Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Raw Story: 1,000 FBI Pages on Helms,
None Released Yet

A big problem with compliance by federal agencies when FOIA requests are made is that it can easily take years before a single page is released. Over at Raw Story, reporter Kathleen Miller takes an exclusive look at my request to the FBI to release files on homo-hater Jesse Helms, and how I haven't received any pages responsive to my request.

From Raw Story:
WASHINGTON -- The Federal Bureau of Investigation may have more than 1,000 pages in its files on the late Republican Sen. Jesse Helms of North Carolina, but federal officials haven't released a single document more than a year after a San Francisco blogger filed Freedom of Information Act requests.

San Francisco-based blogger and gay rights activist Michael Petrelis sent the FBI a Freedom of Information Act request for information on Helms shortly after the senator's July 4th, 2008 death. The FBI restricts third-party access to information about individuals while they are still alive, but makes it possible for people to request copies of someone else's FBI files after they have passed away.

The FBI's records management division staff sent Petrelis a letter in October 2008, informing him they'd located 1,082 pages that may mention Helms, but that it could cost Petrelis $98.20 to get copies of all the documents. The first 100 pages of FBI records requests are provided for free, but people are charged for copies beyond 100 pages. Petrelis agreed to pay the fee, but nearly a year later has yet to receive a document. [...]
Click over to the full article, where the Raw Story editors have posted the letter from the FBI.

If President Barack Obama and his administration want to make our national government more transparent to voters and taxpayers, I suggest they propose ways to speed up searches after FOIAs are filed, review of all records located, and insure quicker release of documents. Oh, and Congress should allocate more funding for FOIA offices at all federal agencies.

Let more of the sun shine in!

No comments: