While Washington grapples with another Kenyan election mess, an update on my FOIA pursuit of our policy from 2007

Still no more documents from USAID from my 2015 request for material involving our support for the IEBC in the 2013 election, from which I finally learned in April of this year that USAID had tasked the American International Foundation for Electoral Systems with making sure the electronic Results Transmission System that failed worked:  “IFES will ensure this system is fully installed, tested and operational for the 2012 election.  Furthermore, IFES will fund essential upgrades and adjustments to this results transmission system.” 

In the meantime my Mandatory Declassification Review appeal relating to a document I originally requested from the State Department more than eight years ago relating to the January 3, 2008 post-election telephone conference between U.S. Secretary of State Rice and E.U. High Commissioner Javier Solano is now more than a year old:

September 15, 2016

Re: Case No. M-2016-04563

Dear Chairman:

I am appealing the decision to withhold in full all material identified in Case No. M-2016-04563.

Because all information was withheld in the response to my original FOIA request, FOIA Case No. F-2009-07810 and this Mandatory Declassification Review request, I have not been given much ability to evaluate and argue the details of the withholding on appeal. It is difficult to believe that every bit of information in the identified document responsive to my requests has been and continues to be necessarily kept secret in the interests of national defense or foreign policy.

In particular I note that I requested documentation on the telephone conversation between former Secretary Rice and former EU High Representative Javier Solana based on media reports containing public communications about that call, the subject matter of which was as I understand related to public diplomacy regarding the Kenyan election. Both our country and the E.U. had undertaken assistance programs to support democracy in Kenya, including neutral International Election Observation Missions and I was an NGO employee as Chief of Party for the USAID-funded observation on the U.S. side. It would seem that U.S. interests and law would counsel a tilt toward openness rather than secrecy in this specific context and I ask for your consideration in this regard.

Thank you.

One thought on “While Washington grapples with another Kenyan election mess, an update on my FOIA pursuit of our policy from 2007

  1. Tilting at windmills or an essential campaign to find answers? As the 2017 elections continue to unravel the genesis of this latest US foreign policy debacle can be traced to events since August 2016 overlooked or deliberately ignored by Ambassador Godec and his US Embassy staff as well as by cognizant personnel in other western missions in Kenya.
    The fact that such requests for seemingly innocuous details of conversations or communications can be stone walled so that events of nine to ten years ago recede even further back into history says much about how bureaucratic self interest trumps legitimate efforts to find facts and truths.
    The policy of prioritizing stability over democracy has failed; the US and its western allies have put into peril the security of their citizens’ lives and property as well as undermining peace and stability not only in Kenya but throughout the Greater Horn of Africa!

Leave a Reply