- Law Cases
by Sharon Rondeau
(Nov. 2, 2010) — Last July, Mr. Christopher Earl Strunk’s Freedom of Information request for the passport records of Stanley Ann Dunham Obama Soetoro was granted in part by the State Department, accompanied by a cover letter from Mr. Jonathan M. Rolbin which provided the following explanation for the missing records:
“Many passport applications and other non-vital records from that period were destroyed during the 1980s in accordance with guidance from the General Services Administration.”
The Post & Email contacted the General Services Administration and requested documentation of such “guidance” allegedly provided from the GSA for the destruction of passport records. However, in her reply to us, GSA employee Ms. Sharon Lighton stated:
Authorization and the destruction of Federal records is the responsibility of NARA. The Department’s Records Management Program is responsible for ensuring that the legal, financial, evidentiary and historical transactions are recorded accurately and completely.
Therefore, you would need to contact NARA at the address below:
Office of the General Counsel
8601 Adelphi Road
College Park, MD 20740-6001
telephone number: (301) 837-2025
In an objection to Mr. Rolbin’s contention that the records in question had been “destroyed,” Mr. Strunk filed a brief in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia which maintained that no such directive had ever been made.
The Post & Email took Ms. Lighton’s advice and wrote to Mr. Olin at the NARA on September 18, 2010:
Six weeks have passed, and no response has been received from the NARA in violation of the Freedom of Information Act’s 20-working-day response requirement.
It appears that strict regulations for altering records retention rules are maintained, and any changes must pass through an approval process. There are explicit provisions which allow for microfilms to suffice for the original documents; however, permission for the destruction of government records must be obtained from the Archivist following a written request. Blogger Butterdezillion has compiled a list of “dispositions” for the State Department which do not encompass the early 1960s.
Why has the NARA failed to respond to our request?
Why is Mr. Rolbin’s assertion to Christopher Strunk unable to be verified?
What is it about Stanley Ann Soetoro’s passport records that the federal government does not want the public to see? Where was she during the early 1960s? If she had been in the United States, she would most likely not even have possessed a passport, as she was allegedly a young college student attending either the University of Hawaii or University of Washington. Yet Mr. Rolbin seemed to say in his letter that Stanley Ann had filled out a passport application, as he explains its absence from the information released to Strunk in an indirect way.
Is there anyone who traveled abroad in the early 1960s who has requested his or her passport documentation from that time period and told that it had been ordered “destroyed?”
Who is lying, and who is telling the truth?
Tags: Butterdezillion, Christopher-Earl Strunk, FOIA, Freedom of Information Act, General Services Administration, GSA, Mr. Jonathan M. Rolbin, NARA, National Archives, Stanley Ann Dunham Obama Soetoro