Friday, May 25, 2007

Transparency Flees NASA


Shuttle Returns Home
Originally uploaded by hodad66.
Any time someone decides to destroy records for fear they "would become official records and subject to disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act," I become very suspect.

And I'm very suspect.

From Jenny Mandel at Government Executive, we learn that a NASA lawyer destroyed recordings of a staff meeting between NASA Administrator Michael Griffin and the NASA inspector general staff. NASA General Counsel Michael Wholley
told lawmakers that he later learned from agency Chief of Staff Paul Morrell that recordings had been made of the meeting, counter to a prior instruction that no taping take place. After receiving what he believed were the only copies of the offending DVD from Morrell, Wholley said, "I personally made the decision to destroy them, and I did so by breaking them into pieces and throwing them in the trash."
Wholley said before destroying the tapes, he consulted the Federal Records Act and concluded that they did not constitute official records, but that if copies were retained, they would become official records and subject to disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act.
What boggles my mind is that he thought about it... and still made the wrong decision. Perhaps not an illegal decision, but an unethical decision.

He was thinking like an attorney and not like a civil servant, as in a servant to the people.

I wonder if the position of NASA General Counsel is a political appointment...

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