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US Navy FOIA memo: Navy forced to issue apology over memo controversy

US Navy FOIA memo update: The U.S. Navy has issued an apology after it became public knowledge that Robin Patterson, the Navy's public liaison, accidentally sent a NBC News reporter a memo that detailed ways to reject and stymie a reporter's requests for emails, photos and memoranda related to last year's Navy Yard shooting, according to a Jan. 9 NBC Washington report.

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Scott MacFarlane, a reporter for NBC 4, recently requested information gathered by Naval officials pertaining to the Sept. 16 Navy Yard shooting. Politico reports that MacFarlane filed the request under the Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA) and he was seeking photos of Navy Yard building 197, where Aaron Alexis fatally shot twelve people and injured three others.

The following text is from the Huffington Post regarding the US Navy FOIA memo controversy: "In an email intended for internal distribution, Robin Patterson, the Navy's FOIA public liaison, outlined strategies to thwart MacFarlane’s requests, which she called "another ‘fishing expedition.’”

“Recommend that you provide the requester with an estimate, as I can see the search and review, possible redactions, will be very costly,” Patterson wrote in the Jan. 2 email. “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.”

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Patterson reportedly gave illegitimate reasons for denying several of MacFarlane's inquiries. Although the Navy apologized for the FOIA situation after MacFarlane posted images of the memo to Twitter, the agency continues to deny media access to Navy Yard Building 197, the site where the massacre took place.

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