In trying to explain how the State Department snipped out several embarrassing minutes from a 2013 press briefing video, an agency spokesman claimed that “there were no rules specifically barring this type of scrubbing” [“State Department says a request, not a ‘glitch,’ purged part of briefing video,” news, June 2]. That is high nonsense. The Federal Records Act, enacted in 1950 and amended in 2014, requires each agency head to “make and preserve records” (which include documents “regardless of physical form”) and to guard against their “removal, defacing, alteration, corruption, deletion, erasure, or other destruction.”
The State Department itself has manuals, handbooks and annual reports on its record-management practices. Evidently, the agency scrubbed not only its video but also its spokeman’s memory.
This scandal is more evidence of something my organization and others have encountered in our Freedom of Information Act requests: While this administration claims to be the most transparent in history, it repeatedly confuses transparency with invisibility.
Sam Kazman, Washington
The writer is general counsel for the Competitive Enterprise Institute.