Earlier today I posted this story linking to the IBD editorial:
I got this direct email statement from the EPA, to which Horner responds.
This email was sent directly to me this morning, my comments follow.
Sent: Tuesday, November 20, 2012 9:16 AM
Subject: EPA Statement
Want to make sure you have EPA’s statement on your story this a.m. This is attributable to EPA, the Agency.
For more than a decade, EPA Administrators have been assigned two official, government-issued email accounts: a public account and an internal account. The email address for the public account is posted on EPA’s website and is used by hundreds of thousands of Americans to send messages to the Administrator. The internal account is an everyday, working email account of the Administrator to communicate with staff and other government officials.
Given the large volume of emails sent to the public account –more than 1.5 million in fiscal year 2012, for instance – the internal email account is necessary for effective management and communication between the Administrator and agency colleagues.
In the case of Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests, both the public and internal accounts are reviewed for responsive records, and responsive records from both accounts are provided to FOIA requesters.
That may be so, but it doesn’t explain these things.
1. Why is the account named “Richard Windsor” instead of something like firstname.lastname@example.org
2. Why there’s no “Richard Windsor” listed at EPA
3. The reticence at making emails public, as required by law.
The EPA has failed to convince.
Now Chris Horner, the man behind the FOIA requests and lawsuit, sends this via email:
There’s a little more to the story than the anodyne “for more than a decade”, now isn’t there? See http://cei.org/legal-briefs/cei-v-epa-complaint-re-secret-accounts paras 2-5 incl FN 1 (or for a more detailed treatment, my book, which revealed these and the EPA memo acknowledging they found the problem, that the alias account was created with the active participation of Carol “I didn’t use my computer for email/I had my computer hard drive and backup tapes being sought in court erased” Browner, and that it oddly was set on “auto-delete” until discovered).
And, why it might be regarding Jackson, consider the following:
That’s nice of them to say that they search and produce from her alias account(s). Now we will allow them to prove it with the assistance of judicial supervision. In fact, for reasons I explain a little below (at “*”), specifically past, exposed practices by secretive bureaucrats looking to keep public information from the public, we do not in fact know and need to confirm whether EPA has been searching and producing “Richard Windsor” email as appropriate in response to FOIA requests for Lisa Jackson email. That is a key issue relating to the discovery of this practice (along with what Browner emails existed, but her copies of which, only, were destroyed due to the account’s auto-delete setting that was only corrected in 2008, and they did not bother to try and reconstruct them).
This will come out in our suit (http://cei.org/news-releases/cei-sues-epa-administrators-secret-email-account-related-records), or our subsequent Windsor-specific FOIA request, or the investigations instigated by the House chairmen (http://science.house.gov/press-release/members-question-use-secret-email-accounts-top-obama-administration-officials).
We do have information leading us to suspect they’ve been redacting the address, improperly, when the request/production would have revealed that it was her alias, while actually acknowledging that that is not a lawful application of FOIA by releasing it (thereby acknowledging the information is not in fact properly withheld) when the production would not indicate to the requester that it was Jackson’s (attached production).
* We need to recognize the possibility that EPA was not searching the account(s): if a non-Jackson employee conducted the search, they’d not know about them; if Jackson or her aide did it, it is possible they chose not to, rationalizing that, well, the requester could not have know about the account and so couldn’t possibly have been thinking of it when asking for records from her EPA email. This would not be inconsistent with recently exposed practices of activist bureaucrats.
For example, as I explain in detail (including the problems this has caused) in The Liberal War on Transparency: Confessions of a Freedom of Information “Criminal” — irony alert: it was Jackson who called my FOIAing criminal — a major flaw with the way they implement FOIA is that the employee whose records are sought is the employee agencies task with producing potentially responsive records. They have the greatest incentive to hide records (as such, I suggest the first court we ask will conclude that all such searches are prima facie insufficient).
In one case, at NOAA, a senior official charged with leading the US involvement in the UN IPCC repeatedly failed to search for records or farm out requests for them, to staff who would possess responsive records, by stating that, really, any such records would have been produced or received by them while working for the UN (an IG affirmed, no, they weren’t). So any records in the office, well, they’d really be UN records (an IG affirmed, no, they wouldn’t). They pulled this for years, as an Inspector General acknowledged and condemned, until I called them on it. Soon, this now-former senior employee’s home computer and email account were being searched by the IT chief in response to my FOIA for “IPCC” records.
Now, with that said, note that I possess FOIA’d Jackson email showing that the Agency on at least one occasion has withheld her address. Possible reasons include, e.g., it is an alias account (“Windsor”, or other), another EPA account in her name but not her public one, or her personal account (which we’ve established this team widely also use for sensitive comms). This came in a 2010 production to Judicial Watch of several emails with Jackson’s address redacted, citing the (b)(2) exemption, claiming that the address relates to an “Internal Personnel Rule (or) Practice”. That is improper/unlawful. It is just secretive.