Posts Tagged ‘Barack Obama’

FOI DAILY DOSE: AP pushes for bin Laden photos, docs raise questions about D.C. cops, Elena Kagan

AP seeks bin Laden photos

Despite President Obama’s decision not to release post-mortem photos of Osama bin Laden, The Associated Press won’t give up the fight.

The Obama administration refused AP’s call for an expedited review of its FOIA request, so AP is appealing to the Department of Defense.

But AP isn’t just after the photos. It also wants other information about the bin Laden operation, including copies of the DNA tests proving that the man killed was bin Laden, contingency plans, and other video and photographs of the mission.

Police Escort Records

While it may be having trouble obtaining the bin Laden documents, another AP FOIA request revealed records from the Washington, D.C. police that show it’s not just top federal officials who receive law enforcement escorts.

Charlie Sheen, Bill Gates and singer Taylor Swift are among those who have received escorts that are supposed to be reserved for foreign dignitaries and major government officials.

The issue of celebrity escorts was thrown into the spotlight after Charlie Sheen publicized his April 19 escort by tweeting about the service. In one tweet posted with a photo via his yfrog webpage, Sheen wrote: “in car with Police escort in front and rear! driving like someone’s about to deliver a baby! Cop car lights #Spinning!”

While the services are paid for – police escorts run a rate of $55.71 per hour – they could go against protocol when used for professional athletes or other celebrities.

Police escorts are also allowed if there is concern for public safety or crowd control, which may make some celebrity escorts OK, D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier said in an interview with AP. Past services for entertainers or other celebrities will be evaluated based on the Charlie Sheen case.

Justice Kagan and Health Care Law

The AP isn’t the only organization making headlines with its FOIA requests.

A FOIA lawsuit filed in February by Judicial Watch and the Media Research Center may revive concerns about whether Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan should be involved in future cases involving the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act passed in 2010.

Documents provided due to the lawsuit show Kagan helped develop a legal defense for the law as solicitor general before she was appointed to the Supreme Court, according to an article from The Daily Caller.

– Morgan Watkins

Morgan Watkins is SPJ’s summer Pulliam/Kilgore Freedom of Information intern and a University of Florida student. Reach her by email ( or connect with her on Twitter (@morganwatkins26).


FOI DAILY DOSE: FOIA summit and executive order opposition outrage

While a summit today in Washington, D.C. trained government employees to handle fee-related FOIA issues, House Republicans opposed a potential executive order from President Obama that would increase political transparency among government contractors.

The U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Information Policy held its FOIA Fee Summit today to train employees from various government agencies to handle issues that often occur when deciding what fees or fee waivers are appropriate for FOIA requests, according to the U.S. Department of Justice website.

The summit wasn’t the OIP’s only FOI-related event today. It also held the first of two training sessions about new guidelines for FOIA’s Exemption 2, which allows records “related solely to the internal personnel rules and practices of an agency” to be exempted from mandatory disclosure under the act.

This exemption figured prominently in a recent U.S. Supreme Court case, Milner v. Department of the Navy. The court decided in March that the rule should be interpreted more narrowly.

The second session will be on June 9.

While the OIP educated employees on the finer points of FOIA today, Obama continued to face opposition over a proposed executive order that would force government contractors to disclose any political contributions, according to The Hill, a congressional newspaper.

In a letter to Obama sent Monday, 43 members of the Republican Study Committee, a group that includes more than 175 Republicans in the House of Representatives and aims to promote a conservative economic and social agenda, asked him not to sign the draft order. If he does, they wrote they would introduce legislation quickly in the House of Representatives to block it from being implemented.

While Republicans and some Democrats have voiced opposition to the order, more than 30 public interest groups have supported it.

Morgan Watkins

Morgan Watkins is SPJ’s summer Pulliam/Kilgore Freedom of Information intern and a University of Florida student. Reach her by email ( or connect with her on Twitter (@morganwatkins26).


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