The Phaserl


State Department Delays More Clinton Related Records Requests Until After the Election

by Michael Krieger, Liberty Blitzkrieg:

Obstruction anyone?

Recall that a couple of days ago in the post, Obama Administration Delays Release of Hillary Clinton TPP Emails Until After the Election, we learned:

Trade is a hot issue in the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign. But correspondence from Hillary Clinton and her top State Department aides about a controversial 12-nation trade deal will not be available for public review — at least not until after the election. The Obama administration abruptly blocked the release of Clinton’s State Department correspondence about the so-called Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), after first saying it expected to produce the emails this spring.

Well there’s more to this story. International Business Times reports:

As the election season accelerates, requests for public information from the State Department surrounding communications from former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have hit speed bumps.

A review of publicly available records requests from users of the transparency site MuckRock shows that inquiries related to the Democratic presidential nominee are more likely to be delayed until after the election than other requests to the State Department — a trend government watchdogs say highlights the challenges the government has faced under President Obama to live up to its transparency aims.

Though the files reviewed by IBT constitute just a fraction of the tens of thousands of inquiries the State Department processes annually — too few, experts said, to establish any sign of deliberate obstruction — they underscore the difficulty of probing Clinton’s tenure as the top U.S. diplomat, even as interest in her record mounts.

Four of the five Clinton-related records requests maintained at MuckRock have been given approximate due dates after the election in early November. These include a request filed by International Business Times Senior Investigations Editor David Sirota regarding Clinton’s contested record on trade issues, reported Monday. The fifth request has passed its estimated May completion date and has yet to be updated.

By contrast, of 20 Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests updated in the past three weeks by the State Department, only half had been postponed until after the 2016 presidential election, receiving estimated completion dates in October or earlier.

Though the agency has fulfilled numerous Clinton-related requests in the past year, spokespeople declined to specify how many outstanding inquiries into Clinton records remain or how many responses are due before the election.

Despite adding dozens of staffers to its FOIA offices, the State Department argued in court that it would take 75 years to complete a review of documents related to the Republican National Committee’s sweeping request of records for former Clinton aides.

But it isn’t all external pressures hobbling the State Department. A scathing agency audit earlier this year into the agency’s processes found “procedural weaknesses” leading to “inaccurate and incomplete” responses. The State Department, on average, takes the longest among government agencies to complete simple requests: 111 days.

Complicating matters is the fact that Clinton emails must face review not only from the State Department, but also from any other government agency that feels it has a stake in disclosure of the contents. The intelligence community has played a particularly active role in scrutinizing the cache, retroactively marking dozens of Clinton emails classified. More than 2,000 documents have been kept from public view over secrecy concerns.

I’m sure there’s nothing there in the pubic interest.

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