Those of you who have been following my FOIA suit against the State Department know that so far the whole thing has been an exercise in frustration. I submitted my FOIA request nearly two years ago, and even though I sued the government several months ago, I still have not been told whether any responsive documents exist; whether the government intends to object to the production of any particular document; or when I can expect to receive the documents. The government answered my complaint in May, but its answer shed no light on any of these questions.
Now I am asking the State Department to produce a Vaughn index, an index of each document that it is withholding along with its rationale for withholding. My aim is just to get the government to take a position so that I can get a ruling from the judge. If you read my memorandum you will see that courts sometime grant motions for Vaughn indexes at the early stages of FOIA cases and sometimes not; I think I have the better of the argument. But in any event, I think it is important to highlight the government’s nearly two years of inaction, especially given that the statute requires a response within twenty days. If nothing else, at least let the government explain why it should not have to produce an index given its lengthy delays. Let’s get the ball rolling!