Thursday, July 13, 2006

al-Jazeera memo - update on my FOI requests

More on the al-Jazeera memo: a few days ago I received a response to the FOIA request I made to the US Dept of State for the records of the meetings relating to the memo - the response essentially gives a "no records responsive to your request were located". This request was made back in December and has taken over 7 months to complete. I have the right to appeal and will do my best to take this forward, though any advice from US users of the USFOIA would be appreciated. I find it hard to believe that no record is held given that Peter Kilfoyle MP who saw the orginal memo said that it notes that Colin Powell (at the time US Secretary of State) was present at the Bush and Blair meeting in the White House and he sided with Blair. (see the Mirror report). The other problem is that if a record is held at the White House, "the President's immediate personal staff or any part of the Executive Office of the President whose sole function is to advise and assist the President" are not subject to the US FOIA (the reason I directed my request to the State Dept). Requests for records originating from the White House are also subject to special treatment (see 1993 FOIA memo).

Read the response to my request from the US State Dept

Read the acknowledgement from March

My request for the memo under the UK FOIA is now at the complaint stage at the Information Commissiomner's Office, after my internal review was rejected by the Cabinet Office. My complaint to the ICO essentailly focused on the issue relating to the Cabinet Office "holding" the memo and the change of position from request response (held relevant information) to internal review and the fact they had not addressed the issues in my internal review request. I've also complained about their delay and handling of my internal review.

Summary of my previous posts on the memo:

-Internal review delay
-Internal review request
-Reply to FOIA request
-Trial of David Keogh and Leo O'Connor under the Official Secrets Act

Meanwhile Blairwatch reports that: "Keogh and Leo O'Connor will appear at The Old Bailey criminal court to face charges under Britain's Official Secrets Act in the leaking of the memo. As part of their defence, they will attempt to use the memo as evidence in court." Both pleaded not guilty when they appeared in Court on the 25 April 2006.

See the International Herald Tribune Story on the trial

Also see: The Guardian: Reid to toughen secrecy laws

1 comment:

Davide Simonetti said...

Hi Steve,

I've linked to this post over at Blairwatch in a follow-up post to the one I wrote this morning. Interesting stuff.