Monsanto's and Goldman Sachs
  • A FOIA search would have never seen the classic “June files” (~1970's) “zero files”, “I-drive”s and "S-drive" over the years.
    Documents would have been kept compartmentalized until needed or lost - from any defense legal team or FOIA.
    Anyone could request any term and very little would come back - this rush to hide results is strange.
    Too much next gen cloud starting to connect too many old databases?
  • It's certainly a comfort that they are not allowed to lie^H^H^H get caught lying. Next I suppose they will be required to pinky swear without crossing their fingers.

  • those aren't the droids you're looking for

    someone had to say it

  • 'falls short' of its commitment to transparency"
    Well, not really. I wonder who is going to get fired at the DOJ?

  • by residieu (577863)
    The rule is retroactive. When it goes into effect, it will allow them to lie now about not including the rule.

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