The Free Press, Mankato, MN

State, national news

March 16, 2014

U.S. cites security more to censor, deny records

(Continued)

"The public is frustrated and unhappy with the pace of responses and the amount of information provided," Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., said at the same congressional hearing. "There's a common reaction for anybody who has any experience with it that it doesn't function well."

John Cook, the incoming new editor at the Intercept, the online magazine founded by investor Pierre Omidyar, said his experience under the open records law was "abysmal" but not especially worse last year than previously. "It's a bureaucracy," Cook said. "As often as it's about trying to keep data from falling into the hands of reporters, it's the contractor looking for ways to reduce the caseload. It's just bureaucrats trying to get home earlier and have less to do."

The AP could not determine whether the administration was abusing the national security exception or whether the public asked for more documents about sensitive subjects. The NSA said its 138 percent surge in records requests were from people asking whether it had collected their phone or email records, which it generally refuses to confirm or deny. To do otherwise, the NSA said, would pose an "an unacceptable risk" because terrorists could check to see whether the U.S. had detected their activities. It censored records or fully denied access to them in 4,246 out of 4,328 requests, or 98 percent of the time.

Journalists and others who need information quickly to report breaking news fared worse than ever last year. Blocking news organizations from urgently obtaining records about a government scandal or crisis — such as the NSA's phone-records collection, Boston bombings, trouble with its health care website, the deadly shootings at the Washington Navy Yard or the attack on the diplomatic mission in Benghazi — can delay uncovering significant developments until after decisions are made and the public's interest has waned.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
State, national news
  • 9 TC Rainbow stores to close Supermarkets to lose in Cottage Grove, Shoreview, Inver Grove Heights, Apple Valley, Blaine, Bloomington, Coon Rapids, Maple Grove and Savage

    July 21, 2014

  • Accelerants fuel fire; 2 rescued ST. PAUL — Two brothers were rescued from the upper floor of a St. Paul duplex in a fire that was fueled by cylinders of gas, oxygen and other accelerants. Authorities say the two were taken to Regions Hospital where one man is in critical condition

    July 21, 2014

  • Monticello doctor dies in cycle crash Patients among those mourning Dr. Eric Lefebvre's death

    July 21, 2014

  • Precautions urged for excessive heat, humidity MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Health officials are urging Minnesotans to take precautions in dealing with high temperatures and humidity. The National Weather Service says the humidity will make temperatures feel like 100 to 110 degrees Monday across much of M

    July 21, 2014

  • NASA names building for moonwalker Neil Armstrong NASA honored one of its most famous astronauts Monday by renaming a historic building at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. It now bears the name of Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon when the Apollo 11 mission landed there 45 years

    July 21, 2014

  • Minnesota man loses relatives in airliner crash Drew Ryder of Willmar says victims included his brother, sister-in-law

    July 21, 2014

  • Shark sightings off Cape Cod a boon for tourism CHATHAM, Mass. (AP) — In "Jaws," the fictional mayor tried to protect the summer tourism season by keeping a lid on reports of the man-eater lurking offshore. As sightings of great white sharks mount off Cape Cod in real life, however, businesses in

    July 21, 2014

  • Dutch anger swells at treatment of Ukraine bodies THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — It is no longer only grief and mourning sweeping across the Netherlands in the aftermath of the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17. It is now anger. The Dutch have widely condemned the way the bodies of loved ones h

    July 21, 2014

  • Diplomacy intensifies amid mounting Gaza toll GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) — The U.N. chief and the U.S. secretary of state headed to Cairo on Monday for the highest-level attempt yet to end two weeks of Israel-Hamas fighting that has killed at least 510 Palestinians and 20 Israelis and driven ten

    July 21, 2014

  • Actor James Garner dead at age 86 Veteran film and television actor James Garner died of natural causes Saturday at the age of 86.

    July 20, 2014