FOI Advocate Blog

The NFOIC open government blog is a compendium of original concepts and analysis as well as ideas, edited excerpts and materials from a variety of sources. When the information comes from another source, we will attribute it and provide a link. The blog relies on the accuracy and integrity of the original sources cited; we will correct errors and inaccuracies when we become aware of them.

For Advocate posts prior to July, 2011, visit

February 5, 2015 1:38 PM

The American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of Connecticut, and the Service Women’s Action Network filed a lawsuit today against the Department of Defense for failing to release records under the Freedom of Information Act that would show how three military academies maintain policies that result in an underrepresentation of women in the student population.

The lawsuit aims to capture information about the admissions and recruitment policies at the U.S. Air Force Academy (USAFA), the U.S. Naval Academy (USNA), and the U.S. Military Academy (USMA) at West Point, with the ultimate goal of ending the gender disparities and discrimination that women who aspire to become military officers face. The Veterans Legal Services Clinic at Yale Law School, the ACLU, and the ACLU of Connecticut represent the plaintiffs.

DOD has a long history of denying women opportunities to serve equally and in leadership roles. Cadets and midshipmen attend the military service academies tuition-free, graduate with a bachelor of science degree with a commission as a second lieutenant, and must serve a minimum of five years on active duty. Yet, the percentage of women at West Point has remained between 14 percent and 17 percent for over 25 years, women are less than a quarter of the Brigade of Midshipmen at USNA, and the USAFA has limited its enrollment of women cadets to at or below 23 percent since 1976, despite commissioning its graduates into a service in which over 99 percent of career fields have been open to women for two decades. Continue>>>

December 14, 2012 9:49 AM


WASHINGTON -- Penn State University faculty member Jonathan H. Marks wants interrogation documents that the Pentagon insists on locking up.
The resulting struggle over sensitive information, now entering its seventh year, has become an unexpected master class in government secrecy for the Oxford-educated Marks. Hoping to shed light on harsh U.S. interrogation techniques, he has simultaneously undertaken a long and instructive legal journey.
The long fight for government documents has cast Marks, a 44-year-old associate professor of bioethics, humanities and law, into a wilderness only partially penetrated by the Freedom of Information Act. Others know similar terrain well. Federal information, it turns out, is not always free.
December 7, 2012 3:59 PM

From Air Force Times:

Air Force officials said Dec. 5 that the service’s policy for publicly releasing documents is applied narrowly enough not to conflict with federal law.

In a series of email exchanges, the Air Force had previously seemed to indicate that it applied the policy, which requires documents to be released only in PDF format, to all information requests, including those made under the Freedom of Information Act, or FOIA. That law requires federal agencies to release documents in any format requested, with a few exceptions.


December 7, 2012 3:45 PM

From Bloomberg:

The U.S. Defense Department has drafted regulations identifying Freedom of Information Act work that can’t be outsourced to contractors.
The Pentagon describes 11 tasks as “inherently governmental” and off-limits to vendors who help handle the agency’s FOIA requests, according to the proposal obtained by Bloomberg.
The rules make clear that agency employees rather than contractors should be approving FOIA policies, interpreting requests for information, and conducting FOIA training in certain cases.


November 26, 2012 2:46 PM

From Navy Times:

(Nov 23, 2012) - The Air Force has set an information release policy that appears to violate federal law, and the National Guard may have followed suit.

The directive, which restricts how documents can be made public, runs counter to the practices of other branches of the military, as well as the Defense Department itself.

October 5, 2012 10:06 AM

From CREW:

On Wednesday, CREW filed suit in the District Court for the District of Columbia against the Department of Defense ("DOD"). CREW’s lawsuit, brought under the FOIA, was based on DOD's refusal to release any documents in its database of ethics opinions concerning post-employment ethics letters written by DOD ethics officers for senior DOD acquisition officials.
The letters are required by law; pursuant to Section 847 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008, certain high level DOD acquisition officials accepting post-employment compensation from DOD contractors must first seek an opinion from their ethics official. DOD is further required to maintain these ethics letters in a centralized database. As of the summer of 2010, DOD had not completed the creation of the database according to DOD’s own inspector general.

June 14, 2012 12:59 PM

From Project on Government Oversight:

In an ongoing effort to document the extent to which large businesses are winning federal small business contracts, the American Small Business League (ASBL) has filed another lawsuit to force the government to turn over contracting data.

This time, ASBL is seeking an injunction to compel the Department of Defense (DoD) to respond to its March 2010 Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for small business subcontracting reports on federal contracts with Hewlett-Packard. DoD denied the request on the ground that the reports, which are submitted to measure compliance with the Small Business Act, contain trade secrets and other sensitive financial details.

May 24, 2012 8:23 AM

From Josh Gerstein's blog at Politico:

A federal judge has ordered the Defense Department to turn over to the court three video recordings showing Guantanamo prisoners being forced out of their cells.

U.S. District Court Judge John Bates's unusual order came Wednesday in a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit brought by families of Kuwaiti prisoners being held at the U.S. military-run prison for terror suspects at Guantanamo Bay. Bates said the Pentagon, which is represented in the case by the Justice Department, had failed to offer detailed enough explanations to sustain the government's position that the videos are exempt from disclosure under the law.

February 2, 2012 8:41 AM

From ACLU's Blog of Rights:

Today we filed a lawsuit under the Freedom of Information Act to demand that the government release basic — and accurate — information about the government’s targeted killing program.

Our government’s deliberate and premeditated killing of American terrorism suspects raises profound questions that ought to be the subject of public debate. Unfortunately the Obama administration has released very little information about the practice — its official position is that the targeted killing program is a state secret — and some of the information it has released has been misleading.

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