Worst Freedom of Information Award Goes to...the FBI

Friday, March 13, 2009
Rose Mary Woods Demonstrating Her Stretch

Each year, the National Security Archive at George Washington University gives its Rosemary Award to the branch of government that is least responsive to Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests. This year’s award goes to the FBI. During the past four years, the FBI has failed to provide requested records 66% of the time. The rest of the U.S. government averaged 13%. In addition, the FBI average response time for complex FOIA requests is 374 days, despite the fact that the law mandates a response within 20 days. Previous winners of the Rosemary Award include the Department of the Treasury, the Air Force and the CIA. The Rosemary Award is named in honor of President Richard Nixon’s secretary, Rose Mary Woods, who tried to defend her boss’s erasure of an 18 1/2-minute portion of a key Watergate tape by claiming that she made the erasure by mistake during a backwards-leaning stretch, which most observers concluded was really a stretch of the imagination.



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