It is difficult when you are overworked. The things needed to be done just continue to pile up, and the workload never seems to dwindle. People get angry because their needs are not met. The Associated Press has been seeking to obtain information concerning Hillary’s calendar and official emails, under the Freedom of Information Act. Thus far, they have met with no success. They are tired of waiting.
The Associated Press filed a lawsuit Wednesday against the State Department to force the release of email correspondence and government documents from Hillary Rodham Clinton’s tenure as secretary of state.
The legal action comes after repeated requests filed under the U.S. Freedom of Information Act have gone unfulfilled. They include one request AP made five years ago and others pending since the summer of 2013.
Over a year wait seems to be a little excessive. But it is not just AP, and it is not just Hillary’s records. There are other news organizations who have applied to the State Department for documents under the Freedom of Information Act and have met with similar results.
In December, the conservative political advocacy group Citizens United filed suit sued the State Department for failing to disclose flight records showing who accompanied Clinton on overseas trips. Last week, the National Security Archive, an organization that gathers declassified government records, filed a lawsuit after waiting more than seven years for the State Department to release of details of former secretary of state Henry Kissinger’s telephone conversations.
There is a pattern that seems to exist with the State Department. They have excessive wait times in fulfilling FOIA. There has been oversight and reports revealing the problem.
The State Department generally takes about 450 days to turn over records it considers to be part of complex requests under the Freedom of Information Act. That is seven times longer than the Justice Department and CIA, and 30 times longer than the Treasury Department.
An inspector general’s report in 2012 criticized the State Department’s practices as “inefficient and ineffective,” citing a heavy workload, small staff, and interagency problems.
At this rate, the archives will be so out of date there would be little use in publishing anything that was found in these documents. If there need to be more people working in areas or more training given, then it is hard to believe that this massive bureaucracy would have any compunction in making it bigger.
AP gets right to the heart of this issue.
“State’s failure to ensure that Secretary Clinton’s governmental emails were retained and preserved by the agency, and its failure timely to seek out and search those emails in response to AP’s requests, indicate at the very least that State has not engaged in the diligent, good-faith search that FOIA requires,” says AP’s legal filing.
These people need to be shown that the American people have a right to this information and that it is their responsibility to see that they can. Maybe this lawsuit will cause the State Department to take action to improve this situation. Hopefully before the 2016 campaign is over.