International Business Times (IBT) senior editor David Sirota said Monday that the State Department informed him of the delay to release emails exchanged between Clinton’s State Department office and a TPP-related US trade representative. Earlier this year the State Department had promised to fulfill IBT’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request in April.
According to Sirota, Clinton emails regarding TPP will not be available until late November 2016, after the presidential election. The journalist stressed that IBT’s request was aimed at disclosing exactly how involved Clinton was in shepherding, or possibly drafting, the international deregulated-trade deal while serving as US State Secretary, and that it was essential to make the contents of the emails public prior to the election.
A US State Department representative abruptly told Sirota that “the search process has been completed and…the information located from that search is…being prepared for the review process,” postponing the FOIA request completion date to November 31, 2016.
“The delay was issued in the same week the Obama administration filed a court motion to try to kill a lawsuit aimed at forcing the federal government to more quickly comply with open records requests for Clinton-era State Department documents.” Sirota noted.
Nate Jones of the National Security Archive, a nonprofit investigative journalism center based at George Washington University, told Sirota that even if there is no political factor behind the delay, it nonetheless reflects a systemic problem.
“In my opinion it is more incompetence than maliciousness, but either way, it is a gross error by FOIA processors to not get these documents out before the election,” Jones said. “Their inefficiency is doing great harm to the democratic process.”