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The FOI Advocate is a compendium of ideas, edited story excerpts and other materials from a variety of Web sites, as well as original concepts and analysis. When the information comes directly from another source, it will be attributed and a link will be provided whenever possible. The blog relies on the accuracy and integrity of the original sources cited. We will correct errors and inaccuracies when we become aware of them.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Circular Logic and "Hypothetical" Privacy Concerns

Roll Call had an interesting FOIA experience leading up to the big DC snowstorms. In a paralyzing blizzard of its own making, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection responded to Roll Call's request for passenger manifests for flights on government airplanes by responding that it couldn't release those names until Roll Call first got those people to sign a waiver allowing customs to release their names.

As Roll Call notes, "In other words, [Customs is saying] we are prohibited from telling you who those people are until you contact them and get them to authorize us to tell you who they are."

If that circular logic isn't enough, Customs also noted that its response was not a denial, but a notice of a deficient request, which cannot be appealed.

For more on the Air Force's response to a similar request, click here.

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