A longtime internal policy that allowed Justice Department officials to deny the existence of sensitive information could become the law of the land — in effect a license to lie — if a newly proposed rule becomes federal regulation in the coming weeks.
The proposed rule directs federal law enforcement agencies, after personnel have determined that documents are too delicate to be released, to respond to Freedom of Information Act requests “as if the excluded records did not exist.”
Jay Sekulow, Chief Counsel of the American Center for Law and Justice, says the move appears to be in direct conflict with the administration’s promise to be more open.
“Despite all the talk of transparency, I can’t think of what’s less transparent than saying a document does not exist, when in fact, it does,” Sekulow told Fox News.
A final version of the proposal could be issued by the end of 2011. If approved, the new rule would officially become a federal regulation with the force of law.
But the Justice Department got so much pushback in response to the proposal that it took the unusual step of re-opening the public comment period after it had already been closed. That second comment period closed last week.
When the new comment period began, the American Civil Liberties Union became one of the most vocal critics of the proposal. Mike German, Policy Counsel with the ACLU, authored a lengthy letter in opposition.
“It’s shocking that you would twist what is supposed to be a statute — that’s supposed to give people access to what the government is doing — in a way that would allow the government to actually mislead the American public,” German told Fox News.
It’s not so shocking with this bunch Mr. German. They deal in lies. All day, every day.