Via Dustbury, we learn of a very disturbing development concerning the freedom of official information. Pro Publica reports:
A proposed rule to the Freedom of Information Act would allow federal agencies to tell people requesting certain law-enforcement or national security documents that records don’t exist – even when they do.
. . .
Open-government groups object.
"We don’t believe the statute allows the government to lie to FOIA requesters,” said Mike German, senior policy counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union, which opposes the provision.
The ACLU, along with Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington and OpenTheGovernment.org said the move would “dramatically undermine government integrity by allowing a law designed to provide public access to government to be twisted.
. . .
... the advocacy groups propose another response: You have requested “...records which, if they exist, would not be subject to the disclosure requirements of FOIA...”
They prefer such language because a last resort is to sue to obtain the records, something people requesting information might not do if they assumed that no records existed.
Open government groups also contend that the proposed rule could undermine judicial proceedings.
In a recent case brought by the ACLU of Southern California, the FBI denied the existence of documents. But the court later discovered that the documents did exist. In an amended order, U.S. District Judge Cormac Carney wrote that the “Government cannot, under any circumstance, affirmatively mislead the Court.”
There's more at the link.
I find this deeply disturbing. For government bureaucrats to want to give themselves permission to lie to us, the citizens whose consent is necessary for any organization to govern us . . . that's unconscionable! I sincerely hope this proposed rule change is not implemented; and if it is, I hope someone or some group can establish standing to sue for its repeal, as quickly as possible. If we can't trust our government not to lie to us about a simple request for information, how can we trust it to tell the truth in any other way, or in any other forum, or concerning any other matter?