(by Michael Connelly, Constitutional Attorney) -- I have reported on this blog that as Executive Director of the United States Justice Foundation I worked with one our media partners to file four Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests to four U.S. government agencies. These four agencies are the Veterans Administration (VA), the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and the Department of Defense (DOD). We were asking them for documents concerning veterans’ issues, including the declaring of veterans to be incompetent to handle their own financial affairs, being told that because of that they can no longer own firearms, and often having a stranger they have to pay appointed to handle their financial affairs.
The requests also asked for documents from the FBI regarding their refusal to remove veterans from the National Instant Criminal Background System (NICS) list even after the veteran gets the incompetency ruling reversed, why the DOD uses independent contractors to declare veterans incompetent with virtually no opportunity for the veterans to respond, and why the DHS lists all veterans as potential domestic terrorists.
On August 26, 2014 we sent out these requests by certified mail and received the notices from the post office that they had been received. We received no answers to our requests except acknowledgment of receipt and in the case of DHS a letter saying they would give us nothing because they knew nothing. As a result of this I requested that I be sent the copies of the returned receipts and other documents so we could prepare to file a suit against the four agencies. However, on September 16th it was found that all of the documents had been stolen from the media office and the originals of the requests had been erased from the hard drive of the computers.
We refused to be intimidated and immediately sent out new requests by certified mail. Over three months later we have received our first response and it is from the VA. We are veterans asking for information on behalf of other veterans about the fiduciary program. The response is a two page letter that essentially tells us that the VA will provide us with nothing. In other words, veterans are not entitled to know how the decisions that adversely affect their lives are made.
The letter from the VA claims that all the documents we requested are exempt from the FOIA because they are still in the deliberation process and no documents have been finalized. This is false because the fiduciary program has been around for many years and has recently come under increasing fire from veterans and veteran organizations. A program like that has to have training manuals etc. that were finalized many years ago. The obvious conclusion is that the VA is lying to cover up the abuses we suspect are occurring in the program. These abuses are robbing veterans of their money, their dignity, and their Constitutional rights. We will be immediately filing an appeal of the refusal of the VA to answer questions they are legally required to respond to.
By the way, the other Federal agencies mentioned above have refused to respond to us at all, so legal action will be taken against them also. At the USJF we have been fighting to protect the Constitutional rights of Americans for over 37 years and the Obama administration is about to learn what many people already know. We do not get intimidated and we do not go away quietly, in fact, when it comes to the rights of Americans we do not go away at all.