The Bush administration is offering a novel reason for denying a request seeking the Justice Department’s database on foreign lobbyists: Copying the information would bring down the computer system.
“Implementing such a request risks a crash that cannot be fixed and could result in a major loss of data, which would be devastating,” wrote Thomas J. McIntyre, chief in the Justice Department’s office for information requests.
Advocates for open government said the government’s assertion that it could not copy data from its computers was unprecedented but representative of generally negative responses to Freedom of Information Act requests.
“This was a new one on us. We weren’t aware there were databases that could be destroyed just by copying them,” Bob Williams of the Center for Public Integrity said Tuesday. The watchdog group in Washington made the request in January. He said the group expects to appeal the Justice Department’s decision.
Yes, they really do think we are all this stupid.