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Opinion

Most transparent Navy in history apologizes for sending anti-FOIA email to reporter by mistake

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Beltway Confidential,Opinion,Joel Gehrke,Navy,Navy Yard shooting,Transparency,FOIA

President Obama swept into office promising to make the Freedom of Information Act an even more effective tool for government transparency, but, apparently, the Navy didn't get the January 2009 memo.

"EPIC FAILURE- U.S. Navy accidentally sends reporter its strategy memo for dodging his FOIA request," Scott MacFarlane, an investigative journalist for the Washington NBC affiliate, tweeted Tuesday morning. He followed up in the afternoon with a tweet that the Navy had apologized.

The FOIA requests pertained to the Navy Yard shooting that took place in November, including photos of the building that the gunman attacked.

Most of the Navy memo suggests that the requests are too broad, but the memo eagerly criticizes another request for being too narrow.

"This one is specific enough that we may be able to deny [it]," the memo states.

Looking for excuses to deny FOIA requests? Maybe the Navy public affairs office should revisit Obama's directive that "the Freedom of Information Act should be administered with a clear presumption: In the face of doubt, openness prevails."

In response to the publicity generated by MacFarlane's tweet, Navy officials tweeted that the service "remains committed to transparency and responding to FOIA requests in a timely and professional manner."

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