The U.S. spent a record $420 million answering requests plus just over $27 million in legal disputes, and charged people $4.3 million to search and copy documents. The government waived fees about 58 percent of the time that people asked, a 1 percent improvement over the previous year.
Sometimes, the government said it searched and couldn't find what citizens wanted.
The Office of the Director of National Intelligence, whose top official has testified to Congress repeatedly about NSA surveillance programs disclosed by contractor Edward Snowden, told the AP it couldn't find any records or emails in its offices asking other federal agencies to be on the lookout for journalists to whom Snowden provided classified materials. British intelligence authorities had detained one reporter's partner for nine hours at Heathrow airport and questioned him under terrorism laws. DNI James Clapper has at least twice publicly described the reporters as "accomplices" to Snowden, who is charged under the U.S. Espionage Act and faces up to 30 years in prison.
Likewise, Cook, departing as the editor at Gawker, was exasperated when the State Department told him it couldn't find any emails between journalists and Philippe Reines, Hillary Clinton's personal spokesman when Clinton was secretary of state. BuzzFeed published a lengthy and profane email exchange about the 2012 attack on the diplomatic mission in Benghazi between Reines and its correspondent, Michael Hastings.
"They said there were no records," Cook said of the State Department.