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Project on Government Oversight

POGO opposes false and misleading DOJ FOIA amendment

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October 19, 2011 | By: Scott H. Amey, J.D.

Ms. Caroline A. Smith
Office of Information Policy
U.S. Department of Justice
1425 New York Ave, Suite 11050
Washington, DC 20530–0001

Submitted via Regulations.gov

Subject: RIN 1105–AB27 - Revision of Department of Justice Freedom of Information Act Regulations

Dear Ms. Smith:

The Project On Government Oversight (POGO) provides the following public comment to RIN 1105–AB27, “Revision of Department of Justice Freedom of Information Act Regulations” (76 Fed. Reg. 57940, September 19, 2011). The Department of Justice’s (DOJ) notice of proposed rulemaking would amend DOJ’s regulations under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), including permitting DOJ to present a false and misleading FOIA response regarding certain law enforcement records. As an independent nonprofit organization committed to achieving a more accountable and transparent federal government, POGO opposes that proposed language.

DOJ’s proposal states: “When a component applies an exclusion to exclude records from the requirements of the FOIA pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 552(c), the component utilizing the exclusion will respond to the request as if the excluded records did not exist.”

The government has an interest in concealing information about open law enforcement investigations, but that does not justify providing false and misleading information to requestors. I would invite DOJ to hold a public meeting to further discuss the issue and work toward a resolution that better balances the disclosure and the safeguarding of those government records.

Thank you for your consideration of these comments.

Sincerely,

Scott Amey
General Counsel

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