02 May 2013

Nine Months - USAF Still Ignores Freedom of Information Act

It has been nine months now, since the C-123 Veterans Association submitted a Freedom of Information Act request to officials at Wright-Patterson AFB which was approved September 16, 2012. Nine months, plenty of time for officials to meet their legal requirement to provide the unclassified materials we need and which the law says we're entitled to have. Nine months that the officials in Dayton have failed to meet their responsibilities.

1947 Husdon - same vintage as Fairchild C-123 "Provider"
Requested: everything used by the Air Force School of Aerospace Medicine to complete their May 2012 Consultative Letter addressing C-123 Agent Orange contamination and veteran exposure. Consider carefully...the C-123 first flew in 1947. We're not talking about some exotic, classified, need-to-know black ops project...HEY...this airplane is 65 years old! What could they be worried about with something the same age as the '47 Hudson?

Nine months. Months in which our aircrews, maintenance and aerial port veterans have submitted disability claims to the Department of Veterans Affairs, yet nine months without the ability we need to challenge (or use) materials the Air Force gathered focusing on the C-123 Agent Orange contamination fiasco.

Nine months. Plenty of time for the Air Force to gather materials and release them, especially because
one of the objectives of the USAF Consultative Letter was to place in one location all relevant materials addressing C-123 Agent Orange issues. So everything was unusually easy to gather, the Air Force report having been released in May 2012.

The last word we got when visiting the base FOIA shop was that the base JAG officials were considering how much they'd be able to withhold from release. "Withhold?" Hold back anything related to this 65 year-old airplane, retired into the Davis-Monthan AFB boneyard thirty years ago!

So what could make otherwise good FOIA officers and base officials opt to disregard the law in such a fashion. We can only speculate. Possibilities/wild guesses:
1. obvious errors in the May 2012 Consultative Letter which the USAF wants to cover up
2. improper command influence in the assessment of Agent Orange issues
3. concerns about revelation of errors in judgement once C-123 contamination was made known in 1994 and the Air Force failure to notify affected veterans
4. unknown issues which could be addressed in the documents being requested
5. lack of consensus among report staff
6. something else?

Hard to know what's going on with such an amazingly inept handling of a minor FOIA request, but something's going on at Wright-Pat!  Something is going on, as they try to hide something about this old airplane, which went aloft for its maiden flight in 1947...look at that 1947 Hudson photo above to realize how ridiculous the military is over this issue!

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