Why FOIA’s Speed Clause is Broken

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In August of 2013, the Associated Press made a straightforward records request to the State Department. It wanted Hillary Clinton’s calendars from her tenure as Secretary of State—and it wanted them quickly. Noting the likelihood of a Clinton presidential run, the AP sought to make use of a Freedom of Information Act provision that allows the press to jump to the front of the line when information is urgently needed.


The State Department’s response: there was nothing pressing the public needed to know. The agency agreed to process the request, but did not promise haste. More than two years later, with the presidential election underway and Clinton’s records from her time at the State Department at the center of the story, the agency still has not provided the calendars. It is under a court order to do so by November 5.

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