I talked to Chris Strunk in Atlanta last week about his FOIA request for Stanley Ann Dunham’s passport records. He was disgusted with the process and had given up. I don’t blame him. Trying to get a timely and responsive answer through the FOIA to the basic question, “when did she have US passports?” has been a very frustrating experience for me too.
It’s been three years since my original FOIA inquiry. On at least two occasions the US Department of State has violated the statute by failing to respond within the time mandated by Congress. I’ve had to appeal, and my appeal proved valid since it netted me an additional (but uninteresting) document.
Today I received a letter from the appeals officer stating:
The Department has no basis for believing that we have any additional records and all responsive records have been produced at this time.
That is a very troubling response because if it is true, the Department of State has not only destroyed the 1965 passport application of Stanley Ann Dunham (which is plausible) but also the microfilm copy of the issuance card for it and that is very implausible, since documentation exists to show that cards from that period were microfilmed and to destroy it would be a violation of retention policy.
Frankly I don’t believe that they have released all the records they have. That said, I already decided that, unlike Mr. Strunk, I am not going to take the federal lawsuit option. No less than Jesus Christ himself advised his followers (of which I am one) not to get tangled up in lawsuits.
However, what I am going to do is to submit another FOIA request, this time in written in such an iron-clad manner that they can’t squirm out of it with squirrely language and cannot use the ploy that one person deny what another person knows is true.
The Department of State has 20 working days in which to respond as to whether they will perform the search.
So check back in a couple of years to see what happens.