A response from the U.S. Justice Department to an inquiry on why a Freedom of Information Act appeal has not been resolved within time requirements established by U.S. Code was received over the weekend by Gun Rights Examiner. Issued by Janice Galli McLeod, Associate Director, Office of Information Policy, the letter (click on sidebar photo to read) did not respond to direct questions about why a determination has been delayed, but did indicate a renewed search would be conducted. At the same time, it appears to ignore an earlier assurance that fees would be waived.
The following is the response being sent today to AD McLeod via certified mail:
September 12, 2011
Janice Galli McLeod, Associate Director
U.S. Department of Justice Office of Information Policy
1425 New York Avenue, N.W.
Washington, DC 20530-0001
Re: Appeal No. AP-2011-01833, Request No. 11-501, CAS: CDW
Dear Ms. McLeod,
Thank you for recommending a further search of records responsive to my request, to include ATF’s Office of Legislative Affairs, in your September 7 advisory. As you know, I have been attempting to obtain information concerning the Grassley briefing since I made my initial FOIA request on February 16, and it was April 20 when I requested inclusion of a records search within the OLA due solely to nonresponsiveness to major portions of my original request.
As you are also aware, because disclosure of the information is in the public interest, my request for a fee waiver was granted in a February 28 reply by Marilyn R. LaBrie, Team Leader, Disclosure Division, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. I am operating under the reasonable expectation that I can rely on this written guarantee, and that your reference to sending releasable responsive records “subject to any fees” will defer to Ms. LaBrie’s administrative judgment. If not, please advise me immediately, as I have proceeded with my requests under the assumption that this official assurance was made under the authority of the Justice Department and I am unwilling to waive their commitment to me in this matter.
Finally, thank you for advising me of my right to pursue resolution in federal district court if I am dissatisfied with your action on my appeal. If that should happen, please be advised it would also be my intent to continue to provide public exposure of this pursuit, as well as to advise my elected representatives of the prolonged efforts I have made to date and the responses I have received.
It’s been since February and the stonewalling and discouragement continues. As noted in prior installments on the FOIA issue:
These specific requests were ignored in the packet returned by ATF’s Disclosure Division … What was received instead is a series of tangentially-related redacted email copies, many in the planning stages for the briefing, with names and email addresses blacked out, along with much of the information being transmitted.
Still, as pointed out in an assessment of what has been released in response to the FOIA request, important clues have been gleaned, including the apparent inclusion of Andrew Traver in the information loop and documentation of retaliation against a whistleblower.
What more there is to be learned is in the hands of the Justice Department.
Readers interested in more detail can consult the following articles documenting the FOIA and subsequent attempts to simply get what was originally asked for:
- FOIA request filed with ATF over Grassley ‘Gunwalker’ briefing
- FOIA preliminary response for Grassley briefing docs
- ATF to grant ‘Project Gunwalker’ FOIA inquiry ‘in part’
- ATF FOIA response
- Gun Rights Examiner files appeal to ATF’s Grassley briefing response
- DOJ to decide on Gun Rights Examiner FOIA appeal
- Why has Justice Department not responded to FOIA appeal on ‘Gunwalker’ briefing?
- A Journalist’s Guide to ‘Project Gunwalker’ Part One, Part Two, Part Three, Part Four, Part Five and Part Six for a complete list with links of independent investigative reporting and commentary done to date by Sipsey Street Irregulars and Gun Rights Examiner.
Note to newcomers to this story: “Project Gunrunner” is the name ATF assigned to its Southwest Border Initiative to interdict gun smuggling to Mexico. “Project Gunwalker” is the name I assigned to the scandal after allegations by agents that monitored guns were allowed to fall into criminal hands on both sides of the border through a surveillance process termed “walking” surfaced.
Mike Vanderboegh of Sipsey Street Irregulars and I talked about the latest “Project Gunwalker” developments last night with Mark Walters on Armed American Radio.
Click here to listen.
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