Anyone who has sent a Freedom of Information Act request to a government agency has probably dealt with at least a little pushback. Maybe the agency will assert the documents aren’t readily available or that the request is too broad.
Rarely does a reporter receive a memo from the agency from which he or she has requested information detailing just how that pushback is going to happen, but that’s exactly what happened to Scott MacFarlane, a reporter at NBC 4 in Washington, D.C.
Tuesday afternoon, MacFarlane tweeted a picture of the document he received from the Navy after he requested information and photos from the Navy Yard shooting in September:
The memo states that someone named Josh can help describe MacFarlane’s request as a “fishing expedition.” It also states, “just because they are they media doesn’t mean that the memos would shed light on specific government activities.”
MacFarlane told Politico
that he specifically requested “memos authored by various Naval Sea Systems Command officials in September, October, and November 2013, emails sent by those same officials between 8:00 and 9:30 a.m. on the day of the shooting, and photos of Building 197, where the shooting occurred, that were not part of the investigation.”
Officials in the Navy’s FOIA office first told Politico
that sending the memo to MacFarlane was an “administrative error,” then they said they couldn’t comment on the document’s veracity.
[RELATED: Ragan's biggest social media conference returns to the Walt Disney World Resort in April!]
Eventually, the Navy issued two tweets apologizing for the blunder: