Lest you think government stonewalling of reporters only happens in North Carolina, check out this story from Roll Call about a Freedom of Information Act request the paper made to the Department of Homeland Security. Some of this is laugh-out-loud funny and some of it is truly alarming.
In a Kafkaesque series of letters and telephone conversations, U.S. Customs and Border Protection explained that it would not release the names of people flying on government aircraft until Roll Call got those people to sign a waiver allowing customs to release their names.
That’s right. Roll Call requested passenger manifests for flights on government airplanes. Customs replied that “DHS regulations require, in the case of third party information requests, a statement from the individual verifying his or her identity and certifying that individual’s agreement that records concerning him or her may be accessed, analyzed and released to a third party. Because you have not provided this documentation with your request, we are unable to initiate a search for responsive records.”
In other words, we are prohibited from telling you who those people are until you contact them and get them to authorize us to tell you who they are.