CREW Sues Department of State Over Katrina Records
Washington, DC – The US Department of State has refused to respond to a Freedom of Information Act request for Katrina-related documents from Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW).
On September 7, 2005, CREW sent Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and the Department of State, asking for records and communications regarding the federal government’s preparedness and response to hurricane Katrina.
Specifically, CREW asked the Department of State for details regarding the myriad offers to assist in relief efforts made by foreign governments during hurricane Katrina, including offers made by Venezuela, the Netherlands, Pakistan and Bangladesh, to name a few. CREW further sought records relating to the U.S. government’s response to those offers.
Rather than providing the requested records as required by federal law, on October 6, 2005, the Department of State sent CREW a non-responsive form letter demanding that CREW further describe the records sought.
The FOIA requests to DHS and FEMA are still pending.
“The American public is entitled to know which countries generously offered their assistance in the aftermath of Katrina and how the U.S. government responded to those offers. The State Department’s refusal to provide this information suggests that our government is still attempting to hide its ineffectual response to Katrina,” said Melanie Sloan, executive director of CREW. “The only way to ensure greater preparedness for any future disaster is for there to be a full airing of the failures of the past. It is scandalous that our government is still trying to cover up its breathtakingly inadequate response to the greatest natural disaster in our nation’s history.”