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FOIA Requests to Air Force Lost, Delayed and Ignored

Air Force Sued for a Pattern and Practice of Unresponsiveness to Freedom of Information Requests

Over 150 FOIA Requests, Some as Old as 17 Years Languishing at Air Force Without a Response

For more information contact
David Dean/Katie Feiock, James & Hoffman, 202/496-0500
Thomas Blanton/Meredith Fuchs, National Security Archive, 202/994-7000

March 18, 2005

Update - October 7, 2005

Read the Complaint
Complaint for Injunctive and Declaratory Relief

(PDF - 840 KB)
The National Security Archive Fund, Inc. v. The United States Department of the Air Force, March 18, 2005

Government Answer
(PDF - 139 KB)

Related Postings

March 15, 2005
Archive General Counsel Testifies Before Congressional Hearing on "Openness in Government and Freedom of Information:
Examining the OPEN Government Act of 2005"

March 2, 2005
Archive Director Testifies Before Congressional Hearing on "Overclassification and Pseudo-classification"

Washington, D.C., March 18, 2005 - The National Security Archive today filed suit in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia against the Department of the Air Force for a pattern and practice of mishandling scores of FOIA requests. The suit alleges that the Air Force fails to acknowledge FOIA requests, loses FOIA requests, fails to process requests, tries to discourage the public from pursuing FOIA requests, fails to respond to inquiries about the status of the requests and lets requests languish while records are destroyed or transferred to other agencies.

"There are other agencies with ancient FOIA requests, but this is the only agency that does not seem to care about the problem. They have been unresponsive to the FOIA requests, and unresponsive to our efforts to meet and discuss the problem," said Archive General Counsel Meredith Fuchs. "We would rather have the records than have to bring a lawsuit, but in this case there seems to be no other option." Earlier this week, Senators on the Judiciary Committee and witnesses at a congressional hearing on the administration of Freedom of Information Act decried the backlogs and delays that agencies have failed to conquer and the hurdles faced by FOIA requesters. "The state of affairs at the Air Force demonstrates why a stronger 'stick' is needed to ensure federal agency compliance with FOIA," noted Fuchs.

The Archive's lawsuit describes in detail the handling of 82 separate FOIA requests and administrative appeals filed by the Archive as early as 1987. David Dean, a partner at the law firm James & Hoffman, who is handling the suit noted, "The Air Force appears to do a far worse job than other military departments and its system is so decentralized that there seems to be no way for the public to push for improvement. No FOIA requester should have to put up with the mishandling, lack of response or discouragement that the Archive has experienced."

The Archive is a research institute studying foreign, military and intelligence affairs. In the years that the oldest of the FOIA requests have been pending, it has obtained more than six million pages of formerly secret documents and published more than half a million pages on the Web and other formats, along with more than 40 books. The Archive is represented by David Dean and Katie Feiock of James & Hoffman, PC, in Washington, D.C.

Update - October 7, 2005

Plaintiff's Motion for Partial Judgement, October 6, 2005

Proposed Order of Plaintiff's Motion for Partial Judgement

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