Michael Weinstein and the Problem with Air Force FOIAs
Michael Weinstein and his cohorts make frequent use of the US Air Force Inspector General complaint system. As noted previously, its win-win for Weinstein, as he’s immune to any stigma should it go awry and he can cry foul whether the IG validates his complaint or not.
Weinstein also hammers the Air Force with Freedom of Information Act requests. Again, for him they’re a win-win. He gets to harass the Air Force, as the Air Force is required by law to dedicate precious and scarce resources to answer his every call, which also has the effect of distracting from the military’s mission.
Weinstein also gets access to information he normally wouldn’t. While the Air Force tries to cull private and restricted information from files before it hands them out in response to FOIAs, there is no such thing as perfection. In virtually every FOIA you can find, you’ll see a name or email address that was supposed to be redacted, but wasn’t. Such was recently the case with one of Weinstein’s own allies, when his name was released when the FOIA documents were given to the local press:
The name under the yellow redaction was not obscured in the original FOIA release. Because this same LtCol has repeated his story so many times on the internet, it’s not hard to find out that LtCol R. comments as “falcongrad” on the website of the Colorado Springs Independent, local to the Air Force Academy. (The Independent released these FOIA documents, and falcongrad has said he’s shared USAFA information with Indy reporter Pam Zubeck.) It’s also not hard to find the report from his appeal to the Board for Corrections of Military Records. The BCMR is also redacted, though LtCol R. has publicized the names of some of the people involved.
FOIAs work to Weinstein’s advantage, because they’re busy-work for the Air Force and give him further ammunition to continue his self-described “agitation” of the Air Force as it attempts to accomplish its mission. Weinstein is almost guaranteed access to non-releasable data simply by filing a FOIA, as errors are common as shown above. It can be yet another tool in his coercion of members of the military to bend to his will.