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February 06, 2008

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JW

Bush league move.

Charis Wilson

He's a public relations mouthpiece, nothing more.

http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2006/09/20060926-2.html

FOIA Friend

I knew they had a plan to thwart it when the administration didn't have it removed as part of the compromise language. I'd say that NARA is less under the political thumb than the DOJ political and government puppets (does the need to pay a mortgage really justify the ethical issues of endorsing by signature something that circumvents a law? Let the politicals sign it). If the Ombudsman is over at NARA - DOJ will have to get in line with what is resolved by mediation. And the Ombudsman also can issue FOIA processing and appeal guidance. The solution is for DOJ to undertake massive CPR training of its staff...and abide by the law.

JW

FOIA Friend is seriously mistaken if he/she thinks that NARA will be able to dictate anything to DOJ re: FOIA. Under the statute, NARA's authorities are purely advisory. Indeed, although NARA must offer mediation, agencies are not required to participate. More important, because DOJ represents agencies in litigation, its viewpoint on FOIA will necessarily trump that of NARA's.

FOIA Friend

Under JW's scenario - why is the Administration interested in moving the Ombudsman office out of NARA if it can be so easily ignored? And he/she has described a likely backup plan should the administration's non-funding ploy fail: intimidate or retaliate against agencies that participate in mediation instead of litigation. And, until a FOIA results in litigation, DOJ will not know whether their viewpoint has trumped a NARA viewpoint. JW's insight is very much appreciated.

JW

No reason for DOJ to discourage agencies from participating in mediation. Agencies already realize that in most cases, mediation will be a fruitless enterprise to be avoided. Whether an exemption applies is simply not conducive to mediation. Search issues perhaps, but that's about it.

RM

Have to side with FOIA Friend on this one. Congress has certainly recognized DOJ's inherent conflict of interest here. It is inconceivable that the administration, now, is attempting to shift responsibility away from NARA -- where it quite clearly belongs.

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