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ProPublica sues VA over delay in getting Agent Orange correspondence​​

Published on: December 21, 2016

Filed Under: Connections to Today, Featured

Views: 1126

This article appeared at The Virginia-Pilot.com.

Photo courtesy of USDA , the Alvin L. Young Collection on Agent Orange.

By Charles Ornstein, Propublica

ProPublica has sued the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, claiming the agency failed to promptly process a request for correspondence with a consultant about Agent Orange, a toxic defoliant used during the Vietnam War.

The lawsuit, filed late Friday in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., alleges that the delays violated the Freedom of Information Act.

ProPublica submitted a FOIA request in May, requesting correspondence between various VA officials and scientist Alvin Young, who has guided the stance of the military and VA on Agent Orange and whether it has harmed service members. The request also sought internal correspondence about any contracts awarded to Young or his consulting firm.

ProPublica and The Virginian-Pilot wrote about Young’s role in the VA’s handling of Agent Orange claims in October.

Alvin Young

Dr. Alvin L. Young from a Special Collections, USDA National Agricultural Library. Photo courtesy of USDA National Agricultural Library

To date, the VA has not provided any of the requested documents.

 “We always try, as we did in this case, to resolve records issues without filing a lawsuit.” said Stephen Engelberg, ProPublica’s editor in chief. “The documents that relate to Dr. Young’s government-paid work are exactly the sort of material the Freedom of Information Act covers. We look forward to reporting on their contents as soon as possible.”

In a statement, the VA said it has not formally received the lawsuit and does not comment on pending litigation. It also said, “VA strives to process FOIAs on a first-in, first-out basis. Generally, requests are placed on one of two tracks: simple or complex. Complex requests, by definition, are more laborious and may require more time to process.”

The lawsuit seeks an order compelling the VA to produce the records and pay its attorney’s fees.

One Response to ProPublica sues VA over delay in getting Agent Orange correspondence​​

  1. Victor Sellers says:

    The VA withheld my hospital treatment records from diseases and conditions incurred in Vietnam that are documented in other records that were released this year, spring of 2016, covering the period of April 1971 through April 1972. I was evacuated out of Vietnam due to inflammation and skin disease incurred on duty in Vietnam, and the treatment records all withheld concerning my health. I have 30 FOIA Requests that did nothing, going back to 1983. The VA doesn’t answer to our laws or anyone.

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