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Navy memo leaked to reporter on how they will dodge his FOIA request

US Navy memo sent to NBC reporter by mistake, he gets and eyeful of how happy they are to serve the folks who are looking for information under the FOIA.
US Navy memo sent to NBC reporter by mistake, he gets and eyeful of how happy they are to serve the folks who are looking for information under the FOIA.Photo by U.S. Navy/Getty Images

A Navy memo was sent to a reporter by mistake and it was regarding the tactics they will use to try and dodge his request under the Freedom of Information Act. The NBC reporter Scott MacFarlane took to Twitter with the memo that was about him, but never meant for his eyes to see, according to NewsMax.com on Jan. 10.

Apparently MacFarlane had sent in a request under the Freedom of Information Act for details on the Navy yard shooting that left 12 people dead in September. According to how the memo reads, this was seen as a daunting task for the person who sent it, Robin Patterson, the Navy’s FOIA public liaison.

She called the Freedom of Information Act requests “fishing expeditions.” Here is what Patterson emailed MacFarlane by mistake, as it was really meant for the Navy personal that the information was requested from:

"Recommend that you provide the requester with an estimate, as I can see the search and review, possible redactions, will be very costly. This may encourage the requester to 'narrow the scope.' Again another 'fishing expedition' — just because they are media doesn't mean that the memos would shed light on specific government activities."

The Navy apologized to MacFarland and tweeted an apology for the rest of the folks to see. Considering that Patterson’s title is Freedom of Information Act Public Liaison, you would think that this was her job. Instead it seems as if she put more effort in trying to dodge the request.

You could understand if an Admiral was bothered by the request. After all, an Admiral would probably be busy doing Navy activities. The person who was asked for this information has a title suggesting that is all she does. She is designated for these requests, so it was not as if she was interrupted guiding a ship into port!