Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Federal Judge Denies Action to Expedite an FoIA Request; Free-Lance Journalist Wanted to Get Marine Corps Personnel Files of U.S. Senatorial Candidate Oliver North before the Nov. 8 Election; Request Was Filed Last March

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Federal Judge Denies Action to Expedite an FoIA Request; Free-Lance Journalist Wanted to Get Marine Corps Personnel Files of U.S. Senatorial Candidate Oliver North before the Nov. 8 Election; Request Was Filed Last March

Article excerpt

A FEDERAL JUDGE has denied a motion that the U.S. Marine Corps expedite action on a Freedom of Information Act request seeking the personnel files of U.S. senatorial candidate Oliver North of Virginia.

Freelance journalist and author Linda Hunt, formerly of CNN, asked the court to compel the Corps and the Department of the Navy to expedite her request so that information could be available before the Nov. 8 election.

Hunt filed her FoIA request last March, seeking the former Marine's personnel service records. In August, she received some information -- mostly press clippings and information already in the public record -- and was told the personnel records were being withheld because of privacy exemptions.

In September, Hunt appealed and asked for a Vaughn index, an itemized list of documents not released and the reason for their being withheld.

The action in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia was an attempt by Hunt to expedite release of material, or the index, before the election.

In her declaration to the court, Hunt noted that "some of the medical information is already in the public record," including the fact that North was hospitalized and placed under psychiatric care at Bethesda Naval Hospital in December 1974 and January 1975.

"Medical information such as this, which is normally held private, takes on great public significance in the context of a political election like the ongoing Senate race in Virginia," Hunt declared in her court papers, pointing to the case of Sen. Thomas Eagleton, who was dropped from George McGovern's 1972 presidential ticket "after questions were raised about his mental health."

In addition to believing that the public's right to know this information "far outweight" North's privacy rights, Hunt stated that an another issue regards questions about North's character.

Among Hunt's queries are whether North lied about his medical history in his service records; whether the Marine Corps has already released to the press North's statement of personal history, DD Form 298, which it now claims is exempted for privacy reasons; and whether North altered or destroyed any of his medical records, which Hunt points out has been alleged in newspaper articles.

According to Hunt's court filing, "Oliver North is a public figure who is running for public office in the U.S. Senate. Therefore, the public's right to know outweighs his privacy concerns."

Arguing before Judge Stanley Harris, Assistant U. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.