US sets new record for censoring, withholding government files

Submitted by YanqiXu on Tue, 03/13/2018 - 8:42am

WASHINGTON (AP) — The federal government censored, withheld or said it couldn’t find records sought by citizens, journalists and others more often last year than at any point in the past decade, according to an Associated Press analysis of new data.

The calculations cover eight months under President Donald Trump, the first hints about how his administration complies with the Freedom of Information Act.

The surge of people who sought records but ended up empty-handed was driven by the government saying more than ever it could not find a single page of requested files and asserting in other cases that it would be illegal under U.S. laws to release the information.

People who asked for records under the Freedom of Information Act received censored files or nothing in 78 percent of 823,222 requests, a record over the past decade. When it provided no records, the government said it could find no information related to the request in a little over half those cases.

It turned over everything requested in roughly one of every five FOIA requests, according to the AP analysis.

Records requests can take months — even years — to get fulfilled. Even then, the government censored documents in nearly two-thirds of cases when it turned over anything.

The federal government also spent $40.6 million last year in legal fees defending its decisions to withhold federal files, also a record. Read more...