Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Is AG Barr Stonewalling Comey Related FOIA Requests?

The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request under consideration has to do with CNN's attempt to obtain the so-called "Archey Declarations", which are descriptions of of the contents of the, apparently, very detailed notes that disgraced former FBI Director James Comey took after each meeting with President Trump. CTH has been repeatedly claiming that "DOJ" is stonewalling a legitimate FOIA request. Since Bill Barr is the Attorney General and, therefore, the head of DoJ, the implication seems to clearly be that Bill Barr is personally stonewalling CNN's righteous request. That clear implication is strengthened by the fact that CTH has taken to concluding these posts with this image:

CTH seems to be saying that Barr is telling FOIA requesters that they can shove a bagpipe chanter in their ... ear.

Here's the problem. Actually, we can break this down into a couple of problems.

First of all, the AG doesn't control the FOIA process. Here's what you can read at

Who handles FOIA requests? 
There is no central office in the government that handles FOIA requests for all federal departments and agencies. Each federal agency processes its own records in response to FOIA requests. There are many different officials at these agencies who work hard every day to make sure that the FOIA works. There are the FOIA professionals who search for and process records in response to FOIA requests, FOIA Contacts and FOIA Public Liaisons who work with FOIA requesters to answer questions and resolve concerns, and Chief FOIA Officers who oversee their agency’s compliance with the FOIA.

Secondly, the FBI, while falling under the DoJ, is in fact a separate federal agency headed by its own Director--who is just as much a Presidential appointee as is the AG. FOIA requests for records held by the FBI must be made to the FBI and are processed by the FBI. Bill Barr has nothing to say about that--it's the law.

Thirdly, it follows that CTH is, at best, displaying ignorance by claiming that "DOJ" is "stalling". Presuming that the request by CNN is legit--and let me say that I'd be very interested to see this material--then it's the FBI that's stalling. Barr has nothing to say about that.

Fourthly, CTH repeatedly makes statements like these re Judge Boasberg's 8/19/19 order:

CNN v DOJ - Archey Declarations - Loss for DOJ
the U.S. Dept of Justice has until October 11th, 2019, to produce the DOJ FOIA documents 
The court has ordered the US DOJ  
the DOJ delay  
the DOJ and FBI could be attempting to hide the institutional corruption 

You might think that sundance was paraphrasing Judge Boasberg's order. If you thought that, it might surprise you to learn that:

1) The case is NOT captioned CNN v. DOJ--as sundance claims; 
2) The case IS captioned Cable News Network, Plaintiff, v. Federal Bureau of Investigation, Defendant; 
3) In light of sundance's repeated references to "DOJ" in the context of Judge Boasberg's order, you might be VERY surprised to learn that a search of the order reveals ZERO REFERENCES to either "Department of Justice" or to "DOJ". There are, however, many references to the named defendant in the case, the FBI.

I suggested above that sundance and CTH were, at best, displaying ignorance. The alternative is outright dishonesty. That may sound harsh, but if you seek an audience and status as a go-to source for information on a given topic--and sundance avidly pursues that--then you have a duty to get your facts straight.


  1. Agree about Sundance and CTH.

  2. I agree too.

    However, DOJ/FBI has lost the trust of the Trump-supporting public (which includes me). The disappointment has gone on and on and on.

    Nothing is explained to the public.

    James Wolfe leaks the FISA application to his former mistress, a NYT reporter. Wolfe is given only a slap on the wrist. What's going on? No explanation!

    A Pakistani family is caught collecting classified information from Congressional computers. They are let go. What's going on? No explanation!

    It's no wonder that DOJ/FBI -- along with the CIA -- is now called a "Deep State", which is serving only itself instead of the public.

    1. Mike, I might easily say that what Barr is trying to do is to set an example of professionalism and of devotion to the rule of law. I think you get that. The reality is that that approach is probably no longer sufficient due to the institutional corruption you describe. Let's face it. Barr, no matter how good I hope he'll be, will be gone in a few years at most. The law schools will keep churning out ideologues whom DoJ will continue to hire--no matter which party is in power. One man can't change this situation, but if he wants to make as big an impact as possible he needs to to do some high profile things. Sad, perhaps, but true.

  3. I let you read CTH so I don't have to... Your criticisms of CTH tells me I've made the right choice.

    1. Heh. It's very frustrating. He puts out a lot of good stuff, but has some real blind spots.

  4. Barr is one man facing off against a huge and very powerful array of criminal adversaries that are ruthless and behave with the the desperation of cornered rats. They are also responsible for the largest political scandal in the history of our nation and the abject destruction of the rule of law.

    If Barr, for whatever reason, is unable to redress this wrong, then the primary victim will not be the corpse of the rule of law, but rather the social trust that binds us together in a purpose greater then each of us individually. That is why it is necessary to indict, prosecute, and adjudicate these crimes out in the open and with no appearance of a double standard. The alternative is to put this responsibility back into the hands of the average citizen, and then you wind up with a Yellow Vest movement and all the attendant chaos.

    1. I believe that's why he took the job, but he's not alone. He's got Trump and the WH (or parts of it), an increasing percentage of the judiciary, and elements of the legislative branch. But, yet, it's an uphill struggle.

    2. That's why we have to educate ourselves, gently rebut others who have been led astray, and, most importantly, vote.