(ConservativeHub.com) – A free press is essential to the American way of life. The media needs access to information, even from government sources. A current situation highlights how the government may not always be cooperative when a publication seeks information through legal means.
A Lawsuit for Information Access
The New York Times and the US Department of State appear to be at odds regarding a story the Times is putting together that could impact the Biden White House. On January 31, the publication filed a lawsuit against the US government for not handing over emails pertaining to Hunter Biden under a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request.
The case, filed in Manhattan, centers around emails sent between 2015 and 2019 containing references to the president’s son and involving private business exchanges with government officials. The Times is accusing the State Department of stalling to avoid turning over the requested information.
The Times began making requests in June 2021. When the publication asked for an estimated delivery date for the information, the Department quoted April 15, 2023.
The Times is investigating Hunter Biden’s business ties by looking into whether actions by officials at the State Department created a conflict of interest and could potentially be corrupt. The paper reportedly aims to highlight the misuse of government resources to help private businesses who have links to government officials, private companies evading the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA), and a lack of enforcement of FARA.
A Times spokesperson said the paper routinely looks for potentially newsworthy information from various sources, including through FOIA requests. The representative did not comment on the potential story or the importance of these emails.
About the FOIA
The FOIA allows public access to federal records. It applies to all agencies and covers all information requests. There are nine exemptions to protect national security, personal privacy, and law enforcement interests. If a request does not fall under an exemption, the agency must turn over the relevant information.
The act requires an agency to respond to a request within 20 days, but agencies do not have to turn over information within that time limit. The law doesn’t specify how long an agency can take to deliver the requested items, though the agency must provide an estimated delivery date.
In this case, it may be difficult to show the State Department is in the wrong because it did abide by the deadline and provided an estimated delivery time. According to the FOIA Project, lawsuits like this are common, and it’s not unusual for requests to take a long time to fulfill.
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