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Three years after Katrina, still waiting for that FOIA request

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  1. Freedom of Information
For more than three years, the Federal Emergency Management Agency has kept New Orleans Times-Picayune writer Mark Schleifstein in a holding pattern with his FOIA…

For more than three years, the Federal Emergency Management Agency has kept New Orleans Times-Picayune writer Mark Schleifstein in a holding pattern with his FOIA request for records on hurricane recovery-assistance needs.

That October 2005 request was approved for expedited processing within days — meaning, in theory, his request would move to the front of the line and be addressed right away. But at least as disturbing as the ensuing delay, Schleifstein wrote on Sunday, was the regular stream of apologies he received from FEMA, and the queries as to whether he still wanted the documents at all:  "Follow the federal logic here: If we break the law for long enough, you should allow us to break it forever," he wrote.

Drawing on President Obama’s words last week, in which he set a new pro-transparency standard for the federal government through FOIA, Schleifstein concluded his column: "I’m still waiting for my government to live up to both the letter and the spirit of that law."