FOIA updates – DHS remand; OLC denial

March 2, 2012

Posted by Matt Ehling

DHS appeal – remand to DHS
In June of 2011, PRM filed an administrative appeal related to redactions that the Department of Homeland Security made to documents released in response to our FOIA request of May 3, 2011. Find additional background on that request here and here.

The redactions obscured the names of government employees in e-mail chains – names that were central to determining who was involved in the review of particular e-mails, and whether they were the same employees involved in a political vetting operation described by the Associated Press in early 2011.

Yesterday, we received a letter from Administrative Law Judge Michael J. Devine regarding our appeal. Judge Devine’s letter stated the following:

“After a thorough review of your appeal and all applicable documents, your appeal is being remanded back to DHS for reevaluation of its redactions, and if necessary, for applicable changes to be made.”

OLC denial of NDAA request
We received a second letter yesterday, from the DOJ’s Office of Legal Counsel. The OLC denied our January 11, 2012 FOIA request for a variety of records related to the National Defense Authorization Act of 2012. Paul Colborn, Special Counsel for the OLC, notified us that 14 responsive documents were identified, but that they would all be withheld pursuant to:

“Exemption Five of the Freedom of Information Act, 5 U.S.C. § 552 (b)(5). The documents are protected by the deliberative process, attorney-client, attorney work-product and/or presidential communications privileges, and are not appropriate for discretionary release at this time.”