Friday, May 9

The Vaughn Index

Those watchdogs over at Judicial Watch are sure keeping the Obama Administration busy, what with all their FOIAs.  From Oren Dorell's May 8 report for USA TODAY Watchdog: White House hiding more Benghazi documents:
[Department of Justice trial attorney Robert] Prince's letter includes a 17-page Vaughn Index, which federal agencies use to justify their reasons for withholding material from public disclosure.

Prince's letter describes the 35 pages of documents as various drafts and responses that constitute "internal strategy discussions relating to the drafting of an official response letter" from Rice to various congressional inquiries regarding the Benghazi attack. Prince says the documents are protected from release under Exemption 5 of the Freedom of Information Act.

That exemption covers "inter-agency or intra-agency memorandums or letters which would not be available by law to a party other than an agency in litigation with the agency," according to a general DOJ description of FOIA exemptions. Records covered by Exemption 5 "are good candidates for discretionary release" and facts generally not protected, the DOJ description says.

The withheld documents include:

• A seven-page e-mail exchange consisting of 16 messages between State and other administration officials [Rhodes, Brennan, McDonough . . .] on Sept. 27 and Sept. 28, 2012, with an original subject line "FOX News: US officials knew Libya attack was terrorism within 24 hours, sources confirm."

• Originally designated "sensitive but unclassified," the document was withheld to protect the formulation of a media strategy with respect to an ongoing sensitive matter under a FOIA exemption that protects the deliberative process, Prince wrote.

• A one-page e-mail exchange, consisting of three messages, dated Sept. 11, 2012, with the subject line "UPDATE: Clashes at U.S. consulate in eastern Libyan city (Reuters)."

• A three-page e-mail exchange between State and other U.S. officials, dated Sept. 28, 2012 and originally designated "unclassified." The subject line of the first five messages is "Statement by the Director of Public Affairs for National Intelligence Shawn Turner on the intelligence related to the terrorist attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya."
Looks as if Judicial Watch is treating this as a criminal matter and so they want to see even the doodles in the margins. 


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