FOIA Advisor

FOIA News: USA Today Op-Ed: "Kissinger's lessons in FOIA evasion"

FOIA News (2015-16)Kevin SchmidtComment

Kissinger's lessons in FOIA evasion

By Glenn Harlan Reynolds, USA Today, June 2, 2016

Hillary Clinton’s problem is that she isn’t as smart as Henry Kissinger. And I’m not talking about her performance as secretary of State (though I could be) but rather about how she got into her festering, possibly criminal mess with insecure emails and an unauthorized private server.

Henry Kissinger is smart. When he left as secretary of State, he wanted to make sure that his communications (it was phone records then since email didn’t really exist) weren’t available to political enemies under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). That was tricky, since FOIA is supposed to be biased in favor of disclosure, with the presumption being that anything that isn’t exempt by law must be turned over on request, with close calls going to the requester.

To defeat this, Kissinger — without consulting the National Archives or a similar office at the State Department — removed his phone call records from the State Department to the Nelson Rockefeller estate; less than two months later he donated them to the Library of Congress, under agreements that the records would not be made public for many years without the consent of the other parties to the calls, which was unlikely to be forthcoming.

Read more here.