Freedom of Information Act. (Don't torture the law.)

Milner v. Department of the Navy 
   This morning, the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments in the case of Milner v. Department of the Navy.  Glen Milner, a resident of Indian Island in the Puget Sound of Washington State, is seeking access through the Freedom of Information Act to files describing the blast radius of Navy-managed munitions stored in a magazine on the island.  Among the information Milner is requesting is the Explosive Safety Quantitative Distance information.  Milner claims this information is in the public interest, as the munitions are located within proximity of residential dwellings.
      The Navy has not complied with Milner’s request, arguing that the information cannot be released because it circumvents the agency’s function.
     To advance his cause of action, Milner argues that the information should be released because it is related solely to internal rules and practices of the Navy. 
     The U.S. court seemed to accept Milner’s argument.  At one point, Chief Justice Roberts referred to Assistant Solicitor General Anthony Yang’s argument as “torturing” the language and spirit of the Freedom of Information Act.  The Navy’s argument that terrorists could get ahold of sensitive material was met with skepticism.  If that’s the case, Chief Justice Roberts queried, why not make it classified material?  Attorney Yang responded that if the Navy did that, they would not be able to share the information with first responders and other entities.
     If Milner prevails, the Navy will be required to release the information.

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