Government just beginning to process 4-year-old Benghazi public info request

On July 26, I received an urgent call from a State Department Freedom of Information (FOI) office.

“I’m calling about your Freedom of Information request for information/communications regarding the Benghazi attack.”

First, the officer wanted to know if I still want the records. A reasonable question. After all, it’s been four years. I’ve since changed jobs, gotten a new dog, received my fourth degree blackbelt, received a couple more Emmy awards and an Edward R. Murrow and my kid is about to graduate from college (Under federal law, a response to my FOIA request was required within about 30 days, but the law never seems to stand in the way of a good stonewall…)

“I only have a couple” of documents he added. That part confused me a little because there are at least thousands of pages of State Department public records related to the Benghazi attacks and aftermaths. This much we’ve discovered in the past four years.

The other thing he wanted to know was if I would “agree within those documents we could limit the scope to just matters concerning Benghazi attack or situation.”

So to summarize: I needed the information for a story I was working on in 2012. Now, nearly four years late, the State Department has a few pages of documents to provide and wants me to agree to narrow down within those pages a smaller subset.

“No,” I said. I have come to realize that their requests to “narrow” documents sometimes means the federal government is trying to keep a particular piece of public information from becoming public.

No?!?” he exclaimed, as if offended.

“No,” I repeated. “I’ll take all of them.”

“Well,” he sputtered, “that’s going to mean I have to get a LOT of approvals from MANY MANY people.”

“Any idea how long that will take?” I asked. “It’s been four years and it was due within 30 days.”

“It could take a LONG time!”

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10 Responses to “Government just beginning to process 4-year-old Benghazi public info request”

  1. Frank D'Angelo
    July 28, 2016 at 1:18 pm #

    FOIA has been intentionally crippled to make it ostensibly impotent. It has been kept undermanned by “part time” employees and the department have refused to upgrade their search software from the 1980’s with 31st century technology.
    It’s apparent this adminsitrarion has contributed to creating a situation where this critical law is obstructed. A law that is just as critical as our other “Freedoms” and necessary to insure governmental transparency has been abused for political agendas.
    Sharyl, this is a hot button for me as the failure to implement FOIA represents an assault on our rights as American citizens and allows the practice of government non-transparency to continue to unabated. No one seems to want to touch this big story. I guess it involves too much work and not enough immediate gratification. I wish someone as credible and skilled as you would take up this challenge. This little “two step” of keeping the FOIA undermanned and using archaic technology is a crime

  2. Richard Matthews
    July 28, 2016 at 2:31 pm #

    Where there’s a will, there’s a way. I think Mr D’Angelo is much too kind and understanding. If the State Department (or any other federal department for that matter) truly wanted to be “transparent” and compliant with the law, they would have prioritized operations to adhere to the FOIA; both in spirit and in action. Notwithstanding the embarrassing technological failings, if enough manpower and will was expended, the requested information would have been provided years ago. I’m certain that there are dozens of similar or identical FOIA requests that have been submitted by various media groups and private organizations therefore the agency would not have to re-invent the wheel for each request. Dragging ones feet and obstruction is purposeful.

  3. Brian Mumford
    July 28, 2016 at 3:48 pm #

    When I was a deputy director of a local government office, the county prosecutor made the director and me keenly aware that we “shall be removed” if we interfere or impede a public records request in any way. Why were we held to a higher standard than the Secretary of State?

    I know this is a stupid question, but how close are you to getting an interview with Obama? He is the head of the executive branch after all. Tell him publically that you have been waiting for four years and that he needs to put his Secretary of State’s house in order. If that doesn’t work—and it won’t—how about doing that with Secretary Kerry? Put him on the spot. You’re a taxpayer, ask him what kind of department he’s running that can’t complete a FOIA request in four years that should only take 30 days. I would tell him that if a request is going to be beyond 30 days, that updates should be provided no fewer that every 30 days until the request has been satisfied. He works for us, it’s not the other way around. That’s what the salary and benefits are for; the money is only flowing one way.

  4. tony
    August 4, 2016 at 10:01 am #

    The Evidence is Clear ……”Its time for the International Community and League of Nations need to file War Crime Charges against Hilary Clinton and Barack Obama” !!!!!!

    The foreign policy of the current Administration is along with the Hedge fund investment community perpetuating conflicts to consolidate resources and generate wealth from it , and its displaying people in these areas and its time it stopped .

    Did the Obama Administration create ISIS to be a conflicting force spreading into areas of the world where resources and durable good are under threat of losing US dollar valuation and conflict gives way to US intervention to keep dollar valuation in place ? This Video gives some insight to the question ,

    And I don’t care who these Crimes against Humanity implicate because this has to be stopped !!!!!!!!

    ISIS is getting control of Resource and Durable Goods production areas in world
    WikiLeaks: Hillary Clinton Served On Board Of Company With ISIS Ties

    Hillary Obama and the Hedge-funds created ISIS for the Proxy War Force to control world Resources

    Hilarys Hedgefunds Perpetuate Wars around the world listen2her @ 1:00 Petro Co in Sussman Hedgefund

    Hilarys donor Sussman hedge fund Petro Corp to make money from Iraq war

    This needs to be investigated . Thank you .


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