The facts, please; just the facts.

I am more than a little curious myself as to why Marc Leas was unable to obtain the information he requested last year from the DOD.  For the complete story, you can read Mr. Leas’ diary in the sidebar.

I rather suspect that the reason such a brouhaha was stirred up over whether or not Mr. Leas was a “freelancer” for Digger was a DOD feint to avoid the requested disclosures.

While DIgger may be justified in taking umbrage with Mr. Leas invocation of their name; whether or not Mr. Leas was officially working for Digger is really beside the point.

In a world of non-traditional news related writing venues, the lines of distinction cannot be clearly drawn, but if the DOD can share information with the conventional press for the purpose of dissemination to the public, there is absolutely no reason why that information should not also be made available to representatives of less conventional venues.

What is the DOD argument here; that it is a matter of national security?  How is it any more secure to provide information to the conventional press than it is to provide that information to anyone else who might share it?

Is it a matter of the DOD not wanting to “waste its time” on unaffiliated writers and opposition activists?  That hardly passes muster as a reason to deny a FOIA request.

I still have not heard any compelling answer to the question of “why?”

Some GMD readers would very much like to have the straight story on this FOIA request, and I have a feeling that is still to be told.

It would be in the best interests both of the supporters of the F-35 siting and of its opponents to clear the air by bringing all the requested data into the open or providing a reasonable explanation of why that is not possible.  

I don’t want to hear any more about Mr. Leas or his credentials.  

About Sue Prent

Artist/Writer/Activist living in St. Albans, Vermont with my husband since 1983. I was born in Chicago; moved to Montreal in 1969; lived there and in Berlin, W. Germany until we finally settled in St. Albans.

4 thoughts on “The facts, please; just the facts.

  1. Sue Prent makes a good point that what is most important is to get the facts requested under the Freedom of Information Act: the anticipated F-35-A cumulative fleet flight hours when the jets arrive for basing at Burlington Airport in 2020. This is a critical number when evaluating the safety of the warplane both for our Vermont Air National Guard pilots and for the residents in Chittenden County. This because crash rates for Air Force jets start very high and drop as cumulative fleet flight hours increase.

    When the F-16 arrived for basing at this airport it had over a million fleet flight hours. No one can responsibly bring the F-35-A to Burlington if it has fewer cumulative fleet flight hours.

    Sue Prent suggests “a DOD feint to avoid the requested disclosure.” Could the DOD spokeswoman have known that VTDigger was ignorant of the federal Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), a prime means for digging? The FOIA defines who the federal government, including the Air Force, considers to be “a freelancer for a news media entity.” Under the FOIA definition, a requester with a strong publication record, such the 39 oped pieces of mine published on VTDigger, would meet that federal definition. VTDigger was totally wrong to assert “misrepresentation,” even if I had been quoted precisely by the Air Force spokeswoman (which VTDigger itself knew I had not).

    The Air Force did indeed respond to another FOIA request from an “unaffiliated writer and opposition activist”: The Air Force turned over to me all the email correspondence between the Air Force spokeswoman and VTDigger. So there is no question that one need not be affiliated with or on assignment for an established news media organization to successfully request and receive requested information from the DOD, including the Air Force.

    VTDigger cannot be defended by pinning blame on the DOD. An independent and impartial investigation is needed into VTDigger’s role in suppressing the original FOIA request for anticipated F-35-A fleet flight hours by failing to pass on the information about whom to contact provided by the Air Force spokeswoman and by diverting into unsubstantiated personal attack and silencing opposition in the weeks leading up to the Air Force basing announcement.

    Sue Prent is right: getting the fleet flight hours information from the DOD is essential. In view of its importance, this task should not be left solely to an unaffiliated writer. Requests should be coming in to the DOD F-35 Joint Program Office from all responsible Burlington area news media. All have a responsibility to the public to insist on a prompt response so the facts about F-35-A anticipated fleet flight hours when the jets are set to arrive in 2020 are available to the public.  

  2. Sue, so long as Mr. Leas keeps making his beef about VT Digger and his ongoing 1-sided grudge match with them front and center, you will very much keep hearing about his credentials, and appropriately so. I think you need to take up that request with him. He was in the wrong vis-à-vis digger, and he seems to be the only one who refuses to accept that, as you see from his comment. So long as he keeps fixating on that, I don’t see how anyone ever gets to the discussion about the merits of his complaint about DOD.

    If he really wants to talk DOD and FOIA, he’s his own worst enemy in having that discussion.

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