U.S. Navy issued an official apologythis week for their blunder that exposed the questionable tactics they use to evade media probes.
Despite being legally bound by the Freedom Of Information Act, when News4 reporter Scott MacFarlane asked the Navy to providematerial regarding last year’s Washington Navy Yard shooting that killed 12 people, his request wasn’t honored. He wasn’t given a firm ‘no’ either.
Navy Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) officerRobin Patterson, mistakenly emailed MacFarlane an internal memo (email), in which he gave detailed instructions on how to keep the reporter away from the requested.
MacFarlane’s inquiry, which was made a few months ago, included e-mails and pictures related to the event.
In the leaked memo, Patterson told his staff how to best deflect the ‘fishing expedition’and dampen the chances of any future requests.
One of the recommended tactics was to start fake negotiations with the reporter to lengthen the process and discourage MacFarlane from the story.
Patterson also suggested that MacFarlane be told that his request would be very ‘costly,’ so he better reconsider and make his requests more specific.
“Just because they [requested information] are media doesn't mean that the memos would shed light on specific government activities,” Patterson added in the email, he thought he was sending to his staff.
After MacFarlane learned of these tactics, he immediately posted the screenshots of the email on social media, forcing the Navy to apologize.
The agency then took to Twitter for damage control.