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