Glen Charles, who had been a miner in West Virginia for 42 years, was diagnosed as having black lung, for which he received benefits under the Black Lung Act up to the time of his death in August 2005. Under federal law, surviving spouses of miners who die from the disease are eligible to continue receiving those benefits. But soon after Charles died, his checks stopped arriving, leaving Emma Charles, his 75-year-old widow, financially unstable.
She had to file a claim to continue receiving his benefits, which the Labor Department's Office of Administrative Law Judges denied.
Under current law ...Continue reading
Congressional Oversight of Blackwater Hampered by Lack of Documents
Nine months before Blackwater
One member who requested information to bring some oversight and accountability to the Blackwater found that neither the State Department nor the Defense Department complied with ...Continue reading
Office of Administration not subject to FOIA
According to this AP article, the Justice Department is maintaining that the White House Office of Administration is not subject to the Freedom of Information Act.
The argument for this seems to be that the OA is not an agency" as defined by FOIA. But in the past year, the Office of Administration has processed 65 FOIA requests, as AP reports. The OA also replied to one of our FOIA's this year asking for correspondence logs, although a letter sent to us stated that OA conducted a search and found no OA records responsive to your request."
This Justice ...Continue reading
Letters from Defense
We just received few of the letters we had requested from the Department of Defense from the January batch of correspondences. We received only a partial response to the FOIA where we had selected specific letters from the correspondence logs.
The other letters will come in if we manage to convince DoD that we are entitled to a fee waiver or shell out the money.
The letters we have are here. Most of them are about congressional travel requests that were made to the DOD. More interesting ones, including ones about whistleblower complaints and those related to contracts are being ...Continue reading
Congressional-DoD correspondence visualization
Why should the Sunlight Labs guys get all the fun? I loaded the subject lines of the correspondence logs referenced immediately below into Many Eyes, which our co-conspirator Josh Ruihley used to create our Earmarks Visualizations. So what words turn up most frequently in the subject lines of letters members write most frequently about to the Office of the Secretary of Defense? Al Qaeda? Military contracts? National Guard? Body Armor? See for yourself.Continue reading
DoD correspondence log converted from pix to spreadsheets
I'm posting, in an Excel spread sheet, the congressional correspondence logs covering the first three months of 2007 that we got a while back in a less than user friendly format from the Office of the Secretary of Defense. Here's a sample of what we got in response to our FOIA -- a .tif or tagged image file format -- I picked one at random, but we have a CD-Rom with 189 files just like it.
Anu turned the files over to Scott Wells, our multi-talented office administrator, who used a program called ocrad (it runs on Linux) to convert ...Continue reading
Great use of correspondence logs
The Center for Investigative Reporting and the Los Angeles Times used some of our correspondence logs to track down letters members of Congress were writing to federal agencies requesting funding for certain projects. Here's a link to the LA Times story.
CIR's Will Evans mentions Real Time and posts some of the letters CIR received here.Continue reading
Defense correspondence logs
Here's the correspondence logs we received from the Department of Defense recently. We received about 100 pages of documents in PDF format that we converted to text.Continue reading
Whistleblower Complaints to DoD
Two letters members of Congress wrote to the Defense Contract Audit Agency reveal two cases of employees of government contractors who alleged wrongdoing by their companies.
We learned about the letters from our Freedom of Information request to the agency for congressional correspondence logs. We have received DCAA's responses to both members of Congress, but not the original letters to which DCAA was responding. When we receive those, we'll post them, highlighting any relevant information from them.
Here's what we do know:
On Jan. 5, 2007, Senator Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., wrote to DCAA, which does all contract ...Continue reading
National Endowment Letters Unsolicited
While I wait for word from Fraiola & Associates on the Penguin PAC (see below), I thought I'd go through a five-inch tall stack of papers Anu got in response to a FOIA request for congressional correspondence logs from the National Endowment of for the Humanities. So far, what I've seen aren't letters from members of Congress, but rather, a March 16, 2007, letter NEH sent to the entire congressional delegations of states lucky enough to be blessed with NEH funding. The letters include "a complete list of grants recently made in your state by the National Endowment ...Continue reading