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Justice criticized over proposed FOIA regulation
In rare cases, law enforcement agencies can tell people no records exist, when they do
By The Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) ' The Justice Department is being criticized for proposing a regulation that would in rare instances allow federal law enforcement agencies to tell people seeking documents under the Freedom of Information Act that the government has no records on a subject, when it actually does.

Avoiding tipping off people that they are under criminal investigation is one of three highly sensitive law enforcement situations in which the government ' for the past 2 1/2 decades ' has been permitted to respond to FOIA requests by falsely denying that it has records.

The issue is coming up now because the Justice Department is proposing revised regulations that would codify a longstanding policy detailed in a 1987 memo by then-Attorney General Edwin Meese. Open government groups are objecting.

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