One solution to this, Marshall says, would be for the government to pro-actively release more documents, including simply handing over records when asked instead of forcing requesters to go through the formal FOIA process in the first place.
Johnson said in a signing statement to the original FOIA law.
It signals to the public and the employees of the federal government something about the administration's commitment or view of FOIA, so the absence of a statement, let alone following through on it, is telling."
United States Dep't of Defense, (34) the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals faced the issue of whether to grant a FOIA request to release the names of the foreign professors and students trained at WHINSEC.
(42) The dissent reasoned that the purpose of FOIA was to make governmental activity transparent to the public.
(45) Moreover, the Court avoided the public interest in knowing what the government's tasks are and who they are working with by failing to disclose the names, forgetting the purpose behind the creation of FOIA. (46)
(48) This objective is clearly within the legislative intent and purpose of FOIA. (49) The public interest in the release of these names is great because it keeps a check on the United States Department of Defense, ensuring that they have not violated any part of the Leahy Amendment which restricts the government from providing training or assistance to foreign armed forces who have violated human rights.
Although the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals came to an improper conclusion, the Court correctly adopted the balancing test in order to evaluate whether governmental agencies properly deny individuals a request under the exemptions to FOIA. (53) This balancing test is crucial in determining whether a FOIA exemption is warranted in order to protect a governmental interest and allow the withholding of requested information.
And why FOIA? Is FOIA not meant to enable journalists and
mechanism besides FOIA for obtaining their own records, be they
FOIA serves as a stopgap measure for these individuals.
FOIA: to promote public democratic oversight of government activities.