U.S. Navy mistakenly sends how-to memo on dodging FOIA requests

Talk about a misstep. The U.S. Navy accidentally sent out a memo that spells out various ways to duck and dodge Freedom of Information Act requests to a local NBC News reporter.

Politico reported that Scott MacFarlane, an NBC 4 reporter who works in Washington, D.C., had asked the Navy for certain documents. But he never expected as part of his FOIA request to receive an internal Navy note that details how to dismiss his request as a “fishing expedition.”

Mr. MacFarlane had sought information related to the Navy Yard shooting in September and had asked that all fees beyond $15 be waived, Politico reported.

The surprise Navy memo said to negotiate with Mr. MacFarlane over his request and characterize it as a waste of time. It also said, Politico reported, to speak about the cost of fulfilling the request as a means of pressuring Mr. MacFarlane to “narrow the scope” of his FOIA. The memo specifically states: “Again, ‘fishing expedition.’ Just because they are media doesn’t mean the memos shed light on specific government activities.”

The U.S. Navy apologized for the memo.

In a tweet, the Navy said: “#USNavy regrets the content of an internal email sent to @nbcwashington cc @politico @Gawker.”

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